Don't be afraid to put Josh Johnson in your lineup this week even though his Los Angeles Wildcats are playing the undefeated DC Defenders
Every time I entered a player for one of XFL Week 3 daily fantasy football (DFS) lineups on DraftKings, I cleared it and replaced it with a new one. Go ahead, pick someone, and I will tell you why I don't like him this week.
For example, let's look at Houston Roughnecks running back James Butler. I'll pass, thanks. He has all of 16 carries so far this season. He carries the highest salary on DraftKings this week because he has a touchdown each of the last two games. And he also has a total of 78 yards in that same span. Do you really want to drop $8,500 on a TD-dependant player like that? Similarly, teammate Cam Phillips has been incredible, as he's the reigning "Star of the Week" after his three-touchdown performance in Week 2. But he's dealing with an ankle injury that has limited his practice participation. He's listed as Probable for Saturday's game, so it's just a matter of if that's enough assurance to spend $11K on him.
But it's not just Houston players that I'm fading. That Seattle defense is pretty good, and I don't think Dallas RB Cameron Artis-Payne does anything close to what he did last week. Matt Jones is the XFL's leading rusher thus far, and he's getting the work (37 carries in first two games), but I'm still not buying the BattleHawks. So what do you do when you want to fade the top players?
Bank on the upset!
And that's what I'm doing this week. Go hard or go home; that's my motto. Well, this week at least. And while I believe the DC Defenders might actually be the best team in the league, I think they get clawed by the WIldcats out in Los Angeles this weekend. I still don't like LA's defense, but the offense is starting to play better and I think this game turns into a shootout that goes down to the last minute. Keep that in mind when reading my picks below.
Week 3 XFL DraftKings Picks
QB: Josh Johnson, Los Angeles Wildcats vs. DC Defenders (Sun.), $9,200
For cash games, I like the four quarterbacks above Johnson. I just don't like their price. And I'm a GPP-guy, and I think most will spend the five digits on a QB, with another large faction going the cheap route probably spending the $7,500 on Brandon Silvers or going even lower.
But I love Johnson in this sweet spot. He has shown he can run, but he also has the arm to connect on a 50-yard bomb:
It does help that Wildcats feature some nice weapons including some decent receivers. Which brings us to...
WR: Nelson Spruce and Jordan Smallwood, Los Angeles Wildcats vs. DC Defenders (Sun.) $10,900 and $7,200
And if I'm rolling with Josh Johnson, you better believe I'm going to go with two of my favorite WRs. Spruce has been an absolute stud, leading the XFL in targets (24), receptions (17), and receiving yards (181). And OK, so he's not leading the league in touchdowns, but as the clip above shows you, he is no stranger to the end zone either.
Smallwood is $3K less than Spruce but has still seen at least half a dozen targets each of the last two weeks. I think Smallwood can continue to average double-digit fantasy points this weekend and at $7,200, I'll take that gamble.
Of course, if you believe in the veracity of my prediction, you might want to stack three Wildcat receivers and add Adonis Jennings to your entry too. He's the minimum $3,000 but is coming off of a five-target game, including three deep balls. But that's enough WIldcats for one week, right?
RB: Lance Dunbar, Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons (Sat.), $6,600
I still like Artis-Payne and the stud that is DC Defenders back Jhurell Pressley in cash games, but it is their backfield mates who are actually better values. Dunbar is far cheaper than Pressley, and he has out-targeted him 12 to 9. That's noteworthy because Dallas has included their RBs in their passing game more than any other XFL team through two weeks.
Dunbar has had more than a dozen DK points each of the last two weeks. I bet he makes it a third.
And those who don't want to pony up for Pressley may want to take a look at his running mate, Donnel Pumphrey. He outgained (78-41) and out-touched (17-13) Pressley last week.
DST: Houston Roughnecks vs. Tampa Bay Vipers (Sat.), $5,200
This might be my most conservative pick this week. In fact, I like the upside of at least half the other defenses. But the downsides scare the beejeezus out of me, so I'm willing to pay for the floor for Houston here. Tampa Bay's offense is an absolute mess right now. Whether it is Aaron Murray, Taylor Cornelius, or Quinton Flowers, not a single Vipers QB has thrown a TD pass in an XFL game yet. That is a recipe for disaster or rather one for success if you're taking the opposing defense.
FLEX: Nick Holley, Roughnecks vs. Tampa Bay Vipers (Sat.) $,4400
This is the first time I've discussed Holley in this space but not the first time I've gone on record saying I like him.
Holley is the Taysom Hill or "Swiss Army Knife" of the XFL. Holley played QB while at Kent State and made the Roughnecks 52-man roster as an RB but has been a major piece of the prolific Houston passing attack. Holley is third in receptions, receiving yards, and targets on the team. As mentioned previously, Cam Phillips may be a little banged up, so it's possible Holley sees a few more targets on Saturday.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.