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XFL Week 5 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023)

XFL Week 5 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023)
cameraXFL Week 5 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023)

XFL Week 5 starts at 10:30 pm ET on Thursday night. There are two more games on Saturday and one on Sunday. The spread for start times will require gamers to keep tabs on last-minute injury news and inactives. Fortunately, none of the upcoming players appear in danger of missing this week’s action. Further, many of the featured options play in Thursday night’s contest.

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DraftKings continues to tighten up their salaries. Nevertheless, spending a significant salary on Ben DiNucci, Brandon Silvers, or A.J. McCarron is still advisable. DiNucci is typically the most desirable option. However, the short week makes him a bit riskier and more appealing in tournaments than in cash games.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), DiNucci leads the XFL in passing yards (1,107), completion percentage (68.8%) and big-time throws (10). He also adds to his fantasy bottom line with his legs. However, he has two checkmarks in the cons column this week. First, DiNucci passed for a season-low 183 yards in the only other instance of the Sea Dragons playing on a Thursday. Second, Houston's defense is a top-shelf unit. Nevertheless, the June Jones coordinated offense has attempted 23 more passes than the second-highest mark in the league, creating a volume-driven ceiling for DiNucci.

The Roughnecks are undefeated and have won all four games by at least nine points. Their sizable wins haven't prevented them from airing it out. Instead, they're second in the XFL in passing attempts (140). Comparatively, they've run the ball just 93 times. Brandon Silvers has thrived in A.J. Smith's pass-happy offense, passing for the second-most yards (961) and the most touchdowns (10).

Sadly, Silvers will have to contend with the short week like DiNucci. Additionally, the Sea Dragons have ceded the fewest passing yards (690) and passing touchdowns (three) this season. The PFF grades aren't as daunting, though. They've graded Seattle fourth in coverage and pressure. Silvers doesn't add fantasy value with his legs, but his passing contributions more than offset his rushing shortcomings. Thursday's contest has shootout potential, enhancing the appeal of both signal-callers in the game.

A.J. McCarron has a compelling case for the best option at quarterback this week, despite his lack of rushing value. First, he has a standard whole week of preparation. Second, the BattleHawks are a pass-first team, attempting 131 passes and 86 rushes this year.

Third, McCarron has played well. He's third in passing yards (854), tied for third in completion percentage (65.9%), second in big-time throws (seven) and second in touchdown passes (nine). Fourth, he has a cushy matchup. DC has coughed up the most passing yards (986) this season. Furthermore, McCarron carved them up for 262 yards and four touchdown passes in Week 3 on the road. He'll face them in a dome at home this weekend. As a result, McCarron's a fantastic pick in all game types.

Paxton Lynch is the riskiest quarterback out of the quartet, but he's a palatable value option. Deondre Francois is seemingly trending toward missing this week's game with a concussion.

Will Quinton Flowers get a look if Lynch stumbles? Probably. However, Lynch responded well when reinserted in last week's game after getting pulled briefly for Francois. The former first-round pick in the NFL Draft is fourth in the XFL in passing yards (696). And even with the Guardians routinely in obvious passing situations, while playing catch-up this year, he's thrown only one interception. Lynch hasn't played as well as the other three quarterbacks, but he's facing an arguably equally inept team this week against the winless Vipers. In addition, the Vipers have coughed up the second-most passing yards (873) and have PFF's second-lowest coverage grade. Therefore, the matchup is stellar for Lynch. So, Lynch is a nifty tournament pick.

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Running Backs

There are two semi-pricey backs and two bargains gamers should lean on in contests this week. Brian Hill has been a versatile weapon in three games this year, missing one. Even playing one less game than many of his peers, he's third in rushing yards (176), tied for third in receptions (eight), second in receiving yards (81) and tied for first in touchdowns (second) among running backs. Hill has averaged 85.7 scrimmage yards and 2.7 receptions per game while splashing paydirt twice, making him the rare running back worth using meaningful cap space on this week.

Morgan Ellison is $1,000 cheaper and a dynamic runner. He leads the league in rushing yards (255). Moreover, per PFF, Ellison is first in yards per carry (5.5), tied for first in missed tackles forced on rushes (16), third in PFF's Elusiveness metric and first in yards after contact per attempt (4.17 YCO/A) among running backs with at least 10 attempts. He hasn't been heavily involved in the passing game, but he's secured all six of his targets for 25 yards.

T.J. Hammonds is a hybrid player. Per PFF, he's played eight snaps (all in the previous two weeks) in the backfield and 20 in the slot this season. Hammonds could siphon some touches from Ellison because of the quick turnaround and has pass-catching utility. Hammonds has run only 16 routes this year. However, the Sea Dragons have force-fed him eight targets for six receptions and 40 yards in his limited route participation. It's enticing to save salary at a low opportunity cost with the lack of high-upside high-salary running backs.

Orlando's been woefully inept and blown out in three of four games this year. Fortunately, Rod Woodson has been the lead clown for the Vipers' winless circus. The Guardians have played only one competitive game this year, losing by one point to the Renegades. They attempted 31 passes and 25 rushes in that game. As Cody Main from Establish The Run pointed out, Orlando's passing volume was inflated by running a league-low percentage of their plays in a neutral game script.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Guardians are a 7.5-point underdog against the fellow winless Vipers. Orlando could keep it closer than the spread suggests and use their running game more than usual.

Devin Darrington can be a useful minimum-salary punt if the game is close. He had 12 rushes for 40 yards and four missed tackles forced last week versus four for 20 and one by Jah-Maine Martin. Darrington made his debut last week, and Martin was already ceding snaps and opportunities to since-cut Kelvin Taylor before Darrington was activated from the Reserve List last week. So, Darrington could see another uptick in usage this week with a game under his belt.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Six of the 10 wide receivers or tight ends on the table are members of the Roughnecks (four) or Sea Dragons (two). They're the two most pass-happy teams in the league, and their wideouts have feasted this year.

Jahcour Pearson is a cash-game lock and high-ceiling GPP option. He leads the XFL in targets (38), receptions (31) and receiving yards (348). The second-highest marks in those categories are 30, 23 and 282. Teammate Josh Gordon is responsible for the 282 as the second-leading pass-catcher for receiving yards. He's hauled in 18 receptions and two touchdowns. They're a talented one-two punch who complement each other well.

Jontre Kirklin is Houston's most consistent weapon, and the converted quarterback even passed for a touchdown last week. He has 15 receptions for 248 yards and four touchdowns (tied for the XFL lead). He's distanced himself from Deontay Burnett.

Burnett's also arguably the third-best wide receiver for the Roughnecks. Travell Harris was out in Week 2. However, he's second on the club in receiving yards (184), tied for second in targets (19), fourth in receptions (11), third in receiving touchdowns (two) and third in routes (78) in his healthy three games. Harris is underpriced relative to his production.

The best value option in the Roughnecks' pass-catching corps is Cedric Byrd, though. Byrd hauled in all seven targets for 37 receiving yards and ran the third-most routes (28), only two fewer than Kirklin's 30 and one less than Burnett's 29, in Week 4. He's reeled in multiple receptions every game and is the club's short-area wideout. Per PFF, Byrd has two receptions behind the line of scrimmage, 11 from zero to nine yards, one from 10 to 19 yards and one 20-plus yards downfield. Byrd's high-percentage targets are valuable on DK's full-point point-per-reception (PPR) platform.

Hakeem Butler and Darrius Shepherd are tantalizing stacking options with McCarron or one-off choices. They are exposure to DC's giving pass defense and productive pass-catchers. Butler has thrived in a jumbo-slot role, ranking tied for fifth in targets (27), fourth in receptions (21), fourth in receiving yards (253) and tied for first in touchdown receptions (four) in the league.

Shepherd hasn't matched Butler's full-season excellence. Yet, he's come on strong lately. In the last two weeks, he had 13 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets. There's enough meat on the bone in St. Louis's pass-heavy approach for Butler and Shepherd to provide DFS value.

Cody Latimer and Lance Lenoir are stacking options with Paxton or bargain one-offs. The lack of a meaningful increase to Latimer's salary is baffling. He's third in targets (29), fifth in receptions (20), sixth in receiving yards (212) and tied for seventh in touchdown receptions (two). Even with top-10 rankings in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, Latimer has the 18th-highest salary among wideouts and tight ends. Sometimes, there isn't a reason to overthink a pick.

Lenoir was an in-season addition to the Guardians. He's yet to have an eye-catching game. Still, his routes have climbed from 19 in his debut to 29 in his second game and a season-high 39 last week. Lenoir set season bests for targets (five), receptions (three) and receiving yards (36) in Week 4. Can his ascension continue? Maybe. At the least, he'll provide gamers with salary relief to jam in an extra stud, softening the blow if Lenoir has a lackluster performance.

Defense and Special Teams

Houston's elite defense can benefit if the Sea Dragons aren't sharp on a short week. The Roughnecks' 17 sacks are five more than the second-highest mark. They've also forced nine turnovers.

The BattleHawks have forced 12 turnovers but tallied only five sacks. DC is a run-first team. Yet, what happens if they're in a negative game script and have to drop back to pass in comeback mode? It might be worth firing bullets on St. Louis's defense in GPPs to find out.

And since defense is volatile and salary relief is valuable, punting with the Brahmas or Guardians is a reasonable decision.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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