DraftKings Week 9 XFL DFS Tournament Plays


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DraftKings Week 9 XFL DFS Tournament Plays

A lack of NFL football, or football in general, is a terrible thing. Thankfully, football is still hanging around, thanks to the XFL! And since DraftKings is offering DFS fantasy tournaments, it’s time to discuss the top plays and contrarian options so we can bink some XFL tournaments.

I’ll be going position by position, highlighting my favorite plays for tournaments, with a TL;DR included for those who don’t want to read my reasoning and just want the top-value plays. I’ll also include teams’ implied totals directly below, to help readers get a sense of the offenses Vegas thinks will put the most points on the board.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jake Tribbey discussed his love for spring football on the Two-Point Stance Podcast, while he and Chris Wecht will discuss the entire XFL slate Thursday afternoon, including best bets, on the Fantasy Points XFL Breakdown on our YouTube channel.

XFL Projections are available to any Standard or Premium Fantasy Points subscriber.

Team Totals

Vegas Vipers (18.75) @ Houston Roughnecks (25.25)

Orlando Guardians (17.75) @ San Antonio Brahmas (20.25)

Arlington Renegades (16.0) @ DC Defenders (25.5)

Seattle Sea Dragons (22.0) @ St. Louis Battlehawks (23.5)

Injury Reports

Justin Freeman from RunTheSims is kind enough to aggregate injury information for us here. That sheet is a great resource, and I would recommend bookmarking it for future reference.


In the TL;DR, I’ll list out the top plays in order of value (according to me). This isn’t super strict, it does not factor in ownership, and in some cases, it’s sort of arbitrary. It also doesn’t matter nearly as much as my readers think it does. What does matter is maximizing the correlations within your lineups, and making sure you include at least a few players on each tournament team who should be on the lower end of ownership (I highlight a few in my write-ups). Get creative!

Plays ranked in order, with tier 1 in bold, and assumes notable questionable players suit up…

QB: Jalan McClendon, AJ McCarron, Quinten Dormady, Ben DiNucci, Brandon Silvers, Jordan Ta’amu, Luis Perez

RB: Jacques Patrick, Brian Hill, Phillip Lindsay, John Hilliman, Leddie Brown, Devin Darrington, Abram Smith, Rod Smith, John Lovett, De’Veon Smith, Max Borghi

WR/TE: Eli Rogers, Juwan Green, Michael Bandy, Marcell Ateman, Darrius Shepherd, Blake Jackson, Deontay Burnett, Charleston Rambo, Hakeem Butler, Travell Harris, Fred Brown, Jeff Badet, Jahcour Pearson, Logan Carter


Quinten Dormady ($10,600): Dormady has four full games under his belt, and he’s averaging an absurd 28.3 DraftKings FPG per four quarters – a mark that is 26% better than the next-closest QB (AJ McCarron). With Dormady under center, the Guardians’ offense averages 25.8 PPG (2nd-best over the full season), compared to 10.8 PPG without Dormady (last).

His rushing is simply awesome, as Dormady has the 3rd-most QB carries (18), and the 2nd-most designed QB carries (11) alongside a position-leading seven inside the 10 carries since Week 6. He’s not a great athlete, but that doesn’t matter when he’s this willing to call his own number this often near the goal line. And his passing has been consistently good, as Dormady has thrown for at least 243 yards in every contest where he’s played more than 2 quarters, and over 300 yards in his last two games. So he’s a great play again in Week 9, right? Well, this is the first week I’ve had some legitimate fantasy concerns about Dormady since he took over as the starter. The San Antonio defense is pretty dang good, allowing just 16.4 PPG (toughest), 195.6 passing YPG (2nd-toughest), and 6.3 yards per pass attempt (3rd-toughest), while earning a 77.5 PFF pass coverage grade (2nd-best). Only two teams have scored more than 20 points against this defense – suggesting there is a real chance they could shut down Dormady. But, despite a poor matchup and brutally low total (38.0), Dormady’s underlying metrics are still so strong that he profiles as a solid play. He will be in my player pool, but he’s far from my favorite QB this week.

Jalan McClendon ($9,400): McClendon has just two starts under his belt, but he’s already proven he’s a competent fantasy QB after averaging 21.8 DraftKings FPG, 211.5 passing YPG, and 43.5 rushing YPG across those games. Among QBs, those numbers would rank 3rd, 4th, and 1st (50% better than the next-closest QB). Priced as the QB5 by salary, it’s pretty easy to view McClendon as a top value in the 2nd-highest total game of the week.

Houston’s defense has had its struggles as of late, allowing 24.3 PPG (3rd over the full season) and 218.0 passing YPG (4th) since Week 5 – so this isn’t a unit to be afraid of. Plus, we’ve seen every starting QB in this Vegas offense post elite numbers, as Vegas QBs have averaged 24.6 DraftKings FPG in their five full games this season (1st among QBs by 1.6 FPG). That means there is a real chance McClendon is the most valuable fantasy QB in the XFL until further notice, given the success QBs have had in this system. He’s our top projected QB value of the week.

Brandon Silvers ($8,700): Silvers has been flat-out bad lately, averaging a pathetic 9.5 DraftKings FPG and 161.3 passing YPG over his last three starts. And I think it’s reasonable to assume Silvers just may not be very good, despite playing in a ridiculously favorable offense. He has just one single-game PFF passing grade over 62.0 (Week 4), and his overall passing grade (56.5) only bests Kyle Sloter among the 10 qualifying QBs with at least 100 pass attempts.

But even if Silvers sucks, there is still some hope for fantasy. He averaged 20.1 DraftKings FPG in his first four games, never falling below 16.0 DraftKings points in an individual contest. The Houston offense is built for passing, as they lead the XFL in neutral situation pass rate (69%) and early-down pass rate (64%). And the matchup is near-perfect, as Vegas is allowing the 2nd-most passing YPG (233.1), and the most yards per pass attempt (8.0), while recording the 3rd-fewest pressures (84) and the 2nd-worst PFF coverage grade (61.0).

The benching risk is real. The risk Silvers outright sucks is real. But I’m still going to take shots on Silvers, given the matchup and what he’s shown earlier in the season. Plus, he’s a lock to be low-owned after he pulled just 3% ownership in Week 8.


Weighted opportunity, snap/route shares, and raw opportunities through 8 weeks:

Weighted opportunity by week:

Brian Hill ($10,400): Hill joins Abram Smith as the only RBs priced in the low five figures, but I still think he’s a justifiable play despite being priced up.

In Week 8, Hill recorded an 80% snap share (which jumps to 90% if you only include snaps with an RB on the field), 90% of backfield weighted opportunity (the 2nd-highest mark this season), and 13.9 weighted opportunity points (2nd among RBs despite zero red zone opportunities).

His usage is so, so good. And St. Louis only seems to ride him harder in big games – Hill would have earned every backfield touch last week had he not gotten banged up ahead of the first half 2-minute warning. Week 9 is the definition of a big game, as St. Louis could secure a spot in the playoffs with a win. So, we expect Hill to be right there with Jacques Patrick in RB usage this week (maybe even better). Hill’s heightened price should keep ownership reasonable, which makes him really pop as a tournament option this week.

Jacques Patrick ($7,700): Since Week 6, Patrick ranks 1st in weighted opportunity per game (15.8), 1st in snap share (74%), 1st in route share (69%), and 1st in targets per game (5.0). He’s unquestionably the league’s premier bell cow. And – as if things couldn’t look better for Patrick – he draws an awesome matchup in Week 9.

The Orlando defense is allowing the 2nd-most rushing YPG (122.3) and the 2nd-most YPC (4.7). Combine that with San Antonio entering this contest as a favorite (-1.5), and Patrick could be faced with positive gamescript (and more scoring opportunities) for one of the first times this season. Patrick is pretty easily the top RB play of the week, given this matchup and his league-leading usage at a reasonable price tag.

Phillip Lindsay ($7,500): Lindsay was signed by Seattle last week and immediately took over this backfield. Week 8 saw Lindsay earn 72% of backfield weighted opportunity (3rd-most), the 6th-most raw weighted opportunity (11.1), and 83% of backfield red zone opportunities. Going forward, it’s easy to project Lindsay for ~75% of backfield usage and close to 100% of backfield goal-line work. Still, that’s not worth as much in Seattle as it is in other backfields – the Sea Dragons RBs are averaging just 14.4 weighted opportunity points per game (2nd-worst).

But this backfield could have some extra juice in Week 9, as St. Louis is allowing the most rushing YPG (132.0) and the most YPC (4.7) in the XFL. In the perfect matchup, Lindsay’s efficiency (he averaged 4.5 YPC across his NFL career) could easily pace the RBs on this slate.

Where does that leave us? Lindsay projects decently well, but not close to good enough to be considered a top value. And that should keep his ownership rather low, especially since he’s priced almost identically to the heavily-owned Jacques Patrick.

Devin Darrington ($5,500): Darrington totally failed in Week 8, scoring just 2.4 DraftKings points and finishing the game with 5 rushing yards on 7 attempts. But, that’s because the offense totally failed, scoring just 16 points – Orlando’s worst offensive performance since Week 4. The 7.2 weighted opportunity points the Guardians’ backfield earned in Week 8 was the worst usage any backfield has had this season, and a massive dropoff from the 17.1 weighted opportunity points the backfield averaged in Quinten Dormady’s previous starts. That’s a long-winded way of saying backfield usage has nowhere to go but up after Week 8.

And I still think Darrington has a (somewhat) compelling bull case, at least for fantasy purposes. His 53% snap share over the last two weeks ranks 5th among active RBs over the full season, and the 68% of backfield weighted opportunity he’s captured over the last two weeks would rank 4th-best. Plus, his goal-line role is among the best in the XFL…

But Darrington’s viability will come down to just how productive the Orlando offense can be. Their 17.75-point implied team total suggests this isn’t the week to go overboard on Darrington exposure. While I agree with that, I do think Darrington goes under-owned relative to his underlying metrics. If you are making 10 or more lineups, he should absolutely be in your player pool – if only as a way to save salary at the RB position.


Deontay Burnett ($9,700): Burnett has averaged an impressive 14.1 DraftKings FPG since Week 3, and has exceeded 23.0 DraftKings points in 25% of his games this season. But despite his compelling production, Burnett still feels like he could go under-owned in Week 9.

And if Burnett is under 15% owned, he’s a pretty great play. He leads the league in unrealized air yards (318) while ranking top-5 in targets (52), 1st in air yards (690), top-5 in red zone targets (7), and 1st in targets of 20 or more yards (15). Burnett’s upside is truly awesome, given his role both downfield and in the red zone.

Charleston Rambo ($8,000): Cody Latimer’s absence makes all of these Orlando pass catchers tempting tournament options, and I’d expect Eli Rogers to lead the way in terms of ownership. But let’s not forget about Rambo, who ranks 2nd among all players in air yards (305), 5th in targets (20), and 2nd in targets of 20 or more yards (6) since Week 6. So, he’s seeing great volume, and seeing great volume downfield.

It has felt like a boom game is coming for Rambo for some time, so why wouldn’t it happen in Week 9 with Latimer sidelined? We could point to Dormady’s inconsistency as a passer, or the San Antonio defense as a reason to avoid Rambo this week. But I’ll be rostering him on at least 15% of my lineups because of how strong many of his underlying metrics have been with Dormady under center.

Eli Rogers ($5,300): Rogers earned 10 catches on 12 targets, leading to 135 receiving yards, a TD, and 32.5 DraftKings points – one of the strongest XFL fantasy performances of the season. Rogers appears to be the primary beneficiary of Lance Lenoir’s stint on IR, as Rogers has led the team in targets (24) and red zone targets (2) over the last three weeks. And it’s reasonable to expect Rogers’ production to continue, given Orlando has led the XFL in passing YPG (291.3) since Week 6.

The matchup is tough, sure, but that’s reflected in Orlando’s implied team total, which is a notable factor in our projections. But even the 2nd-lowest implied team total of the slate (17.75) can’t prevent Rogers from popping as a top value. Plus, Cody Latimer (knee) has been ruled out. That leaves 22% of Orlando’s targets vacated, which leads to a notable projection boost for nearly every pass catcher in this offense. It’s tough not to love Rogers as play this week, but I wouldn’t blame readers for fading him in some capacity, as he should be the highest-owned WR on the slate. I’ll look to at least match the field, especially with Latimer ruled out.

Marcell Ateman ($4,300): Ateman has just two games under his belt since returning from injury, but the offense clearly hasn’t forgotten about him, as he saw a team-leading 19% target share last week, alongside a strong 69% route share. He’s the WR3 in this offense, with a role that is growing with each subsequent healthy week.

The only thing that held him back in Week 8 was Nick Tiano’s iffy passing, but the Battlehawks are expected to get AJ McCarron back for Week 9 – solving any concerns about QB play. Ateman is one of our top values at the position, and I’d consider him one of my favorite tournament plays of Week 9 in the highest-total game of the week (46.0).

Michael Bandy ($3,600): It’s mentally difficult to target these Houston WRs given their offense went from the best in the XFL (30.5 PPG in Weeks 1 through 4) to below average (18.0 PPG since Week 5) – due almost entirely to QB play. But even bad QB play doesn’t take away from these WRs standalone fantasy value, at least not enough to consider fading this passing attack in its entirety.

And Bandy is absolutely the way I want to attack this passing game. He led the team in target share last week (26%) and saw his route share climb to 66%. Keep in mind he’s been on the team for two weeks. With another round of practices under his belt, he could easily be the team’s top slot WR in Week 9. How much is the lead slot role in Houston worth? If you take the best game each week from either Cedric Byrd or Travell Harris, you’d find Houston’s top slot is averaging 11.0 DraftKings FPG – a mark that would rank 10th-best among slate-eligible WRs. And if Bandy continues to trend up, that’s a pretty reasonable baseline. He doesn’t project quite that well for us, but he’s still a top-5 value at the position and pretty easily my favorite WR play of the week if we assume his ownership is ~10%.

Quick Hits

Don’t forget about AJ McCarron ($11,700) – who is a lock to play this week. On last week’s broadcast, the announcers noted that McCarron could have played, but the Battlehawks wanted to hold him out so he would be ready for Week 9. He’s the 2nd-most productive fantasy QB in the XFL (22.4 DraftKings FPG), he’s PFF’s highest-graded passer (79.9), and he’s playing in the highest-total game of the slate (46.0). I suspect he goes under-owned if he logs another limited practice on Friday.

DeJoun Lee ($4,800) has been ruled out, but I’m not anxious to play Brycen Alleyne ($4,200) after the Roughnecks signed RB Jeremy Cox. That said, there is a decent argument Cox is either inactive or just doesn’t get much run – which I suppose keeps Alleyne in play, especially for showdown.

In the battle of desperation salary-relief RB plays, I prefer John Hilliman ($3,100) to Leddie Brown ($4,500) – but they are neck and neck in our projections. Hilliman offers slightly better TD equity (De’Veon Smith will earn 100% of inside the 5 carries), and comparable usage at a lower price tag. Regardless, I wouldn’t expect much out of either player – I’m viewing them as pure salary relief.

I legitimately despise Cedric Byrd ($6,600) as a play this week if he catches any ownership at all. His route share fell to 66% in Week 8 (lowest mark since Week 5), and his target share fell to just 6% (lowest mark since Week 1). He carries no TD equity (1 red zone target all season), and his aDOT is so low (5.4) that he will need massive volume to win you a tournament. Oh yeah, and he’s losing his job to Michael Bandy. Play Byrd at your own risk.

That said, I do think Justin Smith ($4,600) is a rather sneaky play within the Houston passing attack. Since Week 5, Smith has a 97% route share, a 12% target share, and a team-leading 43% red zone target share. I doubt he’s very popular, and a massive game is likely on the horizon if Houston can just get some semblance of competency at the QB position.

I still sort of (kind of) like TJ Vasher ($3,500). He probably sucks – his 0.44 YPRR is the 2nd-worst mark in the XFL (43 qualifiers). That said, he ranks 9th in air yards (239), 22nd in targets (22), and 4th in red zone target rate (29%) since Week 5 – presenting some value at his WR35 price tag.

I hate touting Arlington WRs, but I think LuJuan Winningham ($3,400) is actually one of the league’s most underrated talents at the position. He’s earned a 14% target share over the last three weeks (3rd on the team) and a 49% route share. Not sexy, sure. But Winningham is a fairly cheap way to attack the DC pass defense – which has allowed a league-leading 268.9 passing YPG this season. I’ll take a few shots on him with Arlington expected to play from behind all game.

And for similar reasons, you could argue for Brandon Arconado ($4,200). I don’t think he’s a special talent (like Winningham might be), but he did lead the team in route share (81%) and target share (22%) last week. Again, these pass catchers are gross, and rotation is far from secure. But he might be worth a dart throw in a likely negative script.

One of Jaylen Smith ($2,500), Logan Carter ($2,500), and Jordan Thomas ($2,500) is likely the best way to save on salary this week, but it’s hard to say which one. Jaylen Smith and Jordan Thomas have flashed impressive receiving ability at times, and are listed as Latimer’s direct backups. But Logan Carter leads Orlando’s non-Latimer TEs in both routes (87, next closest is 32) and targets (18, next closest is 7) – so he’s probably the best play of the group. It’s a dicey spot, but somebody (probably Carter) is going to be one of the top values of the week if they manage to catch just a few passes.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.