Ultimate XFL Week 4 Preview: DFS, Picks, More

Ian Hartitz
Rotoworld

We’ve made it to Week 4 of the XFL, people. Let’s party.

My official XFL power rankings through three weeks are as follows:

  1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0)

  2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1)

  3. D.C. Defenders (2-1)

  4. Dallas Renegades (2-1)

  5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2)

  6. Seattle Dragons (1-2)

  7. New York Guardians (1-2)

  8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)

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The Renegades and Wildcats have each (understandably) played much better after getting their respective starting QBs back into action. Still, efficiency rates on both sides of the ball seem to paint a pretty clear picture that the Roughnecks, Defenders and BattleHawks have operated as the league's top-three teams more weeks than not.

XFL per play rates
XFL per play rates

There’s a fine line between too little and too much coverage of such an amazing niche sport, and we at Rotoworld fully plan on wrestling that line to the gates of hell.

What follows is an all-encompassing Week 4 preview featuring betting odds, key matchups, injuries, DFS thoughts (DraftKings) and betting picks. Thanks to XFL.com, Pro Football Focus, DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook for all stats and information.

Now let’s dig into all four of this weekend’s games.

Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) at New York Guardians (1-2)

  • Favorite: Wildcats (-7.5)

  • Over/under: 39.5

  • Time: 2/29, 2:00 PM EST

  • TV: ABC

Week 3 Offensive Takeaways

Los Angeles' 39-9 win over D.C.

  • Josh Johnson settled down after a somewhat-erratic debut in Week 2, shredding the previously-stout D.C. defense for 279 yards and a trio of TDs. More impressive was the manner in which Johnson did so, averaging a pristine 11.1 YPA with a 72% completion rate. Defenses will be forced to account for virtually every square inch of the field vs. Johnson, as he boasts plenty of rushing ability and showed off his arm strength by completing 4-of-7 deep ball attempts for 111 yards and two TDs (with a drop) in Week 3.

  • Elijah Hood (ankle) was out last week, leading to Martez Carter (61% snaps) playing a leading role ahead of both Larry Rose (31%) and DuJuan Harris (19%). Carter certainly made the most out of his opportunities, racking up 75 total yards and three TDs on just 14 touches. Previously Hood posted snap rates of 71% and 64% in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, but Carter's success makes it likely we see a committee of sorts in Week 4.

  • XFL star WR Nelson Spruce posted a solid 3-75-0 line on four targets in Week 3, but unfortunately he suffered a knee injury and has already been ruled out for Saturday. Week 3 stud WR Tre McBride (thigh) is also banged up, meaning we could get a three-WR set featuring Adonis Jennings (78% snaps), Jordan Smallwood (66%) as well as one of Kermit Whitfield (25%), Jalen Greene (10%) or Saeed Blacknall (thigh). I'd favor Whitfield to get the most opportunities among the latter complementary options.

New York's 29-9 loss to St. Louis

  • Matt McGloin had another middling week that consisted of more bad than good, while Marquise Williams also struggled to get much of anything going during his extended run. Luis Perez led the offense to their only score, but I'd keep expectations low here. Some have indicated that Perez was among the AFF's best QBs last year; this is definitely false. Overall, Perez is a statue in the pocket with a slow release and potentially slower decision-making ability that finished 11th among 12 qualified AAF QBs in yards per attempt.

  • This backfield has largely been a mess all season. Tim Cook and Darius Victor basically split snaps down the middle in Week 1, then Cook had a workhorse role in Week 2, but most-recently Victor (53% snaps) worked ahead of both Cook (38%) and scat back Justin Stockton (12%). I'd bet on Victor emerging as the lead back sooner rather than later; his average of 3.82 yards after contact per attempt trails only Cameron Artis-Payne (3.93).

  • Three-WR sets featured Mekale McKay (97% snaps), Colby Pearson (81%) and Teo Redding (67%) with TE Jake Powell (81%) also plenty involved. Look for Redding to be the odd man out if Joe Horn (shoulder) is able to return. Ultimately, it's been impossible to expect much of anything from any WR involved inside of the league's least-efficient passing offense. Only Dallas (15%) has a lower percentage of catchable deep balls than New York (20%).

Which team is healthier?

Both Josh Johnson (thigh) and Matt McGloin (thorax) are tentatively expected to play through their respective injuries.

Assuming both teams have their starting QBs, it's clear New York is the healthier squad at the moment. Johnson has clearly elevated a middling supporting cast during his first two starts, so it'll be interesting to see whether or not new faces will cause the offense to crumble.

TEAM

PLAYER

POS.

INJURY

PRACTICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

LA

Latarius Brady

DE

Hip

Did not participate

--

LA

Martez Carter

RB

Ankle

Did not participate

--

LA

Nelson Spruce

WR

Knee

Did not participate

--

LA

Brandon Barnes

TE

Knee

Limited participation

--

LA

Jaylen Dunlap

DB

Ankle

Limited participation

--

LA

Josh Johnson

QB

Thigh

Limited participation

--

LA

Chad Kanoff

QB

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

LA

Tre McBride

WR

Thigh

Limited participation

--

LA

Harlan Miller

DB

Thigh

Limited participation

--

LA

Larry Rose

RB

Foot

Limited participation

--

NY

Garrett Brumfield

OL

Head

Did not participate

--

NY

Darius Victor

RB

Ankle

Did not participate

--

NY

Jawuan Johnson

LB

Head

Limited participation

--

NY

Matt McGloin

QB

Thorax

Limited participation

--

NY

Avery Young

OL

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

NY

Garret Dooley

LB

Ankle

Full participation

--

You can view updated injury reports throughout the week at XFL.com,

Key matchup questions

Can New York slow down this suddenly lethal Wildcats' passing attack?

The Guardians have allowed a league-high 6.9 YPA this season and have graded out as PFF's single-worst defense in coverage. Their lone redeeming quality has been an at-times ferocious pass rush, as DT Cavon Walker (11) and DE Olubunmi Rotimi (10) join Houston LB Kaelin Burnett (10) as the only players in the league with double-digit pressures through three weeks.

This pressure might be the only way to slow down Josh Johnson and company.

  • Johnson when kept clean: 128.4 QB Rating (No. 1 among 12 qualified QBs), 5 TD (No. 2), 8.6 YPA (No. 2)

  • Johnson when pressured: 62.3 QB Rating (No. 6), 0 TD (tied for No. 5), 5.2 YPA (No. 6)

Los Angeles is averaging a pathetic 0.5 yards before contact per rush this season. New York needs to do everything in their power to make life as difficult as possible for Johnson if they hope to pull an upset.

Can Luis Perez (or anybody) make this offense respectable?

Marquise Williams (5.9 YPA) has been more efficient than Matt McGloin (5.3) while providing plus mobility, but neither has been what some might call "good."

Up next is a Los Angeles defense that has allowed the second-most yards per play this season, although they do boast three of the league's nine corners to record an interception in CB Mike Stevens (2), Arrion Springs (1) and Bradley Sylve (1). Toss in the presence of play-making safeties Ladarius Wiley (PFF's No. 1 overall safety) and Jack Tocho (No. 9), and it's clear that this isn't a secondary to make off-target passes against.

Both Williams and McGloin have been under pressure on over 40% of their dropbacks this season. Perez was one of just two AAF QBs to be under duress that often, and he responded with an absurd five interceptions in 101 pressured pass attempts. Responsible and mistake-free football will be needed this Saturday against the Wildcats' ball-hawking secondary, and none of these QBs have demonstrated much ability to do just that.

DFS thoughts

QB: Josh Johnson ($10,200) has sky-rocketed up the salary scale and is now the QB2. Still, Johnson might be playing through some pain and has yet to really even try to utilize his rushing ability. Feel free to toss Johnson into some GPP lineups, but paying all the way up for PJ Walker ($12,000) in cash games is still a must. I'm inclined to fade each of Matt McGloin ($8,000), Marquise Williams ($7,800) and Luis Perez ($7,100) considering snaps are a complete mystery for each.

RB: DraftKings is also seemingly betting on a two-RB committee featuring Elijah Hood ($5,500) and Montez Carter ($5,200). Carter is a brilliant value play if Hood remains sidelined, but otherwise shouldn't be relied on for anything out than some salary relief. I'd like to see evidence that Hood is 1) Healthy and 2) Didn't lose his job, before we go back to him. We continue to be dared to play Tim Cook ($4,200), while Darius Victor ($4,800) probably isn't worth taking over some of the superior options in the mid-$5,000 range. Ultimately, this New York offense is the league's worst unit in both yards per play and points per game. Roster anybody and everybody involved with extreme caution.

WR: The absence of the slate's second-highest priced WR in Nelson Spruce ($10,700) opens up a lot of value in this Los Angeles passing game. Tre McBride ($8,100) is also banged up and an extremely risky play after he posted a 5-109-2 line on just 16 snaps in Week 3. This leaves us with Jordan Smallwood ($6,700), Adonis Jennings ($3,000) or potentially Saeed Blacknall ($3,300). A Johnson-Smallwood-Jennings stack sure sound good to me. Mekale McKay ($8,000) is the only real pass-game option here as long as Joe Horn ($3,900) remains banged up. I'd feel better about taking a chance on McKay this week if the Los Angeles secondary wasn't full of ball hawks. 

Bets to watch

I'm going to have a real hard time betting on any of New York, Seattle or Tampa Bay until we see some semblance of consistent play under center. Los Angeles sure looked dangerous on offense in Josh Johnson's second week under center, while their defense has enough play-makers in the secondary to make this New York offense pay in a hurry. Give me the Wildcats -7.5.

A 39.5 point game total! In a professional football game! I love it, but this seems just a bit too aggressive on the low side of the scale. Give me over 39.5.

Seattle Dragons (1-2) at St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1)

  • Favorite: BattleHawks (-12)

  • Over/under: 38.5

  • Time: 2/29, 5:00 PM EST

  • TV: FOX

Week 3 Offensive Takeaways

Seattle's 24-12 loss to Dallas

  • Brandon Silvers threw a pair of pretty TDs in Week 3, but otherwise continued to struggle with his efficiency (6 YPA, 62% completion rate) and offered comical deep-ball ability. Only New York (20%) and Dallas (15%) have had a lower percentage of catchable deep balls this season than Seattle (25%). It's fair to wonder if backup QB B.J. Daniels would provide a spark.

  • This backfield has been a three-headed committee from hell all season. Not in the sense that any of Kenneth Farrow (40% snaps), Ja'Quan Gardner (27%), or Trey Williams (33%) have played badly; it's just been impossible to predict and incredibly well split. AKA: terrible for fantasy football purposes. Credit to Farrow in Week 3 for catching a TD after running a pretty sluggo route from the slot, and also Gardner for showing more burst than in previous weeks as well as for coming down with a contested one-handed catch (out of bounds).

  • The top-three WRs in this offense are Keenan Reynolds (99%), Austin Proehl (82%) and Alonzo Moore (79%), probably in that order. I say probably because Proehl (12-168-3) has out-produced Reynolds (9-129-1) this season despite seeing two fewer targets. Proehl ranks fourth in the league with 2.33 yards per route run through three weeks.

St. Louis' 29-9 win over New York

  • The BattleHawks asked Jordan Ta'amu to throw just 18 times in Week 3. He was efficient enough (6.6 YPA, 67% completion rate), but almost every pass was a screen or quick-hitting RPO. There isn't anything wrong with this as long as St. Louis continues to produce; it's just an interesting offense to watch. Overall, their 58% run-play rate easily surpasses D.C.'s 48% second-place mark.

  • Matt Jones (46% snaps) worked ahead of Christine Michael (43%) in Week 3, but the two power backs have largely worked in an even two-RB committee for the entire season. Neither has offered much receiving ability, but both Jones (2.87 yards after contact per rush) and Michael (10 broken tackles on 38 touches) have had their moments throughout the first three weeks.

  • The BattleHawks have consistently gone out of their way to get YAC-machine De'Mornay Pierson-El the ball, but his 33% snap rate in Week 3 is cause for concern. Each of L'Damian Washington (94%), Alonzo Russell (83%), Marcus Lucas (75%) and Brandon Reilly (46%) were more involved. Pierson-El is one of just seven WRs in the XFL to average more than two yards per route run. Russell (1.72) has been the next-best BattleHawk.

Which team is healthier?

St. Louis is in great shape at the moment, while Seattle has several more problems at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to deal with.

TEAM

NAME

POS.

INJURY

PRATICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

SEA

William Campbell

G

Knee

Did not participate

--

SEA

Anthony Moten

DT

Ankle

Did not participate

--

SEA

Kasen Williams

WR

Quad

Did not participate

--

SEA

Isaiah Battle

OT

Ankle

Limited participation

--

SEA

Jeremy Clark

CB

Hand

Limited participation

--

SEA

Michael Dunn

OT

Calf

Limited participation

--

SEA

Durrant Miles

DE

Knee

Full participation

--

STL

Matt Jones

RB

Knee

Did not participate

--

STL

Carlton Agudosi

WR

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

STL

Matt McCants

OT

Knee

Limited participation

--

STL

Marquez White

CB

Ankle

Limited participation

--

You can view updated injury reports throughout the week at XFL.com,

Key matchup questions

Can Seattle take advantage of this meh BattleHawks' run defense?

The Dragons are expected to get their first-round LT Isaiah Battle back this week, which is particularly good news given their matchup against the league's second-worst run defense in yards allowed per carry. Seattle already boasted the XFL's fourth-best offensive line in yards before contact per rush, so this should only mean good things in their ongoing quest to win games without much competence under center.

The latter point is the biggest problem for this Seattle offense as a whole. Silver's has been the league's fourth-worst QB in both completion rate and YPA through three weeks. His inability to get literally anything going on play-action theoretically won't help this offense's chances at convincing St. Louis to not load the box. Overall, Silvers has completed just 4-of-13 play-action passes (30.8%) for 16 yards (1.2 YPA).

Seattle has struggled to throw the ball all season. Unless we see some significant improvement or a change under center, it's hard to believe they won't look to pound the rock this Saturday.

Can Jordan Ta'amu continue to win without stretching the defense?

The BattleHawks have functioned as the league's most run-heavy offense while simultaneously refraining from pretty much ever testing defenses downfield. Overall, just three of Ta'amu's 82 pass attempts have gone at least 20 yards downfield, good for a league-low 3.7% deep-ball rate.

There isn't anything inherently wrong with not making a habit of throwing downfield. Last season Drew Brees (8.2%) and Jimmy Garoppolo (6.5%) still managed to lead two of the league's top-three scoring offenses despite finishing as the bottom-two QBs in deep ball rate. The difference is both Brees and Jimmy G made a habit of cashing in on their limited opportunities; so far Ta'amu has just one completion thrown more than 20 yards downfield.

Seattle at least made life difficult on both Cardale Jones and Landry Jones for stretches of their matchups. They'll need to be even better this week in order to elevate their porous offense, as failure to play soundly against St. Louis' RPO-heavy attack could lead to death by a thousand paper cuts.

DFS thoughts

QB: Jordan Ta'amu ($9,500) is now just the QB5 on DraftKings, undoubtedly due to the run-first nature of this offense. Still, Ta'amu showed off b-e-a-utiful ability on the ground in Weeks 1-2 before only posting a 3-14-0 rushing line in Week 3. The BattleHawks' 23-3 halftime lead undoubtedly had something to do with this change in usage. Ta'amu is my favorite price-adjusted QB on the slate for tournaments. And then we have Brandon Silvers ($7,400), who *should* be on the verge of getting benched for BJ Daniels ($6,600). Both are off limits until we see some combination of clarity and decent performance under center.

RB: Matt Jones ($7,100) doesn't deserve to be priced so far ahead of Christine Michael ($5,700). There's been little to no difference in usage between the duo, making the idea of rostering both in the same lineup far from crazy. Either way, the league's most run-heavy offense is a good place to start when looking to fill the RB slot. I'm continuing to fade each of Kenneth Farrow ($5,900), Trey Williams ($4,400) and Ja'Quan Gardner ($3,800) due to the limited ceiling and floor associated with each due to their evenly split three-back committee.

WR: It's tough to warrant paying up for Demornay Pierson-El ($9,500) following his completely bizarre part-time role last week. L'Damian Washington ($7,500) is also a little pricey, making Alonzo Russell ($5,800) and Marcus Lucas ($4,200) more appealing price-adjusted options. I wouldn't be afraid to stack Ta'amu with one of these receivers along with a RB, as the BattleHawks have had some success on screens to their backs all season despite the limited sample size. This week's lesson in following opportunity over production features Austin Proehl ($8,500) and Keenan Reynolds ($7,000). Both are talented real-life options, but the potential for this game to become a run-heavy and quick-paced race to the finish makes me cautious to get behind this Seattle passing game as a whole. 

Bets to watch

The St. Louis crowd was ELECTRIC in Week 3. Expect more of the same against another mediocre opponent. I'm sticking with my #BetAgainstBadQBs strategy and taking the BattleHawks -12.

Once again, a game total under 40 is just too tough to not pass up. Over 38.5 is my pick.

Houston Roughnecks (3-0) at Dallas Renegades (2-1)

  • Favorite: Roughnecks (-1)

  • Over/under: 50.5

  • Time: 3/1, 4:00 PM EST

  • TV: FS1

Week 3 Offensive Takeaways

Houston's 34-27 win over Tampa Bay

  • PJ Walker continues to make the strongest of MVP cases. In Week 3 he completed 24-of-36 passes (67% completion rate) for 306 yards (8.5 YPA) with three TDs and zero picks. The dual-threat QB added four carries for 34 yards and another score. The off-script ability of Walker has made him a headache for each and every defense he's seen so far.

  • James Butler has posted 71%, 65% and 52% snap rates over the first three weeks of the season. The decreasing rates aren't much cause for concern in regards to his stranglehold on the backfield; Butler converted seven carries into 72 yards in Week 3. It's more so a reflection of this extremely pass-heavy offense, as only Dallas (70% pass-play rate) has thrown the ball more often than Houston (69%).

  • Cam Phillips has posted 9-194-3 and 8-63-3 lines over the past two weeks and is clearly Walker's No. 1 target/BFF. Khalil Lewis (95% snaps) and Nick Holley (100%) are also locked into full-time roles, but it's a bit more complicated after that. Each of Sam Mobley (57%), Sammie Coates (48%) and Blake Jackson (22%) were plenty involved in Week 3. Coates will likely continue to get a deep ball or two per week, but his starting spot appears to be gone.

Dallas' 24-12 win over Seattle

  • Landry Jones has spearheaded the XFL's most pass-happy offense during his two weeks as a starter. He's played well enough, averaging 7.1 YPA (No. 4 among 12 qualified QBs), completing 71.6% of his passes (No. 3), and posting a 97.4 QB Rating (No. 4). Still, the four interceptions haven't helped, and Jones' painful lack of mobility makes him a bit of a statue in the pocket. The good news is Jones has countered this by averaging the league's second-fastest release time through three weeks.

  • Both Cameron Artis-Payne (77% snaps) and Lance Dunbar (61%) played near full-time roles in Week 3, as Dallas utilized a heavy dose of two-RB formations. The league's most run-heavy offense wouldn't seem to be ideal for a RB, but Dunbar (23) and CAP (15) rank first and second in targets among all RBs. Dunbar's usage in particular is ridiculous, as only Camp Phillips (28), Nelson Spruce (28) and Donald Parham (24) have more targets regardless of position.

  • Speaking of Parham, the Renegades' 6-foot-8 WR/TE has dominated in recent weeks. Overall, he's caught 14-of-24 targets for 217 yards and three TDs on the season, demonstrating both underrated YAC ability with plenty of contested-catch goodness in the red zone. The Renegades keep seven WRs consistently involved, but Parham (86% snaps), Jeff Badet (78%), Josh Crockett (68%) and Flynn Nagel (62%) worked ahead of Jazz Ferguson (26%) and Sean Price (16%) in Week 3.

Which team is healthier?

Houston should be fairly close to 100% by the time Sunday comes around. Dallas also isn't in bad shape at all when it comes to health. Two offenses operating at peak power squaring off in the battle of Texas? Sign me up.

TEAM

PLAYER

POS.

INJURY

PRACTICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

HOU

De'Angelo Henderson

RB

Shoulder

Did not participate

--

HOU

Cody Brown

DB

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

HOU

Demetrius Rhaney

OL

Abdominal

Limited participation

--

HOU

Marquez Tucker

OL

Knee

Limited participation

--

HOU

Andre Williams

RB

Wrist

Limited participation

--

DAL

Frank Alexander

DL

Hand

Limited participation

--

DAL

Winston Craig

DL

Knee

Limited participation

--

DAL

Donald Parham

TE

Hand

Limited participation

--

DAL

Tomasi Laulie

DL

Ankle

Full participation

--

DAL

Sean Price

TE

Back

Full participation

--

You can view updated injury reports throughout the week at XFL.com,

Key matchup questions

Can anybody slow down PJ Walker?

Pressure might be the only way to slow down Walker and company. Dallas needs to do everything in their power to force the ball out of Walker's hands as quickly as possible:

  • Walker when throwing in fewer than 2.5 seconds: 78.6 QB Rating (No. 10 among 12 qualified QBs), 1 TD (tied for No. 4)

  • Walker when throwing in more than 2.5 seconds: 131.1 QB Rating (No. 1), 9 TD (No. 1)

PFF's No. 5 defense in pass rush hasn't been great at getting to opposing QBs thus far. More troubling was their performance back in Week 1 against the league's other marquee dual-threat QB, as St. Louis signal-caller Jordan Ta'amu averaged 7.7 YPA with a 74% completion rate while posting a 9-77-0 rushing line on the Renegades. 

Dallas performed admirably on the road in Week 2 against Josh Johnson and the Wildcats, but rust appeared to be a major factor for Johnson in that performance. A lot of yards were left on the field that day due to some early inaccuracy. Don't expect Walker to not take advantage of similar opportunities.

Can Landry Jones continue to get the ball out fast against this ferocious Roughnecks' pass rush?

15 players have at least seven pressures this season. Four play for Houston:

  • LB Kaelin Burnett (10)

  • LB LaTroy Lewis (9)

  • DE Kony Ealy (9)

  • DT Gabe Wright (7)

Landry has been a top-four QB by most metrics when not under pressure this season. This has led to Dallas embracing a quick-hitting offensive attack, as only Jordan Ta'amu (2.2 seconds) has a quicker average release than Jones (2.28). The difference between the two signal callers is that Ta'amu (5.1) has been much more patient before running, while Jones (3.7) has been one of the league's quickest QBs to abandon the pocket.

These figures should probably be reversed in an ideal world. It's hard to understate just how slow Jones is at this point in his life.

Dallas has capable RBs and WRs all over the field. Jones' ability to beat this pass rush pre-snap and avoid mistakes will be vital in their chances of keeping up with the league's best offense.

DFS thoughts

QB: There isn't much more to say about PJ Walker ($12,000). The best player on the XFL's best offense in a game with the week's highest game total needs to locked into cash lineups. There's also enough value (as usual) at WR to get up to Walker in tournaments if needed. Landry Jones ($9,800) comes in as the QB4 and is also a viable GPP play considering the potential to play from behind in an already pass-heavy offense. Still, the complete zero he brings to the table as a rusher has me leaning towards Jordan Ta'amu ($9,500) at a cheaper price point.

RB: James Butler ($7,500) isn't really seeing the type of rush attempt floor to feel too good about paying up for. Then again, he figures to go under-owned compared to some of the offense's flashier receivers, making the Roughnecks' big-play RB a prime contrarian GPP option. Cameron Artis-Payne ($8,000) and Lance Dunbar ($6,700) come in as the slate's No. 1 and No. 4 most-expensive RBs, respectively. Both Artis-Payne (77% snaps) and Dunbar (61%) are two of just four RBs in the entire XFL to play even 60% of their offense's snaps last week. Feel free to roster CAP and/or Dunbar in cash and GPP games alike.

WR: Go ahead and slide Cam Phillips ($11,700) into cash-game lineups alongside his BFF/QB until we see some sort of evidence that they're capable of not hooking up for at least one score per game. Khalil Lewis ($8,900) is a worthy stacking partner, although Nick Holley ($4,500) remains the better price-adjusted option considering both players have near every-down roles in the offense. One of these weeks Sammie Coates ($6,100) is going to break free for a big play, but now Sam Mobley ($3,400) will seemingly have the same amount of snaps to attempt to do the same. This makes the latter WR the superior value on the slate and arguably the best option at the position under $4,000. And then we have Dallas, who boasts two high-priced options in Donald Parham ($9,900) and Jeff Badet ($8,100). I generally trust Landry Jones less than the league's other top-QBs, making me accordingly cautious to chase Parham's production. The TE/WR hybrid is talented, but future opponents *shouldn't* be caught snoozing and again attempt to cover him with a LB like we saw last week. Josh Crockett ($3,600) would've had a TD in Week 3 with a better ball (and no holding penalty), making him the superior price-adjusted option to Flynn Nagel ($4,800) and Jazz Ferguson ($4,000) considering each are more-or-less complementary options behind Parham and Badet.

Bets to watch

The game of the week is expected to be a nail biter. The problem is that I'm not so sure it's time to buy Dallas as a true contender to Houston's throne. The battle of Texas consists of two teams that have proven to have a solid level of team-wide talent, but one QB has clearly been the superior player. I love Houston -1.

The XFL is designed to score more points and bring more excitement to viewers. Ideally, a game featuring the league's two most pass-happy offenses will do just that. I like the league as a whole to move towards the over train in upcoming weeks and am taking over 50.5 in this spot.

D.C. Defenders (2-1) at Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)

  • Favorite: Defenders (-2.5)

  • Over/under: 44.5

  • Time: 3/1, 7:00 PM EST

  • TV: ESPN 2

Week 3 Offensive Takeaways

D.C.'s 39-9 loss to Los Angeles

  • Cardale Jones was horrific in Week 3, completing just 13-of-26 passes (50% completion rate) for 103 yards (4 YPA) with zero TDs and four (!!!) interceptions. Each turnover was undoubtedly his fault. It was a step back after a marvelous start to the season. Perhaps the cross-country road trip to Los Angeles was the problem. Either way, Jones has still shown a strong enough combination of deep-ball competency and off-script goodness to warrant the benefit of the doubt moving forward. Just realize the floor here can be low.

  • Last week's snap counts are a bit skewed from D.C. essentially playing their backups for the final 10 minutes of the game. Still, mundane rates from each of Donnel Pumphrey (36% snaps), Khalid Abdullah (26%), Jhurell Pressley (20%) and Nick Brossette (19%) are far from ideal. The eye test along with analytics (2.79 YAC per attempt) has indicated Pressley is the best back, but Pumphrey has continued to draw the start, and Brossette could be in line for more work after performing well in garbage time.

  • There probably isn't a more talented three-WR set in the league than Eli Rogers (97%), Rashad Ross (74%) and DeAndre Thompkins (70%). Each rank among the league's top-16 WRs in yards per route run. Still, look for Jones to continue to zero in on Ross when throwing downfield. Nobody has more deep-ball targets (9) than Ross through three weeks, and he's caught all four of his catchable bombs for 130 yards and a score.

Tampa Bay's 34-27 loss to Houston

  • Quinton Flowers continues to function as the Vipers' best option at QB, but coach Marc Trestman continues to go with Taylor Cornelius and Aaron Murray (foot) instead. Murray was expected to return this week after getting first-team reps over Cornelius, but apparently the latter QB will continue to start as long as Murray remains hobbled. Flowers wasn't spotted at practice to start the week due to personal reasons. Coach Marc Trestman relinquished play-calling duties to OC Jaime Elizondo in Week 3, leading to a robust 80 plays and balanced approach (46% run-play rate).

  • De'Veon Smith (61% snaps) worked ahead of Jacques Patrick (41%) in Week 3 after splitting things right down the middle in Week 2. The former RB has emerged as the superior pass-game option, while the latter has gotten a good amount of work in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Unfortunately, Flowers usually serves as a Taysom Hill-esque vulture for both when the offense enters the red zone.

  • This offense's base offense was rock solid in Week 3 between WRs Daniel Williams (100% snaps), Jalen Tolliver (100%) and Reece Horn (85) along with TE Deandre Hoolsby, who replaced normal starter Nick Truesdell (knee). Williams has easily emerged as the best option among the group, showing off a blend of after-the-catch goodness (No. 4 in YAC per reception) and contested-catch ability.

Which team is healthier?

D.C. is the healthier squad when it comes to both number of players and type of practice participation. The continued absence of TE Nick Truesdell (knee) and potentially QB/RB Quinton Flowers will be particularly important to watch.

TEAM

PLAYER

POS.

INJURY

PRACTICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

DC

De'Angelo Henderson

RB

Shoulder

Did not participate

--

DC

Tavaris Barnes

DE

Thigh

Limited participation

--

DC

Donnie Ernsberger

TE

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

DC

Jhurell Pressley

RB

Shoulder

Limited participation

--

TB

Quinton Flowers

QB/RB

--

Did not participate

--

TB

Martez Ivey

OT

Knee

Did not participate

--

TB

Nick Truesdell

TE

Knee

Did not participate

--

TB

Ricky Walker

DT

Ankle

Limited participation

--

TB

Aaron Murray

QB

Foot

Full participation

--

TB

Jalen Collins

CB

Ankle

Full participation

--

You can view updated injury reports throughout the week at XFL.com,

Key matchup questions

Can Cardale Jones rebound against this brutal Vipers' secondary?

This group of Tampa Bay corners represents just about the best-possible bounce-back scenario for Jones:

  • Jalen Collins (No. 36 among 37 CBs in yards allowed per cover snap)

  • Shelton Lewis (No. 35)

  • Anthoula Kelly (No. 33)

  • Herb Waters (No. 32)

The key for the Vipers will be getting to Jones before 12-gauge is able to launch the ball downfield. Only Marquise Williams (3.37 seconds) has taken longer to throw on average than Jones (2.97), who is typically more than fine with extending plays if his initial read isn't there.

This off-script nature to Jones' game comes with good and bad moments. Ultimately, the 6-foot-5 and 253-pound QB is a difficult man to get to the ground, as Jones has proven to not be easy to initially sack throughout his football career.

The problem for Tampa Bay is that they boast PFF's second-worst pass rush. There's a reason nobody has allowed more yards per play this season.

If healthy, can Aaron Murray provide a spark against the Defenders' normally-stout defense?

There simply hasn't been much from Cornelius to feel good about this season. Murray is tentatively expected to get his job back under center once healthy, although his debut back in the season opener was a mixed bag:

  • Murray drove the Vipers up and down the field for most of the afternoon, helping the offense average a plenty-respectable 5.5 yards per play.

  • Murray also threw two completely unacceptable interceptions and took three sacks.

  • The Vipers dropped a league-high five passes.

  • Tampa Bay had four drives finish within their opponent's 10-yard line with just three points to show for it all.

Up next is a Defenders defense that was shredded by Josh Johnson and company last week after previously shutting down mundane Seattle and New York offenses. This will be a good test to see whether or not the league's No. 2 ranked defense in fewest yards allowed per play is for real, or simply benefited from an easy early-season schedule.

DFS thoughts

QB: Cardale Jones ($9,900) is still plenty expensive ahead of this bounce-back spot. He's not a viable cash game play considering just how good of a spot PJ Walker is in, but Jones still deserves plenty of GPP attention. He's my second-favorite tournament option behind only Jordan Ta'amu. I'm staying away from the Tampa Bay QB situation until we have more clarity on both Murray and Flowers.

RB: Last week's backfield snap rates were fluky due to the blowout factor, but it's still tough to get behind Jhurell Pressley ($6,300) with the potential for Nick Brossette ($3,000) to steal some carries. Donnel Pumphrey ($6,500) obviously has the highest floor of the group, but Brossette is the best price-adjusted option. Still, there's a ton of uncertainty here and a sub-five touch floor for everyone involved. I'd probably just focus on this offense's trio of talented WRs. Once again, both De'Veon Smith ($6,100) and Jacques Patrick ($5,000) come in at affordable price points. The Vipers offense truly did look better in Week 3 after making the change at play-caller, and these RBs are due for some positive TD regression. Both offer GPP appeal for those looking to spend up at the WR position, but I'll continue to lean towards Smith as long as he keeps showing superior three-down ability.

WR: Stacking Jones with Eli Rogers ($9,200), Rashad Ross ($8,700) and/or DeAndre Thompkins ($5,200) should be a popular GPP strategy against this horrendous group of Tampa Bay corners. Each is a viable cash game option. I think Ross in particular is due for a massive performance. Daniel Williams ($7,800) has looked legit #good and demonstrated some chemistry with Murray back in Week 1. I'd gladly roster him over any of the other WRs priced between $8,000-$8,500. I'd rather focus on this offense's RBs than mess around with Jalen Tolliver ($6,000), Reece Horn ($5,000) or Nick Truesdell ($5,500), particularly as long as the latter player's health is in question.

Bets to watch

The Defenders actually opened as one-point underdogs! Hope you got your bets in then. Even with the adjustment, give me D.C. -2.5 as the better overall team with the better QB.

Cautious optimism in play under center for both Tampa Bay and the league as a whole moving forward has me willing to, again, hope for points. Give me over 44.5.

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