XFL Week 4 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023)
It’s Week 4 of the XFL season. This week’s contests are split between Saturday and Sunday. Saturday features the two teams most well-represented below. Still, there are a few intriguing players from Sunday’s action who could swing the balance of DFS contests.
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The Sea Dragons lead the XFL in pass attempts (122), followed by the Roughnecks (107) and Battlehawks (104). Unsurprisingly, their trigger men are represented above. Ben DiNucci (843 passing yards), Brandon Silvers (720) and A.J. McCarron (640) are the top-three quarterbacks in passing yards. Further, they're in a three-way tie for the most passing touchdowns (seven).
DiNucci is the most exciting option of the trio, though. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he has the most big-time throws (eight). The former Cowboy has also rumbled for 71 rushing yards, adding value on the ground McCarron and Silvers don't match.
Nevertheless, McCarron had his most productive game through the air last week, passing for 262 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Silvers had multiple passing touchdowns in all three games and had his best game last week, passing for 278 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Thus, they can threaten for the highest-scoring quarterback on this week's slate. DiNucci is an elite selection in all game types, and McCarron and Silvers are viable GPP pivots from Seattle's dual-threat quarterback.
Running backs largely haven't been needle movers in the XFL. So, overpaying for the highest-salaried options is unappealing. Morgan Ellison isn't cheap but underpriced relative to his production. According to PFF, Ellison leads XFL running backs in rushing yards (186), yards per carry (6.2), yards after contact per attempt (4.90 YCO/A), 10-plus-yard rushes (seven) and PFF's Elusiveness metric.
Interestingly, teammate T.J. Hammonds is second in Elusiveness, albeit on only two rushes for eight yards. The real appeal with Hammonds beyond his punt salary is his underlying passing-game data. He's run only 11 routes this year but was pumped seven targets for five receptions and 28 yards. Hammonds was also in the slot for seven of his 11 passing snaps. He's a hybrid back who could catch a few passes and free up the requisite salary for one of the stud quarterbacks and multiple elite pass-catchers.
Brian Hill is a do-it-all back for the Battlehawks. In two games, he's rushed for 87 yards on 17 attempts and added seven receptions, 75 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air. Hill's averages of 81.0 scrimmage yards and 3.5 receptions per game were nothing to sneeze at. The former Falcon has also been tough to tackle, forcing two missed tackles as a pass-catcher and eight as a runner. Hill's passing-game alignment is nifty, aligning in the slot twice and wide nine times on 56 passing snaps. So, he's a game-script-proof back. And, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Battlehawks are 4.0-point favorites, potentially awarding him a good game script to tote the rock.
Abram Smith leads the XFL's run-heaviest team in carries with 38, but Ryquell Armstead isn't far behind with 33. Smith and Armstead are nearly knotted up in rushing yards, too. The former has 150 rushing yards, and the latter has 141. Sadly, Armstead lost two fumbles last week. Hopefully, he won't end up in the doghouse. The Defenders have run the ball 114 times versus just 69 pass attempts, and they're 6.0-point favorites at home. Armstead should see double-digit touches against the Vipers if the Defenders handle their business. Furthermore, PFF ranked the Vipers dead last in run defense through three weeks.
Brycen Alleyne is another nifty punt coming off his best game in the young season. Alleyne leaped Dejoun Lee on the depth chart after failing to play in Week 1. He's rushed for 35 yards on nine attempts and reeled in all five of his targets for 44 yards on 15 routes. Max Borghi hasn't done anything to deserve a reduction in playing time or usage, but Alleyne added a spark with the ball in his hands last week. Finally, Houston is a 9.0-point favorite, the largest on this week's slate.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Sea Dragons and Roughnecks have been weekly staples in this section and are back again. Josh Gordon blew up last week for a week-high 118 receiving yards, six receptions and two touchdowns on seven targets. Teammate Jahcour Pearson didn't slow down, though. Pearson averages 7.7 receptions and 90.7 receiving yards per game. He's also had at least four receptions and 78 receiving yards in all three games. So, Pearson is a locked-in pick in cash games and a superb GPP pick.
Deontay Burnett and Jontre Kirklin are a productive duo. The former torched this week's opponent, the Guardians, in Week 1, hauling in eight receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. He faceplanted in Week 2 before rebounding with two receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown last week.
Kirklin has been the more consistent weapon for Houston. He has 13 receptions, 199 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Kirklin burned the Guardians for five receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and was a monster last week, catching six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Gamers shouldn't sleep on Travell Harris from the Roughnecks, either. He was out in Week 2 after catching six passes for 53 yards in Week 1. Fortunately, Harris returned last week and secured two receptions for 48 yards. In Harris's two healthy contests, Burnett was first in routes (85), Kirklin was second (78), and Harris was third (59). His role behind Burnett and Kirklin makes Harris a little riskier. Thankfully, that's baked into Harris's salary.
Hakeem Butler is far and away the best stacking option with McCarron and a top-shelf one-off pick. He's looked like a man amongst boys in the XFL, using his big frame effectively from the slot to produce the third-most receiving yards (201) and tie for the XFL lead in touchdown receptions (three). He's thrived from the slot aligning there on 76 of 89 passing snaps, and shouldn't slow down this week against the Renegades. PFF ranks Arlington as the second-worst defense in coverage.
Cody Latimer is one of the few bright spots on the winless Guardians and the most desirable bring-back option in a game stack with the Roughnecks. Like Butler, Latimer's a big-bodied wide receiver/tight end tweener playing the jumbo slot role. Latimer has 16 receptions or 155 yards and two touchdowns, making him an underpriced choice.
Lance Lenoir is a sneakier punt on the Guardians. He was signed before Week 2 and immediately mixed into the rotation. Lenoir ran 19 routes and failed to corral his only target in Week 2 before surging to 29 routes and four targets in Week 3. Lenoir had only one reception for 22 yards but could take another step forward this week with further acclimation to the team. He was also a rock-solid option in the USFL last year, proving he can succeed in spring football.
Alize Mack is a likely chalkier punt. San Antonio's tight end leads the Brahmas in targets (14) and receptions (10) and is second in receiving yards (84). He's also one of five players to catch a touchdown pass. Mack could even see a slight uptick in usage in scoring territory with big-bodied wideout T.J. Vasher ruled out.
Defense and Special Teams
Houston's defense is elite. They lead the XFL in sacks (13) and scoring, allowing only 39 points -- 13 points fewer than the next-closest teams. They've also recorded seven turnovers. As the biggest favorites on the slate, Houston's defense can pin their ears back and pile up points against the hapless Guardians.
Gamers needing salary relief now that DraftKings has tightened their salaries can punt with either the Brahmas or Guardians. Seattle's and Houston's pass-happy tendencies will provide these punt defenses chances for sacks and interceptions. As good as DiNucci and Silvers have been, PFF credits them with the most turnover-worthy plays (five).
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.