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XFL DFS Lineup Picks: DraftKings Daily Fantasy Fantasy Advice for Week 1

Welcome back to the XFL! Back in 2020, the XFL re-launched, and we got a few fun weeks of football before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the league down. Now, in 2023, the XFL is back again. Will the third time be the charm? Will the Rock be the hero who makes spring football sustainable?

With DraftKings offering XFL contests again this year, I'll be here every week with lineup picks for the league. It looks like the plan at DraftKings is to do one four-game slate each weekend.

Below, you'll find my thoughts on the Week 1 DFS slate of XFL contests on DraftKings, which goes live on 2/18/2023 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to also read all our other weekly XFL fantasy football articles. Let's get to it, and good luck RotoBallers!

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DraftKings Quarterbacks - Week 1 XFL DFS Picks

A.J. McCarron - St. Louis Battlehawks, $10,500

There are a lot of potential quarterback battles in this league, and then there's the St. Louis Battlehawks, who have A.J. McCarron starting, with Nick Tiano backing him up. No disrespect for Tiano, but I think McCarron is probably locked in as the starter here.

Now, spring leagues are full of examples of veteran quarterbacks getting replaced by guys that people haven't heard of. Back in 2020, we thought Aaron Murray was the starter in Tampa Bay, but Taylor Cornelius replaced him. Still, McCarron was in the NFL as recently as 2021, when he suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game for the Falcons. Assuming he's recovered from that injury, he brings one of the best pedigrees in the league. He also has a talented group of pass catchers.

Of course, someone will emerge as a dual-threat weapon this weekend, and that someone won't be McCarron. Whoever that is will probably outscore McCarron and jump to the top of next week's rankings. But with so much uncertainty, I'm playing it safe this week with McCarron.

Drew Plitt - Arlington Renegades, $7,300

One thing I want to do this first week, since so much is up in the air: find value with players who we're pretty sure will be on the field. That'll be tough at most positions, but I think it's pretty easy at quarterback this week because DraftKings is pricing Kyle Sloter like the starter for the Renegades, even though the team named Plitt the starting quarterback.

Now, sure, that could change still. The two could cycle in and out, and Sloter could wind up proving that he's the better quarterback. But when the named starter costs $3,000 less than the named backup, then I think DFS players need to jump on that potential value there. I'll have Plitt locked into a lot of my lineups, giving me a little extra cap space to experiment at the other positions.

 

DraftKings Running Backs - Week 1 XFL DFS Picks

Abram Smith - D.C. Defenders, $7,900

Youth matters at the running back position, which is why I like Abram Smith a lot. Signed as a UDFA by the Saints last year, Smith—who played his college ball at Baylor—hasn't appeared in an NFL game before, but he ran for 1,601 yards in 2021, his final season at Baylor. The fact that he only had one year of production for the Bears would scare me off if we were talking about the NFL, but this is the XFL, where I think Smith's fresh legs will be what ultimately winds up mattering. I expect to see him get a lot of snaps this weekend.

Kalen Ballage - San Antonio Brahmas, $4,800

The Brahmas have Jacques Patrick, who was third in the 2020 XFL in rushing yards and seems to be the expected starter for the team based on DraftKings pricing. But DFS pricing isn't what determines who plays football for each team: it's the coaching staff that does that, and in the most recent depth chart released by the Brahmas, Kalen Ballage is listed as the starter.

A lot of people will remember Ballage for having some promise with the Dolphins and then fizzling out. He didn't play in the NFL in 2022, but he did appear in 17 games in 2021 with the Steelers. He only had 12 carries, but the fact he was on an NFL field not that long ago feels encouraging.

 

DraftKings Wide Receivers and Tight Ends - Week 1 XFL DFS Picks

Marcell Ateman - St. Louis Renegades, $9,200

While a McCarron/Ateman stack is expensive, since both are the top-priced players at their position, I think it's a stack worth using in some lineups, because it has the chance of being the highest-scoring duo.

The 28-year-old receiver spent some time on the Cardinals roster this past offseason, and he's ranked No. 2 in RotoBaller's rankings this week. While he never really made much of an impact in the NFL, he's a talented player who played extremely well in college at Oklahoma State. Maybe he ends up being this year's "bigger name who doesn't do much" at the wide receiver position, but I like taking a shot on him this week.

Jalen Tolliver - San Antonio Brahmas, $7,400

Tolliver finished fourth in the 2020 XFL in receiving yards, catching 21 passes for 297 yards before that season was abandoned because of the pandemic. He's listed as a starter on the team's depth chart, and he'll be playing for a Brahmas team whose offensive coordinator, Jaime Elizondo, was Tolliver's head coach in 2021 in the CFL.

That season in the CFL, Tolliver played well, catching 29 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns. Assuming quarterback Jack Coan can provide serviceable play, Tolliver has a chance to be one of the XFL's top wideouts.

Geronimo Allison - Vegas Vipers, $7,000

A lot of the receiver attention for Vegas seems to be going toward Martavis Bryant and Jeff Badet. I understand the Bryant part, but I think Badet probably does what he did in the 2020 XFL and the 2022 USFL: not much. That leaves an opening for Allison, who is listed as a starter alongside the other two on the team's depth chart.

Allison spent a lot of time in the NFL, including catching a career-high 34 passes in 2019 for the Packers. But he opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic and then saw action in just three games in 2021 for the Lions. He's a reliable receiver with pro experience who should eat as the second option, with Bryant getting most of the defensive attention.



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