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 isno 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, theRenegades 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.
My name is Pat Traina. I started a website called Off The Gridiron in 2016 to provide football fans with up-to-date news and analysis and also host a weekly podcast. I’m excited for the XFL and for the opportunity at XFLBoard.com to provide fans with all of the latest news going on around the league.
To quote the great Vince McMahon, “This.. is… the XFL!!!”
Though much has changed in 20 years since the last incarnation of the XFL, a great deal has stayed the same. The rules are different, the innovation is different, the face of the organization is different, but the fans are just as rabid as ever.
Being the rabid fan you are, you’ve started trying to find somewhere to play, and as of right now, you really have two options. The first is DraftKings, which runs excellent daily contests including some (other word for great) ones last spring for the short lived AAF (RIP, FTD). Head over here to get you daily fill and you won’t be disappointed.
If daily fantasy sports doesn’t do it for you, then I highly recommend heading over to altfantasysports.com. Brian, the man who created a full blown fantasy site with live scoring and an ever improving interface on a whim because he wanted to play, does a great job with this site and is constantly making improvements to it. You have control of league size, scoring and a revamped draft interface as well! Plus, it’s free! So get some friends together and head on over to prove who’s the biggest degen — I mean greatest fantasy player of all!
“We already found somewhere to play…”
“Quit boring us…”
Alright, alright, let’s get to what you really want, RANKINGS!!!
Rankings take into account the following factors:
Past pro performance
All rankings are based around a six-team, 0.5 PPR league with standard scoring. I advocate for a six-team league in a traditional league so no one gets left hanging without a QB.
The biggest thing to remember is you’re looking for a QB who won’t kill you with turnovers and gives you the potential to set a floor with 1, 2, or 3 point conversions, add in a high floor with rushing (Cardale, Josh, Ta’Amu, Nelson) is an added bonus as well. Landry Jones would be my season long No. 1. He’s playing for Bob Stoops again, and in an Air-Raid offense coached by a Godfather of the Air Raid Hal Mume; however, he’s out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, according to the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Renegades. This puts him down for a return around Weeks 2-3. IF everything goes right and he’s ready to roll he’ll be a must start. Highly recommend drafting him, but you also have to have a Plan B, whether that’s Eric Dungey or Philip Nelson (his backup is still TBD), or one of the lower tier QBs.
Other things to note: Cardale Jones will have an opportunity to ball out like it’s 2014 with a high octane backfield containing Jhurrell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey, and deep threat Rashad Ross. The Defender’s offense could be a thing of beauty for fantasy players… Whoever ends up winning the St. Louis job, whether its Ta’Amu, Heinicke or Brogan Roback, could have massive fantasy relevance. Newly installed OC Chuck Long is a former star college QB and another Air Raid coach. Big time weapons like Terrance Williams, L’Damian Washington and De’Mornay Pierson-El at receiver and a strong running game make that QB a strong sleeper pick… Strongly recommend avoiding Brandon Silvers until late if at all; he has a weak supporting cast and never impressed last year in the AAF.
Tim Cook III
What makes for a quality back in Spring Fantasy Football? Touches. It’s all about getting those touches. Some are more valuable than others, but if a back is going to get 12+ touches, he’s an RB1. If he’s going to touch the ball about 8 times a game or get the goal-line/PAT work (1, 2 or 3 points) he’s an RB2. Be content sometimes to flex anyone who will touch the ball six times a game since. Spring Fantasy carries some new expectations on scoring. Christian McCaffrey isn’t walking through those doors any time soon.
Jhurrell Pressley will be an absolute monster in all formats. He’s a dynamic runner who can catch the ball coming out of the backfield, and he’s paired with one of the stronger running QBs, Cardale Jones, in the XFL. Look for some interesting wrinkles from Pep Hamilton to get Pressley opportunities. Don’t sleep on his backfield running-mate Donnel Pumphrey, an RB3 with upside. Anyone who can tally multiple 2000 yard seasons in college deserves some respect when he steps on the field.
Many people are high on Cameron Artis-Payne, but don’t believe the hype. Lance Dunbar will see more passing down work and Payne lacks that top end talent to run away with the job. Artis-Payne is still an RB1, but temper expectations… Matt Jones and Christine Michael are the most experienced backfield combo, and may make a run at being the most complimentary as well. Michael will move the chains and Jones has the size to finish drives, could do worse than picking both… The LA Wildcat backfield is a mess, so look for more clarification as the preseason goes along, but right now Martez Carter gets the nod as the highest ranked LA back on the strength of his TD, let’s go out on a limb and say he’ll get the goalline work, in the scrimmage against Dallas earlier this week.
Wide receiver is another place to modify your thinking. Six targets a game equals a WR1 and a WR2 is usually going to be either a deep threat or red zone target who may only see 2-3 targets a game. The same goes for your Flex options.
One of the most potentially explosive receiver groups will be the St. Louis Battlehawks. Terrance Williams is a legitimate NFL talent who will leverage a strong XFL season into another shot in the NFL, L’Damian Washington is a big bodied receiver who did a lot with subpar QB play last year in the AAF and the same can be said for De’Mornay Pierson-El. Look for Chuck Long’s Air Raid approach to unlock these talented receivers, assuming they can pick a competent QB.
Reece Horn will face major coverage for Tampa since he is their most legitimate, nearly almost only, receiving target. Seantavious Jones may have made strides since last spring, but with Murray at QB these guys could be limited… Mekale McKay and Rashad Ross will be breakout stars again this year; McKay will bail Matt McGloin out by going up and getting balls through tight coverage and Ross will be the kind of speedster Cardale Jones will love… Sammie Coates will climb draft boards as more clips emerge of him absolutely cooking DBs during scrimmages and preseason, go get him early.
If tight end play is anything like it was in the AAF, you’re going to hold your nose and hope for five points. Look for guys without many other receiving threats on their team, or guys who can be red zone threats.
Nick Truesdell was a breakout player in the AAF and posted a respectable 24/269/3 last spring, if you want a good bet at consistent production, go get him… Brandon Barnes, Evan Rodriguez and Adrien Robinson all had momentary flashes last spring… Khari Lee played with Cardale Jones for a few weeks in Buffalo a while back, could be some chemistry there… Colin Jeter scored a TD during a scrimmage, he might climb or it could just be a random occurrence.
So go forth! Draft your team! Talk some smack and enjoy being the most prepared of your friends! If you win, I’ll gladly accept your praises, if you lose, don’t blame me, I bet you didn’t listen to me!
As the season nears closer, the XFL seems to be making more and more press runs. First with the rule book, now with joint practices, things are starting to shape up. The most recent of this news comes from the fantasy football world.
In anticipation of the coming XFL season, DraftKings has announced that it will offer daily fantasy football contests to XFL fans throughout the course of the year. The announcement comes as no surprise, mainly because sportsbooks have already started to prepare for XFL gambling, or plan on preparing for the season after the NFL’s Super Bowl.
On January 10th on Twitter, the official DraftKings account responded to Twitter user @Cozy4041 that they would be having XFL contests this season and that those contests will begin on 2/8.
We can confirm that we will have XFL contests this season and that those contests will begin on 2/8. We’ll be sure to provide additional details as we get closer to that date. Thanks for your patience in the meantime.
The XFL has also announced that plans for Fantasy Football are in the works and that with less than a month to go, they will be released shortly. While it is not known what these plans could offer, it has to be assumed it will be used as another revenue source for the league. Gambling and fantasy football are two things previous leagues, such as the AAF, never had access to. Something like gambling could propel the league’s life span and ability to fund growth.
Gavin Hayes is a sports writer and photographer. His past work includes working for Amazin’ Prospects covering the New York Mets minor league system, and formally covered the New York Jets and AFC East for Fan Source Network and Prime Time Sports Talk. He now joins the XFL Board staff with intentions to cover the New York Guardians and general XFL news. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org , or Twitter/Instagram direct message. Business inquires only, please.
We will continue our deep look at historical stats analysis of currently rostered XFL players by looking into the wide receiver position. There are a lot of players to look over here with experience ranging everywhere from college, NFL, AAF, CFL, and Arena leagues. We’re just going to focus on college, NFL, and AAF since they offer the closest match to what we expect to see from the XFL.
College Production: All Players
Here is a look at all college production from WRs currently in the XFL filtered by most receiving yards:
Best Individual Player College Career Stats:
Most receptions: Freddie Martino (TB) – 296
Most receiving yards: Freddie Martino (TB) – 3,766
Best yards per reception average (min. 20 receptions): Jalen Rowell (SEA) – 22.5
Most receiving TDs: Jalen Tolliver (TB) – 39
Most yards from scrimmage: Keenan Reynolds (SEA) – 4,606
It’s all Tampa Bay and Seattle when it comes to top college production for WRs. Tampa Bay has three receivers inside the top five and four inside the top eight when it comes to career college receiving TDs:
Small-school guys dominate these lists as well with Freddie Martino being a product out of North Greenville. He has spent time in the NFL with the Falcons, Eagles, and Bucs. He was in the AAF with the Apollos and Hotshots. He’s also a former track athlete.
Jalen Rowell also played under the last name Robinette for the Air Force. He was actually on the draft radar for the NFL but needed to fulfill two years of service before being eligible to leave for the NFL which kind of derailed his professional career track. He’s an under the radar name I’m excited to see play at this level.
Jalen Tolliver played at Arkansas before transferring to Monticello. He spent some time with the Cardinals in the NFL.
Keenan Reynolds did it all for the Navy. As a QB, he completed 242-of-462 attempts (52.4%) for 4,001 yards (8.7 YPA) with 31 TDs and 8 INTs. He had 977 rushing attempts which would rank second-most amongst active XFL RBs for 4,559 rushing yards (4.7 YPA) and rushing 88 TDs. He actually only contributed one catch for 47 yards as a receiver in college. It will be interesting to see how he is worked into the fold on gameday.
College Production by Team:
Here is a breakdown of each individual team’s wide receiver corps as they stand. These rosters are based on the official team rosters on the XFL website. Unfortunately, the league hasn’t really strived to keep lines of communication open and clear with the public thus far, but this is the best we have at the moment. Rosters are still really fluid so these will change before opening day. We also haven’t seen any official depth charts yet, so I currently have team rosters filtered based on most college receiving yards.
There are two ways to best analyze the team stat totals here. First, we will look at just gross team totals which is just looking at the sum of all production. But, with rosters containing varying amounts of players at WR, we will also look at per player averages to get a better idea of the average quality of players on rosters to level the playing field. For receiving averages, players need at least 10 catches and 100 yards to qualify for averages so that the team’s totals aren’t dragged down by players with super limited production.
Best Team Stat Totals:
Most college games: St. Louis – 408
Most college receptions, receiving yards, and TDs: Tampa Bay – 1,688 receptions, 22,821 yards, 187 TDs
Most college rushing attempts, yards, and TDs: Seattle – 1,619 att., 8,439 yards, 118 TDs.
Tampa Bay is unsurprisingly sitting at the top for most of this production as well. We saw in the individual player stats how their wideouts dominated those lists. If you read through the running back stats analysis, Tampa came in at the bottom of the power rankings there, but their receiving corps is possibly one of the best in the league. It will be interesting to see how their offense rounds out.
At the other end of the running back list, Seattle was at the top and along with their strong RBs in the backfield, they have two players who can cause problems all over the field in John Santiago and Keenan Reynolds. I am really curious to see how both players are utilized. Santiago has reportedly been dealing with some injuries early according to XFL Board’s Dragons correspondent Jackson Conner. Hopefully, he is ready for kickoff.
Best Per-player Averages:
Most college games per player on average: Tampa Bay – 41.5
Least college games per player on average: Los Angeles – 30.5
Most college receptions per player on average: Tampa Bay – 153.5
Least college receptions per player on average: New York – 90.3
Most college receiving yards per player on average: Tampa Bay – 2,074.6
Least college receiving yards per player on average: New York – 1,298.7
Most college receiving TDs per player on average: Tampa Bay – 17
Least college receiving TDs per player on average: DC – 8.4
Most college yards from scrimmage per player on average: Seattle – 2,325.7
Least college yards from scrimmage per player on average: New York – 1,335.5
Tampa Bay stays on the top of a lot of these stat categories even when you break it down to averages which is pretty impressive. New York and DC find themselves at or near the bottom often. And I have to say, for all the talk of Dallas as potential league winners on the backs of Landry Jones and Bob Stoops, they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to pass catchers. None of their receivers had prolific college careers, they have zero NFL game experience, and only James Quick had limited experience in the AAF.
There isn’t really enough NFL experience in the league to warrant building an entire table to compare, but we can look real quick at names we might remember. Terrance Williams brings the most NFL experience to the table for St. Louis as a former wideout for the Dallas Cowboys. Williams has 3,377 receiving yards and 20 TDs in his career. This adds to the depth of former NFL talent the Battlehawks have with both Christine Michael and Matt Jones in the backfield. If these guys were cast aside too early from the bigs and can show they still have something left in the tank, they could dominate in the XFL.
A pair of former Steelers wideouts brings more NFL experience to the league. Eli Rogers is currently playing for the DC Defenders while Sammie Coates is in Houston. Rogers brings a career 78-822-4 line while Coates went for 29-528-2.
Tampa Bay receivers again come in near the top of the list for NFL experience. The main contributors with NFL experience are:
Jalen Tolliver and Jawill Davis also bring limited experience while Seantavius Jones and Rannell Hall were both activated to big-league rosters but didn’t put up any stats. Oddly, TB has a lot of NFL experience despite being only one of two teams in XFL who doesn’t have a single wideout who was drafted by an NFL team. Los Angeles is the other. Both teams have solid WRs corps though. This is what the XFL is all about. Finding value and talent in players the NFL may have missed.
There are a lot of names you will remember if you followed the Alliance last spring. Once again, Tampa Bay finds itself on the top of the list here when it comes to most production from former AAF wideouts. They have Freddie Martino, Reece Horn, Daniel Williams, Seantavius Jones, Rannell Hall, Alonzo Moore, and Donteea Dye who were all members of various teams. Together, they combine for 120 catches, 1,626 yards, and five TDs.
The Wildcats boast two of the top wideouts from AAF in Rashad Ross and Nelson Spruce. Ross led the league with seven receiving TDs, had the third-most receptions, and second-most receiving yards. Spruce had the second-most receptions, third-most targets, and fifth-most receiving yards. They’re also joined by Adonis Jennings who was a member of the Salt Lake Stallions.
Other teams with plenty of AAF experience include the New York Guardians who have Mekale McKay and Demarcus Ayers. McKay was a big red-zone threat who tied for the league lead in red-zone targets and had the third-most receiving TDs. Seattle is the only team without a former member of the AAF in its WR corps.
Final Power Rankings
Based on all of this, here is how I would rank the wide receiver corps for each team in the XFL going into training camp:
Experience all over the place is what seals the deal for me with Tampa Bay. They are also just an immensely talented group of wideouts. Aaron Murray also has one of the best track records of college production that you will find and showed some flashes in the AAF before becoming a turnover machine on a team that lacked superior talented in its pass catchers. With the crew he has now, Tampa is a sleeper for one of the top passing offenses in the league for me.
Los Angeles comes right up behind Tampa for me. Rashad Ross was an absolute playmaker in the AAF and Spruce was a great threat in the middle of the field which makes these two a perfect combo to share the field together. K.D. Cannon is another name to watch here who brings a lot of talent and sure hands as he led the Big 12 in receptions back in 2016. He has also recently spent time on practice squads with the 49ers, Jets, Rams, and Cowboys. Josh Johnson should also easily be a top-three QB in this league which gives the potential for production from this receiving group that much more appealing.
St. Louis and Houston are really close for me as they’ll both be led by former NFL talent in Terrance Williams and Sammie Coates, respectively. These two teams would be in a tier of their own outside of the top three and Houston gets the slight edge over St. Louis for me based on Connor Cook being the QB there. Cook was the second-overall pick in the XFL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Raiders. The team also has former 2014 fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders who has spent time with the Jets, Cardinals, Seahawks, Saints, Patriots, and Bears. He’s also a phenomenal kick-return specialist. Houston used their second, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh-round picks all on wideouts, so you know it was a priority for them to get these guys early and utilize them heavily. For St. Louis, outside of Williams, every other WR on their roster has had experience on NFL practice squads at the least with the exception of Damoun Patterson to my knowledge.
New York and Dallas bring up the rear here in the rankings, though I’m not declaring either a bust. New York used its first three picks in the XFL Draft on wideouts DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, and Tanner Gentry. The competition is close in this league at WR and this could wind up being a really strong trio of wideouts if Matt McGloin shows well under center. There is no NFL experience amongst these wideouts, however, and the depth they have is relatively unknown talent.
Dallas is hard to put at the bottom based on Landry Jones being the QB, but I just don’t really see a legitimate WR1 on this roster right now. Jeff Badet carries high draft capital based on being the fourth-overall pick in the XFL Draft but had middling production at Oklahoma. Jazz Ferguson was a draft darling for many in the NFL the past season but has dealt with personal issues and ultimately couldn’t crack the roster for the Seahawks this season. Dallas does have some of the best pass-catching RBs in the league and they might be needed to fill the holes here. A strong showing in training camp will help push Dallas up the list for me.
That’s all we have for WRs for right now. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasyFerguson.
As we head into full training camps for XFL teams, I wanted to start breaking down these rosters to get a better understanding of who these players are and what kind of experience they’re bringing to the table. So, to do that, I pulled rosters from here at XFLBoard and started pulling college stats from sources like CFB Sports Reference, NFL stats from places like Pro Football Reference and FantasyData.com, and even took a look at past AAF stats. The goal here was to see which teams have the most experienced backfields. I’ll be doing this for each position, but for now, let’s just focus on RBs.
First off, let’s take a look at the college production of all RBs currently rostered filtered by most yards from scrimmage.
There is a lot to digest here, but we can break it down a couple of ways. Here are some quick-hitting stats.
Best individual player stats:
Most college games: Donnel Pumphrey (DC) – 54
Most college rushing attempts: Donnel Pumphrey (DC) – 1,059
Most college rushing yards: Donnel Pumphrey (DC) – 6,405
Best college yards per attempt: Darnell Holland (DAL) – 9.8
Most college rushing TDs: Ja’Quan Gardner (SEA) – 72
Most college receptions: Larry Rose III (L.A.) – 133
Most college receiving yards: Larry Rose III (L.A.) – 1,157
Most college receiving TDs: Dimitri Flowers (DAL) – 13
Most NFL games: Lance Dunbar (DAL) – 58
Most NFL rushing attempts: Andre Williams (HOU) – 332
Most NFL rushing yards: Andre Williams (HOU) – 1,090
Best NFL yards per attempt: Lance Dunbar (DAL) – 4.5
It’s not too surprising to see Donnel Pumphrey on top of the list for rushing production. He was 10th place in the Heisman Trophy voting back in 2016 and has the third-most rushing yards all-time in NCAA. He was drafted by the Eagles in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft but never could make the jump from small-school college stud to NFL starter.
Dallas RB Darnell Holland is another guy from an even smaller school who put up an outrageous 9.8 yards per attempt at Kennesaw State which leads all active RBs on XFL rosters. He’ll have an uphill battle to earn a starting role on a Renegades team that features proven talent in former Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar. Holland ranks fourth on his own team when it comes to college rushing attempts as well, but if his efficiency can translate over to the XFL, he will definitely be a name to watch.
Seattle RB Ja’Quan Gardner put up a ridiculous 72 rushing TDs in his time at Humboldt State. AAF fans will also remember Gardner as the Maurice Jones-Drew lookalike who rumbled for the San Diego Fleet. The Dragons have the thinnest depth chart right now for RBs, but Gardner has a three-down skill set he showed off both in college and in the AAF and will pair nicely with former Chargers RB Kenneth Farrow who the Dragons took in the second round and 10th overall in the draft.
Larry Rose III leads all college RBs in receptions and receiving yards but finds himself in a crowded backfield that also features Elijah Hood for the Wildcats. Hood was drafted in the first round of the XFL Draft and also taken in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Raiders. We don’t really see L.A. topping many of these lists for production, but their backfield should not be slept on.
Dallas RB Dimitri Flowers leads the league in college receiving TDs but he was used sparingly on the ground. Flowers was listed as a full back and running back in college and could be used in a versatile role on a Renegades roster full of multi-skilled RBs.
Houston Roughnecks RB Andre Williams is one of the bigger-named players at the position and is neck and neck with Lance Dunbar when it comes to NFL experience. Williams owns the most NFL rushing attempts (332), rushing yards (1,090), and rushing TDs (8) amongst XFL RBs. It’s hard to imagine Williams in a bell-cow role at this point in his career and Houston also has capable pass catchers in their backfield such as former AAF dual-threat Akrum Wadley and Western Illinois product Steve McShane who logged 110 receptions, 1,031 receiving yards, and nine receiving TDs in his collegiate career.
Here is a more in-depth look at each team’s backfield and their totals:
Best team stats:
Most college games by team: Dallas – 219
Most college rushing attempts by team: DC – 2,430
Most college rushing yards by team: St. Louis – 14,656
Best college YPA by team: DC – 6.0
Most college rushing TDs by team: DC – 153
Most college RB receptions by team: Dallas – 360
Most college RB receiving yards by team: Dallas – 3,975
Most college RB receiving TDs by team: Dallas – 31
Most college yards from scrimmage by team: St. Louis – 16,805
Most NFL games by team: St. Louis – 63
Most NFL rush attempts by team: St. Louis – 504
Most NFL rush yards by team: St. Louis – 2,053
Most NFL rush TDs by team: St. Louis – 13
Based on this, we see St. Louis, Dallas, and DC as the teams with the most voluminous backfields based on college experience and production. The only thing about looking at gross stats like this is that each backfield doesn’t have the same amount of players in it right now. Seattle only has three guys while most teams have five. So, this is a spot where averages can be our friend and help level the playing field and see where the true value is by looking at per player average stats. Here is what I found there.
Per Player Average Stats:
Most college games per player on average: Seattle – 45.3
Most college rushing attempts per player on average: Seattle – 604.7
Most college rushing yards per player on average: Seattle – 3,491.7
Most college rushing TDs per player on average: Seattle – 39.3
Most college RB receptions per player on average: Dallas – 72
Most college RB receiving yards per player on average: Dallas – 795
Most college RB receiving TDs per player on average: Dallas – 6.2
Most college yards from scrimmage per player on average: Seattle – 4,013
This kind of proved what I had suspected at first glance of the rosters that, though Seattle has an incredibly thin backfield at the moment, they have great quality in the players that are there. A backfield to worry about right now for me is Tampa Bay who comes up on the bottom of most of these stat rankings.
Final Backfield Power Rankings
To wrap this up, here is how I would rank the backfields based on all the stats compiled in this research:
The top four are all pretty close and in a tier of their own in my opinion. As mentioned, what Seattle lacks in depth it makes up for in quality. The versatility Dallas has in its backfield puts it just above St. Louis and DC for me. It might surprise some to see St Louis, a team that boasts two of the bigger names from the NFL in Christine Michael and Matt Jones ranked in the middle of the pack, but I wonder what they have left in the tank at this point in their careers. Both were average in the NFL and neither put up prolific numbers in college.
Houston and L.A. are both really close to each other as well but feel a step below the top four. I would put them in tier two. New York and Tampa Bay find themselves at the bottom for me and are pretty interchangeable at the moment. I like De’Veon Smith and Tarean Folston a lot as RBs and they could form a pretty formidable duo for Tampa. The same could be said about Justin Stockton and Tim Cook for New York. Something these guys all have in common is that they were all members of the AAF, so we have a decent idea of what they can offer on this playing field, but the teams as a whole don’t offer very much in the form of experience and past production. Most teams in the league are averaging right around 3,200 yards from scrimmage per player while both Tampa and L.A. are sitting just above the 2,200.
We will see how things really shakedown once final roster cuts are made and if new players come in and join these backfields, but this should give you a pretty good idea of how things look heading into training camp. Thanks for reading and let’s get ready for kickoff!
Whether it is your home season-long league, game spreads or high stakes DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) contests, fantasy football and football gambling are very popular.
Some players do not necessarily care about or like fantasy football (Marcellus Bennett, Todd Gurley) while some embrace it (Melvin Gordon, Juju, Leveon Bell). However, regardless of your convictions about fantasy football, you have to agree that it generates a lot of viewership.
The latest study in 2017 told us that there were 59.3 million people that played fantasy sports that year with the average person spending upwards of 500 dollars on it. While a lot of these people are probably football fans outside of just fantasy, a lot of people watch football mostly because they have fantasy players playing. “According to the 2017 ESPN Sports Poll, fans who play fantasy sports are more likely to attend games, read sports news, watch sports highlights and spend money on sports compared to fans who aren’t fantasy players.” (espnpressroom.com) I don’t know about you but I am a lot more motivated to watch a random Monday Night Football game when I have stakes in it. In addition to that, programs like NFL Redzone and Direct TV’s Fantasy Zone were designed to give fantasy football fans easier ways to watch.
What the AAF could have done.
If you are interested in the XFL, there is a fairly solid chance that you kept up with the AAF at least a little bit. The AAF was a great product but really dropped the ball when it came to appealing to the fantasy football community.
While there were a decent amount of sites and twitter accounts that provided AAF fantasy content, official information was very difficult to find. Injury reports were often very inconsistent, inactive lists could be difficult to find and official box scores were non-existent early on. This lack of information led to a lot of frustration in the AAF fantasy community and really reduced its growth.
Secondly, there were very little places to play AAF fantasy. The AAF had no official places to play season-long fantasy (only altfantasysports.com offered it) and the only DFS site that housed it was Fanball. There were plenty of possibilities to create their own fantasy platform on their app or partner with the likes of ESPN, Yahoo, Draft Kings or FanDuel to really promote their product to a larger audience but nothing was done.
How can the XFL learn?
The XFL now has the benefit to learn from these mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again. They can start off with more accessible practice reports. Injury is a huge part of fantasy sports and if the public does not know a player’s status in practice than how can they play him in the coming week? Inactives should be announced by the team’s twitter or another big source an hour or two before game time and box scores, as well as live stat updates, should be easy to find.
Focusing more on official platforms, the XFL should really look into either pioneering their own fantasy platforms or partnering with a large fantasy sports company to provide season-long and DFS leagues. They don’t have to look far either, ESPN has the most popular fantasy football mobile app and the XFL already has a TV deal in place with them. A great time to start advertising this potential partnership would be late December/early January as Fantasy NFL comes to a close. That would give fantasy starved players plenty of time to gather friends and create an XFL league.
Looking at things from a DFS perspective, deals could be had with big brand names like Draft Kings and FanDuel or even Fanball. The NFLPA has a sponsorship deal with Draft Kings and almost every NFL team has a deal with either Draft Kings or FanDuel. An interesting deal that the XFL could emulate is the one between FanDuel and the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is now “FanDuelVille” at Everbank Stadium (home of the Jags) which encourages people to play DFS while at the live game.
The big thing is for the XFL to (a) make their product fantasy-friendly by releasing information and statistics to the public and (b) provide or promote a platform for players to play fantasy football on.
Q&A with former AAF Fantasy Experts
In order to provide other opinions, I asked four former AAF fantasy experts three questions that relate to the topics I covered in this article. Here is a little about the four experts and then the brief Q&As:
Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz): Appeared on podcasts and wrote AAF articles weekly for The Action Network.
Sean Koerner (@The_Oddsmaker): Joined Ian Hartitz in creating AAF rankings for The Action Network. Known for being one of the most accurate NFL ranker.
Matt Gajewski (@Matt_Gajewski): Did 1-2 live streams every week about the AAF on Twitch as well as writing articles for NoExtraPoints.com
John Ferguson (@FantasyFerguson): Helped organize ECR (Expert Consensus Ranking) and wrote weekly season-long articles at FantasyPros.com
Question 1: Do you believe appealing to fantasy football fans will be beneficial to the XFL and why do you think that?
IH: Most definitely. There is a subset of football fans that are obsessed enough with the game to invest their time in a brand-new league – but there might be an even larger group of fantasy football fans that would be interested in passing the time during the dry days of the offseason. Setting up season-long fantasy leagues might be a challenge considering the expected lack of lineup information entering the year. The potentially more-appealing move could be to feature daily fantasy contests to give fans and degenerates alike a chance to get some skin in the game. Ultimately, it’d be silly for the XFL to not do everything in their power to appeal to the ever-growing fantasy football community.
SK: Absolutely. It’s a proven way to get fans more engaged with the league as a whole.
MG: Yes, absolutely. The NFL has seen a spike in viewership since fantasy football’s ascendance. Fantasy football has become an integral part of the viewing experience for the casual fan.
JF: It’s not only beneficial, but it’s basically required at this point. Especially for a developmental league like this where you’re not really going to get the big-name draw that the professional leagues get. Fantasy adds that extra dimension to the game, it brings stats to life and gives players with no name value ground to stand on. It also gets the fans excited and interacting not just with the league but with each other. It gives us a platform as content writers and podcasters to discuss, analyze, and project amongst ourselves.
Question 2: What was one thing that the AAF did well and one thing they did poorly in regards to appealing to fantasy sports/gambling fans?
IH: The AAF had the right idea with appealing to fantasy football fans, but they failed to properly create a technically-sound app in their effort to beat the XFL to the market. The lack of a consistent live box score held back their ability to appeal to fantasy sports and gambling fans alike. It’s simply not as much fun to play fantasy sports or gamble if you’re unable to experience the live sweat. Asking fans to regularly take multiple hours out of a weekend during February, March or April might be a tough sell for the not-so-committed football faithful. At the very least, the XFL needs to provide an avenue for fans to stay updated with the games in a near-live manner. Consistent streaming might not be an option, but a game cast type setup is essential.
SK: I actually liked how the AAF gave the telecast access to the official review. Being able to hear the person deciding the call based on the replay and being fully transparent about it was a very good thing imo. I don’t recall exactly how practice reports and injury designations were handled for AAF but I recall times where we had no idea if a certain guy was playing. Making sure to have rules in place for teams to announce injuries and inactive lists like the NFL would be crucial.
MG: The AAF certainly brought an exciting product to the fan. No extra points, no kickoffs, etc. The rules presented an exciting change that sped up the game for fans at home. However, the AAF clearly used innovative technology. One of the biggest blunders was keeping that from the fans. Football fans increasingly want access to state of the art data.
JF: The AAF understood the importance of fantasy/gambling and how it would help contribute to the success of the league. The concepts they had in place to follow the games in real time and predict plays etc. was a terrific idea. Unfortunately it was also where they failed by not delivering a competent product to their fans. Not only that, but it added insult to injury that they continually promoted these “groundbreaking” stats and concepts even though they were not actually available and hinted at “Easter eggs” within the site which was an awful idea considering the obvious growing frustration stats analysts already had with the league that simple things such as boxscores and proper injury reports were not readily available. The boxscores luckily they finally figured out, but not until after grassroots guys like NoExtraPoints.com already had us well covered.
Question 3: What are some ways the XFL can attract more fantasy/gambling audiences?
IH: In addition to creating a more fan-friendly avenue for live updates, ways in which the XFL could attract more fantasy/gambling audiences include… -creating a partnership with DraftKings, FanDuel or at least FanBall. -provide official active/inactive reports at least 60 minutes before kickoff. Practice and injury reports throughout the week would also be ideal. -a website that denotes official stats, official rosters and unofficial depth charts. -as much access as possible to live/post-live video of the games so fans can either watch them happen or at least catch them later.
SK: I think just embracing fantasy/gambling is always a good place to start. Having an official fantasy game and especially weekly contests would be a great way to draw fans in and become familiar with the specific players.
MG: Find a way to partner with DraftKings, FanDuel, and other major fantasy sports websites. Right now, DraftKings and Fanduel capture a large portion of the gambling market.
JF: XFL needs to pair with some of the major fantasy platforms and get their support whether it be ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, whatever. This was something the AAF never was able to do, although Fanball did pick them up and delivered a stellar platform for DFS. With sports betting becoming more legal across all states as well, it would be truly beneficial for them to set up with the online sports book industry. They also need to make sure there truly are no gimmicks as it sounds like they have decided. People want raw, professional quality football to watch in the Spring. Pair with proper NFL caliber analysts instead of bringing in WWE names as commentators and make sure there is a clear and open line of communication between the league and the public. I think there is potential for a spring league to have continued success and I look forward to covering the XFL come Spring.