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By the Numbers

Ultimate XFL Week 5 Preview: DFS, Picks, More

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: March 6, 2020, 1:13 am ET

We’ve made it to Week 5 of the XFL, people. Let’s party.

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

  1. Houston Roughnecks (4-0)
  2. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1)
  3. Dallas Renegades (2-2)
  4. D.C. Defenders (2-2)
  5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3)
  6. Seattle Dragons (1-3)
  7. New York Guardians (2-2)
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3)

There appears to be a decent gap between our top-two teams and the rest of the field at this point. Landry Jones (knee) is hurt and seemingly incapable of not throwing interceptions. Cardale Jones hasn't engineered a TD drive since Week 2. Josh Johnson can only do so much for the Wildcats. Each of the Dragons, Guardians as well as the Vipers have largely struggled to find consistent play under center all season.

Weeks 1-4

What follows is an all-encompassing Week 5 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.


Seattle Dragons (1-3) at Houston Roughnecks (4-0)

  • Favorite: Roughnecks (-12.5)
  • Over/under: 46
  • Time: 3/7, 2:00 PM EST
  • TV: ABC

Week 4 Offensive Takeaways

Seattle's 16-23 loss to St. Louis.

  • The Brandon Silvers era appears to be over. The Dragons' erratic starting QB was pulled at halftime of the team's Week 3 loss, paving the way for BJ Daniels to ball the hell out. Overall, the former Seahawks' QB posted a 7-84-0 rushing line while averaging a robust 10 yards per attempt. The league's second-least efficient passing game could be on the rise as long as Daniels keeps the starting job. 
  • Kenneth Farrow (54% snaps) worked ahead of both Trey Williams (24%) and Ja'Quan Gardner (24%) last week, a trend that has emerged lately with Farrow demonstrating some plus ability as a receiver. Through four weeks Farrow has been the toughest runner to get to the ground from the group, as his average of 2.82 yards after contact per attempt is better than both Williams (2.41) and Gardner (2.13).
  • Keenan Reynolds (100% snaps) and Austin Proehl (89%) are the only sure things in this passing game, although No. 3 WR Alonzo Moore (52%) showed off some speed on his 57-yard reception from Daniels. Proehl (1.82 yards per route run) has been better than Reynolds (1.14) on a per-play basis, although just one of Reynolds' eight deep-ball targets has been deemed catchable by PFF.

Houston's 27-20 win over Dallas.

  • P.J. Walker continues to make plays with both his arms and legs, at one point trucking a defender before showing off some b-e-a-utiful touch on a deep ball to slot WR Nick Holley in Week 4. The XFL MVP through four weeks has been particularly unfair when testing defenses downfield this season, averaging a robust 9.8 YPA with four touchdowns and zero interceptions on a league-high 29 passes thrown at least 20 yards.
  • James Butler (49% snaps) continues to work well ahead of Andre Williams (25%), but this pass-first offense hasn't managed to enable either RB to consistent fantasy production. The former back does seem close to popping off a truly big play. Only Cameron Artis-Payne (5) has more carries of at least 15 yards than Butler (3) among all RBs, and nobody is averaging more broken tackles per touch than Butler (0.38).
  • Cam Phillips posted a pedestrian 1-9-0 line last week, while Nick Holley (8-97-1) and Khalil Lewis (6-53-0) found significantly more success. Either way, this trio is clearly the team's big-three WRs after Phillips (100% snaps), Holley (100%) and Lewis (75%) played well ahead of Sam Mobley (55%), Sammie Coates (46%), Blake Jackson (26%) as well as Ryheem Malone (23%).

Which team is healthier?

Neither team is functioning fully at 100%, but at least both Seattle and Houston are fairly healthy overall. The Roughnecks are probably more banged up as a whole with the likes of WR Sammie Coates (hamstring), DE Kony Ealy (shoulder) and WR Kahlil Lewis (groin) all failing to get in full practices to start the week.

TEAM PLAYER POS. INJURY PRACTICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

SEA Anthony Moten DL Ankle Did not participate --
SEA Kasen Williams WR Quad Did not participate --
SEA Johnathan Alston CB Knee Limited participation --
SEA Jeremy Clark CB Hand Limited participation --
SEA Marcel Frazier WR Hip Limited participation --
SEA Santos Ramirez S Illness Limited participation --
SEA William Campbell G Knee Full participation --
HOU Sammie Coates WR Hamstring Did not participate --
HOU Kony Ealy DL Shoulder Did not participate --
HOU De'Angelo Henderson RB Shoulder Limited participation --
HOU Kahlil Lewis WR Groin Limited participation --
HOU Marquez Tucker OL Knee Limited participation --

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

Key matchup questions

How many yards will Walker throw for against the XFL's worst secondary?

The Dragons are the only defense allowing more than seven yards per pass attempt through four weeks. None of their corners have received favorable grades to this point:

  • Jeremy Clark: PFF's No. 15 ranked CB among 28 qualified corners
  • Channing Stribling: No. 20
  • Mark Myers: No. 21
  • Mohammed Seisay: No. 22
  • Steve Williams: No. 26

Holding up in coverage when Walker has managed to extend the play has been borderline impossible this season. Overall, he's posted a robust 116.8 QB Rating with nine touchdowns and just one interception when throwing in 2.5 seconds or more. It'll take a team effort to slow down Walker and company; Houston has scored at least 27 points in every game this season.

Is Daniels good enough to enable this offense to more-consistent success?

Daniels *likely* didn't get a chance to start until last week due to his dual-threat nature. My theory: it might be easier for primary-pocket QBs like Silvers to make their play-caller's designs come to life in practice environments, as off-script situations that favor a better runner inevitably occur more often in games.

Perhaps Daniels doesn't possess the most-polished ability to pick apart defenses from the pocket. Well, the good news is that he's already proven to be a good enough rusher to cause widespread panic for defenses in their attempt to contain this suddenly-lethal ground attack.

A league-high 33% of Daniels' dropbacks this season have been via play action. He has weapons on the outside in Proehl and Reynolds, but they'll all be tested in this week's matchup against the league's best defense in fewest yards allowed per play.

DFS thoughts

QB: P.J. Walker ($12,000) is again the slate's highest-priced QB. He's averaging 29.5 fantasy points per game; Josh Johnson is in second at 23.1. For reference, that's the exact same difference as we saw between the NFL's QB1 Lamar Jackson (27.7 fantasy points per game) and QB2 Deshaun Watson (21.3) in 2019. Continue to fire up Walker in cash games as the focal point of the XFL's premiere offense. And then we have BJ Daniels ($7,200), who is barely priced ahead of Brandon Silvers ($7,000). It'd be ridiculous for Daniels to not start after his performance last week, making him an absolute bargain as the 11th-most expensive QB on the slate. The combination of fantasy-friendly game environment, combined with Walker's likely enhanced ownership, makes Daniels my favorite GPP play of the week.

RB: James Butler ($6,700) remains a contrarian-GPP play that is due to find the end zone, potentially via an explosive play. Stacking Walker with Butler and hoping for more rushing touchdowns than usual is far from the worst idea I've ever heard. Kenneth Farrow ($6,100) has seemingly taken over the backfield, but Daniels could siphon away a good amount of the RB group's production due to his own rushing ability. Daniels (7) had more carries than each of Farrow (5), Ja'Quan Gardner (3) and Trey Williams (5) last week. I'm staying away from the Dragons' RBs.

WR: Cam Phillips ($11,500) didn't receive much of a price reduction despite last week's dud. Meanwhile, both Khalil Lewis ($8,900) and Nick Holley ($7,100) now cost a pretty penny. The only other potential option is Sam Mobley ($3,800) as a cost-saving dart throw, particularly if Sammie Coates (hamstring) winds up being ruled out. Paying down at RB and at the FLEX enables you to stack Walker with these high-priced receivers. It seems unlikely that Phillips will keep quiet for much longer. On the other sideline, Austin Proehl ($8,000) remains priced too far above Keenan Reynolds ($6,500), while Alonzo Moore ($3,300) is awfully cheap after being the recipient of Daniels' biggest completion of Week 4. I wouldn't recommend putting these receivers in lineups without Daniels due to the potential for this offense to turn into a run-heavy attack. Still, each are perfectly-fine stacking partners in tournaments thanks to the relatively low cost all the way around.

Bets to watch

The Roughnecks have won each of their past two games by just one score. They've needed fourth-quarter stops inside their own five-yard line to get both of these victories. This Seattle offense truly looked like a different beast with Daniels under center, leading me to take the points and go with Dragons +12.5.

Give me over 46 because 1) We have two competent QBs and 2) I believe that the best is yet to come for offenses in the XFL.


New York Guardians (2-2) at Dallas Renegades (2-2)

  • Favorite: Renegades (-8)
  • Over/under: 37
  • Time: 3/7, 5:00 PM EST
  • TV: FOX

Week 4 Offensive Takeaways

New York's 17-14 win over Los Angeles.

  • Luis Perez played better than expected during last week's win, but let's not freak out just yet. Overall, Perez completed 18-of-26 passes (69% completion rate) for 150 yards (5.8 YPA) with one touchdown, zero interceptions and three sacks. Just one of his 32 pass attempts have been a completion thrown at least 20 yards downfield, but he deserves credit for playing turnover-free football to this point.
  • Darius Victor has played at least 50% of the offense's snaps over each of the past two weeks, seemingly leaping Weeks 1-2 starter Tim Cook on the depth chart. This makes sense: nobody with at least 10 designed rush attempts has averaged more yards after contact per touch than Victor (3.83). Even more impressive? Victor has accomplished this despite New York averaging the second-fewest yards before contact per rush.
  • Mekale McKay (87%) and Colby Pearson (86%) worked well ahead of Joe Horn (43%), Teo Redding (22%) and Austin Duke (17%). While McKay made an acrobatic contested-catch TD on a short fade, he also dropped what would've been a long-range walk-in score. Ultimately, the offense hasn't gone out of its way all season to get McKay (4.25 targets per game) or Pearson (4.25) consistently involved.

Dallas' 27-20 loss to Houston.

  • OC Hal Mumme said that Landry Jones' first two interceptions were due to bad routes, but that seems like a bit of a stretch upon further review. Seven interceptions in three games is unacceptable either way, and now Jones is expected to miss 1-2 weeks with a knee injury. This means Week 1 dink-and-dunk extraordinaire Phillip Nelson will once again be under center. 
  • Both Cameron Artis-Payne (65% snaps) and Lance Dunbar (49%) continue to each play near full-time roles in this two-RB heavy offense. CAP (23 targets) and Dunbar (25) are well ahead of the XFL's third-most targeted RB Donnel Pumphrey (13). The fantasy-friendly nature of these roles can't be understated: Artis-Payne and Dunbar are two of just seven players with at least 20 receptions this season, regardless of position.
  • Donald Parham (97%) and Flynn Nagel (90%) are this offense's clear-cut top-two receivers, while Jeff Badet (72%), Josh Crockett (60%), Jazz Ferguson (35%) and Freddie Martino (28%) are also involved. Parham has been one of the league's breakout stars through four weeks, catching 20-of-34 targets for 273 yards and four scores. He's one of just four players to average over two yards per route run (minimum 10 targets).

Which team is healthier?

New York should have QB Matt McGloin available this week and are fairly healthy on both sides of the ball. Dallas also isn't particularly banged up, although the expected multi-week absence of Landry Jones (knee) is far from ideal.

TEAM NAME POS. INJURY PRATICE STATUS

GAME STATUS

NY Andrew Soroh DB Head/Knee Limited participation --
NY Ian Silberman OL Neck Limited participation --
NY EJ Bibbs TE Knee Full participation --
NY Austin Duke WR Ankle Full participation --
NY John Kling OL Shoulder Full participation --
NY Matt McGloin QB Thorax Full participation --
NY Avery Young OL Shoulder Full participation --
DAL Landry Jones QB Knee Did not participate --
DAL Salesi Uhatafe G -- Did not participate --
DAL Winston Craig DT Knee Full participation --
DAL Tony Guerad DT Shoulder Full participation --
DAL Donald Parham TE Hand Full participation --

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

Key matchup questions

Is Victor good enough to carry this offense?

Luis Perez showed off both his trademark immobility as well as slow internal clock in his first start, as the offense mostly leaned on Victor (18-82-0 rushing) throughout the afternoon.

There isn't much to love about Victor from an athletic standpoint. The man is built like a bowling ball at 5-foot-7 and 227-pounds, but combines slow straight-line speed (4.75-second 40-yard dash) with very meh overall athleticism (28th-percentile SPARQ-x score).

And yet, Victor has emerged as one of the better RBs in the XFL on a per-touch basis:

  • Rushing yards: 187 (No. 5 among 29 qualified RBs)
  • Yards per carry: 4.6 (No. 11)
  • Yards after contact per attempt: 3.83 (No. 2)
  • First downs: 11 (No. 6)
  • Runs of 15-plus yards: 2 (tied for No. 3)
  • Broken tackles: 10 (tied for No. 8)

Nobody has allowed fewer points than the Renegades this season. Victor's ability to help the Guardians cash in on their red-zone chances will be vital for their quest of pulling the upset.

Will Nelson be more ready to rise to the occasion this time around?

Nelson started in Week 1 against the BattleHawks with Jones sidelined. The performance was pretty, pretty, pretty bad:

  • 33-of-42 (79% completion rate)
  • 218 yards (5.2 YPA)
  • 4 sacks
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 1 interception

The most-worrisome part of Nelson's debut was his reluctance to test the St. Louis defense downfield. Overall, he attempted a pass at least 20 yards downfield on just 2-of-46 dropbacks ... and failed to complete either.

The good news is the offense appears to be clicking at the moment, and Nelson might be able to cut down on the unit's turnovers. Still, the ceiling of the team as a whole will undoubtedly be lowered if Nelson continues to serve as nothing more than a game-managing QB.

DFS thoughts

QB: It's unclear if Luis Perez ($7,900) will continue to start with Matt McGloin ($8,000) seemingly healthy. Still, the situation is volatile enough to warrant fading both players. We haven't exactly seen much of a floor or ceiling from either dude anyway. I'm also not particularly inclined to put much stock in Phillip Nelson ($7,500), who also doesn't offer any sort of rushing ability in addition to his aforementioned downfield concerns. 

RB: Darius Victor ($5,800) is curiously barely priced ahead of Tim Cook ($5,400) despite dominating usage over the past two weeks. The Guardians' talented lead RB is worthy of the lock button in cash games due to his double-digit touch floor and proven ability to make something out of nothing. And then we have Cameron Artis-Payne ($8,200) and Lance Dunbar ($7,600) – the slate's first- and third-most expensive RBs, respectively. They remain in play for cash and GPP games alike thanks to their huge pass game roles. Both CAP (4 receptions) and Dunbar (6) were plenty involved through the air with Nelson under center in Week 1.

WR: Mekale McKay ($6,800) deserves more targets. He's plenty worthy of GPP exposure due to his demonstrated talent and potential to pull away from his teammates with Perez under center. The same argument could be made for Colby Pearson ($6,000), although there appears to be a bit of a discrepancy in on-field ability in favor of McKay between the Guardians' top-two WRs. I'm staying away from these Dallas WRs due to the lowered ceiling with Nelson under center. Donald Parham ($9,500) is obviously a stud and commands plenty of red-zone targets, but it's fair to be concerned about the ability of any receiver in the XFL to thrive with a backup QB under center.

Bets to watch

Dallas was brutal in Week 1 without Landry Jones. And yet, it wouldn't exactly be shocking if Nelson finds a way to out-play Perez and/or McGloin. The Renegades clearly have the more-complete team otherwise and also boast home-field advantage. Give me Dallas -8.

I'd stay away from this over/under with so much uncertainty under center on both sides of the ball. Gun to my head, I'd take over 37. Defenses can score points too!

    Ian Hartitz

    All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.