Fantasy Football: XFL Week 3 DFS picks for DraftKings, FanDuel

Week 3 XFL pricing has gotten sharper, as salaries for the top options have risen and the viable options at cheaper numbers are limited. For the first time this year, it doesn't feel like you can just choose the options you prefer — this week requires more strategy and attention in how you construct your lineup. 

That's not to say that there isn't value. But at the top of the wide receiver lists, Nelson Spruce and Cam Phillips have separated themselves enough that playing both is constricting. And the five quarterbacks in my top two tiers are both the clear top options and also priced like it. Paying down for a cheaper quarterback is still a possibility, but there's quite a bit of risk outside that group. 

And if you're paying up for one of the better quarterbacks and also fitting in either Spruce or Phillips at their high salaries, you'll need to find a few cheaper options. So I've got more than a few below, and while I'm not thrilled about some of them, I do like the constructions they allow. 

I'll also give you my take on the top-priced plays at each position as we head into Week 3. Let's get into the picks:

Quarterback

Phillip Walker (FanDuel salary: $23, DraftKings salary: $11,500)
Cash or tournament viable

Walker's price is up there, especially since Houston goes on the road for the first time against a Tampa team playing its first home game. Yes, the Vipers have really struggled through two weeks, but it's possible they show some fight in Week 3, and Walker's top receiving option, Cam Phillips, missed some practice time this week. Still, Phillips is expected to play, and Walker has looked fantastic. Even if Tampa puts up a fight, expect Houston to ask Walker to create a huge percentage of their offense either with his arms or legs.

Cardale Jones (FD: $20, DK: $10,800)
Cash or tournament viable

My favorite matchup of the week includes both of the next two quarterbacks, as DC travels to LA for its first road game of the season. Jones has been extremely efficient through two weeks, and DeAndre Thompkins returned to a productive first game in Week 2, giving Jones a trio of strong receivers with Eli Rogers, Rashad Ross and Thompkins. 

Josh Johnson (FD: $18, DK: $9200)
Cash or tournament viable

Johnson looked good in Week 2, particularly his willingness to push the ball down the field. We know about his mobility, and while he is still dealing with a thigh injury, he should be further along in that recovery ahead of Week 3 than he was last week. Add in that he's a discount on both sites, and Johnson's worth considering. 

Also consider 

I missed on Jordan Ta'amu last week, and I'll probably miss again here because I think St. Louis can control the game enough at home against New York to keep this a lower-scoring game where it will run substantially more than throw, a style the Battlehawks prefer if their Week 1 win is to be believed. While I'm mostly going to keep my quarterback exposure to the big five, I'll be light on Ta'amu compared to the three above and Landry Jones, who orchestrates the pass-happiest offense in the league. 

Running back

Lance Dunbar (FD: $15, DK: $6600)
Cash or tournament viable

Dunbar is the second half of a Dallas backfield that is generating a ton of high-value touches thanks to a high pass rate and willingness to throw to the position. The only back in the XFL who has scored at least 11 PPR points in both games, Dunbar's still underpriced considering he's done that without yet scoring a touchdown. There's a strong floor and also likely more of a ceiling here than it appears. 

Donnel Pumphrey (FD: $13, DK: $7000)
Cash or tournament viable

I've been on Jhurell Pressley each of the past two weeks, but it seems clear now that Pumphrey is the lead back for DC. Both are viable options this week with DC favored by more than a touchdown, but Pumphrey is the better option at cost. 

Cameron Artis-Payne (FD: $18, DK: $8300)
Cash or tournament viable

Artis-Payne went off in Week 2, and appears likely to carry significant ownership in Week 3 if people can find the salary. I'm certainly willing to buy into his role, and as I noted above the offense sets up well for running back production, but I'll probably be underweight compared to the field in an effort to save salary at running back, which has been an underwhelming position overall. 

Larry Rose (FD: $11, DK: $3500)

Tournament option

We're not sure on Elijah Hood's status, but he's been limited in practice this week. Hood has been the lead back for LA, but he's had trouble hanging onto the football and is now banged up. Enter Rose, who is very cheap, and could get additional touches either due to Hood's injury, fumbles or the fact that Hood has just not been very productive through two games. 

Also consider

Among other cheaper options, Christine Michael looked better in Week 2 than in Week 1, and is involved for a St. Louis offense that likes to run the ball and is a big favorite in its home opener. Jacques Patrick is another No. 2 who got a little more work in Week 2 than in Week 1, but Tampa Bay is a heavy underdog against Houston. Still, Aaron Murray is out again this week, and the Vipers could give Quinton Flowers a longer look at QB, which would mean a run-heavy offense. 

James Butler is expensive but is in play as the lead back for Houston with three touchdowns in two games, while Matt Jones is the lead back ahead of Michael in the same advantageous game setup. 

Wide Receiver

Nelson Spruce (FD: $20, DK: $10,900)
Cash or tournament viable

I was perhaps more impressed with Spruce coming back to the ball and being a willing outlet for Josh Johnson on multiple occasions early last week than his long touchdown later, but either way we have a high-volume receiver who showed he can get his numbers in any area of the field. DC looks like one of the better secondaries through two weeks, but the Defenders have also played two of the worst quarterbacks in the league, and Johnson and Spruce will easily be their toughest test. 

Donald Parham (FD: $16, DK: $5300)
Cash or tournament viable

Though Parham is a tight end, his role has included splitting out and seeing more downfield looks than Dallas's top two receivers — Jeff Badet and Flynn Nagel — through two weeks. The air yards are a great sign, and Parham nearly had a two-touchdown performance in Landry Jones' Week 2 debut. He settled for 76 yards and one score, numbers that would easily pay off his mid-level Week 3 salary. 

Cam Phillips (FD: $21, DK: $11,100)
Cash or tournament viable

As I noted in the intro, it's difficult (but not impossible) to fit both Spruce in Phillips in the same lineup. There's not much that separates them, other than Phillips missing practice time this week after his three-touchdown performance in Week 2. Phillips is clearly the top Houston pass-catcher, and his production thus far is worth trusting, but Spruce gets the slight edge for me this week. I'll have plenty of both. 

Eli Rogers (FD: $15, DK: $9700), Rashad Ross (FD: $17, DK: $9400), DeAndre Thompkins (FD: $19, DK: $5700)   
Tournament options

I'm going to use each of DC's top three receivers this week, with Thompkins looking like a cash option DK and Rogers on FD. Rogers has been fairly consistent through two weeks, and I feel good about his target floor, while Thompkins had a good first week in Week 2 and Ross continues to thrive in what has been a limited role. Ross is my favorite play of the three on the hopes his role expands, but this is a passing game worth targeting multiple ways. 

Mekale McKay (FD: $14, DK: $8800)
Tournament option

McKay is especially discounted on FanDuel, while his price remains pretty high at DraftKings after disappointing for two straight weeks. I'm mostly terrified of the New York offense after a poor showing in DC last week, given it is going on the road to play in front of what should be an engaged St. Louis crowd. But McKay's 20.4% share of targets and 34.5% share of New York's air yards makes him one Guardian I'll mix into my lineups.  

Keenan Reynolds (FD: $17, DK: $7400)
Tournament option

Much like McKay, Reynolds has dominated the passing game for a weaker offense — his 27.6% share of targets and 41.9% share of air yards are even stronger than McKay's — and you're gambling on quarterback play. But unlike McKay, Reynolds hit for a long touchdown last week, and Brandon Silvers seems more than willing to take shots downfield to Reynolds. 

Reece Horn (FD: $15, DK: $4200)
Cash or tournament viable

Receivers have put up big numbers against Houston through two weeks, with Spruce going off in Week 1 and the St. Louis double stack of Ta'amu, De'Mornay Pierson-El and L'Damian Washington being a tournament-winning combo in Week 2. Expect Houston to score on Tampa, and Tampa to need to throw, and if the Vipers get in that position I'm trusting Horn's Week 2 routes bump as my favorite option here. The slot option may also benefit from less short-area competition with tight end Nick Truesdell out. 

Also consider

There are a number of viable wide receivers this week, and how you stack your quarterback is notable. We definitely have to consider the other Houston pass-catchers outside Phillips, and I'd rank them Kahlil Lewis first, then Sammie Coates and Nick Holley in a similar spot. 

On the other side of that game, if Horn isn't the main pass-catcher for Tampa, it will likely be one of Dan Williams or Jalen Tolliver, who both gave up some routes in Week 2. But among the players who saw more time was Seantavius Jones, who was cut this week when Tampa acquired S.J. Green via trade. I'm not ready to use Green in his first game with a new team, and think that shakeup could mean a bounceback in playing time and opportunity for Williams and Tolliver. The big issue with any of them is Tampa really struggled through the air last week with Taylor Cornelius as its lead passer, throwing for just 102 yards as a team.

If I play a St. Louis pass-catcher, I'll probably go away from Pierson-El and Washington after their big games and bank on Alonzo Russell's air yards. Through two weeks, Russell's 39.3% share of air yards is second in the league to only Reynolds for Seattle. 

I'll also be considering other Dallas pass-catchers outside Parham, with Jeff Badet and Flynn Nagel among those, as well as a little of Josh Crockett after he caught both of his Week 2 targets for 57 yards. Crockett's 52 air yards were third on the team behind Parham and Badet. 

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