XFL Week 2 Depth Chart Analysis: Nick Holley – RB in Fantasy, WR in Reality
Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Holley
A lot happened in Week 1 of the XFL: A presumptive starter and first-round running back gained zero yards on seven carries. A No. 3 wide receiver dominated his team in targets. A defensive coordinator was fired and defensive captain was released shortly after their game.
We learned a lot in Week 1, especially about the true depth charts and roles players have on their teams. Here are some takeaways to keep in mind when evaluating these teams for Week 2.
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New York Guardians at DC Defenders (-7), 47 Over/Under
Saturday, Feb. 15 – 2 p.m. ET: ABC
New York Guardians
Although Tim Cook was listed as the starting running back, he and Darius Victor split snaps (27-26) while No. 3 back Justin Stockton saw just one snap (per Pro Football Focus). Out of Cook and Victor, the latter was more effective with his touches.
Colby Pearson (49), Mekale McKay (48) and Joe Horn Jr. (40) saw the vast majority of the snaps at wide receiver. McKay — one of the top receivers in the Alliance of American Football last year — finished with four targets to Horn’s eight, but he missed most of the preseason with an ankle injury and should emerge as quarterback Matt McGloin’s top target.
Tight end Jake Powell ran a route on 25 of McGloin’s 33 drop backs and could be a low-owned daily fantasy play this week.
Check out our Week 2 XFL fantasy projections, which are free and will be updated based on injury reports and depth chart news as we head into the weekend.
At running back, Jhurrell Pressley (36 snaps, 15 opportunities) played as the lead back in a committee with Donnel Pumphrey (26 snaps, seven opportunities). Expect a similar split in Week 2.
Malachi Dupre led all wide receivers with 47 snaps, and he was listed ahead of former Pittsburgh Steeler Eli Rogers and AAF leader Rashad Ross on the Week 1 depth chart, but Rogers led the team with six targets, Ross scored one of the team’s two receiving touchdowns, and all three ran 22-27 routes.
DeAndre Thompkins practiced fully on Wednesday after missing Week 1, and he’s technically still listed as a starting wide receiver over Rogers and Ross, so his role should be monitored this week.
Tampa Bay Vipers (-2.5) at Seattle Dragons, 44 O/U
Saturday, Feb. 15 – 5 p.m. ET: FOX
Tampa Bay Vipers
A surprise starter before Week 1, wide receiver Dan Williams played all 72 snaps and had a team-high 43 routes, nine targets, six receptions and 123 yards. Starting wide receiver Jalen Tolliver was No. 2 with 70 snaps, 41 routes and eight targets, two of which were in the end zone.
At running back, De’Veon Smith (47 snaps, 17 opportunities) is as close as we get to a true lead back in the XFL.
Week 1 wasn’t great for No. 1 wide receiver Keenan Reynolds, but the former Navy quarterback easily led the team with 46 routes. It was slot receiver Austin Proehl who had team-high marks with 10 targets, five receptions, 88 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
But Reynolds and Proehl both might see a reduction in workload, as the Dragons this week added prolific wide receiver S.J. Green, who has more than 10,000 yards receiving in his 12-year Canadian Football League career.
In the backfield, Kenneth Farrow (29 snaps, 11 opportunities), Ja’Quan Gardner (19 snaps, nine opportunities) and Trey Williams (22 snaps, eight opportunities) all limit each other’s upside.
Dallas Renegades (-3.5) at Los Angeles Wildcats, 48 O/U
Sunday, Feb. 16 – 3 p.m. ET: ABC
No player more highlights the absurdity of the Week 1 depth charts than running back Lance Dunbar, who was missing from the Renegades depth chart in Week 1 but then had a team-high five carries and six targets on 23 snaps. Starter Cameron Artis-Payne led the Renegades with 32 snaps but had only two carries to go along with four targets. Change-of-pace backs Austin Walter and Marquis Young muddied the waters with a combined 29 snaps. As of now, CAP looks nothing like a true lead back.
At wide receiver, Jeff Badet (38), Flynn Nagel (35), Jerrod Heard (26), Jazz Ferguson (25) and Freddie Martino (23) all played 20-plus snaps. It’s hard to say that any of them stood out. Backup tight end Donald Parham saw more snaps (37-29) and targets (6-4) than starter Sean Price.
Los Angeles Wildcats
After their 37-17 defeat to the Houston Roughnecks, the Wildcats — head coach Winston Moss, to be specific — fired defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson and released defensive captain and starting edge defender Anthony Johnson. Moss will assume playcalling duties for a unit that in disarray, and he might be challenged to get the defense in order before Week 2, when the Renegades are expected to get back starting quarterback Landry Jones (knee).
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterbacks Josh Johnson (thigh) and Chad Kanoff (shoulder/head) are both uncertain. While Johnson seems likely to play, there’s a chance the Wildcats will need to use third-stringer Jalan McClendon this weekend.
At least we have clarity at running back and wide receiver: Elijah Hood (55 snaps, 12 carries) and Nelson Spruce (56 snaps, 15 targets) dominated the market share at their positions.
St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks (-8), 49 O/U
Sunday, Feb. 16 – 6 p.m. ET: FS1
St. Louis BattleHawks
Running back Christine Michael was the team’s first-round pick in the skill-position draft, but Matt Jones out-snapped (48-24) and out-touched (21-8) him. After years of spectacularly disappointing fantasy investors in the NFL, Michael somehow managed to outdo himself, transforming his seven carries and one target into -1 yard. Behind Michael, No. 3 back Keith Ford had a 4-26-1 rushing performance on six snaps.
Jones (knee) and Ford (knee) both missed practice on Wednesday, so even with his horrid performance last week, there’s a chance that Michael could be a very fantasy-relevant option this weekend. And that’s a terrifying thought.
Despite being expected to play behind Andre Williams and De’Angelo Henderson, running back James Butler easily out-snapped them (44-8-2) and turned his 11 opportunities into 50 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. Williams (wrist) was limited in Wednesday’s practice and Henderson (shoulder) was out, so Butler seems likely to continue to dominate the backfield.
One player of interest is Nick Holley. Although he’s technically listed at running back on DraftKings, he’s very much a wide receiver: In Week 1, he played 40 snaps at the position, and he turned his five targets into four receptions and 50 yards. With his positional ambiguity and role in a high-scoring, pass-heavy offense, Holley has some contrarian appeal for DFS in Week 2.