Fantasy Football: Week 3 XFL Fantasy positional tiers and full rankings
Ben Gretch breaks down what we know through three weeks of XFL play, ranking each position into tiers.
I broke down all the XFL Fantasy options be positional tiers last week, and I thought that was a good format to get to what's important about this league. So I'm back to do it again after Week 3, which saw Martez Carter and Tre McBride both explode out of nowhere for Los Angeles, the DC offense stumble and players like Donald Parham and Jalen Tolliver have breakout games.
We also saw P.J. Walker and Cam Phillips continue to light the league on fire as the clear top QB-WR duo. They lead Tier 1 at each of their positions, followed by the rest of my current rankings for each position.
I had Walker in a tier of his own last week, and he proceeded to post the biggest single-game line of any QB through three weeks, so no one else is welcome here.
Both of my top two tiers are now solo because Johnson isn't quite on Walker's level but distanced himself from the other above-average quarterbacks. Johnson's willingness to push the ball has been clear through two starts, as he's connected for downfield touchdowns of 44, 40 and 28 yards. We haven't seen him show off his mobility, but it's there, and the emergence of Tre McBride in Week 3 alongside Nelson Spruce gives him one of the league's best pass-catching duos.
Ta'amu is the second-highest scoring quarterback so far this season, but he was buoyed by unsustainable rushing production in Weeks 1 and 2, and his extremely low average throw depth and rush-first offense with a strong defense behind him limits his ceiling more than the early results suggest. He can still have big games, but he profiles as a slightly more mobile Alex Smith statistically.
Cardale Jones looked awful in Week 3 in his first game on the road, and while his production was solid in Weeks 1 and 2, that was in home matchups with Seattle and New York — arguably the league's two worst teams.
Landry Jones hasn't quite hit his stride, but has solid lines of 18.5 and 19.96 DK points in his two starts. Dallas' pass-heavy offense gives him a good floor, but his complete lack of mobility limits the ceiling. There's weekly QB1 upside here, but he'll need to find himself in a shootout to achieve it.
Silvers isn't particularly accurate down the field, but he's willing to take shots, and that gives him some upside.
Williams and Flowers are part-time players right now who need to get starts to hit their ceilings. Cornelius put up solid Week 3 numbers, but Murray still figures to be the Vipers' No. 1 when healthy. Either way, it seems Marc Trestman is content using one of them as a pass-first option rather than getting Flowers more snaps.
Williams took over for McGloin in Week 3, then was replaced by Perez for New York. It's not clear who will start Week 4, but Williams has the most upside of the bunch.
Artis-Payne and Dunbar both play for Dallas. The Renegades have completed 40 passes to their backs through three weeks to lead the league by miles ahead of Seattle in second at 15 RB receptions. Both backs play, and they have the two safest floors at the position in any given week.
There isn't a ton separating the second tier of running backs right now, but I've taken a bullish stance on Carter here. Carter hardly played in Weeks 1 and 2, but what he did in Week 3 will be hard to ignore. Yes, Elijah Hood — LA's lead back in Weeks 1 and 2 — was out. But Hood hadn't been particularly effective, and Carter most certainly was, scoring three times on 14 touches while playing the third-highest RB snap share in Week 3.
Pumphrey led the DC backfield again, but his snap share dipped, in part because starters were removed early in the blowout loss. Smith continued to lead the Tampa Bay backfield and showed off some receiving chops down the field, and Victor led things for New York. Both play in sub-par offenses. Farrow leads another bottom-half offense, but Seattle has a three-headed backfield. Michael posted reasonable numbers for the second straight week as St. Louis' No. 2.
We're already at the point where these guys probably need a touchdown to be relevant, with the possible exception of Hood, who up until missing Week 3 was LA's lead back.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
Phillips blew up again in Week 3, and may have distanced himself from Spruce a bit, but Spruce didn't exactly have a bad game considering Los Angeles won big. The Wildcats totaled just 32 dropbacks, second fewest in the league in Week 3, and Tre McBride's highly efficient 6-5-109-2 line on just 11 routes run gobbled up a ton of production.
Given that context, Spruce going 4-3-75 isn't all that worrisome. McBride may be future target competition, but the passing game as a whole looked great, and there should be enough balls to go around. (Update: Reports Tuesday suggest Spruce is out for Week 4, and perhaps beyond.)
Parham has emerged as the clear No. 1 Fantasy receiving option for the pass-heavy Dallas offense, and the athletic tight end continues to see more downfield looks than any of the team's wide receivers.
Though it was lost in the DC Week 3 struggles, Ross' route share bumped to 86% of dropbacks, and Jones took downfield shots to him on 50/50 balls trying to get something going. He should be a big part of their offense when they get things turned around.
Lewis still looks like the No. 2 option to Phillips in Houston which hasn't been necessary since Phillips has scored six touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Sorting out the three Tampa Bay pass-catchers is challenging, and they all ran routes on at least 96% of dropbacks in Week 3 as the Vipers went with three-wide looks throughout. All have at least 25 PPR points on the season, and all have been the team's leading producer one of the three weeks. Williams looks like the top dog, and Tolliver had a big day in Week 3, while I've moved slot guy Reece Horn to the next tier, though he's not without upside.
It's hard to put McBride any lower than this tier after such a dominant performance on limited Week 3 snaps. Josh Johnson certainly seemed to lock onto him, and he's long been an intriguing talent out of William & Mary.
Rogers, Badet, Pierson-El, Reynolds, Proehl and McKay all have pretty secure roles in their offenses. Rogers, Pierson-El and Proehl are slot options, while Reynolds and McKay are outside receivers with strong air yards numbers in bad offenses where the numbers just haven't followed consistently. Badet has perhaps the most upside of the group if Dallas starts letting him run downfield, but he's been pretty consistently resigned to underneath routes save for one deep look in Week 3.
The biggest thing that separates the guys in this tier from the next is I'm pretty confident in their roles. The biggest thing that separates them from the tier above them is they haven't been very productive, with a couple of exceptions.
As we get further down the depth chart, there's upside in some situations, but several offenses are rotating guys and it's not clear who the No. 3 (or in some cases No. 2) Fantasy option is. That's the nature of a startup league, limited data and the wide receiver position, where weekly target variance is far from abnormal.
Defense and special teams
St. Louis BattleHawks
Los Angeles Wildcats
The BattleHawks hadn't been very productive through two weeks, but they'd faced two tough road matchups. After a huge home opener, they stay atop my ranks.
After a tumultuous start to the season that featured the firing of their defensive coordinator after one game, Los Angeles flew up these ranks after perhaps the season's most impressive defensive performance. The Wildcats completely shut down the DC offense in Week 3, and go into Week 4 with PFF's highest coverage grade by a solid margin.
Tampa Bay Vipers
New York Guardians
Dallas is probably a bit better than these other defenses, but the Renegades grade in the bottom half of the league on PFF in pass rush and have the second-worst coverage grade, ahead of just the Guardians.
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