The divide between the quality XFL clubs and the bums is more apparent every week. Thus, the top squads are well-represented on the following tables, and the overwhelmed clubs are largely or entirely faded. The selections for Week 7 are pared to the smallest group of options in the 2023 season to date.
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Quarterback situations in spring football leagues are fluid, and the XFL isn't an exception to the rule. The overturn is head-spinning, but Ben DiNucci is locked into the starting gig for the most pass-happy team. The Sea Dragons have attempted an XFL-high 230 passes and only 126 rushes (the second-fewest).
DiNucci has thrived in offensive coordinator June Jones's offense. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), DiNucci leads the XFL in passing yards (1,493), big-time throws (12) and turnover-worthy plays (15). Obviously, it's sub-optimal DiNucci has regularly put the ball in harm's way. Thankfully, he's made up for it with spectacular passes. He's also tied for second in passing touchdowns (11) and adds to his fantasy value with his legs, rushing for the second-most yards (147) among quarterbacks and scampering for a touchdown. As a result, DiNucci is comfortably the most desirable DFS option in all game types.
The Roughnecks are in a two-game tailspin after winning their first four games of the year. There might be a silver lining to their recent struggles. Brandon Silvers got off to a fast start in offensive coordinator AJ Smith's offense, but his underwhelming performance last week opened the door for the more dynamic Cole McDonald to get an extended look and impress in the process. McDonald has often been used as a runner this year, but he connected on an 85-yard touchdown pass last week.
🎯🎯🎯 @xfl_houston Houston XFL Roughnecks 85 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!
Cole McDonald finds Deontay Burnett for Houstons biggest play of the night! pic.twitter.com/xV6GJG2RoL
- Houston XFL Roughnecks (@xfl_houston) March 28, 2023
McDonald was thrust into a challenging situation with the Roughnecks trailing by multiple touchdowns with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The dual-threat quarterback immediately provided the team with a spark. He completed 8-of-11 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 38 yards and another score. McDonald has rushed for over 30 yards or scored a rushing touchdown in four games this year.
The Roughnecks list Silvers as the starter on their depth chart.
- The Markcast® (@the_markcast) March 30, 2023
However, depth charts should be taken with a grain of salt, and Houston has been notoriously guarded with their injury reports. They can't put the toothpaste back in the tube after McDonald balled out last week. Silvers could get the first snap, but it would be shocking if McDonald doesn't get an opportunity to build on last week's performance. Thus, the more dynamic McDonald is an exciting tournament pick, attached to the XFL's second-most pass-happy team (215 attempts).
Abram Smith has an XFL-high 522 rushing yards, 210 more yards than the second-highest mark. He's averaging a blistering 5.1 yards per carry and is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (five). In addition, per PFF, Smith is fourth in Yards After Contact per Attempt (3.06 YCO/A) among players with at least 30 rush attempts this season. The Defenders lead the XFL in rush attempts (218), piling up 68 more rushes than the second-ranked club. Finally, per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Defenders are the biggest betting favorite this week, serving as 10.0-point favorites against the winless Guardians. Thus, Smith should be force-fed the ball in a positive game script.
Brian Hill missed one game this year. Nevertheless, Hill is second in rushing yards (312) and Yards After Contact per Attempt (3.15 YCO/A). He's also second among players with at least 30 rush attempts in PFF's Elusiveness metric. Hill is also a weapon in the passing game. Hill is tied for first in targets (18), second in receptions (15), second in receiving yards (141), and first in routes (110) among running backs. As a result, he's matchup-proof. The matchup isn't too shabby, either. DC's running backs trampled the Roughnecks for 121 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts last week.
John Lovett is the only cap-friendly running back with a compelling case to be used on DFS rosters this week. Lovett is second on the Vipers in rushing attempts (31) and rushing yards (104). Yet, his value is enhanced by his explosiveness in the passing game. Lovett is only seventh among running backs in routes (61), but he's parlayed his opportunities into the sixth-most receptions (10) and the most receiving yards (205), and receiving touchdowns (two) at the position.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jahcour Pearson had his first lousy showing of the season in Week 6. Still, Pearson had seven targets. The shifty slot wideout has been targeted at least seven times in every game. Pearson leads the XFL in receptions (40) and receiving yards (448). So, gamers should cut him slack for a hiccup and fire him up confidently in all game types.
Blake Jackson and Juwan Green are also enticing options in Seattle's pass-happy attack. The former leads the XFL in routes (235) and is fifth in targets (39), fourth in receptions (30), 11th in receiving yards (261), and tied for 10th in receiving touchdowns (two). Meanwhile, Green has emerged lately. In the previous three games, he had 16 targets, 11 receptions, 103 receiving yards, and two touchdown receptions. Green is the bargain option in Seattle's pass-catching corps.
Deontay Burnett and Travell Harris are the safest options in Houston's suddenly fluid wideout pecking order. Jontre Kirklin was one of the stars of the XFL before he suffered a season-ending injury early in Week 5. The Roughnecks are trying to replace his vacated production, but Burnett and Harris have been mainstays as integral pieces in the passing attack all year. Burnett leads Houston in routes (227), targets (35), and receiving yards (341) and is also tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions (four). Harris missed a game, but he's third on the Roughnecks in targets (30) and touchdown receptions (two), tied for second in receptions (21) and second in receiving yards (302). Burnett is a perimeter wideout, and Harris is a slot option.
It's murky behind the duo. Cedric Byrd is a slot-only option. He's second on Houston in targets (32) and first in receptions (25). However, he's converted his team-high receptions into an underwhelming 195 receiving yards and 7.8 yards per reception.
Justin Smith had the first crack at replacing Kirklin on the perimeter. He flashed potential when relieving Kirklin in Week 5 but stumbled last week. Byrd and Smith are viable options, albeit with the risk of moving down the pecking order. The Roughnecks signed slot wideout Jaquarii Roberson last week. Roberson was inactive last week. However, as Justin Freeman of Run The Sims and Scott Barrett of Fantasy Points noted in the upcoming tweets, Roberson was highly productive in college at Wake Forest.
He's good imo. @JakeTribbey https://t.co/hz1MbxSUrJ
- Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) March 23, 2023
Gamers are encouraged to take a chance on Roberson in tournaments if he's active this week. He's a slot wideout who could overtake the inefficient Byrd on the depth chart as soon as this week. The Roughnecks also signed Michael Bandy this week. Bandy is likely to play a prominent role in the offense when he's up to speed after playing in regular season games for the Los Angeles Chargers last year. If Bandy is a quick learner, he could impact Houston's target distribution this week. However, he's not in the DFS player pool. Roberson was listed as Burnett's backup, and Bandy was listed as Harris's backup on the depth chart image embedded in the quarterback section. Again, depth charts should be taken with a grain of salt, though.
Hakeem Butler is one of the studs of the XFL. Like Pearson, Butler is coming off a lousy showing in Week 6. Nonetheless, the big-bodied slot receiver is second in the XFL in targets (45), second in receptions (35), fourth in receiving yards (378), and tied for second in receiving touchdowns (4). Moreover, the matchup is decent. Houston has allowed the fourth-most passing yards (1,195) and tied for the second-most touchdown passes allowed (10). They've allowed an average of 248.0 passing yards per game and five touchdown passes in their previous three contests. Butler can further their recent issues when defending the pass.
The Guardians genuinely burned DFS gamers last week by withholding information about wide receiver Lance Lenoir. He didn't play any snaps last week and was moved to the Reserve List this week. Thus, it's hard to trust them. Still, Dan Williams led the team in routes (49), had eight targets, five receptions, and 46 receiving yards in Week 6, and remains a minimum-salary option. Thus, using him in all game types as a punt is enticing. However, gamers must still be aware of the risk of him inexplicably disappearing this week.
Defense and Special Teams
The Defenders are the only double-digit betting favorite in Week 7 against the bumbling Guardians. DC has six fumble recoveries, seven interceptions, 19.0 sacks, and three defensive touchdowns. Gregg Williams is an ultra-aggressive defensive coordinator, and DC can score a ton of fantasy points if they're staked to a lead and can pin their ears back against the Guardians.
The Sea Dragons are favored against Arlington's pitiful offense. The Renegades cut quarterback Kyle Sloter after he dropped back 13 times for them last week. They also traded for Luis Perez. Their quarterback situation is a mess until Perez is ready to handle the starting duties. Therefore, the Sea Dragons are a matchup-driven punt.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.