Dallas Renegades vs. LA Wildcats Week 2 Preview

All eyes will be squared away at Landry Jones as he makes his first start of the season for the Dallas Renegades as they take on the LA Wildcats on the road. Philip Nelson filled in for Jones and while he was efficient and accurate, the play calling was conservative with short passes. Head coach Bob Stoops hopes to have a stronger showing from his running game and defense that fell short of high expectations against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

LA has had a lot happen to them in the past two weeks. They lost their starting quarterback Josh Johnson to injury for week one and most likely week two. Not to mention head coach Winston Moss fired his defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson. Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson became a free agent after he was let go. On top of that, Charles Kanoff hasn’t practiced with his shoulder/thigh injury that might keep him out of the game Sunday.

Keys to the Game

Dallas Renegades

With Landry Jones starting at quarterback, this should open up the offense and allow Hal Humme to be more aggressive. The team will need to pass the ball deeper and often. The running game must improve as Cameron Artis-Payne will have to do better than zero yards rushing. A healthier Jeff Badet and Jazz Ferguson should make the passing game more effective. The offensive line had some issues protecting Nelson as he was sacked four times and open more running lanes for the running backs in the middle of the line.

Defense has to take advantage of a banged up quarterback play. If Kanoff cannot go, Jalan McClendon will take over at quarterback. His athletic ability should make things interesting as the defense struggled against another athletic quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. The issues lie with McClendon fumbling and getting intercepted within a few plays. His inexperience could be an advantage for the Renegades. The front seven allowed almost 200 yards rushing so stopping Elijah Hood will be priority one. Josh Hawkins will be tasked with covering Nelson Spruce.

LA Wildcats

There’s too many questions in terms of what’s going on with the quarterbacks. Kanoff and McClendon both struggled in the loss to Houston. The offense will be relying on Nelson Spruce to step up and continue making big plays at receiver. The running game shorten out in the second half for the Wildcats. Elijah Hood will need a big game as the passing game could be in need of it. Norm Chow will need to dive deep into the playbook to come up with some creative plays to open up the offense.

The defense got exposed in the secondary for poor pass coverage as PJ Walker threw for four touchdowns. They have another tough task of covering the fastest receiver unit in the league. The secondary will need to play back further and be ready for big plays. Now with Anthony Johnson out of the picture, the front seven took a hit and will need to step up.

X-Factors

Lance Dunbar

He played a key role in last week’s game game as he was the team’s leading rusher and tied for the lead in catches. While he wasn’t listed on the depth chart last week, his speed and athleticism makes him a weapon on offense. He should get more touches this weekend as he proved to be their most efficient runner on the roster.

Jordan Smallwood

Nelson Spruce will command most of the attention which could open the door for Jordan Smallwood to have a big game. He already made an impact on last week’s game as he caught a touchdown pass in the game against Houston. Bob Stoops should know a lot about him being a former Oklahoma receiver there. Smallwood has quick speed and is a threat on the outside.

Injury Report

Dallas Renegades

Winston Craig, DL – Thigh, Did not participate
Landry Jones, QB – Knee, Limited participation
Hau’oli Kikaha, LB – Wrist, Limited participation

LA Wildcats

Saeed Blacknall, WR – Thigh, Did not participate
Chad Kanoff, QB – Shoulder/Head, Did not participate
Dujuan Harris, WR – Ankle, Did not participate
Harlan Miller, CB – Ankle, Did not participate
Jerome Couplin, S – Ankle, Limited participation
Josh Johnson, QB – Thigh, Limited participation
Kahlil McKenzie, C – Ankle, Limited participation
Jack Tocho, CB – Hip, Limited participation
Trevon Sanders, DT – Hand, Limited participation
Tre Williams, LB – Hand, Limited participation

Summary

The game comes down to how well Landry Jones can move around with his knee and how soon he can get into a rhythm. It will be important for Winston Moss to bring the heat early to try to rattle the veteran quarterback. The Renegades are filled with so many weapons for Jones to throw it to that Mumme will be dialing up some big plays to hit early. If the Wildcats don’t have a solution figured out at quarterback by kickoff, it could smell for a long day for LA.

Prediction: Dallas 29, LA 15

XFL Week 2 Power Rankings

Now that we got our first look at all 8 teams in action, I feel a little more confident in my Power Rankings this week. Unfortunately, there are still a few teams I’m unsure about, especially because teams like LA and Dallas didn’t have their starting quarterbacks. But I can at least say, with a hundred percent certainty, that I feel a lot more confident in my picks this week than I did last week. A few I nailed, a few I whiffed, but these things change week to week, so let’s talk about it.

8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1)
Oh boy. If you read my Power Rankings last week, you’ll know that I had really high hopes for this team. A talented roster, a proven Head Coach, and a good vibe coming out of Training Camp, I thought had this team poised to make a run. Well, either they thought this was still the pre-season, or they really are this bad. I know New York’s secondary is the real deal, but Tampa could not do ANYTHING offensively. Aaron Murray was off, sometimes way off, on too many throws. When his throws were on target, they either dropped the ball or fumbled it. What could go wrong for the Vipers, did go wrong, and it was a complete nightmare. They are glad that there is a running play clock in the XFL, because this thing could have been much worse. Not prepared, not focused, not in sync. A lot of issues for the Vipers in Week 1, and I am really hoping that they can get it together for Week 2. For right now, I am willing to still hold out, because it was Week 1. But with a performance like that, you deserve the no. 8 spot.

7. Seattle Dragons (0-1)
I will start with this. Better than I thought…..just not by much. Brandon Silvers was decent enough. They ran the ball alright with Farrow and Gardner. But they were just simply outmatched. They hung in there with DC, but once DC started getting in a groove, it was evident who the better team was. I think Seattle got lucky with it being Week 1, and the Defenders were still working out some kinks. I think Seattle’s offense will be ok, but their defense just won’t have a chance against teams like DC and Houston. Unless Silvers and company, on the offensive side of the ball, start really getting creative, I think this team can be competitive, but ultimately come out on the losing end of a lot of games. I think Seattle fits perfectly in the no. 7 spot.

6. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)
Hmm…this is the most puzzling team to me. On the one hand, we still haven’t seen them at full strength with Josh Johnson under center. But now, reports are coming out that he may not be ready for Game 2, so who knows how long this injury is going to last. And in a 10 Week season, you can be out of the Playoff race fast. But even when Johnson gets back, i’m not sure about what kind of team we are going to get on the field. Nelson Spruce looked amazing, which did not come as a surprise, but I also think part of that was just the fact that Houston’s defense is suspect in between the numbers. As far as the rest of the team, they kind of disappointed me. Now, perhaps it was just the fact that they were playing the best offense in the league, so maybe their defense will bounce back, but their offense definitely left a lot to be desired. Yes, they were in it in the first half, but I think that had more to do with the fact that Houston didn’t really have a good feel on Chad Kanoff yet. Because in that second half, they completely shut him down. When Josh Johnson gets back, they will definitely be better. The question is, just how much better. For right now, I think the no. 6 spot is the perfect spot for them.

5. Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Now, this might be the biggest surprise of these rankings, but I saw something in their game against St. Louis that concerned me. Even with Landry Jones, who should be back next week, I think this might be the most overrated team in the league. Yes, Landry Jones is good, but i’m starting to think he might be the 4th best quarterback in the league. Now, come next week, I could be proven wrong, but we shall see. However, the reason I bring that up, is because based off of what we saw this weekend from Dallas, he is going to have to be a top 2 quarterback in this league if they want to get where many project them to be. Dallas, you should feel lucky that St. Louis didn’t figure it out until the 2nd half, because you got owned in this game. St. Louis controlled this game on the ground, and their defense completely shut down anything you wanted to do offensively. But we will get to St. Louis’ defense later, first we need to talk about Dallas’ game plan. Bob Stoops and Hal Mumme have the name recognition, and perhaps in their heyday they were ahead of the curb. But perhaps, they might be behind the curb here, because this “Air Raid” offense, at least the one we saw Saturday with Phil Nelson, ain’t gonna cut it against teams like DC and Houston. The “Air Raid” is an offense that builds over time in the game, but DC and Houston can have you down by 20 before you know it. Look, i’m still willing to give Dallas a chance, because we still have to see how Landry Jones will do in this offense. But, even the running game and receiving core underwhelmed in this game. Hopefully, it’s just those Week 1 tweaks that need to be worked out, but this game did not show me enough to think Landry Jones is the only solution to fix this. For now, they sit at no. 5.

4. New York Guardians (1-0)
I told you guys. I told you. New York’s secondary is the real deal. Jammar Summers, Bryce Jones, and company will make life hard for any quarterback. And that’s exactly what they did to Aaron Murray Sunday afternoon. 5 sacks, 3 takeaways is what lead the Guardians to victory. Their offense was run really well too on the backs of Victor and Cook, and McGloin threw the ball well to put them in scoring position often. But, as strong as their defense is, and it is definitely top 2, if not the best defense in the league, I think their offense is going to have to get a bit more creative with their passing game to move on up in these rankings. Matt McGloin is very capable, but due to his lack of mobility, he will need to get the ball out quick to his playmakers, which he has with his receiving core. McKay, Pearson, and company can add yards after the catch, which will only help this New York offense as they progress throughout the season. For now, I have them at no. 4.

3. St. Louis Battlehawks (1-0)
Now, I said Dallas being ranked no. 5 might be the biggest surprise on this list. But, perhaps an even bigger surprise is the fact that the team I had as no. 7 last week, is now my no. 3 team. The St. Louis Battlehawks are better, in fact, a lot better, than I thought, and I couldn’t be happier. First off, yes, I understand, they only beat a Dallas team, which was missing Landry Jones, by six points (15-9). I get it. Sal, you’re over reacting! Well, allow me to explain. In the 2nd half of that game, towards the end of the 3rd and in the 4th, Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long figured out what kind of team they are. And let me tell you rest of XFL, you better be ready. Yes, they are going to lose to Houston next week, but that’s nothing to hang your head about. Chuck Long is going to put Jordan Ta’amu on the verge of success, and possibly in contender-ship for the MVP award at the end of the season. XFL fans, I give you the Baltimore Ravens of the XFL. Yes, if you watched that second half, Ta’amu, Jones, Michael, and Ford ran all over Dallas’ defense, and they are fixing to run all over the league. Now that they are letting Jordan Ta’amu be who he is, which is not a passer, but another threat in the running game, not only will that open up the passing game, but defenders are going to have to decide whether to bite on the run or not. Matt Jones and Keith Ford, plus you can’t forget about Christine Michael, are going to be effective in the running game. But now with Jordan Ta’amu playing to his strengths, that running game might be near unstoppable. And if Ta’amu can make just enough throws, this team might win the East. But that’s not all. Their defense might be the best in the league. It is going to be hard to find openings anywhere against this defense, who are big in size and stature, but can also ball hawk like New York. Now, I don’t think they will have as many takeaways as New York, but they might prevent less points on the board. This St. Louis team is for real, and while I do expect them to lose next week, they might not lose very often after that. They are my no. 3 team.

2. DC Defenders (1-0)
Cardale Jones was awesome Saturday afternoon. He would never go down. Even when you thought they had him, he refused to give in. He showed off his spectacular arm strength and mobility, but really he showed the absolute force that he is at the quarterback position. Good luck sacking Cardale, because it ain’t gonna be easy to get him down on the ground. He spread the ball across numerous receivers, and made the correct reads when he had to. Rashad Ross was who we thought he was going to be, and Eli Rogers made you sure you took notice. But who really opened the field up for DC was their Tight End, Khari Lee, who was terrific Saturday. Don’t forget, DeAndre Thompkins will be joining them soon, who was sidelined with an injury, and at that point, you can’t double team anyone. Their running game didn’t show much Saturday, but I still believe they will be fine. Their defense is what surprised me the most. They aren’t great, but I do believe that they are good enough to win the Championship. This isn’t Old School Football. Defense doesn’t win championships, offense wins championships. If you have an elite offense, you will be there. But, you still need a good defense to get the job done. This team is excellent in all phases, and I wouldn’t argue if you had them no. 1. But there is another team that I believe is currently better than them, so for now they are my no. 2 team.

1. Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to “The Firework Show!”. The highest scoring offense in the league, and the best team in the XFL! The Houston Roughnecks are the real deal, and it took me by surprise just how good this offense is. They scored 37 points, scoring 5 offensive touchdowns, 4 of which came from the electric arm of PJ Walker. Walker was absolutely sensational in his debut, and while it was only one game, if he continues at this rate, he will be a runaway MVP. But as great as PJ Walker was, it wasn’t just him out there making plays. Cam Phillips, Khalil Lewis, James Butler, Nick Holley, and Sammie Coates all made impactful plays on the field. De’Angelo Henderson went out of the game with a injury early in the 1st quarter, but when he comes back, it will be near impossible to stop the plethora of weapons this Houston offense has. But what surprised me the most was the defense. Now, I do want to proceed with caution, because they were playing against a Wildcats team lead by Chad Kanoff instead of Josh Johnson, but we can only go by the one game we have. And the one game we have, this defense was quick and decisive for the most part. They were getting to Chad Kanoff frequently and in the second half, they completely shut him down. Their weakness though, is in between the numbers. Nelson Spruce was having a field day in the middle of the defense, so that is something that we will have to monitor as the season progresses. But for now, I don’t see any team, besides maybe DC, that can stop the Houston Roughnecks, the best team in the XFL.

Five Observations from the Dallas Renegades Loss

The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9.
The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. (Credit XFL.com)

Sunday did not go the way the Dallas Renegades were hoping it would go. They debuted their team on the new look Globe Life Park field to over 17,000 fans in the stands. The result of the game was a tough loss for fans and the team to go home to. The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. There were some positives to the game and some negatives that fans were able to observe on the field during the game that will set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Running Backs Will Catch the Ball Often

It was apparently from the beginning of the game that the running backs were going to be involved in the offense. On the first drive alone, fans saw Lance Dunbar catch two passes out of the backfield. He ended the game with six catches. The assumption was that the running backs were going to be apart of the identity of the team, but without Landry Jones, they were a good portion of the passing games. Many times, Philip Nelson would dump it off to the running back as a safety net. It will be interesting to see how much Jones will use his running backs.

Landry Jones is Needed

Hal Mumme’s play calling could be seen as conservative as he didn’t call many deep ball passes until the second half. Most of the game consisted of Nelson hitting Lance Dunbar or Flynn Nagel on short five to seven yard passes. While the offense was efficient in moving the ball down the field, the Renegades was very conservative with their pass calls. This has a lot to do with the fact that Nelson had calls that were all short passes. With Landry Jones most likely coming back into the lineup in week two, that should change how they play.

Rushing Attack is a Concern

All four running backs struggled as they combined for 12 carries for 58 yards. The Renegades was never able to establish a running game throughout the contest. The offensive line could be part of the responsibility as they weren’t able to open up many holes. Lance Dunbar was the most established back. Cameron Artis-Payne came in as the starter, but only got two carries in the game. The passing game was part of most of the game plan, but the team will need to work on opening up the running game more often.

Defense Had Trouble Against the Run

The front seven was considered to be one of the best and played well compared to other teams over the weekend. The weakness came in a couple of deep balls that were caught by the BattleHawks. Stopping the running game was shown to be the tough for the defense. Matt Jones and Jordan Ta’amu had big games on the ground as they are now the league’s top two rushers. Not a good sign for the team. Despite the fact that they allowed 191 yards rushing, the defense did only allow 15 points and have something to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.

Bob Stoops is the Right Man

Nothing bad can be said about how good it felt to have Bob Stoops back on the sidelines for the first time in three years. Stoops looked confident and handled the Jones injury as well as he could. He handled the media well after the game as he seemed excited to be back in coaching. This was a good test for the team and for Stoops to see how they would respond. The offense wasn’t able to finish drives and the defense struggled against the run, but the team was in the game the whole time. Stoops had his players ready for the game even though the result was not what they wanted it to be. Jones looks good to return next week against LA and with all the changes happening to the Wildcats, it looks to be a good matchup for the Renegades to bounce back with.

Stoops still has confidence in Philip Nelson despite so-so Week 1 performance

Dallas Renegades Head Coach Bob Stoops
Dallas Renegades Head Coach Bob Stoops during the Dallas opening game anthem. (Credit XFL.com)

Arlington, Texas – As Bob Stoops left the post game press conference, QB Philip Nelson and RB Lance Dunbar entered the room. In passing Stoops said to Nelson ,”Good job out there today bud”.

Despite Nelson’s play Stoops still had the upmost confidence in his week 1 starter.

“Philip does a good job and a lot of the inconsistencies aren’t on him. We need to play better.”

In Nelson’s debut he threw for 209 yards, but did so with 42 pass attempts and completing 33 of those passes. The Renegades offense averaged just a bit over 5 yards per attempt, which both Stoops and Nelson credit the BattleHawks defense for their approach to the game.

“In the preseason game that we had against them [St. Louis], we were going over the top of them,” said Nelson. “You could tell today that they were backing up. Coach [Hal] Mumme says all the time that ‘you have to have a great capacity for boredom,’ which meant to check it down tonight.”

The game started off rough for both teams as the first quarter was full of three and out drives. Late in the first quarter the Renegades were able to capitalize on a fumble by St. Louis running back Christine Michel, placing the Renegades at their own 38 yard line.

This resulted in a 32 yard field goal by Austin MacGinnis with a little over 9 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Renegades received another gift when the BattleHawks punted the ball and were called for an illegal block, and placed the Renegades in plus territory.

Again, the Renegades began their drive in ideal field position and failed to convert on a Lance Dunbar run to the left where he was stopped 4 yards short of the first down marker. The BattleHawks took full advantage and outside of a false start penalty early in the drive, they capped off a 10 play 62 yard drive with a 16 yard touchdown run by Keith Ford (2pt conversion no good) which gave the BattleHawks the lead for the first time in the game with a 1:26 remaining on the clock in the first half.

Nelson and the offense finally got into rhythm once they got the ball back, connecting with tight end Donald Parham three times, as he led his offense down the field in the final moments of the second half to setup another Austin MacGinnis field goal which tied the game with eight seconds remaining in the first half.

With a little under six minutes in the third quarter the Renegades took the lead again by way of another Austin MacGinnis field goal making the score 9-6, and from that point forward the Renegades struggled to find their footing. Nelson and his offense really hit a snag and caused the Renegades offense to move away from what was reported to be a “up-tempo” offense.

BattleHawks inside linebacker Dexter McCoil knew that if they were able to stop big plays from being the story of the day his team could possibly pull momentum in their favor.

“Every team wants to keep everything in front of them. You can’t allow big plays, no matter what defense or game it is. Usually big plays dictate the momentum of the game, and teams usually get points out of them. We knew if we eliminated the big plays and stopped the run that we would be successful.”

McCoil also expressed how important it is to get the defense off the field on third down but didn’t know that the BattleHawk defense held the Renegades to only one third down conversion.

“I didn’t know that, but that pretty good. Every time you come into a game third down is crucial. You want to stop the momentum of the game because you don’t want to stay on the field, so being able to get off the field on third downs is big so we can give our offense the ball back.”

Well the BattleHawks defense did their job, and got their offense in prime position to drive down the field. The BattleHawk defense sacked Nelson at the right time and forced the Renegades to punt the football late in third quarter.

The Drew Galitz punt placed the BattleHawks offense at their own 17 yard line with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

This would turn out to be one of the biggest drives of the game. The BattleHawks offense led by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu marched down the field on a 11 play 83 yard scoring drive by way of Ta’amu arm and legs. The biggest play in the game at that moment was a gashing run up the middle by Ta’amu for 37 yards which placed the BattleHawks on the 9 yard line. The next play Ta’amu threw a 9 yard touchdown strike to receiver Alonzo Russell in the back of the endzone to put the BattleHawks ahead of the Renegades 12-9.

The Renegades would eventually regain possession but quickly went three and out after Nelson was sacked 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage making it 3 & 11 from the 50 yard line, and missing a golden opportunity to hit a wide open Jazz Ferguson to get his team back into the game.

The BattleHawks sealed the deal by marching down the field on 10 play 68 yard drive which resulted in a successful 48 yard Taylor Russolino field goal with less than 6 minutes left in the game.

The BattleHawks forced the Renegades to go three and out again was able to milk the clock leaving the Renegades with 44 seconds left on the game clock to make something happen.

In a last ditch effort to bring his team back from a 6 point deficit with 44 seconds left on the clock Nelson hit receiver Jeff Badet for a 4 yard gain and then connected with receiver Jerrod Heard for a 10 yard gain.

Nelson helped get the Renegades to their own 30 yard line after starting that drive on their own 16 yard line with 23 seconds left on the clock.

Nelson who played mistake free football for majority of the game would go on to throw his lone interception getting picked off by safety Will Hill and end the Renegades hopes of week 1 comeback at Globe Life Park.

Now I am not one to cry over spilled milk because this team has all the potential in the world. The Renegades were a few plays away from beating a team that was healthy and had most of their weapons on offense and defense, and the BattleHawks were a few plays from losing a game against a team who is missing their starting quarterback, a short yardage running back in Dimitri Flowers, and a couple of banged up receivers.

The old adage goes it is tough to beat a team twice, and all credit to Jonathan Hayes and his coaching staff. His team lost to the Renegades in similar fashion in the preseason, and Philip Nelson was able to take the top off the BattleHawk defense. No, it wasn’t the best performance by Nelson, but again if you see a team within three weeks of playing in a preseason game and playing in a regular season game the opposing team is usually prepared more so than not.

If starting quarterback Landry Jones is not a go next week, I fully expect Nelson to get another chance to showcase his playmaking ability and rise above the criticism that followed after his performance in Sunday’s loss.

The Renegades will face off against the LA Wildcats in week 2 and I am sure Stoops and Co. will be prepared to showcase that air-raid offense with Nelson potentially getting his second career XFL start.

On to LA.

Meet QB Philip Nelson the Renegades starting quarterback for Week 1

Philip Nelson #9 Dallas Renegades
Philip Nelson #9 Dallas Renegades  Photo: XFL.com

Here we go! The inaugural XFL season is less than 24 hours away from showcasing their league to thousands of fans who have anticipated the arrival of the new professional league.

The Dallas Renegades will face off against the St.Louis Battlehawks on Sunday at 4PM and they have named their starter for Week 1, and it is not QB Landry Jones.

Jones injured his knee while in training camp in mid January and is expected to be ready to play in the Renegades week 2 match up against the LA Wildcats.

So who is QB2 Philip Nelson?

Nelson started his collegiate playing career as a Minnesota Golden Gopher. In his debut start as a true freshman, Nelson passed for two touchdowns and was also the Gophers leading rusher. Nelson was later named the starter for the remaining 7 games of the season recording a 2-5 record and a bowl invitation to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

In his sophomore season Nelson led the Gophers to a 4-0 start, but suffered a hamstring injury against the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Gophers went on to lose that game 23-7. Once healthy, Nelson regained the starting quarterback position and helped the Gophers upset No.24 Nebraska in his return. Nelson later announced his decision to transfer to Rutgers University due to the uncertainty of being the starter for the Gophers the following year. Later, he was dismissed from the program.

Once dismissed from Rutgers he decided to walk on at East Carolina University, and won the starting quarterback job before the beginning of the season. Nelson and the Pirates began the season with a 2-0 record beating Western Carolina and NC State. Nelson combined for 6 touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown through those two games alone. The ECUPirates would go on to win only one more game that season.

After the season was over, Nelson was invited to the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl which is a game for Senior stand outs and NFL hopefuls. In that game, Nelson led his team on a 14 play scoring drive in the opening series of the game. He finished the game going 11 of 18 through the air for 100+ yards and also added a one yard rushing touchdown. He  named the team’s MVP for his performance.

Former NFL head coach Mike Martz and offensive coordinator of the 1999 St. Louis Rams team that was dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf” coached Nelson in the 2017 the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and endorsed Nelson as a potential star in the making.

Martz stated that, “he firmly believes Philip can be a starter in the {NFL}. He has no flaws.”

Nelson was also one of the  budding stars of the now defunct Alliance of American Football. Nelson was drafted by the San Diego Fleet in the 3rd round with the 8th pick. Nelson started the season as the backup to QB Marco Bercovici, but later replaced the struggling Bercovici in the Fleet’s first game against the San Antonio Commanders, and finished the game going 5-10 for 68 yards and 1 interception. Nelson was later named the starter for the Fleet in their next game against the Atlanta Legends.

In his first start Nelson went 14-30 passing for 142 yards and an interception, but led his team to victory against the Legends winning that game 24-12. The following game Nelson threw an interception on the first play of the game, but rallied his team to victory by throwing two touchdown passes to beat the San Antonio Commanders 31-11. In his third start he started the game but exited the game in the 2nd quarter with a shoulder injury. He was later placed on IR with a broken clavicle and never took another snap in the AAF due to the league ceasing operations in April 2019.

Nelson finished 10th in passing yards (513) and passing touchdowns (3) and 6th in completion percentage (58.4%) in the AAF’s lone season. Those are pretty respectable numbers considering he only played 4 games and started 3 in comparison to Mike Bercovici who played 4 full games and tallied a lower completion percentage, quarterback rating and threw 7 interceptions compared to Nelson’s 3.

Nelson also had a small stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian football league and served as the fourth string quarterback, before being released from the team before training camp in May 2018.

You may look at this and say that he doesn’t have the resume. Well the resume may not be there, but now that he has a collegiate legend head coach Bob Stoops and the originator and innovator of the Air Raid offense Hal Mumme on his sideline, the sky is the limit for Nelson.

In my opinion, throughout training camp, Nelson showed vast improvement compared to his days in the AAF, and much credit is due to the coaching staff in Dallas, and having Landry Jones there to mentor him definitely helps. I believe Nelson will be more than capable of commanding the offense, especially since the offensive scheme plays to his skill set.

I’ve told you about Nelson’s accomplishments during his young career so maybe you don’t know enough about the Renegades starting quarterback just yet.

But I can tell you one thing, that question will be answered in full detail come Sunday at 4PM central standard time, as the Renegades take the field looking to secure their first win of the season and in XFL history.

St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades Week 1 Preview

St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades

Sunday features the first game of the existent of the St. Louis BattleHawks and the Dallas Renegades. Both teams will be facing off at the Texas Rangers’ old ball park Globe Life Park in its debut as a football/soccer stadium. There are plenty of storylines with both teams in terms of offensive productivity and who will step up on defense. Let’s examine the top storylines between both teams.

Big Game Bob Stoops is Back

Fans haven’t seen Bob Stoops on the sidelines since the 2016 college football season. It will be odd seeing him coach professional athletics, but he seems to be up to the challenge. The goal of the XFL is to help develop players and Stoops is one of the best at it. He’s got a talented roster around him and built the team on pure speed. He may be rusty at the beginning with his coaching since the rules are different from college, but he shouldn’t lose a beat once he gets used to the flow of the game.

Landry Jones’ Injury Status

The knee injury occurred last month during the first week of training camp and we haven’t seen Landry Jones on the field until this week. He has been wearing a knee brace to protect it from further damage. No starter has been named at quarterback for Sunday’s game yet. He seemed to be moving around well in practice and threw the ball well too. He has been limited for most of the week so his status is still up in the air.

Jordan Ta’amu’s Professional Debut

We saw a glimpse of Jordan Ta’amu during preseason with the Houston Texans that did not end as well. The upside is that he is athletic. He can run for a first when he needs to and has a powerful arm. He may have to rely on his running game in Christine Michael and Matt Jones until he can ease his nerves into the game. There is plenty of upside to the young quarterback. He’ll need time and patience as he could eventually be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.

Renegades Receivers vs. BattleHawks Secondary

This was one of the most intriguing matchups of training camp seeing the BattleHawks secondary try to stop the Renegades’ speedy receivers. On shorter routes, the Renegades usually had the advantage as receivers like Jeff Badet and Flynn Nagel are so good in open space to create extra yards with their speed. Freddie Martino could have a big day in short routes as well should Jazz Ferguson not be able to recover from his hand injury. When there were deeper routes, the BattleHawks had the advantage. Corners like Darius Hillary, David Rivers, and D’Montre Wade were able to play well in one-on-one coverage. Not to mention whoever plays quarterback for the Renegades will have to go up against Kenny Robinson and Will Hill at the two safety positions.

BattleHawks Will Ground and Pound the Defense

The combination of Christine Michael and Matt Jones should make for an interesting pairing. Michael is a pure power back who will be tough to take down on the initial contact. Jones will have fun running to the outside to utilize his speed. The Renegades’ linebackers will have to step up and make plays. If they are not able to contain the two backs, it could open up the offense for Jordan Ta’amu to sling the ball around the field or create running opportunities for the quarterback.

Final Outcome?

It really all comes down to two things: can Landry Jones play and can the BattleHawks corners stop the passing game. We all know what the Renegades can be capable of in Hal Mumme’s offense. We know what the secondary of St. Louis can do in man coverage. One or two turnovers can change the outcome of the game. Another injury to the Renegades offense could put them in a lot of trouble. While both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, this will be one of the more exciting games of the weekend.

XFL Week 1 Power Rankings

XFL Power Rankings

Well, here it is. Week 1 of the inaugural XFL season is here. Starting on February 8, at Audi Field, the brand new league kicks off to a lot of anticipation and fanfare. Brand new players, brand new coaches, brand new teams, and brand new fans are ready to take off and experience an exciting time in American Professional Football! Let’s be honest, we haven’t seen a single snap from any of these teams, so we don’t really know what we are in for when it comes to any eight of these teams. So I’m going into these power rankings with as much knowledge about these teams as you. After week 1 is officially in the books, we will have a little better feel about where we are, but until then, let’s just have fun with these week 1 power rankings.

WEEK 1 POWER RANKINGS

(NON-CONTENDERS)

8. Seattle Dragons

Okay Seattle fans. Before you get your pitch forks and start yelling from the rooftops, let me just say this. I am totally ready to accept and admit the fact that I’m wrong about the Seattle Dragons. I hope I am. I like Jim Zorn as a coach. Brandon Silvers is a good quarterback. Kenneth Farrow is a good running back. They have some decent pieces. But quite honestly, there is just not enough for me at this time. I think Brandon Silvers will have some decent stats, but I believe that’s because they will be playing from behind… A LOT. Their receiving core leaves a lot to be desired with Kasen Williams and Austin Proehl. Evan Rodriguez, their starting TE, is decent, but their offense is going to struggle, and their defense is nothing to write home about. It doesn’t help that they play in the Western Conference, which I believe is the best conference, and they will have to deal with Dallas, Houston, and LA all season long. Look, it’s a new league, there are only eight teams, so somebody had to be no. eight, and I think the Seattle Dragons are that eighth team at this time.

7. St. Louis Battlehawks

Pro football is back in St. Louis baybay! I’m so excited to see that first home game in the Dome. The crowd will be electric. The stadium will be rocking. And the players will be motivated. Mainly because they are going to be playing a must win game in that 3rd week against the New York Guardians after going 0-2 against Dallas and Houston. Talk about a brutal start to the season. Well, I guess when there’s only eight teams, you kind of have no choice. But man, this St. Louis Battlehawks team is a team that I can honestly see in the Eastern Conference Championship, or I can see being right here, exactly where I have them, as the 7th best team in the league. Jordan Ta’amu is going to be fascinating to watch. Mainly because how good is he going to be? He has the athleticism, but I’m not quite sold on the rest of him yet. He did win the starting job, so there is that, but I think that was more due to the lack of depth in the St. Louis QB room. Now I do respect Christine Michael, and Matt Jones is no slouch, but I believe they will have to be relied on so much that the D-lines will hone in on them, forcing Ta’amu to beat them with his arm. Their defense is big. Big bodies, good size, strong, athletic. And I do think that their defense might actually be able to carry them to a few surprise wins. But all in all, I think they will go as far as Jordan Ta’amu takes them. Just like with Seattle, I am totally prepared to be proven wrong, and I hope that I am., because St. Louis deserves a good football team. But for right now, I have them as no. 7.

(DARK HORSES)

6. New York Guardians

This team. I can’t quite get my finger on them. Are they pretenders? Are they contenders? I guess time will tell. But for right now, I have them as a dark horse to win the East. Matt McGloin, we all know what he brings, but it’s the other pieces that intrigue me the most. First off, Mekale McKay. If you’re a fantasy player, snatch him up, because he is going to be raking in the numbers. Matt McGloin is going to find life a lot easier being able to pass to McKay, who can really do it all at receiver. Then you got Tim Cook, who will be looking out for him, especially on those after TD conversions. Strong back, who will keep the chains moving and especially at home in that cold weather. But let’s be real. What really makes New York dark horse contenders? The secondary. Jamar Summers, Wes Sutton, Demetrious Cox, and company are going to lead the league in takeaways, I’m calling it now. These guys are going to be a “no fly zone”, and if the offense can run out the clock and put points on the board, this is a scary team. It’s why the New York Guardians are my no. 6 team.

5. Tampa Bay Vipers

Out of all the teams on this list, this is the team that terrifies me the most. Look, whenever I play Dallas, or Houston, or DC, or LA, I know what I’m getting. I’m playing one of the XFL’s elite teams, so I’m going into that game expecting a hard fought match. But when I play the Tampa Bay Vipers, I may be getting a mediocre team, or I may be playing the favorite to win it all. I’m serious. This team scares me…A LOT. Marc Trestman is a winner. Just look at what he has done in the CFL. He brings a lot to this team, but that’s just the Head Coach. Nick Truesdell might be the best TE in the league. Quinton Flowers might be the most lethal weapon on any team this season. But where it becomes a question mark for me is the QB Aaron Murray. If he can be the precise passer that he is capable of being, there might be no stopping this team. He is talented, and he brings a lot to the table. But he is inconsistent. That’s where it’s troublesome for me. But here’s the thing. If they can just get into the Eastern Conference Championship, and Aaron Murray can be “good” Aaron Murray for 2 straight games, I would not be surprised in the slightest if they go on and win the XFL Championship. It’s disappointing that Antonio Callaway had an injury, because I might have them higher on this list. But look out for the Tampa Bay Vipers, because they might be your worst nightmare. I have them no. 5.

(CONTENDERS)

4. Los Angeles Wildcats

Now we get into who I believe are the real contenders for the XFL Championship this year. First, we start off with the Los Angeles Wildcats. I think a lot of people would start with starting QB Josh Johnson, but I want to start with who might be my favorite Head Coach of the entire league, Winston Moss. This guy brings the energy, and in my opinion, that fits this team perfectly. Coach Moss has a winning attitude, and he is all over the Xs and Os and player personnel. I think the LA Wildcats set a record with how many moves they made this off-season. Trade after trade after trade, and some left you scratching your head. Rashad Ross??? But man, Moss’s attitude makes you truly believe that they have got this exactly how they want it. Now, who knows, maybe after a couple of games, some of those trades are going to look foolish. But as of right now, they have made a believer out of me. There defense has size and agility. Norm Chow, their OC, is a proven commodity. Elijah Hood is nothing to sneeze at. But their fire power lies in two areas. The passing game and the line backing core. Will Smith, Shawn Oakman, Taiwan Jones, Tre Williams, the list goes on. These guys are massive, and they aren’t going to be pushed around. Good luck running on these guys. And of course, Josh Johnson. What more can I say? The most proven quarterback in the league, and the fact that he is going to be throwing to guys like Tre McBride and Nelson Spruce, good luck. The Wildcats are legit, and that is why they are my no. 4 team.

3. Houston Roughnecks

Do you like offense? Do you like big plays? Do you like scoring? If you answered yes to all of these questions, let me introduce you to the Houston Roughnecks. The team, who I believe, will be the highest scoring offense in the league. Be prepared to AT LEAST score 30 points in order to be competitive in a game with the Roughnecks. June Jones, master of the “Run and Shoot” offense has weapons galore at his disposal. Let’s start with their quarterback, PJ Walker. Walker can sling it west coast, he can sling it downfield, he can run all over the field, and even if the pocket collapses, he can extend plays like it’s nobody’s business. His accuracy can sometimes be a problem, but so far in Training Camp and in the Scrimmages, he has looked as precise as ever. That should scare people, because if he can protect the football, his playmakers will do the rest. Sammy Coates, Kahlil Lewis, Sam Mobley and company will be running all over the place, and it is going to be difficult to cover them. Coach Jones’ offense is hard to prepare for, because it is predicated on makeshift plays and routes. And if you think the receivers are all you have to worry about, think again. De’Angelo Henderson and Andre Williams will be coming out of the backfield to balance out this offense, but not just to run the ball, to run and catch as well. These guys are scary. SCARY! If you aren’t catching up quick, you might be down 3 TDs before you know it. But the defense is where I’m still not so sure. Now, what I am sure about, is they will be getting to the quarterback. I know that. Kony Ealy is the truth. He will lead the league in sacks this year, mark it down. Especially, since I think a lot of teams will be having to play from behind against Houston, he is just going to be able to pin his ears back and get after it. But I’m just not sure yet on the rest of the defense. Time will tell, because if they have a good defense, just cancel the season, the Houston Roughnecks are XFL Champions. But until I see that defense, I will have them at no. 3.

2. Dallas Renegades

Bob Stoops. Hal Mumme. The best coaching staff in the league in my opinion. Coaching goes a long way, and that is why I have the Dallas Renegades winning the West this season. It sucks, because as a Roughnecks fan, I hope, I pray that I’m proven wrong. But I gotta be unbiased on these Power Rankings, and they have the goods. Landry Jones is a accurate quarterback with a strong arm, and he’s a proven winner at the highest level. Put along with that Jazz Ferguson and Jeff Badet, and you have one of the league’s most potent passing games. But it ain’t just passing. Their running back core is solid. Cameron Artis-Payne is the real deal, and every Cowboys fan remembers Lance Dunbar, he is legit. Dunbar can also be lethal in the passing game, which just gives Landry Jones another weapon to use. But what separates them from the Roughnecks for me right now, is I have a little more faith in their defense. So much so, I think they might be the most balanced team in the league. They don’t have names that are going to pop out at you, but they are solid and sound football players who will make the plays that are needed to be made in that moment. The moment isn’t too big for this team. That’s what Bob Stoops and Landry Jones brings to you. You will be seeing them in the XFL Championship later this spring. But against who?…

1. DC Defenders

Now we get to my favorite to not only win the East, but win the whole thing. The DC Defenders. Cardale Jones! Cardale Jones! A lot of people’s pick to win MVP this season. And rightfully so. He’s got a CANNON! He’s got the size to bulldoze you over. And he’s got the athleticism to extend plays. But if you think that’s it, think again. He’s got freakin’ Rashad Ross! Rashad Ross! LA gifted Cardale Jones and Pep Hamilton Rashad Ross! Why!? Who knows? Eli Rogers! Simmie Cobbs! I was talking about the Roughnecks scoring. Holy cow! How do you stop this offense!? And it doesn’t stop there. They might have the best running back group in the entire league. Jhurell Pressley, Donnel Pumphrey, Khalid Abdullah, are you kidding me? Now, just like with Houston, their defense does worry me a little bit. But that’s how much I trust Head Coach Pep Hamilton. I know he is going to make the proper adjustments necessary to win football games. He has proven time and time again, that he can succeed at a high level, and I think this time is no different. My pick to win the XFL Championship this season, my no. 1 team, the DC Defenders. Audi Field is going to be buzzing come late April.

Dallas Renegades 2020 Season Preview

Photo: XFL.com

It’s hard to believe that the XFL season kicking off is less than a few days away. Two years in the making. Eight teams created and crafted together for February 8th and 9th. One of those teams put together might have a chance of winning the XFL Title: the Dallas Renegades.

The journey began with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck appointing Bob Stoops to coach and manager the Dallas franchise. Stoops was able to build a strong coaching staff that includes Hal Mumme at offensive coordinator and Chris Woods as defensive coordinator. Then comes Landry Jones. The first player in XFL history. Also the first player in Dallas Renegades history. He comes in as the alpha of the league and the leader of Dallas.

Bob Stoops built a strong team through the draft that includes Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Derron Smith, Lance Dunbar, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Frank Alexander. We saw a lot of players step up during camp and some under the radar players becoming potential stars. We take a look at the team as a whole and see how they may look this season.

Offense

Landry Jones has been the starter since day one. There was no question about that. Questions started to pop up when he went down with a knee injury week one of training camp. A scary moment for Jones, the Renegades, and fans. It seems to not be too serious of an injury, but serious enough that he could be out for the season opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. If he can’t go, then comes in Philip Nelson as the most likely starter. Nelson throws a great deep ball and should be comfortable in the offense since he’s been with the team since mini-camp. Eric Dungey will provide the team as an effective backup who could be plugged in should another injury happen.

The running backs could have a committee of players that is headlined by Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. A potentially dangerous one-two punch. Artis-Payne will grind it out for tough yards using his strength and Dunbar provides an added weapon to the offense. Dunbar can catch and run out of the backfield. Expect him to be their speed back. Don’t sleep on Austin Walter and Marquis Young. Both guys ran the ball well with Walter showing flashes of greatness in the passing game and Young was dominate running the ball during training camp. Those two could see playing time should Dunbar’s injury issues continue to pop up.

Jeff Badet was the big name in the receiving core with his blazing speed and reliable hands. One receiver that popped out of nowhere was Jazz Ferguson. Small school fans will know his name and know what he can do. He one of the few receivers on the roster that is over 6 foot, 1 inches tall. He made spectacular catch after spectacular catch in mini and training camp. Having strong hands and being a threat in the red zone should make him one of the top targets. Flynn Nagel is a perfect slot receiver who has great hands. Should make a good compliment to Badet and Ferguson. Freddie Martino impressed in camp in his short time with the team which should earn him playing time.

Donald Parham showed great ability during camp as his size will make him a threat in the red zone. He got strong hands and is tough to bring down. Sean Price also showed how well he plays the game with his receiving ability. He played well during his time in the AAF so it should seem the same will apply in the XFL. Julian Allen adds good depth to the position.

The offensive line has great versatility and have great pass blocking ability. Willie Beavers will be responsible for cover the quarterback’s blind side. Alex Balducci can play either center or guard as he’s used to being the anchor and leader of the line in professional football despite being a defensive linemen in college. Pace Murphy has plenty of experience to help solidify the right side of the offensive line.

Offensive Depth Chart Week 1

QB – Landry Jones, Philip Nelson, Eric Dungey

RB – Cameron Artis-Payne, Marquis Young

WR – Jeff Badet

WR – Freddie Martino, Jazz Ferguson

WR – Flynn Nagel, Jerrod Heard

TE – Sean Price, Donald Parham, Julian Allen

LT – Willie Beavers, Justin Evans

LG – Salesi Uhatafe, Josh Allen

C – Maurquice Shakir, Josh Allen

RG – Alex Balducci, John Keenoy

RT – Pace Murphy, Darius James

Defense

The defense this season will be running a 3-4 defense which will consist of the front seven being fast off the line. Frank Alexander and Winston Craig shouldn’t have any trouble doing that. Alexander’s NFL experience with the Carolina Panthers should help. Craig is quick off the line and should have opportunities to sack the quarterback since Alexander will be getting plenty of attention. Gelen Robinson looks to be the starting nod at defensive tackle as the main run stopper in the middle of the line.

The linebackers are the strongest position on the defense. Ray Ray Davison is solid in coverage and will be asked to blitz from the outside often. Johnathan Calvin also is a perfect fit in the defense as he will help in pass rushing. Greer Martini also showed good coverage skills and rarely misses a tackle in the open field.

Derron Smith has been talked about for his ballhawking skills all camp long and it hasn’t disappointed. He has a chance of being one of the best safeties in the league who will create plenty of turnovers. Josh Hawkins brings his NFL experience to the secondary as he will help as a starter as a corner. Treston Decoud was exceptional in man coverage during camp covering the fastest of receivers on the Renegades roster.

Defensive Depth Chart Week 1

DE – Frank Alexander

DT – Gelen Robinson, Tomasi Laulile

DE – Winston Craig, Tony Gueard

OLB – Johnathan Calvin, James Folston

ILB – Ray Ray Davison, Asantay Brown, Tegray Scales

ILB – Greer Martini, Reshard Cliett, Tre Watson

OLB – Hau’oil Kikaha, Tobenna Okeke

CB – Josh Hawkins, Josh Thornton

CB – Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown

FS – Derron Smith, Micah Abernathy

SS – Tenny Adewusi, Doyin Jibowu

Special Teams

Austin MacGinnis showed to be accurate with his kicking and has some range to make field goals from 50 or more yards. Drew Galitz also has good foot strength and will be asked to be smart with his punting since the new rules make punting more of a challenge. Jeff Badet and Marquis Young both have a ton of speed to them as they will be handling the return game on special teams.

Special Teams Depth Chart Week 1

K – Austin MacGinnis

P – Drew Galitz

H – Drew Galitz, Jerrod Heard

PR – Jeff Badet, Flynn Nagel

KR – Marquis Young, Austin Walter

LS – Christian Kuntz

Final Analysis

The Renegades are one of the early favorites to win the league title in the first year. It all comes down to their offensive weapons and their linebacking core that can make or break this team. They seem to be dealing with lots of injuries to key positions before the season starts. The depth of the team could be tested right away. It’ll be important for the team to get off on a fast start. Landry Jones’ performance could tell the story on how this team will fair this season.

Final Prediction: 7-3 record, 1st in the West, XFL Champions over DC Defenders

For Renegades DE Winston Craig the Journey Continues

Winston Craig – Richmond Spiders

Winston Craig made waves during his time in college and now has brought his talent to the XFL. Craig is a defensive end for the Dallas Renegades and he is ready to “raise hell.”

I witnessed Craig play firsthand when he was with the Richmond Spiders. I saw Craig manhandle offensive lines as he blew through them getting to the quarterback. During his time at Richmond, he appeared in 52 games and recorded 166 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and two interceptions.

After his time at Richmond, Craig went undrafted but signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. He spent time during the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the Eagles practice squad.

In late 2018, Craig signed with the now defunct San Antonio Commanders. After the Commanders suspended football operations Craig signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a fan of the Steelers this had me overjoyed with excitement. While his time with the Steelers was short, I was proud of him. Seeing him perform in person at Heinz Field was simply amazing.

The Dallas Renegades of the XFL selected Craig in their inaugural draft. This elated me. During their training camp in Houston, I got a chance to visit with him. I reiterated how pleased I was to see him in this newly formed league. He performed well enough during camp and made the 52 man roster. This was not surprising to me.

The journey for Craig is not over and I know that he will perform well with the Renegades.

The Renegades host the St. Louis Battlehawks at the reconfigured Globe Life Park on Sunday, February 9. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m. CT and the game will be carried on ESPN.

5 Dallas Renegades to Target in Fantasy

The Dallas Renegades 52-man roster is officially set.

Here are five players to keep an eye on and to target in your XFL fantasy leagues and daily fantasy:

RB Cameron Artis-Payne: 

The former Carolina Panthers running back is looking to make a name for himself in the XFL. Artis-Payne played in 32 games for Carolina (2015-18), mainly serving as a backup role, and then was released during last season’s final cuts. Now, he has the opportunity to become one of the top running backs in the XFL. 

Artis-Payne offers a ton of fantasy value. He’s expected to be their starting RB and main ball carrier, so he should have plenty of scoring opportunities. When the combination of his 4 years of NFL experience; plus the limited amount of wear and tear on his body with only 118 career NFL carries, he could be very successful in the XFL. 

WR Jeff Badet

Jeff Badet can FLY. This guy has incredible speed and is one of the most lethal weapons in the entire XFL. Badet is not a household name, but college football fans may remember him from his time catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at the University of Oklahoma. 

Badet is an exceptional athlete and he demonstrated that at his 2018 pro day, where he posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.34, 39.5” vertical jump, 10’11” broad jump. He recently spent time with the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, but now he could become a legitimate weapon in the Renegades offense, very similar towards how the San Francisco 49ers utilize breakout rookie WR Deebo Samuel.

WR Jazz Ferguson

Ferguson is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the entire league and has the potential to become one of the top red-zone threats in the league. He has a rare combination of speed & size, standing at 6 foot-5, 230 lbs. At the 2019 NFL Combine he demonstrated his speed, where he ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.45.

After going undrafted, he spent time last preseason with the Seattle Seahawks. This could be such a tremendous opportunity for Ferguson to prove to NFL scouts that he’s a legitimate NFL wide receiver. The Renegades next tallest receiver is 6-2, so there could be a lot of red-zone opportunities coming his way.

TE Donald Parham

It’s quite possible that Donald Parham absolutely dominates the XFL. The 22 year-old tight end is 6’8”, 240 lbs and formerly played collegiate ball at Stetson University. He did not hear his name called during the 2019 NFL Draft. He had a brief stint with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, but now is his opportunity to get every NFL team’s attention.

Parham demonstrated his rare athletic ability during his pro day where he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical jump, and 10’5” broad jump, all three were better than last year’s top-10 pick T.J. Hockenson combine performance. Parham offers a ton of fantasy potential, he has a history of producing big-time statistical numbers in college; where his senior year he recorded 85 receptions, 1,319 yards, 13 touchdowns. This is the perfect opportunity for Parham to shine; there will be a bidding war amongst NFL organizations for his services immediately after this season if so.

QB Landry Jones: 

The Renegades made the first player signing of the XFL with former Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Landry Jones. Jones is considered to be one of the most notable players of the league and one of the “faces” of the league. 

Jones reunites with his former college head coach, Bob Stoops, where they will look to rekindle the flame they set at Oklahoma. Jones was a four-year starter under Stoops, where he had over 16,000 passing yards with 123 passing touchdowns. Despite being playing eight seasons in the NFL, he’s only thrown 169 career passes. This is Jones’s opportunity to be a face of the franchise. Unfortunately, he had a minor setback and suffered a knee injury during training camp which caused him to sit out  for the past few weeks, putting his playing status in doubt to start week one.

If Landry Jones remained out …

QB Phillip Nelson: 

Nelson is no stranger to change or adversity. Phillip Nelson enrolled at 3 Division I universities; Rutgers, Minnesota and East Carolina and spent last year in the defunct AAF – as a member of the San Diego Fleet. He’s uniquely in a very similar position to where he was a year ago in the AAF. He originally was the second-string QB behind former NFL QB Mike Bercovici, but ended up replacing Bercovici after he struggled. Nelson now has the potential opportunity to start Week One for the Renegades as Jones is still recovering from his injury.

QB Eric Dungey: 

Following Jones’s injury, the Renegades recently signed Eric Dungey, Syracuse’s all-time passing leader (9,340 yards). Dungey is a great athlete and offers a lot of dual-threat abilities, where throughout his college career he rushed for 1,993 yards and 35 touchdowns. He spent time earlier this season on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad after he did not hear his name called during the 2019 NFL Draft. Dungey’s dual-threat ability plus his lack of professional experience set makes him a great developmental prospect.