XFL Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for Week 3
The XFL's first two weeks have been pretty wild, but we're starting to build up sample sizes on which teams and players are for real and which situations may be tough to predict. That being said, here are notes on all eight teams to help you build your XFL lineups on FanDuel for Week 3.
Core Plays: Players suited for all types of daily fantasy games -- cash games and tournaments -- and players to target when building a main lineup.
Secondary Plays: Players who have good matchups or situations but are overpriced. Or players who are affordable but have tough matchups.
Tournament Plays: Players with paths to production but who are either overpriced or have tough matchups and who rate out with low production floors. Not everybody is in play in DFS, but players without the best prices and matchups still deserve consideration in large-field tournaments.
Houston Roughnecks (-6.5) at Tampa Bay Vipers
Houston enters with an unblemished 2-0 record and a touchdown differential of +3, second-best in the XFL. The Vipers are a lowly 0-2 and have scored just one touchdown through two games.
Houston Roughnecks Offense Notes
- PJ Walker ($23) has racked up seven passing touchdowns this year, three more than any other quarterback, and he leads the XFL in quarterback rating. He has also secured 53 rushing yards on 5 attempts through two games. The Vipers actually rank third in yards per play allowed, as well as first in completion rate allowed and yards per attempt allowed, but Walker is a likely candidate to lead the weekend in fantasy points.
- James Butler ($17) has now played at least 65% of the snaps in two straight games while handling more than half of the team's carries. Houston is a road favorite, which bodes well for Butler, and De'Angelo Henderson ($10) has been out to start the week.
- Cam Phillips ($21) is second among all receivers in target market share (27.3%) and has played at least 98% of the snaps in both games. Phillips did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
- Sammie Coates ($14) is actually second in target share (19.7%) for the Roughnecks but did see his snap rate fall from 71.0% to 61.8% in Week 2. He's still a boom/bust option at the lessened price and has six deep targets, tied for the XFL lead. The third option on the team has been Kahlil Lewis ($18), whose snaps increased to 72.7% in Week 2. Nick Holley ($15) has played 40 and 47 snaps as a receiver to start the year.
Tampa Bay Vipers Offense Notes
- With Aaron Murray ($15) out in Week 2, the Vipers split quarterbacking duties last week between Taylor Cornelius ($14) and Quinton Flowers ($12). Flowers is listed as a running back but played 20 snaps as a quarterback, via ProFootballFocus. Cornelius played 52. Cornelius completed 59.3% of his passes -- compared to 47.1% for Murray -- but had just a 5.7 yards per attempt average (Murray was at 6.8 in Week 1). Both have thrown two interceptions and no touchdowns. It's kind of irrelevant who plays in Week 3. Murray didn't practice early on in preparation for Week 3.
- Houston has faced more plays (157) than any other team, and Tampa Bay is comfortably second in plays per game, but Houston ranks second in yards per play allowed and is first in sack rate and quarterback hit rate. It could get rough for the Vipers, whose quarterbacks have been hit at the second-highest rate in the XFL through two games.
- We had a decent grasp on which players to trust in Week 1, but Tampa Bay mixed up their usage in Week 2.
- In Week 1, Dan Williams ($16), Jalen Tolliver ($14) and Nick Truesdell ($13) each played at least 95% of the snaps, but none cracked 80% in Week 2, and Williams fell from 100.0% to 58.9%, and Tolliver went from 97.2% to 65.8%. Williams and Reece Horn ($15) lead the team with 19.7% target shares, just 6.5 per game. Horn did have the best snap rate among Week 2 receivers on Tampa Bay (75.3%). Truesdell did not practice on Wednesday.
- De'Veon Smith ($16) ceded snaps to Jacques Patrick ($14) in Week 2 in what went from a 65/35 split to a 50/50 split. Houston's first in yards per carry allowed, as well, and the Vipers' 19.5-point implied team total and lack of touchdowns so far push both out of primary contention.
Core Plays: PJ Walker (QB, HOU), Cam Phillips (WR, HOU), James Butler (RB, HOU)
Secondary Plays: Sammie Coates (WR, HOU), De'Veon Smith (RB, TB), Jacques Patrick (RB, TB)
Tournament Plays: Kahlil Lewis (WR, HOU), Taylor Cornelius/Aaron Murray (QB, TB), Dan Williams (WR, TB), Reece Horn (WR, TB), Jalen Tolliver (WR, TB)
Dallas Renegades (-5.0) at Seattle Dragons
A matchup with two 1-1 teams in the XFL West, the road team is favored pretty comfortably and has a significant quarterback edge. That matters in the XFL.
Dallas Renegades Offense Notes
- Landry Jones ($19) completed 28 of 40 attempts for 305 yards (7.6 yards per attempt) in his debut in Week 2. He's now fourth in the XFL in quarterback rating but wasn't necessarily dominant. A matchup with the Dragons should help. Despite allowing just two passing touchdowns, they are only sixth in yards per attempt allowed and rank seventh in coverage grade, via ProFootballFocus.
- Landry's Week 2 target distribution: 11 for Donald Parham ($16), 9 for Jeff Badet ($15), 6 for Lance Dunbar ($15), 5 for Cameron Artis-Payne ($18), 3 for Flynn Nagel ($13) and Sean Price ($13). After seeing nobody top a 61.3% snap rate in Week 1, Nagel (82.4%), Parham (73.0%), Joshua Crocket ($11; 71.6%), Badet (68.9%), and Artis-Payne (66.2%) all did it in Week 2.
- Artis-Payne also handled 14 of 22 carries in Week 2 and led the backfield in snap rate, but this became more of a two-headed monster between Artis-Payne and Dunbar, as Marquis Young ($11) played just a single snap.
Seattle Dragons Offense Notes
- The Dragons are a mess offensively. They're sixth in yards per play and seventh in passing yards per attempt. Not only that, but only one flex position player has played more than 70% of the team's snaps in either game: Keenan Reynolds ($17) played at least 94% in both. To make matters worse, no Dragon other than Reynolds topped a 50% snap rate in Week 2 (Reynolds played every snap).
- Reynolds leads the team with a 26.8% target market share (7.5 per game) and is tied for the league lead with 6 deep targets. Austin Proehl ($18) went from 10 targets to 3 in Week 2 while seeing his snap rate plummet from 69.6% to 46.3%. After those two, no other Dragon has more than seven targets on the season. Right at seven is Dontez Byrd ($12), and six of those targets have been deep, so there's at least some volatility to Byrd's game, though he did not practice Wednesday.
- The running back situation has been a pretty equal split in terms of snaps between Trey Williams ($14), Kenneth Farrow ($13), and Ja'Quan Gardner ($12). They each have between 14 and 19 carries. Gardner leads with 19 carries but has no targets. The edge belongs to Farrow, but it's slight, and all are unappealing. Farrow is dinged up, so keep an eye on the situation.
- Quarterback Brandon Silvers ($16) leads the league in interceptions (3) but does have 4 passing touchdowns despite a lowly 5.4-yards-per-attempt average (8th among 11 qualified quarterbacks). Dallas has the lowest quarterback hit rate in the XFL and has yet to record a pick. Even then, Silvers is just a Saturday-only differentiation play.
Core Plays: Landry Jones (QB, DAL), Jeff Badet (WR, DAL), Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, DAL)
Secondary Plays: Lance Dunbar (RB, DAL), Donald Parham (TE, DAL), Flynn Nagel (WR, DAL)
Tournament Plays: Brandon Silvers (QB, SEA), Trey Williams (RB, SEA), Keenan Reynolds (WR, SEA), Austin Proehl (WR, SEA)
New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks (-10.0)
The BattleHawks have gone from 8.0-point underdogs to 10.0-point favorites in their first home game of the season. The Guardians are last in offensive yards per play and seventh in defensive yards per play allowed, so things are not looking up in Gotham City. St. Louis should bleed the clock.
New York Guardians Offense Notes
- Matt McGloin ($15) is $3 cheaper than any other starting quarterback on the Sunday slate, so that helps, but he's been awful. He's 11th among 11 qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt (4.7) and 9th in quarterback rating (51.2). St. Louis ranks second in yards per pass attempt allowed and is shaping up to be one of the better pass defenses in the XFL.
- After Week 1, the Guardians had appeared like a team that would at least feature some receivers. Mekale McKay ($14), Colby Pearson ($13), and Joe Horn Jr. ($12) each played at least 78% of the snaps with McKay and Pearson above 94%. McKay kept his role (90.0%) in Week 2, but Pearson, Horn, and Teo Redding ($11) barely cracked 50% in Week 2. McKay dominated the targets (7 of 25; 28.0%). Now, McKay leads the team with a 22.0% target share, which ranks only seventh among receivers. If the offense is going to be bad, we at least need concentrated targets. We don't really have that here with the Guardians.
- Tim Cook ($14) dominated the backfield in Week 2, as he played 76.0% of the snaps. No running back has played that high of a snap rate all season. Darius Victor ($12) fell from a 51.0% snap rate to 10.0% in Week 2 due to injury.
St. Louis BattleHawks Offense Notes
- The BattleHawks are a big favorite here and have a pass rate of just 44.8%. The XFL average is 63.8%, and the closest team to St. Louis' pass rate is DC at 52.9%. The Guardians are currently fifth defensively in yards per carry allowed but seventh in tackle for loss rate. They don't necessarily profile as a team that will limit Jordan Ta'amu ($21) and the BattleHawks' ground game.
- Ta'amu has been a cut above the XFL's passers aside from PJ Walker and Cardale Jones. Ta'amu has posted 20.06 and 30.56 FanDuel points to kick off the season and has 109 rushing yards and a touchdown through two games. He has been a dual-threat passer worth chasing. New York has allowed 7.5 yards per pass attempt, highest in the XFL through two games.
- The BattleHawks have averaged 77.0 plays per game, so while the pass rate is down, there has been decent volume overall -- and concentrated targets. De'Mornay Pierson-El ($18) leads the team with a 24.2% target share (7.5 per game), followed by L'Damian Washington ($16) at 21.0% and Alonzo Russell ($15) at 16.1%. Those three plus Marcus Lucas ($14; 12.9%) have averaged a 68.2% snap rate or better.
- Matt Jones ($16) played through injury in Week 2 but was outsnapped 48.9% to 43.2% by Christine Michael ($13) after Jones surprised with a 64.0% snap rate in Week 1. Jones did lead in carries in Week 2 16-15. Script sets up such that Jones is a really strong Week 3 play.
Core Plays: Jordan Ta'amu (QB, STL), Matt Jones (RB, STL), De'Mornay Pierson-El (WR, STL), L'Damian Washington (WR, STL)
Secondary Plays: Christine Michael (RB, STL), Alonzo Russell (WR, STL)
Tournament Plays: Mekale McKay (WR, NY), Tim Cook (RB, NY), Darius Victor (RB, NY), Joe Horn (WR, NY), Matt McGloin (QB, NY)
DC Defenders (-8.0) at Los Angeles Wildcats
The DC defense has been great this year, and that could spell trouble for a Wildcats team that is 0-2 but will have Josh Johnson under center for the second straight week. LA's defense has been so bad that this one could be lopsided, as the spread suggests.
DC Defenders Offense Notes
- Cardale Jones ($20) gets a crack at the XFL's worst defense, which ranks eighth in yards per carry and seventh in passing yards per attempt allowed. They also fired their coordinator after Week 1. Jones has been a high-floor play with 22.44 and 19.44 FanDuel points to start the XFL season. Jones has been a top-tier quarterback, and he or Ta'amu will split QB1 honors for Sunday's slate.
- With DeAndre Thompkins ($19) making his debut in Week 2, he commanded a team-high 26.5% target share (9 targets) on just 63.8% of the snaps. Eli Rogers ($15) was second with 8 targets (23.5%), and Rashad Ross ($17) and running back Donnel Pumphrey ($13) were third with 5 targets (14.7%). Ross has yet to crack a 60% snap rate but does have five deep targets this year.
- The big loser in Week 2 was Malachi Dupre ($14), who played 39.1% of the snaps after a 77.0% snap rate in Week 1. He saw just two targets.
- Rogers, Thompkins, and Ross are all set up for DFS success against this defense, which was not corrected with a new defensive coordinator.
- A 55/40 backfield snap split flip-flopped between favoring Jhurell Pressley ($15) in Week 1 to favoring Donnel Pumphrey in Week 2, but each saw double-digit carries in Week 2, and Pumphrey had 5 targets as well.
Los Angeles Wildcats Offense Notes
- DC has let up the fewest yards per play in the league through two games.
- Elijah Hood ($14) has now played 70.5% and 64.4% of the team's snaps to start the year, giving him one of the best roles in the XFL. Unfortunately, his team is a heavy underdog this week.
- Josh Johnson ($18) injected a little life into the Los Angeles offense in his return. He threw 36 times for 190 yards (5.3 per attempt) and ran 5 times for 3 yards. The team bumped from 3.93 yards per play in Week 1 to 4.56 yards per play in Week 2. That's still below the XFL average, but it was a marked improvement when Chad Kanoff and Jalan McClendon led the team in the opener.
- Johnson's top targets was Nelson Spruce ($20), who had 9 targets (a 25.7% target share). Spruce now has a 32.4% target share on the full season, best in the XFL.
- Johnson also gave Adonis Jennings ($13) 7 targets (20.0%), and Jordan-Elijah Smallwood ($16) 6 targets (17.1%). All three played at least 79.7% of the snaps, as well. They have emerged as a fairly reliable trio in terms of on-field opportunity. It's worth noting that Saeed Blacknall ($10) didn't play in Week 2 after getting 76.9% of the snaps in the opener.
Core Plays: Cardale Jones (QB, DC), DeAndre Thompkins (WR, DC), Donnel Pumphrey (RB, DC), Eli Rogers (WR, DC)
Secondary Plays: Josh Johnson (QB, LA), Nelson Spruce (WR, LA), Jhurell Pressley (RB, DC), Adonis Jennings (WR, LA), Elijah Hood (RB, LA)
Tournament Plays: Rashad Ross (WR, DC), Jordan-Elijah Smallwood (WR, LA)