If you’re looking for XFL DFS picks for Week 1 of this long-awaited season, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analyzed each team’s highest-probability game scripts to assess the most likely outcomes, including which players are in line to thrive more than anticipated or fall short of expectations.
The following recommended DraftKings lineup (for tournaments, 50/50, or head-to-head competitions) aims to lock in a relatively high floor while maximizing upside.
XFL DFS Considerations
There are too many X-factors to count in this opening week of the 2023 XFL season. Approximately 100 fantasy-relevant players will compete alongside and against linemen, linebackers, and secondaries in ways we simply haven’t seen before.
Because there’s nothing to build on here. A few former NFL impact players, mixed in with a litany of former NFL contributors, backups, and briefly signed assets who never made the final cuts. Most are playing together and against each other for the first time. With mostly new coaching staffs and schemes.
In the NFL, we know who the stars are. Sure, every season has its fair share of surprising breakouts and busts. But we can comfortably predict that, barring injuries, most of the top NFL QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs will do just fine in 2023. For example, we’re not wondering if Patrick Mahomes will exceed 200 yards per game or if Justin Jefferson can surpass 1,000 yards.
But Week 1 of the XFL introduces an entirely different calculus. Whatever 90%+ certainty we might have about Jalen Hurts averaging x DFS points per game cannot be transposed onto A.J. McCarron.
So the following recommendations include leaps of judgment based on an array of unknowns, as well as dozens of hours of research and analysis governing all four Week 1 contests.
Top DraftKings DFS Picks for XFL Week 1
Today, we’re playing DraftKings “XFL Classic,” which includes one QB, one RB, two WRs, two Flex players, and one D/ST.
QB A.J. McCarron, Battlehawks ($10,500)
The most expensive player available might also be the most reliable quarterback to kick off the 2023 season. I originally had Ben DiNucci in this slot. There are some great reasons to bet on the former Dallas Cowboy. But McCarron brings experience and, seemingly, the highest floor and one of the highest ceilings.
RB Abram Smith, Defenders ($7,900)
This decision assumes a run-friendly D.C. game plan that centers around breakout XFL star Abram Smith. The 24-year-old made waves two seasons ago as a Baylor senior, compiling a 1,601-12 rushing line on 6.2 yards per carry while reeling in 13 catches.
Even more notably, in three contests versus top-10 college teams, he ran 62 times for 382 yards (6.2 ypc). He looks ready for the XFL.
WR Marcell Ateman, Battlehawks ($9,200)
I’m not yet sold on Marcell Ateman. But apparently the Battlehawks are. There are advantages to safe production in Week 1 of a newly formed league. Stacking him with McCarron makes sense in an all-or-nothing slate where the two could realistically combine for 30+ points.
WR Josh Gordon, Sea Dragons ($9,000)
Expensive, risky, and worth it. Josh Gordon’s breakout NFL campaign was 10 years ago. He’ll turn 32 in April. I’ve seen plenty of memes hyping him as a man among boys in the XFL. I’m not going there.
MORE: 2023 XFL Fantasy Football Rankings — Josh Gordon, Abram Smith, A.J. McCarron, and More
Yet, there’s plenty of intrigue for a wideout who seemingly has one more shot at extending his professional career. In his historic 2013 campaign, Gordon’s QBs were Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer. Even all these years later, versus a sub-NFL-level defense, with DiNucci slinging it, I’d rather bet on Gordon than bet against him in the opening weekend.
Flex: TE Sal Cannella, Renegades ($5,400)
Surprisingly cheap for the Renegades’ first selection in the “offensive skills” portion of November’s draft. Despite a muted college career at Auburn, where he caught only 25 balls for 330 yards, Sal Cannella lit up the USFL and appears to have the polish to thrive in the XFL beginning in Week 1.
Flex: RB Max Borghi, Roughnecks ($4,500)
This might have been a DFS oversight, and with a top-heavy lineup, we’ll embrace it. Max Borghi might lead the Roughnecks in touches this weekend, but he’s not your typical running back.
The 2021 Washington State graduate caught 156 passes at the collegiate level, including an astonishing 139 in his first two campaigns. If he’s utilized through the air, Borghi could be the biggest DFS bargain, period.
D/ST Defenders ($3,500)
With $3,500 remaining, we’ll spend it all on the Defenders D/ST. As many unknowns as there are on offense, there are even more on defense. We know D.C. has some potentially strong playmakers, including defensive back Santos Ramirez. Playing at home also matters.
As D.C. residents know, the NFL’s Commanders technically play in Maryland, whereas the Defenders play in Washington, only a couple blocks from MLB’s Nationals Park. Never underestimate the fervor of the D.C. faithful.
Whatever you decide, good luck.