Ultimate XFL Week 3 Preview: DFS, Picks, More

Ian Hartitz

We’ve made it to Week 3 of the XFL, people. Let’s party.

There’s a fine line between too little and too much coverage of such an amazing niche sport, and we at Rotoworld fully plan on wrestling that line to the gates of hell.

What follows is an all-encompassing Week 3 preview featuring betting odds, key matchups, injuries, DFS thoughts (DraftKings) and betting picks. Thanks to XFL.com, Pro Football Focus, DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook for all stats and information.

Now let’s dig into all four of this weekend’s games.

Houston Roughnecks (2-0) at Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2)

  • Favorite: Houston (-6.5)
  • Over/under: 45.5
  • Time: 2/22, 2:00 PM EST
  • TV: ABC

Week 2 Offensive Takeaways

Houston's 28-24 win over St. Louis

  • P.J. Walker continues to build a compelling MVP case, as the Roughnecks' dual-threat QB has looked unstoppable at times and boasts a league-best 108.5 QB Rating. He's thrown seven touchdowns through two weeks and provided copious off-script goodness thanks to his elusiveness in the pocket.
  • James Butler (65%) is the offense's clear lead back ahead of Andre Williams (27%). Still, all-purpose beast Nick Holley (89%) is also plenty involved as a primary slot WR who will also occasionally line up in the backfield. Tragically, Holley lost his RB eligibility on DraftKings this week.
  • Coach June Jones has spearheaded one of the XFL's most pass-happy attacks. This benefited Cam Phillips (8-63-3) the most in Week 2, but the likes of Holley (89% snaps), Sammie Coates (62%) and Kahlil Lewis (73%) each boast the ability to go off during any given week in this four-WR offense.

Tampa Bay's 17-9 loss to Seattle

  • Quinton Flowers has largely out-played both Taylor Cornelius and Aaron Murray (foot) through two weeks. Still, it's somewhat unlikely we see a change under center anytime soon considering Flowers' run-first mentality and coach Marc Trestman's newfound reluctance to embrace a unique offense.
  • This looked like De'Veon Smith's backfield in Week 1, but both Smith (51% snaps) and Jacques Patrick (51%) went on to split reps right down the middle in Week 2. Both backs have showed off some pristine tackle-breaking ability at times this season and each rank among PFF's top-seven RBs in Elusive Rating.
  • Reece Horn (75% snaps), Jalen Tolliver (66%) and Daniel Williams (59%) are the offense's clear-cut top-three WRs, although TE Nick Truesdell (79%) has also seen plenty of reps and possesses more receiving ability than your average-XFL TE. Williams has clearly been the best talent of the group, as his average of 2.2 yards per route run trails only stud L.A. WR Nelson Spruce (2.33) among all WRs with double-digit targets through two weeks.

Which team is healthier?

Houston would obviously be hurting without Phillips, but Walker's play-making ability, along with the team's plethora of competent receivers, makes his potential absence a non-lethal problem.

Tampa Bay has several more issues to worry about on both sides of the ball. Murray's continued absence would likely again lead to a two-QB committee between Cornelius and Flowers.

TEAM PLAYER POS. INJURY PRACTICE STATUS
HOU DeMarquis Gates LB Knee Did not participate
HOU De'Angelo Henderson RB Shoulder Did not participate
HOU Cam Phillips WR Ankle Did not participate
HOU Edmond Robinson LB Hamstring Did not participate
HOU Demetrius Rhaney OL Abdominal Limited participation
HOU Marquez Tucker OL Knee Limited participation
TB Aaron Murray QB Foot Did not participate
TB Nick Truesdell TE Knee Did not participate
TB Ricky Walker DT Ankle Did not participate
TB Jalen Collins CB Ankle Limited participation
TB Jared Foster G Ankle Limited participation
TB Nikita Whitlock DT Arm Limited participation
TB Deiontrez Mount DE Thigh Limited participation
TB Jordan McCray C Knee Limited participation
TB Martez Ivey OT Thigh Limited participation

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

Key matchup questions

Can Tampa Bay force Walker to get rid of the ball quickly?

The only "problem" for the Roughnecks offense through two weeks has been the reality that they've been significantly less efficient when Walker has been forced to get rid of the ball in a hurry:

  • When throwing in less than 2.5 seconds: 63% completion rate (8th), 70.2 QB Rating (11th)
  • When throwing in more than 2.5 seconds: 61% completion rate (2nd), 132.7 QB Rating (1st)

Coach June Jones has put together a wide-open offense that accentuates both Walker's dual-threat ability as well as his willingness to test defenses downfield. Walker has proven to be an incredible game-changing talent when the play breaks down, but improved ability to pick apart defenses with quick passes should result in easier gains for everyone involved.

Can this Tampa Bay offense find the end zone vs. the league's best pass rush?

The Vipers have scored a whopping 12 points after 120 minutes of action. Some of this is probably just bad luck; they finished four (!!!) drives inside the opponent's 10-yard line in Week 1. Obviously losing Murray in Week 2 didn't help matters.

Either way: There's been little evidence that Tampa Bay possesses anything resembling an above-average offense through two weeks. Complicating matters is a matchup against potentially the league's single-best defense at creating turnovers and negative plays. Each of LB LaTroy Lewis (7 pressures), LB Kaelin Burnett (7), DT Gabe Wright (6) and DE Kony Ealy (6) rank among the league's top-11 defenders in pressure.

St. Louis had some success against Houston last week, but the Roughnecks defense set up their offense for two scores by returning interceptions all the way back inside the opponent's 10-yard line. The Vipers will have next to no chance of pulling the upset if they're unable to limit their mistakes.

DFS thoughts

QB: P.J. Walker ($11,500) has been magnificent all season and deserves to be the slate's highest-priced QB. Still, as I said last week, the pricing discrepancy between him and Jordan Ta'amu ($10,100) simply isn't warranted considering the latter QB's heightened rushing floor. It's impossible to get behind any of Aaron Murray ($7,900), Taylor Cornelius ($7,200) or Quinton Flowers ($7,100) with so many injury and workload questions surrounding the Tampa Bay offense.

RB: James Butler ($8,500) is the slate's highest-priced RB. His status as the clear-cut back of one of the XFL's top-two offenses makes him deserving of this honor, but we've learned better by now than to trust RBs in this league. I'm inclined to pay down at this volatile position in favor high-priced WRs. Last week's snaps and touches indicate that Jacques Patrick ($4,400) shouldn't be priced below De'Veon Smith ($6,300). The potential for similarly-priced RB Tim Cook ($4,200) to carry heavy ownership makes Patrick a worthwhile tournament pivot that won't sink lineups due to his low price point.

WR: Cam Phillips ($11,100) is the slate's highest-priced WR. His questionable health makes him an easy fade at that price point. And then we have the likes of Nick Holley ($4,400, now listed as a WR on DraftKings), Sammie Coates ($7,700) and Kahlil Lewis (9,100). Holley is again a value as an underpriced full-time option in one of the XFL's top-two offenses, while Coates had a TD overturned last week after he *barely* stepped out of bounds before reeling in the pass. I've certainly heard worse ideas than stacking Walker with Holley, Coates and Lewis. It's a bit tougher to get behind any of these Tampa Bay options. Reece Horn ($4,200) is cheaper than Daniel Williams ($8,200), Nick Truesdell ($6,200) and Jalen Tolliver ($4,300). I'm refraining from rostering any of these pass-game options from an offense that is yet to find the end zone or establish any sort of consistency in the passing game.

Bets to watch

Reports have indicated the Tampa Bay locker room is far from pleased with coach Marc Trestman. I've seen nothing over the last two weeks that indicates this squad can hang with potentially the XFL's finest overall team. I love Houston -6.5.

It's tough to have much faith in any over at this point, particularly in a game that doesn't involve two above-average offenses. I like under 45.5.

Dallas Renegades (1-1) at Seattle Dragons (1-1)

  • Favorite: Dallas (-4.5)
  • Over/under: 43
  • Time: 2/22, 5:00 PM EST
  • TV: FOX

Week 2 Offensive Takeaways

Dallas' 25-18 win over Los Angeles

  • Landry Jones provided the Renegades with a legit downfield threat in Week 2, as his 15% deep ball rate far surpassed backup QB Phillip Nelson's Teddy Bridgewater-esque 4.7% mark from Week 1. Of course, Jones and company weren't perfect; he threw two fairly ill-advised interceptions and was fooled on multiple occasions in terms expecting man-coverage only for the defense to drop back into zone.
  • We gained a bit of clarity in this backfield last week with the offense's four-back committee shrinking to just Cameron Artis-Payne (66% snaps) and Lance Dunbar (53%). The latter back in particular has turned into an appealing fantasy option, as Dunbar leads all XFL RBs in targets (12) and receptions (11) through two weeks.
  • The Renegades' air-raid attack featured Flynn Nagel (82% snaps), Donald Parham (73%), Josh Crockett (72%) and Jeff Badet (69%) in four-WR sets last week. Parham, a converted TE who is 6-foot-8 and weighs 243-pounds, had a well-designed TD from the red zone and could've added a longer downfield score to the stat sheet with a more-accurate throw from Jones.

Seattle's 17-9 win over Tampa Bay

  • The Seattle offense has left more yards on the field than just about anybody this season. Brandon Silvers has struggled mightily on his deep shots, and he's completed just 49% of his passes when operating out of a clean pocket. Still, nobody has been better under pressure this season, as Silvers ranks among the league's top-two signal callers in QB Rating (1st), TDs (1st) and passing yards (2nd) when under duress.
  • This continues to largely be a three-headed backfield. Kenneth Farrow (54% snaps) was the lead dog over Ja'Quan Gardner (31%) and Trey Williams (31%) in Week 2, but Williams (team-high 2.71 yards after contact per attempt) continues to look like the best back on the Dragons.
  • Keenan Reynolds (100% snaps) is the clear-cut No. 1 pass-game option in this Seattle offense. The likes of Alonzo Moore (46%), Dontez Byrd (50%) and Austin Proehl (46%) have also been involved, but Seattle's insistence on regularly utilizing four (!!!) different TEs lowers the ceiling and floor alike of this offense's complementary WRs.

Which team is healthier?

Dallas is probably the healthiest team in the league at the moment, as they didn't have a single player miss practice to start the week.

Meanwhile, Seattle had seven players that weren't even able to get in a limited session on Wednesday. The absence of OT Michael Dunn (PFF's No. 2 highest-graded tackle) would be particularly problematic.

TEAM PLAYER POS. INJURY PRACTICE STATUS
DAL Winston Craig DT Knee Limited participation
DAL Pace Murphy OT Foot Limited participation
DAL Donald Parham TE Foot Limited participation
DAL Jeff Badet WR Hip Full participation
DAL Sean Price TE Hand Full participation
SEA Isaiah Battle TE Ankle Did not participate
SEA Dontez Byrd WR Knee Did not participate
SEA Cam Clear TE -- Did not participate
SEA Michael Dunn OT Calf Did not participate
SEA Anthony Moten DT Ankle Did not participate
SEA Kasen Williams WR Quad Did not participate
SEA Kenneth Farrow RB Rib Limited participation
SEA Ja'Quan Gardner RB Ankle Full participation

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

Key matchup questions

Can Landry Jones and company dice up this meh Seattle secondary?

Jones became the first XFL QB to throw for over 300 yards in a game last week. There's talent all over the field in this wide-open offense, and Jones' willingness to throw deep forces defenses to account for all areas of the field.

Up next is a Dragons defense that has more than one liability in their secondary:

  • CB Steve Williams has allowed 12-of-13 targets into his coverage to be caught.
  • CB Jeremy Clark has allowed 1.12 yards per cover snap -- the 13th-worst mark among all qualified corners.
  • CB Channing Stribling (85.4) has given up a worse QB Rating than Clark (80.6).

None of these CBs are awful, but they'll need to bring their A-game in order to deal with this high-flying Dallas attack.

Can the Dragons consistently hurt the Renegades secondary down the field?

Silvers hasn't been afraid to throw deep thus far, but ultimately he's completed just 2-of-13 passes (15%) thrown 20-plus yards downfield.

Reynolds got loose for a massive 68-yard score last week.

Still: The performance could've been even bigger if his QB had been a bit more accurate.

The same thing can be said for several L.A. Wildcats receivers, as Josh Johnson completed just one of his seven pass attempts thrown 20-plus yards downfield in Week 2. PFF has graded this Dallas pass rush as the second-worst unit in the league. Continued failure to get to the QB could be problematic this week if Seattle can increase their efficiency on their downfield shots.

DFS thoughts

QB: I'm seriously not sure if Landry Jones ($10,600) could run a 40-yard dash in under six seconds. The high-flying Dallas offense is certainly capable of putting up points, but a trip to Seattle is far from an ideal spot for any passing game. I'd much rather pay down at the position to Jordan Ta'amu ($10,100) or Josh Johnson ($9,200). Brandon Silvers ($7,500) is a somewhat-appealing contrarian-GPP option due to his willingness to throw downfield, but he'll need to greatly improve his efficiency in order to meet value. I wouldn't recommend risking it all on Silvers when we have similar downfield-minded QBs with much higher rushing floors available.

RB: Cameron Artis-Payne ($8,300) is the slate's second-highest priced back and deserves credit for posting the XFL's single-best Elusive Rating to this point. Surprisingly, Lance Dunbar ($6,600) has only out-targeted CAP 12-to-9. Again, I'd rather pay down at the RB position when possible, but this Dallas backfield is a good place to target if you have some extra salary on the table. Nobody has involved their RBs more in the passing game through two weeks. It's impossible to get behind any of Kenneth Farrow ($6,000), Trey Williams ($5,000) or Ja'Quan Gardner ($3,800) as long as they each remain stuck in a three-back committee that appears to more-or-less be based on a hot-hand approach. There are plenty of two-RB backfields at this point that offer a much higher floor.

WR: We gained a bit of clarity in this muddled WR room last week, with Flynn Nagel ($4,700), Donald Parham ($5,300), Josh Crockett ($3,600) and Jeff Badet ($8,600) each playing near full-time roles. Nagel is my favorite option besides Badet, mostly due to the reality that Parham (foot) is banged up and not guaranteed to see the same sort of role in Week 3. Austin Proehl ($8,400) is still priced above Keenan Reynolds ($7,400) for whatever reason. Reynolds remains underpriced after playing literally every snap last week. No other Dragons WR played more than 50% of the offense's snaps. I'm perfectly fine with (again) making Reynolds a staple in cash lineups.

Bets to watch

Dallas was a much improved team in Week 2 with Jones under center ... but they still didn't exactly dominate against a Los Angeles squad that appears to have one of the league's worst overall rosters. It's tough for me to give the Renegades this much benefit of the doubt, particularly against a Seattle team that probably has the XFL's biggest home-field advantage. Give me the Dragons +4.5.

Jones' at-times erratic performance in Week 2, combined with Silvers' general inconsistency all season, makes under 43 the play.

New York Guardians (1-1) at St. Louis BattleHawks (1-1)

  • Favorite: St. Louis (-10)
  • Over/under: 40.5
  • Time: 2/23, 3:00 PM EST
  • TV: ESPN

Week 2 Offensive Takeaways

New York's 27-0 loss to D.C.

  • Matt McGloin has been fairly brutal for the first 120 minutes of the season. Sure, New York's porous offensive line and at-times questionable scheme haven't helped matters, but McGloin also has the league's third-worst QB rating when operating out of a clean pocket this season. It'd be nice to see the Guardians' QB1 take more responsibility for the offense's general inability to move the football. #FreeMarquiseWilliams
  • Tim Cook (76% snaps) is the clear-cut No. 1 RB in this New York offense ahead of both Darius Victor (10%) nor Matt Colburn (12%). Credit to Cook for averaging a fairly-robust 2.79 yards after contact per attempt, but he's yet to break a tackle and offers brutal receiving ability.
  • Mekale McKay (90% snaps) is the clear-cut No. 1 pass-game option in this offense. Each of Colby Pearson (56%), Joe Horn (52%) and Teo Redding (52%) have also been involved, but the presence of three fairly high-usage TEs lowers the median projection of this offense's complementary WRs.

St. Louis' 28-24 loss to Houston

  • Jordan Ta'amu has proven more than capable of leading this run-first offense through the air when necessary. Overall, he's completed 50-of-64 passes (78.1%) while averaging a league-high 7.7 yards per attempt. The fact that Ta'amu is also probably the XFL's single-biggest threat on the ground among all starting QBs makes him a fantasy darling entering Week 3.
  • Christine Michael (49% snaps) worked alongside Matt Jones (43%) in Week 2 with Keith Ford (knee) sidelined. This committee doesn't appear to be going anywhere, particularly as long as none of the group's RBs make a strong case for lead back duties. Ford is the team's only RB ranked among the XFL's top-15 backs in yards after contact per attempt.
  • Alonzo Russell (85%), L'Damian Washington (85%) and Marcus Lucas (77%) were the offense's top-three WRs in terms of snaps last week, but De'Mornay Pierson-El (59%) has emerged as the team's No. 1 pass-game option from the friendly confines of the slot. He's one of just four WRs to average over two yards per route run (minimum 10 targets).

Which team is healthier?

St. Louis is in slightly better shape at the moment, but neither of these squads should be considered overly healthy. The injuries appear to be particularly prominent on the offensive side of the ball for both teams.

TEAM PLAYER POS. INJURY PRACTICE STATUS GAME STATUS
NY Garrett Brumfield OL Head Did not participate --
NY Garrett Dooley DB Ankle Did not participate --
NY Joe Horn WR Shoulder Did not participate --
NY Ryan Mueller DE Wrist Limited participation --
NY Ian Silberman OL Groin Limited participation --
NY Andrew Soroh DB Thigh Limited participation --
NY Darius Victor RB Head Limited participation --
STL Matt Jones RB Knee Did not participate --
STL Will Clarke DL Calf Limited participation --
STL Keith Ford RB Knee Limited participation --
STL Brandon Reilly WR Back Limited participation --
STL David Rivers DB Head Limited participation --
STL L'Damian Washington WR Ankle Limited participation --

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

Key matchup questions

Can McGloin and this passing game rebound?

PFF grades the St. Louis pass rush as the league's single-worst unit. This *should* help alleviate some of the problems that McGloin has had this season, as his 45.1% pressure rate is the highest mark in the league among all starting QBs.

With that said: Pressure and sacks are arguably more of an indictment on a team's QB than the offensive line, and McGloin has still been pretty terrible even when given ample time to throw.

  • Completion percentage when kept clean: 53.6% (No. 9 among 11 qualified QBs)
  • QB Rating: 53.5 (No. 9)
  • TDs: 0 (tied for No. 8)
  • Yards per attempt: 5.14 (No. 9)

McKay and Horn in particular have flashed big-play ability through two weeks, but they've struggled to consistently receive catchable targets. Overall, New York (15%), Seattle (15%) and Dallas (13%) have the lowest percentage of deep ball targets that have been deemed catchable by PFF. Improved performance from both the offensive line and McGloin will be necessary for this offense to get back on track.

Can Ta'amu keep being great?

Ta'amu is the main reason why the BattleHawks have found so much early success on offense. He's demonstrated elite dual-threat ability through two weeks, racking up a position-best 61 rushing yards on designed carries while posting the league's second-best QB Rating.

The key problem has been turnovers and negative plays: Ta'amu has thrown two interceptions and taken a league-high five sacks. I'm not convinced the St. Louis coaching staff has done the best job in enabling Ta'amu (please stop bringing in Nick Fitzgerald in short-yardage situations), but either way the former Ole Miss QB needs to do a better job at avoiding mistakes.

New York benefited from several red zone stops in their season-opening win over the Vipers. Still, they've largely been unable to slow down opposing offenses all season on a per-play basis. Improvement will be needed across to board to slow down the XFL's consensus No. 3 offense.

DFS thoughts

QB: McGloin ($8,500) is being priced as the QB6, seemingly because of the "good" matchup. I'd certainly rather pay up for Josh Johnson ($9,200) if you can't get all the way up to Ta'amu ($10,100), who each deserve to be priced higher due to their respective rushing floors and proven deep-ball ability. Ta'amu is my No. 1 cash-game QB for Week 3.

RB: Tim Cook ($4,200) deserves to probably be priced in the $6k-range due to his bell-cow snap rate from last week and status as the offense's lead early-down back. Still, this New York offense is #bad. It's better to follow opportunity vs. chasing talent in fantasy football, but Cook joins Kalen Ballage as the type of RB that might be worth fading regardless of their reasonable price tag and double-digit touch floor. I get rostering Cook in cash games, although fading an early-down plodder with next-to-zero pass-game ability seems wise in tournaments. I wouldn't recommend going after either Matt Jones ($7,500) or Christine Michael ($5,200) due to the likelihood that this turns into a three-RB committee with Keith Ford ($4,000) tentatively expected to return this week.

WR: Mekale McKay ($8,800) is a reasonable GPP-target that could come in under-owned due to the general tragedy that is McGloin as well as the plethora of solid high-priced options at WR. The potential absence of Joe Horn ($3,800, shoulder) would elevate Teo Redding ($3,000) to a clear-cut No. 3 WR role. Colby Pearson ($6,700) is nothing more than a mid-priced dart throw in this meh offense. And then we have the BattleHawks, who have a clear top-four in their WR room between Alonzo Russell ($5,900), L'Damian Washington ($8,000), Marcus Lucas ($4,100) and De'Mornay Pierson-El ($10,100). This pricing seems fair pretty much all the way around, as stacking Ta'amu with Pierson-El and Washington seems like the best move.

Bets to watch

I've made fun of McGloin and company as much as anybody over the last week. And yet: 10 points?! While the BattleHawks should be anyone's idea of the XFL's No. 3 team, this line simply seems a bit too steep in a league designed to help keep things close in regards to the new point-after-conversion and clock rules. Don't bet the mortgage, but I gotta go with the Guardians +10.

The lowest total of the week is certainly a bit enticing, although the run-first nature of this St. Louis offense gives me some concern with how easily they'll be able to rack up points if they get up as quickly as the line suggests. Once again, I like under 40.5.

D.C. Defenders (2-0) at Los Angeles Wildcats (0-2)

  • Favorite: D.C. (-8)
  • Over/under: 44
  • Time: 2/23, 6:00 PM EST
  • TV: FS1

Week 2 Offensive Takeaways

D.C.'s 27-0 win over New York

  • The best and worst part about Cardale Jones' game: The play is never over. This has produced numerous highlights to go along with some bone-headed decisions through two weeks. Still, Jones has by and large been awesome, particularly when throwing downfield. He's completed a league-high 8-of-12 passes (67%) thrown at least 20 yards downfield ... and has two drops.
  • Donnel Pumphrey (51% snaps) worked ahead of Jhurell Pressley (39%) in Week 2, although the latter back still appears to be the superior option when asked to run between the tackles. Only De'Veon Smith (13) has broken more tackles than Pressley (12) this season.
  • Eli Rogers (88%) was joined in three-WR sets by DeAndre Thompkins (64%) and Rashad Ross (57%) in Week 2. TE Khari Lee (87%) has also been plenty involved as a receiver. Only St. Louis (7.7 YPA) has been more efficient throwing the football than D.C. (7.68) this season.

Los Angeles' 25-18 loss to Dallas

  • Josh Johnson provided an instant spark to the offense thanks to his elite (for the XFL) dual-threat ability. Backup QBs Jalen McClendon (71.4% pressure rate) and Charles Kanoff (50%) were largely unable to even give this passing game a chance to succeed in the team's season opener, but Johnson (24%) proved far superior in both extending the play as well as getting the ball where it needed to go.
  • Elijah Hood (64% snaps) continues to work as this offense's bell-cow back ahead of Larry Rose (37%). Hood has been a difficult man to get to the ground all season, as his average of 3.09 yards after contact per attempt ranks fifth among all RBs with double-digit carries through two weeks.
  • Nelson Spruce (80%) has worked as the XFL's premiere receiving talent, posting league-best marks in targets (24), receptions (17) and receiving yards (181). Adonis Jennings (80%) and Jordan Smallwood (95%) join TE Brandon Barnes (71%) in the Wildcats' base offense. Jennings has displayed solid contested-catch ability thus far and could be in line for bigger performances down the road as the offense continues to gel around Johnson.

Which team is healthier?

Los Angeles continues to resemble a walking graveyard, although we saw that simply adding Johnson to the equation was enough to take this team from awful to average in a hurry. Perhaps they'll be able to exploit a D.C. defense that has a pair of talented, but banged up, LBs.

TEAM PLAYER POS. INJURY PRACTICE STATUS GAME STATUS
DC Malachi Dupre WR Shoulder Did not participate --
DC A.J. Tarpley LB Hand Limited participation --
DC Kalani Vakameilalo DT Ankle Limited participation --
DC Scooby Wright LB Knee Limited participation --
LA Chad Kanoff QB Shoulder/Head Did not participate --
LA Brandon Barnes TE Knee Did not participate --
LA Harlan Miller DB Thigh Did not participate --
LA Saeed Blacknall WR Thigh Limited participation --
LA Jerome Couplin DB Ankle Limited participation --
LA Jaylen Dunlap DB Thigh Limited participation --
LA DuJuan Harris RB Ankle Limited participation --
LA Elijah Hood RB Ankle Limited participation --
LA Josh Johnson QB Thigh Limited participation --
LA Tre McBride WR Thigh Limited participation --
LA Kahlil McKenzie C Ankle Limited participation --
LA Will Smith LB Shoulder Limited participation --
LA Jack Tocho DB Hip Limited participation --

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

Key matchup questions

Can L.A. slow down Cardale and company?

An absolutely absurd 83% of Jones' deep balls have been deemed catchable by PFF this season. Each of Rogers, Ross and Thompkins are legit talents at the WR position, making their plethora of well-thrown targets a bit unfair for opposing defenses to deal with.

Up next is a Wildcats defense that hasn't exactly managed to slow down anybody to this point. This is easily the worst group of CBs in the league: 

  • Mike Stevens: 1.79 yards allowed per cover snap (25th among 26 qualified CBs)
  • Jaylen Dunlap: 1.76 (tied for 23rd)
  • Roman Tatum: 1.76 (tied for 23rd)
  • Harlan Miller: 1.73 (22nd)

Good luck.

Can L.A. further improve in their second game with Johnson under center?

The Wildcats looked a lot like the XFL's worst team in Week 1, but quickly reversed course and were plenty competitive during their Week 2 loss to Dallas.

Johnson was absolutely the reason why. Yes, the former-NFL QB was shaky at times and left some big plays on the field. Also yes, Johnson possesses the type of dual-threat ability and big arm that at the very least forces defenses to account for every square inch of the field.

The biggest question mark for the Wildcats moving forward is their ability to slow down opposing offenses. The good news is Johnson appears to be healthy enough to keep things competitive.

Of course, this theory will be tested to the highest degree against a D.C. defense that has allowed just 4.03 yards per play through two weeks.

DFS thoughts

QB: Cardale Jones ($10,800) is the second-highest priced QB behind only P.J. Walker ($11,500). The former QB has been more efficient on a per-pass basis and offers underrated mobility. The potential absence of Walker's No. 1 WR makes stacking Jones with any of the Defenders' trio of talented wideouts a more appealing prospect. Meanwhile, Josh Johnson ($9,200) appears to be underpriced due to his matchup against the Defenders' league-best defense. I'm not quite inclined to fear any XFL defense at this point, particularly one that has benefited from fairly soft early-season matchups against Seattle and New York. Johnson is my second-favorite price-adjusted QB on the slate behind only Jordan Ta'amu ($10,100) for cash and GPP games alike.

RB: Donnel Pumphrey ($7,000) and Jhurell Pressley ($6,800) are the No. 4 and No. 5 most-expensive backs on the slate, respectively. The Defenders have struggled to efficiently run the ball this season, and Jones is hardly one to make a habit of checking down. I'd rather pay up to Cameron Artis-Payne ($8,300) if we're going to spend more than $6,000 at the position. Elijah Hood ($5,600) is my preferred RB on the slate for cash and GPP games alike. He's played at least 60% of the offense's snaps in back-to-back weeks while demonstrating legit tackle-breaking ability. The lack of a target through two weeks is concerning, although Hood (41 routes) has actually still been more involved as a receiver on a per-play basis than backup RBs Larry Rose (24) and DuJuan Harris (5) combined.

WR: The top value at WR on the slate is Adonis Jennings ($3,000), who played a full-time role (80%) and posted ample marks in overall targets (5) as well as deep-ball opportunities (3) in Week 2. I'm not against paying up for Nelson Spruce ($10,900) or Jordan Smallwood ($7,200) if you're paying down at RB, but Jennings is the man to target to save some cash while maintaining some upside. Jennings' snaps and targets were somewhat inflated by the absence of Saeed Blacknall (thigh), although Jennings still posted a plenty respectable 60% snap rate in Week 1 with Blacknall in the fold. And then we have the Defenders, who boast two of the slate's top-five highest-priced WRs in Eli Rogers ($9,700) and Rashad Ross ($9,400). There isn't much reason for either to be priced so far above DeAndre Thompkins ($5,700), who showed off a fantasy-friendly blend of contested-catch and tackle-breaking ability during his season debut in Week 2. Regardless, all three are extremely talented and are worthy of exposure in fantasy contests of all shapes and sizes inside of the league's best passing offense.

Bets to watch

The Defenders are the best team in the XFL by most metrics. Johnson certainly provided a spark last week for this Wildcats offense, but the strong possibility that this L.A. defense is the league's worst unit makes me fine with taking Defenders -8.

Finally, we have a reasonable game total. I believe the Defenders boast the league's single-best offense, while the Wildcats are probably No. 5 at worse (with a heavy drop off to No. 6). It wouldn't be crazy if D.C. puts up 40 by themselves in this spot. Give me over 44.