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8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2) LW: 8 

Tampa Bay has clearly been the worst team in the league. It’s not for lack of trying, but for their knack of turning the ball over. Offensively, this team has been able to run the ball successfully, and throw decently (other than a terrible completion percentage as a team). They are 50% on third down attempts, converting on sixteen of thirty-two tries. The problem, of course, comes in the form of  being 1/6 on fourth down, 0/7 in the red zone, and turning the ball over 6 times. The defense hasn’t played poorly, but when you’re on the field all the time and your offense is only able to put up 12 points in two weeks it’s hard to hold up. They’ve only caused one turnover with a -5 turnover ratio.

Advice: This team needs to continue running the ball well, and give the quarterbacks easier reads or simple completions because they are struggling to complete passes. Make a trade or pick someone up to be a play maker on the outside. Teams don’t have to worry about anything other than the run because none of the Vipers receivers or tight ends are able to make plays.

7. New York Guardians (1-1) LW: 6

Last week there were a few dissenters on my article regarding my placement of the Guardians. I am not looking from a fan stand point, but by objective evaluation of the team. Outside of my firm lack of belief in Matt McGloin, which appeared warranted when he played on national TV, there’s not much standing out about the team. The offense isn’t able to run or pass the ball with any consistency, and are the worst in the league at converting third downs. Only a few plays typically impact a games final score, and third downs are one such factor in most games. Their offense has 363 total yards from scrimmage in two games, while converting on only 2/21 third downs, at a 9.5% success rate.

A big step up in competition made the Guardians look absolutely terrible and may have tarnished the reputation of the whole team. The quarterback blatantly called out the head coaches game plan on national television, and the coaching staff itself looks confused. The best play makers I see on this team are Darius Victor and Mekale McKay, but neither have gotten the ball consistently enough to impact the game.

Advice: Scrap your plans from the beginning of the year and start over with a new quarterback running the offense. Marquise Williams could give the team a dynamic edge that they’re lacking. He can extend plays and use his legs to give the offense a much needed boost. Extending plays helps an offense appear better because defenders can only provide coverage for so long before they get beat on some backyard football cuts. Ben Rothelisberger won two Super Bowls doing just that (although he’s just big rather than mobile). Get Victor the ball, that is a scary human being. At 5 foot 6 inches and 230 pounds,  you’re pretty much trying to tackle a bowling ball.

Los Angeles Wildcats (0-2) LW: 5

The Wildcats have two hard fought games, without a win to show for it. The addition of Josh Johnson at quarterback for week two made them look better, but he definitely showed rust. Johnson actually threw for two less yards than Kanoff did last week, while the offense improved from 3/15 on third down, to 7/13 in week two. Giving his team an opportunity to extend drives was huge for this team, but they weren’t able to capitalize enough. They got away from the running game too early, and Johnson struggled with his deep accuracy. He clearly hasn’t been taught the catapult method of throwing a football to get the tear drop shaped arc on deep passes. The defense has been just okay, and firing the defensive coordinator after one week didn’t really help. They still struggled to stop the opposing team and didn’t get enough pressure. Why would they trade A. Johnson, their only solid pass rusher? The team has been able to stay in games even though the offense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders.

Advice: Let Johnson get more of the rust off. He wasn’t terrible, but he missed a few big plays that were there. He’s a fast ball thrower at quarterback, so they either need to embrace it and keep the reads simpler, like the Ravens, using the tight ends as primary targets while running the ball A LOT! Johnson will get better, but if the coaches can’t teach him how to put some touch on the ball, it’s going to be hard to complete anything deep without it being wide open. The great quarterbacks know there are ways to make the ball easier to catch(for example, the catapult method) for your receivers and you’d think coaches would figure it out too.

5. Seattle Dragons (1-1) LW: 4

Seattle has been inconsistent at quarterback, but the rest of the team is running effectively. I’d like to point out that I did say in my fantasy football guide that I thought B.J. Daniels would start because of his running abilities benefiting the offense, but the coaches didn’t want to go that route. Instead, Brandon Silvers has struggled reading defenses and converting on third down. The running backs are a scary group to deal with, but haven’t been able to stay on the field or extend drives. Seattle dominated Tampa Bay in week two defensively, but New York did the same thing in week one and we saw what happened. I am not sure, at this point, that Los Angeles wouldn’t just run away with the game when they play Seattle, but the Dragons have looked bad offensively both games against two completely different levels of competition.

No offense Tampa.

Advice: Of course, I still recommend starting B.J. Daniels and running a Seattle Seahawks style running game with their version of Russell Wilson in BJ. The game plan needs to stay exactly the same on offense.

GIVE YOUR BACKS THE BALL! Farrow, Gardner, and Williams all have their different running styles that mesh perfectly throughout the game and running is one of the ways you control the time of possession which is one of the biggest game determining factors. The defense needs to improve against the better competition, although they did keep the team in the game until a Silvers pick six sealed their week one loss.

4. Dallas Renegades (1-1) LW: 7

The Renegades are a team of two weeks. Week one they weren’t terrible, but they weren’t good either. In week two, they clicked on all cylinders and put up the single game record for most total yards by an offense in XFL history(444), but that’s nothing new to Hal Mumme. He’s been breaking offensive records for decades now. Having Landry Jones back in the mix to run the offense helped as well. Phillip Nelson preformed well in his week one start, holding the highest completion percentage in the XFL to this point, but converted only one of ten third down tries.

Just like week one, Dallas was able to stay in the game, but this week had a running game. Cameron Artis-Payne decided to take reigns of the back field and ran the ball 14 times for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns, while adding 5 catches for 32 yards. Landry Jones struggled with some rust in the first three quarters, and threw two interceptions. He played well outside of the turnovers. The defense was able to preserve the lead late and won the game.

Advice: Just keep practicing. The Air Raid takes a little time to implement, but they have solid guys to run it. Jones is comfortable with it and has had some NFL experience, but not with the offense that made him draft-able. If Dallas continues to keep some semblance of balance on the offense, they could be one of the top teams in the XFL.

3. Saint Louis Battlehawks (1-1) LW: 3

The Battlehawks didn’t move after a loss because I felt the officials screwed a call and changed momentum, but the loss still falls on the shoulders of Saint Louis. They were in the game against the Roughnecks with a chance to take the lead when a Houston player quite clearly jumped into the neutral zone before the snap. This resulted in Jordan Ta’amu taking a shot to the receiver running the deepest route and the ball being intercepted.

No harm, no foul, right? It’s a free play. WRONG! The referees completely missed the obvious infraction, and put the ‘Hawks further into a deficit they were never able to overcome. Saint Louis has had a great running game and definitely showed more in the passing game this week which may have cost them as well. Ta’amu is a very good quarterback and showed that he does have a solid passing game as well as being a “game-manager” like he looked in week one. The one problem with this team is that they lack big plays. The receivers are getting open and making catches, but the ball just isn’t traveling very far. The defense has played well in short spurts, but have only one take away on the season.

Advice: Start blitzing a little bit more to get pressure and help cause more turnovers. This team has won and loss one close game in the first two weeks of the season, so better defensive pressure and turnovers will be huge going forward. Need to keep running the ball effectively, but need to find a way to get the ball down field for some big plays. Three yards and a cloud of dust can work, but a big play here and there goes a long way in opening up the entire field of play.

2. Houston Roughnecks (2-0) LW: 1

The Roughnecks have fallen a spot because of their consistent play. They have consistently played bad on third downs and not being able to run the ball. Both of these facets are a breeding ground for let downs in football, but they do have the most dynamic player in the XFL to make up for it. PJ Walker wasn’t super known, playing at Temple in college. He’s done a tremendous job to this point in the season, and was able to put together back to back wins for the first time in team history. Although their running game has struggled, Cam Phillips has shined as a break out receiver along with Nick Holley and Kahlil Lewis playing solid roles as well. James Butler has done a decent job when given an opportunity out of the back field, but this team hasn’t committed to the run this season. This is where I have to apologize to anyone who read my fantasy football guide and took Andre Williams. Who could’ve known the coach was allergic to running the ball and not really using a running back at all? Offensively, the Roughnecks need to find a way to convert on third downs as they are 5/20 on attempts at a conversion. The defense just needs to continue doing whatever it is doing to create turnovers, apply pressure, and get sacks!

Advice: There’s not much to change other than rethinking your third down play calls. Clearly these plays aren’t getting first downs and may need to be more closely looked at. Third down plays should be the plays that are most successful over time depending on down and distance as well as how the quarterback and other players feel about certain plays. Run the ball a little more to minimize the chances of a turnover. The run is working, but the Roughnecks just aren’t committing to it.

1. Washington D.C. Defenders (2-0) LW:2

The Defenders probably have the best defense in the league and I must give props on the team name in that honor. It would be embarrassing to be called the Defenders and have a bad defense. They have caused three turnovers in each game and thoroughly dominated their week two match up against the Guardians. Cardale Jones has the best team around him and a system that fits him perfectly. Eli Rogers and DeAndre Thompkins are go to receivers in the XFL and could both challenge for some of the XFL’s league leaders in receiving categories by year’s end.

At the tailback position, Donnel Pumphrey and Jhurrell Pressley have been a perfect one-two combination. Pressley is a bigger, power back who wants to run through you while Pumphrey has speed, quickness, and solid receiving abilities out of the backfield. Rashad Ross is in the prime of his career and has proven to be a stud slot receiver in his own right. Ross just can’t be guarded when given a one on one match up and it’s already posed problems to the opposition. The coaching staff has thrown in a trick play or two to help this team too. Right now the Defenders are looking like the team to beat in the XFL.

Advice: The Defenders are only 2/8 in the red zone this season, and will want to find a way to make that percentage climb for continued success.

XFL Week Two Power Rankings

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