Seattle Dragons (0-0) at DC Defenders (0-0)
Where to Watch: Saturday, Feb 8th, 2:00 pm ET on ABC
The Seattle Dragons head to Washington D.C. to take on the D.C. Defenders in the opening game of the XFL season on Saturday. Seattle is coached by former Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, while former NFL offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton coaches D.C. The Defenders have a very talented team, and with players like quarterback Cardale Jones and receiver Eli Rogers, it makes them one of the teams to beat.
Quarterback Brandon Silvers leads Seattle. The Dragons roster is not put together as the Defenders; Seattle is expected to finish last in the league. Hopefully, they can prove people wrong.
Players to watch
Brandon Silvers QB
Silvers won the starting quarterback job over B.J Daniels in training camp. Last season he played for the AAF's Memphis Express, accounting for 799 passing yards and four touchdowns in two starts. He will look to build on his two-game success and help lead the Dragons to a victory. With Mike Riley running the offense, Silvers should have a lot of attempts to pass the football. Coach Zorn likes Silvers’ arm accuracy, which is why he beat out B.J Daniels.
Kennan Reynolds WR
Reynolds will be Silvers’ top target to throw to. He’s a converted quarterback and while in college set an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns with 88. After being drafted by the Ravens in 2016 and playing a little with the Seattle Seahawks, Reynolds now has a real chance to shine at the receiver position.
Cardale Jones QB
Cardale Jones led Ohio State to the National Championship in 2014 and will look to lead the Defenders to the championship in the XFL. Jones left Ohio State early to head to the NFL, but it did not go well. Under Pep Hamilton I can see Jones has a fantastic game, with his arm talent and ability to read the defense.
Eli Rogers WR
Rogers spent a couple of seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers; the Defenders selected him in the supplemental draft. Rogers can work out the slot and play outside as well. He will be a dependable target for Jones to throw to in clutch situations.
Keys to the game
Pressure Cardale Jones
Run the ball successful to keep defenders offense off the field
Play physical on both sides of the ball
Protect Cardale Jones
Get the ball to the talented receivers group and let them make plays
Stop the run
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Cardale Jones, QB (D.C Defenders)
Brandon Silvers, QB, (Seattle Dragons)
Kenneth Farrow, RB, (Seattle Dragons)
Eli Rogers, WR, (D.C Defenders)
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, (D.C Defenders)
The Defenders are favored in the game by seven points in the game.
I think the Defenders win the game pretty easily since they have much more talent than the Dragons. With Cardale Jones leading the passing attack and the talented receiving core, it will be hard for Seattle to slow them down.
Final Score: Defenders 31, Dragons 17
Written by: Lamarr Fields
Los Angeles Wildcats (0-0) at Houston Roughnecks (0-0)
Where to Watch: Saturday, Feb 8th, 5:00 pm ET on FOX
The LA Wildcats open their XFL season by traveling to Houston to take on the Roughnecks at TDECU Stadium. Unfortunately, the Wildcats will be without their veteran starting quarterback, Josh Johnson, who is still recovering from a thigh injury. Jalan McClendon was named the starter for the opening game even though he is listed third on the depth chart. For the Roughnecks, PJ Walker will be starting at quarterback after winning a tight battle for the job against the Roughnecks first pick in the ”Phase 5” draft Connor Cook. Despite popular belief, Walker is more of a pocket passer with athletic traits as opposed to a true dual-threat option in the backfield. Although he ran the ball 371 times as a four-year starter at Temple, he only managed 771 yards. He has great arm talent, and I expect Walker to take several shots deep to Sammie Coates. XFL fans should be treated to an exciting Week One match between these two West Conference rivals.
Players to watch
Los Angeles Wildcats
Nelson Spruce is a really good slot receiver who uses precise routes to get quick separation. For a third-string QB who was thrust into being named the Week One starter, a safety outlet like Spruce is a great way to get a few easy throws in early to build confidence. Spruce has a high football IQ, can feel when a play is breaking down, and has the natural ability to come back to his QB when he is scrambling around to avoid pressure.
Willie Mays, OLB
Willie Mays has garnered a ton of attention for his efforts in the preseason earning one of the starting OLB positions. He is quick off the snap making him a nightmare for most Tackles to contain. They have a solid group with their hands in the dirt, which give Mays plenty of windows to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Shawn Oakman just returned to the the Wildcats roster this week, so he is only listed as a backup. However, with the pace of play, all defenses will need to cycle in players, which will give Oakman an opportunity to remind America just how much of a freak athlete he is. Do not be surprised if Oakman lands a DeMontra Moore-esque hit on P.J. Walker early in this game that will set the tone for the Wildcats’ Defense.
Andre Williams, RB
Andre Williams is a bruiser with the ball in his hands who has a signature stiff arm that made him a Heisman Finalist at Boston College. Williams is not easy to bring down, and if the Wildcats aren’t wrapping him up, he could be gouging the Wildcats for 4-6 yards a carry. If Williams can get a full head of steam, he is nearly impossible to bring down.
Sammie Coates, WR
At 6’2” and 4.4 speed, PJ Walker will take several shots at Coates deep in this game. Not only could a successful connection deep turn the tide in the Roughnecks favor, but it will also force the Wildcats from stacking the box. Coates’ speed allows him to have an impact on every play whether it's designed to him or as a decoy. Using Coates in motion pre-snap could really open the field and make passing lanes easier to spot for the Roughneck inexperienced QB. Coates is not a one-trick pony; he has the ability to use his speed to get horizontal as well and stretch the field from sideline to sideline. Coates will be hyper-targeted by Walker and the key reason the Roughnecks win or lose this game.
DeMarquis Gates, LB
The Roughnecks feature two stars in the middle of their defense: Beniquez Brown and DeMarquis Gates, who they believe will be a hammer, broom combination. Gates will take more risk going after the big plays while Brown acts a safety valve to be sure opposing offenses only get the minimum amount of yards per play. A big defensive play out of DeMarquis Gate could be the deciding factor of this game.
Keys to the game
Get after P.J. Walker and force him to make mistakes
Dominate on Run Blocking
Nelson Spruce has a big game from slot giving McClendon in a quick read
Win the turnover battle
Protect P.J. Walker
Keep McClendon in the pocket and force him to use his arm. Do not let him break away on the ground
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Jalan McClendon, QB (LA Wildcats)
Andre Williams, RB (Houston Roughnecks)
Sammie Coates, WR (Houston Roughnecks)
Nelson Spruce, WR (LA Wildcats)
LA Wildcats D/ST
The Roughnecks are currently favored by 6.5 with a 49.5 over/under. Pound that under! This will be a low scoring game. LA are rolling out their third-string QB and the Roughnecks will be going up against one of the most fearsome defensive lines the XFL has to offer. With that being said, I take the Wildcats if you are giving me 6.5 because I do not think either team wins by that large of a margin.
The Saturday primetime game will feature an upset of one of the XFL favorites. P.J. Walker can erratic with his passes and the Wildcats front will force him to make a few too many mistakes that they will capitalize on. The Wildcats will be able to get enough out of their running game between a couple of talented backs as well as an athletic QB to eke out a win in Houston.
Final Score: Wildcats 16, Roughnecks 13
Written by: David Connors @DConBlitz