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Targets and Touches

XFL Week 1: Targets and Touches

by John Daigle
Updated On: February 12, 2020, 12:53 pm ET

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 further information on backfields and their respective offenses, check out Ian Hartitz's Week 2 Scouting breakdown.

Dallas Renegades

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Donald Pardham 6 14.2% - -
Flynn Nagel 6 14.2% - -
Sean Price 4 9.5% - -
Jerrod Heard 4 9.5% - -
Jeff Badet 4 9.5% - -
Jazz Ferguson 3 7.1% - -
Freddie Martino 1 2.3% - -
Lance Dunbar 6 14.2% 5 1
Marquis Young 4 9.5% 3 -
Cameron Artis-Payne 4 9.5% 2 1
Austin Walter 1 2.3% 2 -


Dallas' combined 47 dropbacks finished second only to Los Angeles' 53 in Week 1. Philip Nelson's production, however, left a lot to be desired, averaging a hard-to-watch 5.1 yards per attempt behind the league's lowest deep ball rate (20-plus yard attempts) under center. While Nelson's volume coupled with his poor results would normally entail a tremendous (albeit risky) buy-low opportunity for all involved, Landry Jones' pending return is even more comforting since the Renegades and coach Bob Stoops seemingly pulled back the curtains on the style of offense the 30-year-old starter is walking into. That would presumably make Jeff Badet a low-owned commodity along the perimeter since he quietly tied slot wideout Donald Pardham with a team-high 31 routes run. 

Matching teammates Flynn Nagel and Pardham with a franchise-high 14.2 percent target share, scat-back Lance Dunbar checks in as the high-floor runner to chase among this group despite getting out-snapped by Cameron Artis-Payne 32 to 23. The latter is more than capable of grinding out a two-touchdown performance on fewer carries given his preference as the team's bruiser inside the five-yard line, but Dunbar's receiving-game role is invaluable (even in a committee).


D.C. Defenders

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Eli Rogers 6 23% - -
Malachi Dupre 4 15.3% - -
Rashad Ross 2 7.6% 1 -
Simmie Cobbs 2 7.6% - -
Khari Lee 1 3.8% - -
Donnie Ernsberger 1 3.8% - -
Derrick Hayward 1 3.8% - -
Jhurell Pressley 3 11.5% 12 -
Donnell Pumphrey 3 11.5% 4 -


Initially listed as the Defenders' second-string wideout on the outside, Rashad Ross buoyed DeAndre Thompkins' (foot) absence into two deep balls and a 31-yard touchdown along the left sideline. Ross' presence as an over-the-top threat is undeniable, but there's real concern he's kept low on the totem pole as D.C.'s rotating third option if Thompkins returns Saturday. Fortunately, this backfield is as transparent as any in the league, catering to Jhurell Pressley (36 snaps) on early downs all the while involving Donnell Pumphrey (26) as the former's Boston Scott-like backup. As it stands, Pressley is the runner to target for Week 2 given the Defenders' projected game script as -225 moneyline home favorites over New York.


Houston Roughnecks

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Cam Phillips 9 23% - -
Sammie Coates 9 23% - -
Khalil Lewis 6 15.3% - 2
Ryheem Malone 5 12.8% - -
Sam Mobley 2 5.1% - -
James Butler 2 5.1% 9 2
Andre Williams 1 2.5% 2 -
DeAngelo Henderson - - 1 -
Nick Holley 5 12.8% - -


As Ian Hartitz noted in his Ultimate XFL Breakdown, the Roughnecks failed to carry a single tight end into the regular season, inevitably allowing coach June Jones and QB P.J. Walker to rear back and pass at their hearts content. From a sheer air yards perspective, Coates is a bet-on-regression lock button after totaling just 2/26 receiving on a league-high five targets 20-plus yards downfield. Cam Phillips makes for the respective cash game play between the two since he still ran 13 more routes (45) than Coates (32).

White-knuckling the Roughnecks' backfield both on the ground and in goal-line territory, James Butler arguably became the season-long pickup of the year overnight. Having said that, RB Nick Holley finds himself in a unique position as a pure pass-catching specialist with zilch ground-and-pound upside. While that type of usage limits Holley's ceiling, he isn't the worst bet as a mid-priced FLEX 'receiver' for DraftKings' point-per-reception format.


Los Angeles Wildcats

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Nelson Spruce 15 34% - -
Jordan Smallwood 7 15.9% - -
Saeed Blacknall 4 9% - -
Brandon Barnes 4 9% - -
Adonis Jennings 3 6.8% - -
Jalen Greene 3 6.8% - -
Larry Whitfield 3 6.8% 2 1
Elijah Hood - - 12 -
Larry Rose 2 4.5% 3 -
DuJuan Harris 1 2.2% 2 -


Without Josh Johnson (thigh) and WR Tre McBride (thigh) available against Houston, backup QB Charles Kanoff dropped back 46 times in negative game script with Nelson Spruce, Saeed Blacknall, and former AAF standout Adonis Jennings working from three-wide sets. Although a similar number of pass attempts aren't expected in any competitive contests for Los Angeles, Spruce's league-high 34 percent target share from Week 1 undoubtedly plants him as fantasy's No. 1 wideout until further notice. The Wildcats may also find themselves in an up-tempo shootout if both Johnson, who reportedly practiced in full on Tuesday, and Landry Jones (knee) return Sunday.

Ex-Panthers RB Elijah Hood's box score doesn't pop off the page, but his team-high 12 carries included out-snapping teammate Larry Rose 55 to 18 as one the league's few bell-cows. It's disappointing Hood didn't see a single target, but he did sneakily run the second-most routes among all running backs in the Wildcats' season opener. Roster him with the utmost confidence as a top-three back despite Week 1's results.


New York Guardians

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Joe Horn 8 27.5% - -
Jake Powell 6 20.6% - -
Colby Pearson 4 13.7% - -
Mekale McKay 4 13.7% - -
Teo Redding 1 3.4% - -
Darius Victor 3 10.3% 9 -
Tim Cook 1 3.4% 4 -


Much like Sammie Coates, Joe Horn's final receiving line (2/27) underwhelmed despite leading the team with a whopping 27.5 percent target share from the slot. Teo Redding was the only other receiver to run a route (2) behind Colby Pearson (33), Mekale McKay (32), and Horn, presumably keeping that aforementioned trio cemented into their same roles moving forward. Tim Cook's and Darius Victor's presences are a wash since the former merely out-snapped Victor 27 to 26.


Seattle Sea Dragons

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Austin Proehl 10 24.3% 1 -
Keenan Reynolds 7 17% - -
Dontez Byrd 5 12.1% - -
Colin Jeter 4 9.7% - -
Alonzo Moore 3 7.3% - -
Evan Rodriguez 2 4.8% - 1
Ben Johnson 1 2.4% - -
Jaquan Gardner - - 9 1
Kenneth Farrow 4 9.7% 7 2
Trey Williams 5 12.1% 3 -


Kenneth Farrow (42% snaps), Trey Williams (31.8%), and Ja'Quan Gardner (27.5%) were essentially locked into a true committee to start the year, each being dispersed both on the ground and as satellite options out of the backfield. Having said that, Farrow emerges as the most valuable among the trio given his usage across the board, which includes a backfield-high 18 routes run and two carries inside the 10-yard line. He's priced as such on DraftKings ($6,100), accounting for $1,100 more than Williams ($5,000) and $2,100 more than Gardner ($4,000). 

Kasen Williams (quad) was ruled out mid-week, paving the way for Alonzo Moore (1/5) and Dontez Byrd (2/32) to work in three-wide sets behind Keenan Reynolds and Austin Proehl. Reynolds is an intriguing bounce-back candidate if only because he actually ran 10 more routes (46) than Proehl (36) despite coming up short in the box score. Seattle also signed former CFL star S.J. Green following Saturday's loss, making inactives a crucial find if Williams begins trending towards playing. Note that the Vipers recently placed No. 1 corner Shelton Lewis on injured reserve.


St. Louis BattleHawks 

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Marcus Lucas 6 22.2% - -
L'Damian Washington 5 18.5% - 2
Alonzo Russell 5 18.5% - 1
De'Mornay Pierson-El 4 14.8% - -
Keith Mumphrey 1 3.7% - -
Wes Saxton 1 3.7% - -
Brandon Reilly 1 3.7% - -
Matt Jones 1 3.7% 21 -
Christine Michael 1 3.7% 7 1
Keith Ford 1 3.7% 4 -


Christine Michael logged 23 snaps (30.6%) against the Renegades but came up short with a miserable 7/0 rushing line (not a mistype) and was promptly benched for St. Louis' final two game-clinching possessions. Assuming that banishment sticks, Matt Jones is clearly in line for a follow-up similar to his 21-carry performance. Wes Saxton should also see a slight bump in on-field usage with Cole Hunt, who led the team in snaps (19) and routes run (6) from that position, being moved to injured reserve late Monday evening. Note that the BattleHawks signed TE Connor Davis from 'Team 9' to replace Hunt in the interim.


Tampa Bay Viper

Player Targets Target Share Carries Inside 10
Daniel Williams 9 25% - -
Jalen Tolliver 8 22.2% 1 2
Nick Truesdell 6 16.6% - 1
Reece Horn 5 13.8% - 1
Colin Thompson 1 2.7% - -
De'Veon Smith 1 2.7% 16 3
Jacques Patrick 3 8.3% 8 2
Quinton Flowers - - 5 -


Aaron Murray claimed to be "fine" during Sunday's broadcast, but his day-to-day status with a lower foot injury suggests otherwise. His absence to start the week allowed Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers to split first-team reps under center on Tuesday. Even if former Oklahoma State product Cornelius gets the nod for Saturday, Flowers' Taysom Hill-like role (including two snaps as the team's signal-caller inside the 10 against New York) keeps him entrenched as a chess piece worth chasing for DFS tourneys. 

The Vipers' decision to kick a field goal from the five-yard line while trailing by two scores set the league's forward-thinking intentions back a few years, but their personnel usage from the top-down was clear and concise. De'Veon Smith out-snapped Jacques Patrick 47 to 28 as the team's workhorse runner, Daniel Williams and Jalen Tolliver (6'1/213) worked tandem as the Vipers' starting wideouts, and Nick Truesdell carried over his success (24/269/3) from the AAF as an unquestioned big-bodied safety valve over the middle and inside the 20. Perhaps Truesdell's workload is scaled back if backup TE DeAndre Goolsby (neck) is cleared for Week 2. Tolliver still makes for an intriguing name to watch since he's gifted a matchup on the left side of the field opposite Sea Dragons CB Jeremy Clark, who permitted 5/75/1 on just six targets against the Defenders on Saturday.