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XFL Week 3 Notes

By Matt Schauf 11:02am EST 2/20/20


There hasn’t been a ton of offense through 2 weeks of XFL action … especially for Tampa Bay.

Marc Trestman’s Vipers have delivered just a single TD so far -- and that came on defense. Eight of last week’s 15 total offensive scores came from the BattleHawks-Roughnecks matchup. And overall, 6 of the league’s first 8 games have come in under their Vegas point projections.

We have seen some early offensive stars, though:

-- Houston QB P.J. Walker has 7 TD passes through 2 games.

-- St. Louis QB Jordan Ta’amu has topped 20 DraftKings points each time out so far.

-- L.A. WR Nelson Spruce has dominated targets and posted receiving lines of 11-103 and 9-89-2.

We also saw some changes in playing time and touch distribution in Week 2, while injuries keep some other situations murky. Let’s dig into some of the stats, notes and injuries that should impact our Week 3 lineup decisions.


Houston Roughnecks at Tampa Bay Vipers

Saturday at 2 p.m.
Roughnecks by 6
Over/under: 45.5


Roughnecks Notes:

-- Walker and Ta’amu each sit more than 5 DK points per game ahead of any other QB who has started both games, with Walker another 2.2 per game ahead of Ta’amu. You’ll have to pay up for Walker ($11,500 on DK, $23 on FanDuel), but fading him completely doesn’t seem like a good idea.

-- Nick Holley is now listed at WR on both DK and FD. FanDuel had him at WR in Week 2, but Holley remained a cheap RB option on DraftKings. The switch makes him less attractive, as Holley ranks just 4th among Roughnecks in targets and 3rd in receptions.

-- RB De’Angelo Henderson remained out of practice to begin this week after sitting out Week 2 with a shoulder injury. He played just 2 snaps in the opener and wouldn’t be a DFS option even if healthy. But the injury can only help James Butler’s outlook. Butler has handled 47.1% of Houston’s rushing attempts so far, more than doubling any other RB on the team. But his 16 carries sits tied for just 8th in the league.

-- WR Cam Phillips also missed practice Wednesday with an ankle issue. He’ll be well worth watching throughout the week. Phillips missed just 1 snap in Week 2 and sits 2nd in the league behind only Spruce in targets (19). If Phillips sits, WR Blake Jackson would likely see a playing-time boost. But Kahlil Lewis and Sammie Coates would be the better target bets. Coates, however, has snagged only 3 of his 13 looks through 2 games -- despite playing with 1 of the league’s hottest QBs.


Vipers Notes:

-- QB Aaron Murray remained out of practice Wednesday after missing Week 2 with a foot injury. QB Taylor Cornelius stunk in his place, a week after Murray stunk. I now need to see something from this offense before I’m chasing anyone.

-- TE Nick Truesdell also sat out Wednesday with a knee injury. Truesdell has seen a decent 11 targets and leads all Vipers pass-catchers in playing time so far.

-- WR Daniel Williams saw his playing time dip in Week 2. After running routes on 100% of Tampa Bay dropbacks in Week 1, Williams fell to 61.9% in Week 2. That ranked 4th on the team, behind WR Reece Horn, Truesdell and Jalen Tolliver. WRs Tanner McEvoy Seantavius Jones also factored much more into Week 2. McEvoy’s playing time jumped from 2 snaps to 21, while Jones went from not playing at all to registering 27 snaps. The muddle only makes it easier to avoid what has been the league’s worst offense so far.

-- At RB, Jacques Patrick matched De’Veon Smith in Week 2 playing time after Smith controlled the Week 1 touches. Patrick played 5 fewer passing-down snaps but spent 5 more run plays on the field. Patrick beat Smith in carries (14-11) and opportunities (16-14).


Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons

Saturday at 5 p.m.
Renegades by 4.5
Over/under: 44


Renegades Notes:

-- QB Landry Jones stunk in his XFL debut last week. Despite a 70% completion rate that ranked 2nd for the week, Pro Football Focus graded Jones 7th among the week’s 9 qualifying passers. Only Seattle’s Brandon Silvers and New York’s Matt McGloin checked in behind him. Still, Jones’ league-high yardage and NFL background make him worth another shot. Only Ta’amu beat Jones in yards per attempt for Week 2.

-- RB Cameron Artis-Payne’s 2 late TDs made him an XFL and fantasy star for Week 2, but keep in mind that he carried just 2 times in the season opener. Teammate Lance Dunbar has also beaten Artis-Payne in targets each week.

-- TE Donald Parham racked up 11 targets in Jones’ debut and leads the team by 4 in that category through 2 games.

-- WR Flynn Nagel jumped ahead of WR Jeff Badet in playing time in Week 2 and now leads the team’s skill-position players in total playing time and routes. His 9 targets tie for just 4th on the team, though, behind Parham (17), Badet (13) and Dunbar (12). Artis-Payne has matched Nagel at 9.


Dragons Notes:

-- The Seattle backfield remains a total committee. Trey Williams’ 11 carries led the group in Week 2, but only by 1 ahead of Kenneth Farrow and Ja’Quan Gardner. Through 2 weeks, total carries go: Gardner 19, Farrow 17 and Williams 14. Williams leads the committee in targets at 6, but Farrow sits just 2 behind and has played 5 more passing-down snaps in all. Here’s how the Week 3 pricing looks:

DK: Farrow $6000, Williams $5000, Gardner $3800
FD: Williams $14, Farrow $13, Gardner $12

-- WR Austin Proehl saw his route rate drop from 75% in Week 1 to 65% in Week 2. His targets dropped from 10 to 4, but that still accounted for 22.2% of Seattle’s Week 2 total.

-- WR Keenan Reynolds doubled Proehl’s target total and delivered 20 DK points. But most of that came via his 68-yard TD catch. Reynolds has caught just 5 of 15 targets through 2 games. His other 4 receptions have totaled just 24 yards. After falling from $8100 to $6300 in DraftKings salary, Reynolds is back up to $7400 for Week 3. That’s just 13th among pass-catchers for the week, though.

-- WR Kasen Williams remained out of practice Wednesday after missing the 1st 2 games. He also remains listed as a starter on the team’s depth chart. WR Dontez Byrd (knee) also didn’t practice Wednesday.


New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks

Sunday at 3 p.m.
BattleHawks by 9.5
Over/under: 40.5


Guardians Notes:

-- New York scored nary a point in its Week 2 loss to the Defenders and eventually pulled its starting QB. Matt McGloin sports the 2nd-worst PFF grade among QBs through 2 weeks, and the whole offense would likely be better off -- at least for fantasy purposes -- if dual-threat Marquise Williams took over for good. We’ll see whether that happens.

-- WR Joe Horn Jr. saw his playing time dip significantly in Week 2. Perhaps the shoulder injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice played a role, but the Guardians now list Austin Duke ahead of Horn on the depth chart. Horn still leads the team in targets (11) through 2 weeks, but just 3 of those came in Week 2 and he has just 3 receptions. Horn’s not a good Week 3 play. Frankly, neither is the rest of this offense.

-- RB Darius Victor similarly saw a significant drop in usage in Week 2. He also popped up on the injury report with limited participation Wednesday because of a “head” injury. That usually means concussion in the NFL. If you’re planning to use Guardians RB Tim Cook in Week 3 DFS, make sure you keep an eye on Victor’s status. Victor beat Cook in carries (9-3) and targets (3-1) in the opener.


BattleHawks Notes:

-- WR De’Mornay Pierson-El led St. Louis in targets (11) and receptions (9) and scored a TD in Week 2. But he also ranked just 4th among the team’s WRs in total snaps and pass routes. He ran a route on 70% of the team’s pass plays in Week 2 after doing so on 85% of Week 1 pass plays. Pierson-El trailed only L’Damian Washington’s 100% rate back in the opener.

-- At 88.9%, Washington ranks 4th among all XFL pass-catchers in route rate. His 13 targets tie for just 8th in the league (with 6 other players), but don’t be surprised if he continues to climb in that category. Washington drew 9 looks in Week 2 after just 4 in the opener.

-- Marcus Lucas now tops the team depth chart at TE, while Cole Hunt didn’t play a single Week 2 snap. Lucas trailed only Washington and WR Alonzo Russell in Week 2 routes and ranks 6th among all XFL skill players in total snaps through 2 games. Three of the 5 players ahead of him are BattleHawks teammates. Lucas is a sneaky bet to improve on just 7 targets through 2 games.

-- On the injury front: Matt Jones missed practice Wednesday after playing through his knee injury. Expect him to be ready, but you’ll need to watch to confirm. RB Keith Ford (knee) put in a limited workout after missing Week 2. Christine Michael continues to be listed ahead of Jones on the depth chart, but usage has favored Jones through 2 weeks. He leads all XFL players in opportunities by 8 (37 carries, 2 targets).


D.C. Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats

Sunday at 6 p.m.
Defenders by 8
Over/under: 44


Defenders Notes:

-- WR Malachi Dupre saw his playing time fall in Week 2, which probably was related to the shoulder injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice. Dupre’s absence might also have helped the snap count for WR Rashad Ross, who posted a solid 4-95 receiving line in Week 2. Ross checked in just 3rd among D.C. wideouts in playing time, however, behind Eli Rogers and DeAndre Thompkins. His 5 targets tied RB Donnel Pumphrey for 4th on the team. Thompkins drew a team-high 9 in his return from a Week 1 injury. Rogers followed with 8 looks and leads the team with 14 on the year.

-- Pumphrey leaped over Jhurell Pressley on the Week 2 depth chart and then beat him in usage. Pumphrey garnered 12 carries to Pressley’s 11 and dominated targets 5-0. He’s up to 4th in RB salary on DK this week, though just $200 ahead of Pressley. Pumphrey remains cheaper than Pressley on FanDuel.

-- QB Cardale Jones remains well ahead of the rest of the league’s QBs in PFF grading. Jones carries a 90.1 overall grade and 90.6 passing grade. Ta’amu sits 2nd in both categories at 80.0 and 77.8 respectively. The next 2 QBs behind him each grade closer to Ta’amu than he does to Jones in both categories.


Wildcats Notes:

-- QB Josh Johnson rates 3rd at the position in PFF grading after his injury-delayed debut. That puts him 1 spot ahead of breakthrough star P.J. Walker. Johnson remained limited in practice Wednesday with the quad issue but should play through it again in Week 3.

-- Elsewhere on the injury report: RB Elijah Hood and RB DuJuan Harris were both limited with ankle injuries. Harris missed Week 2 but appears on track to return.

-- Hood ranks 3rd among RBs in route rate through 2 weeks but has seen just 1 pass target (and didn’t catch it). We’ll see if he gets more involved as a receiver, but Harris’ healthy return likely wouldn’t help on that front.

-- WR Nelson Spruce just might be the biggest “must” play in XFL DFS. His 24 targets through 2 weeks stand 5 ahead of league #2 Cam Phillips and 9 ahead of anyone else. He’s the only player in the league who has garnered more than 25% of his team’s targets in each game to date.

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