XFL Week 2: Targets and Touches

John Daigle
Rotoworld

All targets and touches data is compiled from the XFL. Snaps and routes run data is sourced via Pro Football Focus. All opportunities (targets and carries) inside the 10-yard line were manually charted.

The goal of these articles is to give you an idea of what the usage looks like for each player within their offenses, allowing you to spot any positive or negative trends regarding how a player is being used and, most importantly, allowing the numbers and context to tell the story.

For a deep dive into every signal-caller's strengths and weaknesses ahead of Week 3, check out Ian Hartitz's XFL Quarterback Rankings.

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Dallas Renegades

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Donald Parham

11

27.5%

-

1

Jeff Badet

9

22.5%

-

-

Flynn Nagel

3

7.5%

-

-

Sean Price

3

7.5%

-

-

Josh Crockett

2

5%

-

-

Freddie Martino

1

2.5%

-

-

Cameron Artis-Payne

5

12.5%

14

-

Lance Dunbar

6

15%

6

2

 

Coach Bob Stoops suspiciously scaled back Landry Jones in the fourth quarter against Los Angeles, placing the rock into the belly of both Cameron Artis-Payne (14/99/2) and Lance Dunbar (6/42) on 12 of Dallas' final 14 offensive plays. The Renegades still led Week 2 with a league-high 44 dropbacks, but Jones' two turnovers coupled with his downfield inefficiency (1-of-6) begs the question of Stoops' offensive approach moving forward. Barring a complete overhaul, Flynn Nagel stands out as an underrated buy-low candidate as he quietly ran a team-high 43 routes on said 44 dropbacks (with Jazz Ferguson notable healthy scratched) in Week 2. Having lined up inline on just 7-of-96 offensive snaps this year, "tight end" Donald Parham should also continue to succeed with aplomb if only for his size (6'8/257) being dispersed both in the slot (65 snaps) and along the perimeter (12). The beefy 22-year-old continues to boast one of the league's highest floors ahead of Week 3 given his franchise-high 17 targets (20.8% share) through two games, 11 (including his lone look inside the five-yard line) of which were soaked up in Jones' first start.

Having combined for 29 snaps in Dallas' season opener against the BattleHawks, backup runners Austin Walter and Marquis Young had their workload diminished to a total of four snaps (5.4%) in the Renegades' follow-up, essentially divvying their playing time to both Artis-Payne (49) and Dunbar (39) atop the food chain. While the latter has quietly totaled three opportunities inside the 10-yard line (and a 14.6% target share to boot), Artis-Payne has surprisingly run 46 routes to Dunbar's 36 on the year. Note the Dragons' front-seven has limited opposing backs to a combined 41/155 rushing and 3.78 yards per carry this season.

 

D.C. Defenders

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

DeAndre Thompkins

9

24.3%

1

1

Eli Rogers

8

21.6%

-

1

Rashad Ross

5

13.5%

-

1

Malachi Dupre

2

5.4%

-

-

Khari Lee

1

2.7%

-

-

Derrick Hayward

1

2.7%

-

1

Donnell Pumphrey

5

13.5%

12

2

Jhurell Pressley

2

5.4%

11

1

Khalid Abdullah

-

-

3

1

Nick Brossette

1

2.7%

-

-

 

Previously inactive in Week 1 with a thigh injury, DeAndre Thompkins returned with a splash (6/92/1) as the Defenders cemented Eli Rogers, Rashad Ross, and Thompkins into three-wide sets. Ross in particular has only seen seven targets through two games but did start against the Guardians and remains No. 2 among all skill players with 147 receiving yards. With Malachi Dupre's routes getting slashed from 26 in D.C.'s season opener to 13 upon Thompkins' return to the lineup, fantasy players should have no fear in leveraging Ross' week-winning upside on limited usage as a low-owned pivot away from Nelson Spruce and/or Cam Phillips. Having said that, Rogers is still gifted the best matchup in the slot opposite Wildcats CB Mike Stevens, who Pro Football Focus has charged with the third-most catches (11) permitted through two games.

Donnell Pumphrey out-snapped Jhurell Pressley 35 to 27 in Week 2 but ceded nine snaps (and three touches) to Khalid Abdullah all the while losing a single target to No. 4 runner Nick Brossette. Odds are Brossette loses any amount of action in the long run, but the sudden involvement of four backs, siphoning fruitful touches inside the 10 aplenty, does bring Pumphrey's weekly ceiling as D.C.'s 1A option into question. Sunday also makes for a sneaky letdown spot as the Defenders travel to Los Angeles for their first road contest of the season.

 

Houston Roughnecks

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Cam Phillips

10

32.2%

-

3

Khalil Lewis

7

22.5%

-

-

Sammie Coates

4

12.9%

-

-

Ryheem Malone

1

3.2%

-

-

Sam Mobley

1

3.2%

-

-

Blake Jackson

1

3.2%

-

-

James Butler

2

6.4%

7

3

Andre Williams

-

-

5

1

Nick Holley

5

16.1%

1

-

 

Nick Holley's subtle increase in routes run (37 > 29) from Week 1 to Houston's following game came at the expense of air yards savant Sammie Coates, who ran a route on merely 70.5 percent of P.J. Walker's dropbacks — a shade below his Week 1 rate (80%) as the team's incumbent No. 2 threat. Having now lined up from the slot on 85-of-92 offensive snaps this year, DraftKings users shouldn't be shocked to learn Holley lost his running back-eligibility there overnight. James Butler's usage, however, stands out over Andre Williams' as the former's domination inside the 10-yard line stealthily includes a whopping 15 to 2 lean in routes run from the Roughnecks' backfield. Perhaps that favorable timeshare changes if DeAngelo Henderson (shoulder) returns Saturday.

 

Los Angeles Wildcats

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Nelson Spruce

9

26.4%

-

1

Jordan Smallwood

6

17.6%

-

1

Adonis Jennings

5

14.7%

-

-

Kermit Whitfield

4

11.7%

1

-

Brandon Barnes

3

8.8%

-

-

Jalen Greene

3

8.8%

-

-

De'Quan Hampton

1

2.9%

-

-

Elijah Hood

1

2.9%

10

1

Larry Rose

2

5.8%

3

-

 

Nelson Spruce didn't skip a beat with Josh Johnson under center, leading the Wildcats in targets for the second straight week. Unfortunately he's now priced accordingly across sites, falling in line with the second-highest salary among his position at both DraftKings and FanDuel. With seven attempts 20-plus yards downfield in his first start of the year, though, there's clearly room for two receivers to blossom under Johnson moving forward. Saeed Blacknall (thigh) is the pick-to-click for a DeAndre Thompkins-like return off the injury report in Week 3 if only because the 95th-percentile SPARQ specimen previously ran a route on 46-of-48 dropbacks in Los Angeles' season opener before being shelved last week. Jordan Smallwood took to that role in Week 2, catching 4-of-6 targets as the de facto No. 2 ahead of Adonis Jennings.

 

New York Guardians

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Mekale McKay

6

22.2%

-

-

Colby Pearson

4

14.8%

-

-

Joe Horn

3

11.1%

-

-

E.J. Bibbs

2

7.4%

-

-

Jake Powell

1

3.7%

-

-

Teo Redding

1

3.7%

-

-

Austin Duke

1

3.7%

-

-

Tim Cook

3

11.1%

10

-

Darius Victor

-

-

3

-

Matthew Colburn

4

14.8%

-

-

 

Despite being moved ahead of Joe Horn on the team's unofficial depth chart mid-week, slot wideout Austin Duke inevitably ran the fewest routes (10) among New York's receivers on Saturday. Horn meanwhile ran 22 routes on the Guardians' 32 combined dropbacks, staying glued to his primary spot from the middle of the field. With his salary bumped up a mere $400 ($3,800) on DraftKings, Horn remains an intriguing bounce-back option stemming from his poor production (3/33) on a team-high share of targets (11, 19.3%). Unfortunately, all ancillary weapons in this offense are strictly shots in the dark in projected negative game script as long as Matt McGloin (4.7 YPA) remains under center. Backup Marquise Williams scrambled twice and fearlessly launched three deep shots on his eight attempts off the bench, lending a glimmer of hope to the Guardians' aerial attack if McGloin is refreshingly sent to the pine.

There was clear descension among New York's backfield in Week 2 as Darius Victor became an afterthought on just five offensive snaps (10.2%). Tim Cook inevitably reaped the rewards, logging 12 touches on 38-of-49 snaps (77.5%). With Justin Stockton (healthy scratched) firmly in the rearview mirror, Cook checks in as a low-end RB1 in season-long based purely on his every-down usage. I remain bearish on his projected carries against the BattleHawks given that the Guardians are listed as 9-point road dogs for Sunday.

 

Seattle Dragons

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Keenan Reynolds

8

44.4%

-

-

Austin Proehl

4

22.2%

-

-

Dontez Byrd

2

11.1%

-

-

Connor Hamlett

2

11.1%

-

-

Ben Johnson

1

5.5%

-

-

Trey Williams

1

5.5%

11

-

Kenneth Farrow

-

-

10

-

Jaquan Gardner

-

-

10

-

 

Having run a route on 100 percent of Seattle's dropbacks this year, it unsurprisingly only took until Week 2 for Keenan Reynolds' lackluster season opener (2/5) to come full circle against the Vipers (3/87/1). Regression hit Austin Proehl (1/-1) on the opposite end of the spectrum following his explosion out the gates (5/88/2) as he continued to work squarely behind Reynolds, finishing with as many routes run (15) as No. 2 wideout Dontez Byrd. Pro Football Focus has categorized just two of Brandon Silvers' 13 deep throws (20-plus yards) as 'catchable', deeming both Reynolds and Byrd as cross-your-fingers tournament darts with upside if wagering on Seattle's run-first offense (see below) attacking from behind as 4.5-point home dogs. Note that WR Kasen Williams' (quad) pending debut would also presumably knock Byrd down a peg as the former is currently listed atop the team's unofficial depth chart.

The Dragons and coach Jim Zorn showed their true colors in a competitive game script on Saturday, establishing the run to the tune of 31 carries on 59.6 percent of Seattle's offensive plays. Even so, their backfield has yet to hint at a torchbearer through two games, seeing Kenneth Farrow (49 snaps), Jaquan Gardner (36), and Trey Williams (25) split backfield duties evenly. To make matters worse, Williams actually logged the fewest snaps (17) among the three in Week 2 but still managed to out-touch (12) both. 

 

St. Louis BattleHawks

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

De'Mornay Pierson-El

11

29.7%

1

1

L'Damian Washington

8

21.6%

-

-

Alonzo Russell

6

16.2%

-

-

Keith Mumphrey

4

10.8%

-

-

Wes Saxton

2

5.4%

-

-

Marcus Lucas

1

2.7%

-

-

Carlton Agudosi

1

2.7%

-

-

Matt Jones

1

2.7%

16

-

Christine Michael

2

5.4%

15

1

Larry Tillery

-

-

2

-

 

Former Salt Lake Stallions standout De'Mornay Pierson-El's box score (9/50/1) against Houston hints at skyrocketed on-field usage, but he wholly finished fourth among the team's wideouts in total routes run (33) behind Alonzo Russell (5/42), L'Damian Washington (6/77/1), and Marcus Lucas (1/14). Being dispersed as the team's third wideout in both contests thus far, it's Lucas who projects as a low-owned tournament dart from Jordan Ta'amu strictly for his peppering of snaps from the middle of the field. The BattleHawks have also blitzkrieg'ed their opponents with 75 and 88 offensive plays through Week 2, lending more than enough volume for a double-stack if the Guardians' offense is able to keep their side of the bargain; St. Louis' 9-point side as home favorites suggests otherwise. Betting on Matt Jones to bounce-back from knee injury — which essentially led to slug-like backup Christine Michael running into his offensive line for 15 carries and 2.5 yards per tote — and return to his commanding workload from Week 1 (64% snaps) is a welcoming wager, additionally foreseeable at low ownership across sites. Reminder Michael only soaked up 23 snaps (30.6%) in Week 1.

 

Tampa Bay Vipers

Player

Targets

Target Share

Carries

Inside 10

Reece Horn

8

23.5%

-

-

Nick Truesdell

5

14.7%

-

-

Seantavius Jones

5

14.7%

-

-

Daniel Williams

4

11.7%

-

-

Jalen Tolliver

4

11.7%

1

-

Tanner McEvoy

2

5.8%

-

-

DeAndre Goolsby

1

2.9%

-

-

Jacques Patrick

2

5.8%

14

3

De'Veon Smith

3

8.8%

11

-

 

A true abomination on offense, there's no hope in sight for the Vipers and coach Marc Trestman's conventional play-calling, which has yielded comic relief on multiple occasions given his tendency to emphasize the wrong in-game approach despite what the scoreboard reads. Hosts to P.J. Walker and Houston's continued onslaught this upcoming Saturday, even Aaron Murray's impending return under center may not cut it. Reece Horn's eight targets were intriguing if only because his 37 routes on Taylor Cornelius' and Quinton Flowers' 40 combined dropbacks led Tampa Bay's receiving room; that role previously fell upon Daniel Williams, who only ran 26 routes on Saturday, in Week 1.

Jacques Patrick notably ate into De'Veon Smith's workhorse role against Seattle, buoying his increased playing time (50.6% > 38.8%) in Week 2 into a backfield-high 14 carries and three opportunities (including one target) inside the 10. Although he lacks rushing upside in what projects as come-from-behind script at home against the Roughnecks, Patrick's reduced DraftKings salary ($4,400) need not go overlooked.

Editor's Note: Seantavius Jones has been waived since initial posting.

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