Opening Thoughts on XFL Fantasy

Thanks to Vince McMahon, we have two fantasy football seasons to discuss! The XFL has had a fantastic reboot so far, and DraftKings (among others) wasted no time in giving us more of our favorite fantasy sport. So, after watching every game thus far, I decided to discuss each XFL team and their fantasy values at each position.


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Quarterbacks

The top-two quarterbacks are pretty much the same for everybody. While the order may be debatable, Cardale Jones and P.J. Walker are at the top of the XFL. Personally, I’d take Walker any day of the week, but Jones seems to be the preferred choice in most rankings. Jones is good, and probably a bit safer, but Walker has been amazing thus far. How amazing you ask? Walker has seven touchdown passes in the first two weeks of the season, which is as many touchdowns as any other team has. I’ve seen Jordan Ta’amu sneak into the conversation for some people, but he’s on a run-first team, so I’m undecided on him.

When it comes to throwing the ball, Ta’amu has the highest completion percentage out of any (starting) quarterback, but I don’t see enough to throw him into the conversation. Along with Ta’amu, Landry Jones and Josh Johnson are “Tier 2” if you ask me. Johnson is probably who I have ranked fifth for right now, just because, who won? The Wildcats lost to the Renegades, so that has a relatively straightforward answer.

As for the final tier, Brandon Silvers is the clear QB6, and rest depends on who gets their act together first. I think Quinton Flowers has the potential to be the QB6 when it comes to talent. However, Silvers is actually playing, while the Vipers are waiting for Flowers to bloom — or wilt. My QB8 is a tough one. I’m leaning towards Marquise Williams, but I haven’t seen enough of him, and I don’t think I’m going to. Despite the fact that he behaved like a two-year-old, it seems that Matt McGloin is still going to start for the Guardians. I hope not, he doesn’t deserve to, his play was almost as bad as his attitude. While I’ll admit that his linemen are awful, that doesn’t really make things better. It just means that I’d rather have the guy that can run, instead of the one running from his problems.

Out of every quarterback, I can only see the top five getting calls from NFL teams after the season ends. All of them would be backups, obviously, but I think the top two or three can pressure a bad starter. Sam Darnold could use Walker or Ta’amu breathing down his neck.  

Running Backs

For the rest of these positions, I’m lumping teammates together, because fantasy stats are hard to find. The Renegades have the best backfield, or at least the most recognizable, in Lance Dunbar and Cameron Artis-Payne. Matt Jones and Christine Michael from the Battlehawks is another duo you may remember, both being in the NFL for a while. Both seem to have some fantasy value as potential workhorses as well. Since the Battlehawks are a run-heavy team, I’d prefer their backs in standard formats. In PPR formats, however, give me the Renegades’ backfield any day of the week.

From a fantasy perspective, the Roughnecks’ James Butler could be the best option. The Roughnecks are probably the closest team to a one-back system in the XFL, so that puts Butler higher in the rankings than some of the other backs that I’ve mentioned. Depending on what you’re looking for, the top three backfields are interchangeable. I just put the two-back systems higher, since they offer multiple viable options. The Defenders sit comfortably at fourth in the XFL. Donnel Pumphrey and Jhurrell Pressley have had one game each as the lead back. Because of that, it might be too soon to know what we should expect from them. Pumphrey is the better back of the two, but the uncertainty kept the Defenders’ backfield out of my top-three.

The Dragons have the only committee in the XFL, but they’re fairly productive. Not that I would choose Kenneth Farrow or Trey Williams in fantasy, and Ja’Quan Gardner has virtually no role in the passing game. However, they do have a combined 47 carries for 195 yards through two weeks, so I gave the Dragons fifth based on talent and combined volume. When it comes to the Guardians and Vipers, both have similar situations. In reality, the bottom three teams are all rather hopeless.

However, Darius Victor and the Guardians could at least move the ball against a bad team. So could De’Veon Smith and the Vipers, but the Guardians actually scored — in the first game. Because of that, I’ll give the Guardians sixth and the Vipers seventh when it comes to the backfield. This puts the Wildcats in last, because, Elijah Hood hasn’t caught a pass yet. For a team that is just one guy (Nelson Spruce), that’s not good. Even with a bad offense, I expected more from Hood, especially since they need pass-catchers.  

Wide Receivers

The best receiving core in the XFL is without a doubt the Roughnecks. Cam Phillips is a top-two receiver in the league, already having four receiving touchdowns in two games. As long as Sammie Coates stops dropping balls, he, Kahlil Lewis, and Nick Holley will be almost unstoppable. The only other team that I think might be able to compete with that receiving core is the Defenders. Rashad Ross and Eli Rogers are a dynamic duo in their own right.

Combining for 17 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown, Ross and Rogers could be the best overall receiving pair in the XFL. On top of that, DeAndre Thompkins returned to make the Defenders even better. As a whole, I might give the Defenders the edge when it comes to the best passing attack. However, since it’s just receivers, I’m giving it to the Roughnecks.

The Battlehawks are up there with the other two, however, their run-first mentality is why I have them third. Much like the Defenders, the Battlehawks have their own dynamic duo in De’Mornay Pierson-El and L’Damian Washington. Out of any pair of receivers, they have the most total receptions with 24, not bad. Fourth and Fifth are pretty even, but given the Vipers’ quarterback situation, I think their receivers have been a bit better than the Dragons’ receiving core. I like Austin Proehl and Keenan Reynolds from Seattle more, just because of stats and the eye test. That said, let’s not act like the Vipers are even using the right quarterback for their offense.

Nelson Spruce might be the best receiver in the XFL, at least from a fantasy football standpoint. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he’s all they have. That’s why it took me so long to get to him, and why he’s force-fed targets like a sumo wrestler. Use Spruce while you can, he’ll be back in the NFL next season. As for the final two teams, I’ll give the Guardians the edge right now, but it’s not going to stay that way. The Renegades will catch multiple teams by the end of the season, just because of their superior quarterback play. That said, only their tight end has done anything thus far, so I have to give Mekale McKay and the Guardians the nod for now. 

Tight Ends

As I just hinted at, the Renegades have by far the best tight end in the XFL or at least the most utilized one. Donald Parham has nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. That isn’t bad for the first two weeks of the season, especially since Landry Jones didn’t play the first game. The Vipers are a very distant second, but that’s because of their quarterback play, and Nick Truesdell’s usage. For a tight end that was picked in the first round of the skill-position draft, I expected more. I saw a YouTube comment that compared Truesdell to George Kittle. While I understand what that comment was trying to say, if it were true, he’d be used more.

Now it might be the camera angle, but Khari Lee is a big boy! The biggest problem for Lee is competition. The Defenders have too many solid pass-catching options to give Lee a reliable workload each week. I do think he’s the TE3 though, he’s too big of a target to not use. The Battlehawks’ tight ends are automatically fourth, even though they’re a run-first team, just because of how good this offense is. They’ll get red zone opportunities and extra points at the very least. 

Using the same logic, the Wildcats and Guardians are both low on pass-catchers, but I’ll give the nod to the Wildcats and Brandon Barnes. The main reason for this is Josh Johnson. He’s just a better quarterback than the Guardians have. I wouldn’t blame you for putting fourth through sixth in any order. I just decided to go with the order that I have their quarterbacks in. In last place is the Dragons because the Roughnecks don’t have a tight end on the roster, which I didn’t know was legal. As for the Dragons, they have some solid receivers and a mediocre quarterback. That’s not a good recipe for tight end production.

Defense

The Defenders still have to play the Vipers twice and the Guardians once, while already being the best defense. Elijah Campbell really stuck out to me in the season opener, it felt like he was everywhere. I do want to see how the Defenders handle the better teams, but they’re the measuring stick for now.  Their division rival in the Battlehawks, have already proven that they could somewhat slow down an elite offense? They didn’t beat the Roughnecks, but the defense did play well enough to attempt a comeback. Greg Olsen even shouted out Andrew Ankrah and Dexter McCoil as some legit NFL-caliber talent. That’s some nice praise from a legend, and they’ve lived up to the hype so far.

The Renegades have done well against some good quarterbacks, though I wouldn’t say that the Wildcats have a good offense. Regardless, that makes them the third-best defense right now. The Guardians are next, and they’re good, but the offense can’t get out of their own way. They have talent though, Andrew Soroh might be my favorite safety in the league so far. I hope the offense can stop digging the defense holes though. If that happens, they’ll be fine. I have the Roughnecks at number five because they played against a backup quarterback in Week 1, and then let the Battlehawks climb back into the game Week 2. Your offense forcing people to throw doesn’t necessarily help, look at the NFL playoffs this season. If they could keep it together for more than a half, the Roughnecks would be third.

The Wildcats played the Roughnecks and Renegades, so they get a pass for now, but they need to get it together. They have to play both of those teams again after all. It could be rough, but I’m not calling them trash just yet. As for the Vipers and Dragons, it comes down to which team scored 17 unanswered when they played each other. This makes the Dragons seventh, but they’re closer to fifth than last. The Vipers are awful. That’s all that needs to be said.

New Kickoff Rule

As far as safety is concerned, I’m all for the XFL’s version of the kickoff. It’s certainly better than the other ideas I’ve heard. However, I’m not sure if I believe them when they say kick returns are more likely to be ran back for a touchdown. Sure, if they can get past the Great Wall of Football, there’s a good chance they’re gone. Unfortunately, there seems to be a couple of things that reduce the chances of this.

First, if nobody can move until the returner touches the ball, how do the blockers keep track of that? They have to focus on the man in front of them because if they don’t get the first punch, they lose that battle. Also, even if the blockers win the battle, everyone is so close together that it’s hard to make a running lane. With how rare kick returns for a touchdown are, we may not see one in a league this small, so I wouldn’t bank on that when you need a dart throw on DraftKings. That said, overall, I still love it and think it’ll be great for the game.

Comeback Period

As a WWE fan, whenever they mention this rule, I can’t stop thinking about the Comeback sequence from the WWE video games. Other than that, great rule, for both fantasy and reality. Essentially, during the last two minutes of each half, the clock stops after every play. Plays that end out of bounds or with an incompletion work the same way as normal. However, let’s say that you run the ball. The clock stops as soon as the player gets tackled, then the ball is spotted, and the clock doesn’t start until five seconds have ran off the play clock. This is so teams can’t run the clock out as easily, and offenses can open up the playbook. It results in far fewer play-calling restrictions, and many more opportunities to score and get back into the game.

Points are good, points are exciting, and that’s what this rule is all about. In a way, it sort of reminds me of the way the NBA’s clock works, only the final two minutes doesn’t take a half-hour to complete. The XFL clock, in general, seems to be perfectly balanced for both excitement and competitiveness. I love it.

Also, I want to say that the second player in a double forward pass is who gets the fantasy points for it, but I’ve yet to own a player that this applied to. Either way, the XFL is fun to watch, and it gives us more chances to win money from our passions. 

Tweet me @Conmans_Content if you want more XFL content, as your feedback is very important. Oh, and if you’re wondering who I’m supporting this season, go Battlehawks!


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chorsfield

26, blogger, outspoken, opinionated, former #Eagles writer for @PFN365, and Staff Writer & DFS Specialist for @DFF_Dynasty #DFFArmy #DFS #FantasyFootball

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