Fantasy Football: XFL Week 2 DFS picks for DraftKings, FanDuel

Week 1 XFL contests were fascinating, with a popular dual-threat quarterback smashing, but many of the perceived top skill position players stumbling. Nelson Spruce and Dan Williams were the league's only 100-yard receivers, while Austin Proehl and James Butler (listed as a third-string running back coming in) were the only players to score multiple touchdowns. Optimal DFS lineups left thousands of unused salary on the table. 

That was perhaps to be expected in Week 1 for a league we knew little about, and the pricing in Week 2 is sharper in that it reflects the early trends in most cases. But while we may know much more than we did this time last week, there is plenty yet to be clarified. These aren't teams with high-priced superstars who will have locked-in roles through struggles; what we saw in Week 1 will foretell Week 2 usage in many cases, but we could also see some coaches make drastic adjustments just to get other guys some looks and see how things fit. 

Of course, it's unlikely that the top names struggle forever. Players like Cameron Artis-Payne, Mekale McKay and Sammie Coates were all highly-owned in Week 1 and none hit double-digit Fantasy points, but each was involved enough that future Fantasy scoring seems likely so long as their roles don't change much. That doesn't mean we should view them the same as we did last week — more information is a good thing, and none had as strong of a role as their best-case expectation. But even at the NFL level it's easy to overreact to one week of data, and of course everything, including weekly variability, is more Xtreme in the XFL. 

Let's get into the Week 2 picks. 

Quarterback

Phillip Walker (FanDuel salary: $23, DraftKings salary: $10,600)
Cash or tournament viable

If you're paying attention, it comes as no surprise Walker is here. The big question is how heavy to go in tournaments. Houston's offense was easily the most functional and productive in Week 1, and Walker looked fantastic. He also either threw or rushed on five of their six conversion tries, which will be an important element for quarterback scoring given passing touchdowns are 4 points and conversions can be worth as much as 3. I'll mix in other stacks in tournaments, but Walker and Houston will be a big part of my builds. 

Landry Jones (FD: $19, DK: $9500)
Tournament option

Jones makes his debut for a Dallas offense that threw just under 80% of the time in Week 1. His backup, Phillip Nelson, checked down frequently, so the hope is Jones unlocks a more downfield, explosive element for the passing game. The question is how healthy he is, because he's been practicing only on a limited basis this week in his return from an early-January knee injury that has cost him substantial practice time over the past month.  

Also consider 

Josh Johnson also makes his debut in Week 2 after missing Week 1, and similar to Jones he's only practiced on a limited basis. ... Cardale Jones was extremely efficient passing in Week 1, and should be a popular name most weeks. ... Among dark horses, Brandon Silvers missed practice time this week but got in a full practice Thursday and is expected to start. Silvers was inaccurate in a Week 1 loss in DC, but Seattle was willing to throw a decent amount and they return home with an extra day of rest on their opponent — Tampa Bay — who travels across the country on a short week after a big loss in New York last week. 

Running back

James Butler (FD: $19, DK: $6300)
Cash or tournament viable

Though he was listed No. 3 behind Andre Williams and De'Angelo Henderson on Houston's depth chart, Butler led all running backs in snap share in Week 1 despite not getting a touch until the second quarter. Some of that was likely due to injury, but both Williams and Henderson were on the injury report this week and neither looks 100% for Week 2. Butler was efficient, scored both on the ground and through the air, and should continue to lead the backfield for a high-scoring team that is favored by more than a touchdown at home.

Jhurell Pressley (FD: $17, DK: $7000)
Tournament option

Pressley was dead weight on more than a few of my Week 1 rosters, but I'm going right back to him in Week 2. DC is the second-biggest favorite this weekend, at home against a New York front that got gashed by Tampa Bay on the ground in Week 1. Pressley will split time with Donnel Pumphrey, but he will be the lead back on the ground and ran a healthy 13 routes last week, catching two passes. 

Cameron Artis-Payne (FD: $14, DK: $5600) and Lance Dunbar (FD: $15, DK: $4600)
Tournament options

Dallas used four different backs in Week 1, which makes deciding on one tough, but they combined for 15 receptions in this pass-heavy offense. That means someone is likely to produce a decent PPR line. Artis-Payne led the backfield with a 52% snap share and 23 routes and also got the Renegades' lone green zone rush attempt meaning he might have decent scoring equity if the offense is more functional with Landry Jones under center. But he also seemed to get phased out a bit in the second half, and if his playing time were to shrink at all, Dunbar — who led the backfield with 11 Week 1 touches — could benefit. 

Nick Holley (FD: $14, DK: $4800)
Tournament option

Holley is still listed as a running back on DraftKings but lined up in the slot for Houston in Week 1 in their four-wide sets, running routes on 68% of dropbacks. Using him as your lone RB allows you to leverage the poor Week 1 RB scoring league-wide, but he's also a cheap way to gain exposure to Houston's passing game on both sites. 

Also consider

De'Veon Smith and Elijah Hood are the other workhorse types that are certainly in play. Smith would benefit if Tampa plays well in Seattle, thought I'm shying away from that outcome. Hood led all backs in Week 1 routes but wasn't targeted; he's Los Angeles' clear lead back and there's potential for a better game in Week 2. 

Seattle used a three-back committee, but Kenneth Farrow seemed to have the best Fantasy role, and could be a decent tournament option betting on a Seattle win. Darius Victor looked like New York's best back and is one of my favorite cheaper options.

Wide Receiver

Nelson Spruce (FD: $20, DK: $10,400)
Cash or tournament viable

The clear league-leader in Week 1 targets, Spruce will catch passes from a different quarterback in Week 2. He's still worth considering even at his high price tag given how he dominated receiving production last week, as well as his lengthy history of production at various levels. 

Kahlil Lewis (FD: $18, DK: $8900)
Cash or tournament viable

Working out of the slot for Houston, Lewis caught five of six targets for 45 yards and a score. His 4-yard touchdown came on a short out route, and he was targeted on two conversions as well, so it seems the spread Houston offense wants to utilize his quickness out of the slot in the high-leverage areas of the field. 

Cam Phillips (FD: $19, DK: $8400) and Sammie Coates (FD: $17, DK: $9500)  
Tournament options

Phillips ran routes on 100% of Houston's dropbacks, and should probably be considered their No. 1. He also totaled just 17 yards on three receptions outside a 50-yard score on the first drive of the game, and it's possible he has a little more weekly variability as an outside receiver than Lewis in the slot. Coates plays a similar role and showed off that variability with a down game in Week 1, catching just two of nine targets while seeing several downfield looks, including an end zone target where Walker underthrew him a bit. It's easy to see either being Week 2's top-scoring wide receiver. 

Joe Horn (FD: $14, DK: $3400)
Cash or tournament viable

Horn led New York with eight targets out of the slot, though he caught just two for 27 yards. While Horn will probably be behind Mekale McKay and/or Colby Pearson some weeks, New York's Week 2 opponent DC just got crushed by Seattle's slot guy Austin Proehl. That's a combination of plenty of Week 1 involvement, a presumed plus matchup and a ridiculously low price tag. 

Jalen Tolliver (FD: $16, DK: $3900)
Tournament option

Tolliver was clearly one of Tampa's top two wide receivers in Week 1, but while Dan Williams crushed (and saw his salary rise accordingly), Tolliver is the other major Week 2 bargain thanks to Aaron Murray missing him on multiple potential touchdowns. Murray is out for Week 2 and the quarterback situation could be a bit shaky, but both Tolliver and Williams are at least in play. At a substantial discount, Tolliver is an interesting pivot off Horn.

Rashad Ross (FD: $18, DK: $9900)
Tournament option

Ross saw just two targets and didn't play a full slate of snaps, but he caught both for a 21-yard gain and a 31-yard touchdown. A star in the AAF last year, Ross's role could expand, and if it does, he'd easily be my favorite DC receiving option. One minor concern is New York cornerback Jamar Summers, who was among the top-graded coverage corners in the AAF, per PFF. The two never faced each other in the canceled season, but PFF also graded Summers well in coverage last week. 

Jeff Badet (FD: $15, DK: $8700) and Flynn Nagel (FD: $16, DK: $5200)
Tournament options

If you're of the mind Jones could improve the Dallas passing game, these are the two names to target. Badet ran a lot of underneath routes in Week 1, and the speedster totaled just 6 yards on three catches. Nagel posted a 6-6-43 line. I'm not sure if I'll use either in cash — Nagel seems to make more sense there given his salary — but I'll have plenty of tournament exposure to these top two receivers for Dallas. 

Also consider

Eli Rogers and Malchi Dupre are both very much in play for DC, with Rogers coming off an efficient 6-6-73 line and Dupre being a cheaper contrarian option after underperforming his Week 1 role. 

I'll be mostly fading Austin Proehl's impressive Week 1 performance, and if I play a Seattle receiver it will likely be Keenan Reynolds on the hope he comes in at lower ownership. Reynolds was targeted on all three of Seattle's conversions and seems to have a potential red zone role. 

You can mix tight end Donald Parham into Dallas stacks. I'm mostly fading the St. Louis passing game, as well as Los Angeles outside Spruce. 

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