News & Analysis

XFL fantasy football Week 1 preview and team depth charts

Aug 29, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Jordan Ta'amu-Perifanos (6) completes pass agains the Los Angeles Rams in the second half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

XFL fantasy football is here. We have four games this weekend with the action kicking off at 2 p.m. EST Saturday. With very little information to go on, we have to read the tea leaves a bit for both season-long and XFL DFS purposes. Fortunately, the teams did release official depth charts, so we do at least have a sense of who is going to see the field the most in Week 1. So let’s break down each game on this week’s slate with a look at the projected skill-position depth chart.

Seattle @ DC

Betting line: DC -7.5

Depth charts

DC Defenders

Seattle Dragons

QB1 Cardale Jones QB1 Brandon Silvers
RB1 Jhurell Pressley RB1 Ja'Quan Gardner
RB2 Donnel Pumphrey RB2 Kenneth Farrow
WR1 Rashad Ross WR1 Keenan Reynolds
WR2 Malachi Dupre WR2 Kasen Williams
WR3 DeAndre Thompkins WR3 Austin Proehl
TE1 Khari Lee TE1 Colin Jeter

The Defenders kick off the season with Cardale Jones under center. While the former Ohio State signal-caller doesn’t have the most extensive resume, he does offer plenty of fantasy pop. He’s one of the top fantasy plays of the week. Part of the appeal of Jones has do with who he’s throwing the ball to. Rashad Ross led the AAF in receiving touchdowns last year and is this week’s top fantasy wideout. The Defenders also have a very appealing one-two punch in the backfield with Jhurell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey. While Pumphrey’s big-play ability is tempting, Pressley is the only back we can really trust out of the gate.

Seattle isn’t getting much love from the bookmakers, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get fantasy production out of this roster. Brandon Silvers isn’t anywhere near as good of a fantasy option as Jones, but he’s worth consideration as a contrarian DFS play given the fact that he could be playing from behind. Silvers also has a solid trio of wideouts with both Keenan Reynolds and Kasen Williams both seeing action in NFL regular-season games during their careers. Austin Proehl never cracked a 53-man roster, but the former Tar Heel has a solid pedigree as the son of former NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl.

Los Angeles @ Houston

Betting line: HOU -6

Depth charts

Los Angeles Wildcats

Houston Roughnecks

QB1 Josh Johnson QB1 Phillip Walker
RB1 Elijah Hood RB1 Andre Williams
RB2 DuJuan Harris RB2 De'Angelo Henderson Sr.
WR1 Nelson Spruce WR1 Sammie Coates
WR2 Jordan Smallwood WR2 Kahlil Lewis
WR3 Adonis Jennings WR3 Cam Phillips
TE1 Brandon Barnes WR4 Nick Holley

Josh Johnson enters Week 1 with a thigh injury and has been labeled a game-time decision. However, the betting line movement suggests he won’t play. Los Angeles has moved from +3.5 at open all the way to +6, so it appears the bettors are fully anticipating Charles Kanoff to get the start for LA. Kanoff played his college ball at Princeton and spent 2018 on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad. While he did show some upside in his final college season with 29 passing scores, it’s tough to like the Wildcats’ for fantasy purposes with him under center. That means we’re downgrading Nelson Spruce and Jordan Smallwood this week. That said, we could certainly see a lot of check-downs to scatback DuJuan Harris in this contest.

The Roughnecks are the lone team in the league to not list any tight ends on their depth chart, so expect to see a ton of 4-wide sets from this squad. Phillip Walker certainly isn’t the best pure passer in the league, but he did top 10,000 passing yards as a four-year starter at Temple University. He’s also more than capable of running the football with 341 rushing attempts at the college level. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Sammie Coates figures to lead the team in targets with Kahlil Lewis, Cam Phillips, and Nick Holley also listed as starters on the team depth chart. Look for a one-two punch in the backfield with Andre Williams seeing a majority of the early-down work and De’Angelo Henderson getting involved on passing downs.

Tampa Bay @ New York

Betting line: TB -3

Depth charts

Tampa Bay Vipers

New York Guardians

QB1 Aaron Murray QB1 Matt McGloin
RB1 De'Veon Smith RB1 Tim Cook
RB2 Jacques Patrick RB2 Darius Victor
WR1 Jalen Tolliver WR1 Mekale McKay
WR2 Reece Horn WR2 Colby Pearson
WR3 Daniel Williams WR3 Austin Duke
TE1 Nick Truesdell TE1 Jake Powell

The Marc Trestman-coached Vipers figure to be one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league, but we aren’t going to get too carried away with Aaron Murray. That said, it’s worth building some DFS lineups with him stacked up with either Jalen Tolliver or Reece Horn, who was one of the better receivers in the AAF last season. De’Veon Smith will serve as the primary early-down back, but Trestman likes to throw to his running backs. That means Jacques Patrick should be busy this weekend.

NFL veteran and former Penn State Nittany Lion Matt McGloin is certainly one of the most experienced players in the XFL, which bodes well for high-floor fantasy production. Look for McGloin to pepper Mekale McKay with targets. McKay was one of the most heavily targeted wideouts in the AAF last year. New York listed Tim Cook atop their running back depth chart with Darius Victor positioned ahead of Justin Stockton. Be careful if you planned to use Stockton this weekend.

St. Louis @ Dallas

Betting line: DAL -9.5

Depth charts

St. Louis BattleHawks

Dallas Renegades

QB1 Jordan Ta'amu QB1 Philip Nelson
RB1 Christine Michael RB1 Cameron Artis-Payne
RB2 Matt Jones RB2 Lance Dunbar
WR1 De'Mornay Pierson-El WR1 Jeff Badet
WR2 L'Damian Washington WR2 Freddie Martino
WR3 Alonzo Russell WR3 Flynn Nagel
TE1 Marcus Lucas TE1 Sean Price

Jordan Ta’amu isn’t throwing to A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf any longer, but he does have a very appealing duo in De’Mornay Pierson-El and L’Damian Washington. Both wideouts showed well in the AAF last year and are among the top 20 wideout plays for this weekend. Long-time fantasy players will certainly recognize both names in the backfield. Christine Michael never lived up to the hype in the NFL, but he has a chance to be the top fantasy back in the XFL. We aren’t using Matt Jones this weekend, but he’s worth a roster spot in season-long XFL leagues.

With Landry Jones banged up, the Renegades with roll with Philip Nelson in Week 1. Nelson is a step down from Jones, but the Air Renegade offense keeps him in the conversation as one of the top quarterback plays of the week. Jazz Ferguson was widely assumed to be a starter heading into the season, but he was not listed as one on the Renegade’s official depth chart. Instead, it looks like speedster Jeff Badet is the player to go after for fantasy purposes. We’ll also see plenty of NFL vet Freddie Martino and slot receiver Flynn Nagel. At running back, former Carolina Panther Cameron Artis-Payne will handle the early-down work, but expect Lance Dunbar to be busy in the passing game.

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