Kansas City’s Super Bowl LIV victory over San Francisco closes the book on the 2019 NFL season, but there is still money to be won playing daily fantasy football. The XFL will make its return this weekend, and both DraftKings and FanDuel are running large tournaments with $350,000-plus prize pools.
While XFL DFS will feel mostly familiar to NFL DFS players, there are some key differences to be aware of. Let’s dig into the XFL rulebook and highlight the rules you need to be aware of when building your XFL DFS teams this weekend.
Also, be sure to check out our Week 1 XFL fantasy projections, which are free and will be updated based on injury reports and depth chart news as we head into the weekend.
You can bet on the XFL at DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
On kickoffs, the kicker lines up at the 30-yard line and must kick the ball in play between the receiving team’s 20-yard line and end zone. The coverage team will line up at the receiving team’s 35-yard line, and the receiving team will line up on its 30-yard line. Both sides cannot move until the kick has been fielded by the returner. If the kick goes out of bounds, the receiving team gets the ball on the 45-yard line of the kicking team. In the event of a touchback, the ball goes to the 35-yard line of the receiving team.
The XFL says there are two benefits to this rule:
- It cuts down on the number of high-speed collisions during kickoffs, as players do not get running starts.
- If there are fewer touchbacks, there will be more meaningful plays in the return game.
The XFL also hopes to disincentivize coaches from punting on fourth down with these rules:
- Punts that go into the end zone will be placed at the 35-yard line of the receiving team.
- Punts that go out of bounds will be placed either at the 35-yard line or at the spot where the ball went out of bounds, whichever is more beneficial to the receiving team.
- The punting team cannot cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is in the air, making it easier for the receiving team to return the kick.
As the XFL aims to create more big plays in the return game, kick returners will become more impactful in XFL DFS. While in NFL DFS, the viability of “double dipping” — stacking a wide receiver/kick returner with his team defense in order to receive double points on a return touchdown — is exaggerated due to the high number of touchbacks, this could become a legitimate XFL DFS strategy if there truly are more big plays on special teams.
Note: FanDuel’s XFL DFS product does not include team defenses, but they remain part of the game at DraftKings.
Point After Touchdown
There will be no extra points as they exist in the NFL. Following a touchdown, an XFL team has the option to attempt a one-, two- or three-point conversion.
- One-point conversion: Team must score from the two-yard line
- Two-point conversion: Team must score from the five-yard line
- Three-point conversion: Team must score from the 10-yard line
The point-after rule could have major DFS implications depending on team strategies. Each XFL team will likely develop its own PAT tendencies with more aggressive teams perhaps electing to go for two or three points on every try. Coaching tendencies will be worth monitoring, as players featured in red-zone packages could gain some extra value here. Further, true goal-line backs in the XFL will have higher floors when they can be projected for the lion’s share of their teams’ one-point tries.
In the NFL, teams are allowed only one forward pass per play, but the XFL will allow two forward passes behind the line of scrimmage per play. NFL teams may be discouraged from running “trick” plays due to the risk of fumbling a lateral, while the XFL will encourage these plays by adding the possibility of a second forward pass. The second pass changes the downside from a fumble to an incompletion, perhaps making these types of plays more palatable to play-callers in the XFL.
It is currently unclear how frequently teams will take advantage of this rule, as teams have been keeping their plans close to the vest during the preseason. But if the league embraces the double-forward pass as a regular part of its offense, it could change how we think about stacking in DFS by shifting the points scored in a percentage of passing stats from the quarterback to the second passer, who may be a running back, wide receiver or even a backup quarterback.
Here are a few skill players around the league who may factor into the double-forward pass game:
–Keenan Reynolds (WR, Seattle): A former quarterback at Navy and current wide receiver, Reynolds is the all-time NCAA Division I leader in rushing touchdowns. HC Jim Zorn called Reynolds the team’s emergency quarterback and labeled him his “secret weapon.”
–Quinton Flowers (QB/RB, Tampa Bay): Flowers is listed as a “QB/RB” on the team’s official roster. HC Marc Trestman has said that Flowers “will play a role” in the season opener but did not divulge specifically what that role will be.
–Tanner McEvoy (WR, Tampa Bay): While playing for the University of Wisconsin, McEvoy split his time between the quarterback, wide receiver and safety positions. In his limited NFL experience, McEvoy has two pass attempts to his name, converting one for a 43-yard completion to C.J. Prosise while a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
–Tyler Palka (WR, DC): Currently playing wide receiver for the Defenders, Palka played quarterback in college for both Saginaw Valley State and Gannon University.
–Nick Holley (RB, Houston): Holley has some college experience at quarterback from his time at Kent State. In 2016, Holley posted a stat line of 285 passing yards with two touchdowns, adding 117 rushing yards with one touchdown on the ground against Akron.
–Blake Jackson (WR, Houston): Jackson played quarterback at Division III Mary Hardin-Baylor in college. In 2016, Jackson threw for 3,282 yards with 35 touchdowns, adding 904 yards on the ground.
In contrast to the “sudden death” style of overtime utilized in the NFL, overtime in the XFL is more akin to a shootout in hockey or soccer. The two teams will take turns trying to score from the five-yard line, and the team with the most successful attempts after five rounds will be awarded the victory. Each successful conversion will be worth two points.
Game stacks will become more enticing due to this wrinkle. A quarterback who converts all five attempts as a passer can add 10 extra points to his stat line on DraftKings. The ability to double-up on those points via correlation increases the probability that a DFS team will rocket up the leaderboard during the overtime period.
The XFL will use a 25-second play clock and will allow seven seconds between each play for the ball to be spotted. The play clock will not stop for incompletions, except during the “comeback period,” which includes the final two minutes of each half. During the comeback period:
- The clock will stop on incompletions and out-of-bounds plays.
- On plays that end in bounds, the clock will stop until the ball has been spotted and five seconds have elapsed on the play clock.
In the NFL, a leading team is incentivized to run the ball in order to keep the play clock running, shortening the game. In the XFL, the play clock will run continuously for most of the game, even following incompletions. But XFL teams may still view rushing the ball as the safer option when nursing a lead, as the running game is less likely to create turnover opportunities for the other team.
Additionally, trailing teams may be reasonably projected to attempt a higher percentage of three-point plays following touchdowns, while leading teams may elect to take the easier points by going for one.
While the rules listed below may not have the same DFS impact as those listed above, it’s still helpful to be aware of the following XFL rules:
- A receiver is required to get one foot down inbounds — as opposed to both feet in the NFL — on a completed catch.
- All offensive skill players will be able to receive coach-to-player communications through their helmets.
- Shorter halftimes — only 10 minutes in the XFL — allow for less talk, more rock.
Heading into Week 1, no one can be totally sure how things will play out in XFL DFS. The most successful players in this new DFS format will be the ones who are able to quickly identify emerging trends and adapt their lineup construction strategies accordingly before the rest of the field catches up.
Pictured: Los Angeles Xtreme and San Francisco Demons
Credit: Scott Halleran/Allsport via Getty Images