XFL Week 4 Saturday Game Previews


Graphic Courtesy of Pat Pryor @patpryorgraphic

All betting outlooks and insights are provided by our Director of Betting, Jeremy Dennis. You can find him on Twitter @menace524. Also, all of the DFS Fantasy Player insights are provided by Nikunj Patel. You can find him on Twitter @NickOfTimeDFS.


LA Wildcats (1-2) at NY Guardians (1-2)


Where to Watch: Saturday, Feb 29th, 2:00 pm ET on ABC


Preview


Before last week, the Wildcats were off down in the bottom half of power rankings. Now, they destroyed the supposed #1 team, and are on their way back up. Josh Johnson went for 278 and 3 touchdowns. He completed 72% of passes and didn’t take a single sack. Martez Carter also rushed for 2 touchdowns in the slaughter. Mike Stevens nabbed two interceptions and 4 solo tackles, Jack Tocho and Aarion Springs also took the ball from the Defenders. Simply put, this team has shaken off the first two weeks and looks legitimate. However, this week Martez Carter is doubtful, and the Wildcats could lack his powerful punch. Along with this, Josh Johnson is questionable with a thigh injury, and Mike Stevens may not play as well. Their three top performers last week could all be out this week, slowing down both sides of the ball. If either Johnson or Carter plays, they can still make a formidable opponent.


On the contrary to the Wildcats, the Guardians started out with a dominant win and are coming off 2 bad losses. Starting quarterback Matt McGloin was injured before the half last week, and Marquise Williams would replace him for most of the game, until Luis Perez came in. Perez went 4 of 5, throwing 80 yards and the Guardians only touchdown of the game. There were few standouts on defense, as they let up 3 rushing touchdowns. Every facet of the game fell through, with the special teams giving up the first XFL kick return touchdown. With McGloin officially out, Marquise Williams and Luis Perez are competing for snaps. It’s not too far fetched to assume they’ll be going back and forth on seeing the field with the way other teams have alternated their quarterbacks. After being outscored 56-9 if the defense can’t get on the same page in this game, they’re looking at quite a slump.


Players to watch


LA Wildcats


Tre McBride, WR


After being inactive week 1 and not seeing any action week 2, McBride had himself a week against the Defenders. He brought in 5 catches on 6 targets for 109 yards and two touchdowns. With Nelson Spruce out, he could be looking at even more targets this week. Against a reeling defense, expect him to his name to be called a few times.


Josh Johnson, QB


He’s questionable, but if he plays he can be the difference-maker. If Martez Carter doesn’t play, with Nelson Spruce out Josh Johnson has to step up. He had a great week last week, but with his two top weapons out it will be interesting to see how he adjusts, just another reason Tre McBride will be a big part of the game.


NY Guardians


Tim Cook, RB


Darius Victor is probable, but he didn’t practice Wednesday. This means that Tim Cook will carry the ball for the majority of the game. In week 2, Darius Victor was held back on rushes, and Cook had just 39 yards on 10 rushes. If he wants to become the top starter, he’ll need to improve. As Matt McGloin is the only Guardian with a rushing touchdown, a score would be huge for Cook this week.


Bunmi Rotimi JR, DE


With a poor defensive show for the past two weeks, Bunmi Rotimi JR has been a bright spot. In week 1 he went for 6 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. A QB hit in week 2, and 7 tackles with 2 for losses in week 3 he’s the Guardians defensive MVP this season. If he can get to the backfield, he’ll disrupt an injured offense.


Keys to the game


LA Wildcats

  • Backups need to step up with Spruce out and Carter doubtful.

  • Get pressure to the inexperienced quarterbacks.

  • Disrupt the offensive flow, the Guardians have struggled with that recently

NY Guardians

  • Get pressure in the backfield and take out a weak run game without Carter

  • Keep Tre McBride covered and force Johnson to throw to less reliable receivers

  • Establish a run game, provide a fallback for the air game.


NickOfTime Top 5 DFS Plays

  • Josh Johnson, QB, LA

  • Austin Duke, WR, NY

  • Tim Cook, RB, NY

  • Jordan Smallwood, WR, LA

  • Tre McBride, WR, LA


Degenerate Menace Betting Outlook


Line: New York (+7.5) Over/Under: 39.5


After Week 1, one would look at this match-up and say that New York is clearly the better team. However, as we enter Week 4, the Los Angeles quarterback situation has dramatically improved while their opponent is looking for answers. The Guardians actually resorted to playing their third-string quarterback in the fourth quarter last week and Luis Perez actually did pretty well going 4 of 5 with a touchdown. With that said, now that Josh Johnson has a grasp of the LA offense, it would be a shock to see them not cover this game. Especially since New York hasn’t seen double-digit scoring since Week 1.


Prediction: LA 20 - NY 10


Beat Writer’s Prediction


The Wildcats’ offense is hurt right now, providing a poor Guardians defense a chance to play like they did week 1. Despite this, the Wildcats are still coming off an electric game, and if they get started early they can do well. New York has had communication issues the past two games and needs to get set quickly if they want a chance to be in competition. If they keep up the mistakes and penalties of last week, they’ll be in for a world of hurt. With their starting quarterback out, they could very well struggle offensively.


Final Score: LA 29-NY 13


Written by: Patrick Pryor


Seattle Dragons (1-2) at St. Louis Battlehawks (2-1)


Where to Watch: Saturday, Feb 29th, 5:00 pm ET on FOX


Preview


The St. Louis BattleHawks will host their second home game of the season. The Seattle Dragons are up next and both teams come in with the biggest fan bases in the league. On top of that, the BattleHawks will start talented young QB Jordan Ta’amu against talented young QB Brandon Silvers of Seattle. It’s uncertain what direction this game will go but for the Dragons, they will need to win this contest to avoid falling to 1-3 on the year.


Both teams are feeling the pressure of injuries early on but the Dragons have announced that they will be without DT Anthony Moten, WR Kasen Williams and CB Johnathan Alston. The Dragons have yet to score 20 or more points in a game and in this one they will likely have to if they want to capture a victory on the road. That’s not going to be an easy task as the BattleHawks come into this game with a league best third-down stoppage rate, giving up less than 100 rushing yards per game and two of the three games they have only given up single digit points.


Players to watch


Seattle Dragons


Brandon Silvers, Quarterback


Silvers has flashed this year as a quarterback, he’s not quite a star of the league but he’s shown he can throw the rock. Last week came in a loss but it was arguably Silvers best game this season. Could he be finding a rhythm? There’s no doubt about it, Silvers will be a player to watch as his play will decide whether or not we are talking about an upset or a potential blowout.


Austin Proehl, Wide Receiver


Proehl is having a great season for the Dragons thus far. He has 12 receptions for 168 yards and three touchdowns through three games. He’s also going to be very important to how strong this offense can be versus the BattleHawks.


Steven Johnson, Linebacker


Johnson is the heart and soul of the Seattle defense. He’s racked up 32 tackles including six tackles for a loss and he just had his best statistical game of the year last week. Number 59 will be key to keeping the St. Louis running game under wraps.


St. Louis Battlehawks


Jordan Ta’amu, Quarterback


Ta’amu had a down game his last time out in which really the BattleHawks were poised to run the ball down the Guardians throat. He will look to bounce back in a big way in this one. I expect he will seeing as last week was an anomaly of what he’s done this year.


Matt Jones, Running Back


He’s one of the best running backs in this league and he’s been limited in practice this week. Yes, the BattleHawks still have Christine Michael but Jones has been more efficient. Jones can break this game and make it a long day at the office for the Dragons.


Andrew Ankrah, Defensive End


Ankrah is finding a rhythm over the last two weeks. He’s had two sacks and has done a nice job disrupting the backfield. Look for number 55 to once again continue his trend of not only getting to the quarterback but swarming the backfield.


Keys to the game


Seattle Dragons

  • Contain Jordan Ta’amu and do not let him use his legs.

  • Sell out to stop the run early on.

  • Do not back down from being aggressive early on.

St. Louis Battlehawks

  • Get Jordan Ta’amu in a rhythm early on.

  • Punish Brandon Silvers in the pocket.

  • Keep your foot on the gas pedal.


NickOfTime Top 5 DFS Plays

  • Austin Proehl, WR, SEA

  • Marcus Lucas, TE, STL

  • Jordan Ta’amu, QB, STL

  • Christine Michael, RB, STL

  • Alonzo Russell, WR, STL


Degenerate Menace Betting Outlook


Line: St. Louis (-12) Over/Under: 38.5


St. Louis has emerged as the 2nd best team in the league behind Houston. They have dominated in their two wins and gave Houston all they could handle in a 28-24 loss. Seattle has basically played to their competition in winning against lowly Tampa Bay but losing against Washington and Dallas. Offensively, Jordan Ta’amu is the real deal and could possibly be the second-best player in the league to P.J. Walker and he has led an offense that has averaged 26.5 points the last two weeks. Seattle had issues in the second half against a Bob Stoops offense that introduced a little more hybrid RPO type offense. Imagine what will happen when they have to deal with an actual running quarterback. The numbers say this is not going to be close.


Prediction: St. Louis 31 - Seattle 15


Beat Writer’s Prediction


The BattleHawks check every box in this game but desperate teams can mold into scary teams. I don’t think Seattle is as good as their fanbase and I do think St. Louis is. Last week the BattleHawks dominated New York and that was without the typical Jordan Ta’amu-like performance. I expect this to be their best offensive performance this season and I expect the St. Louis BattleHawks to move to 3-1.


Final Score: St. Louis BattleHawks 36, Seattle Dragons 11


Written by: Jake Ellenbogen