We're two weeks into the XFL season, and things are beginning to take shape. Houston looks fantastic, St. Louis was likely the most underrated team entering the season, and both DC and Dallas have plenty of upside.
Then there's Seattle, New York, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, which have all struggled in one way or another. As we look ahead to future DFS slates, getting a grip on what we know allows us to make informed decisions about how to build our lineups.
So let's do that. Here are my current rankings for each position, grouped by tiers.
Walker is in a tier of his own, and what separates him from the other top-scoring quarterback — Jordan Ta'amu — is his offense. Walker's a perfect fit for June Jones' system, and he'll continue to get plenty of opportunities to drop back and either sling it around or take off and run.
This tier is hard to place, but it's a big second tier, and any of these players is capable of being the QB1 any given week. Ta'amu proved that in Week 2, but with an impressive defense behind him and a run-oriented offensive system, it's not clear if he'll have the weekly opportunities presented to him in the Houston matchup. I'm also skeptical of his to-date rushing production — he's clearly mobile, but a 37-yard draw in Week 1 and a rushing score in Week 2 have bolstered his Fantasy totals, and he's currently third in the league (including all running backs) in rushing yards.
Cardale Jones has been efficient as a passer and looks plenty mobile, while Josh Johnson had a strong debut in Week 2. Landry Jones' Week 2 debut lagged a bit by comparison, but Dallas features the league's pass-heaviest offense, so he'll have a chance to rack up throwing numbers.
None of these players has started a game yet, but all have mobility and that gives each inherent Fantasy upside if given the opportunity — and in their cases, certainly more than the player they back up.
Until the guys in Tier 3 get a chance — and maybe after that point — these are the quarterbacks to target with Fantasy defenses. McGloin and Silvers have made several errant throws through two weeks, while Cornelius somehow looked worse in Week 2 than Aaron Murray did in Week 1 for Tampa. I'm not completely out on Murray as a passer, but he's currently injured, he split time in Week 1 and he didn't look good in the one game we saw.
The running back position is clearly devalued in the XFL, but there are a handful of backs who stand out through two weeks, with several more who could reach the top two tiers if their situation improves.
What Artis-Payne did in Week 2 gives him the easy edge as the RB1 for the foreseeable future, as the Dallas backfield whittled down from a four-man rotation to just two main pieces, and Artis-Payne thrived leading the way.
Butler remains the clear lead back for the league's best offense and has now scored three touchdowns through two weeks, so if anyone is in Artis-Payne's tier, it's him.
Jones has scored the fourth-most DraftKings points at the position through two weeks as the lead back for St. Louis, but he fails to reach the top tier in my eyes due to just two targets through two weeks.
Dunbar is the other half of the Dallas backfield, and has a strong receiving role in their pass-happy system. He's the only back to put up at least 11 PPR points both weeks, and has done so without yet finding the end zone.
There was some uncertainty about DC's backfield after Week 1, but Pumphrey looks like the clear lead back now in one of the league's better offenses.
Victor got concussed early in Week 2, but looked solid in Week 1. His issue will be whether New York can produce more offensively after a dismal Week 2 showing.
Smith and Hood have been lead backs on unproductive offenses with some potential, but neither has produced much yet. Hood has yet to catch a pass, while Smith lost a healthy chunk of work to Jacques Patrick in Week 2 relative to Week 1.
Farrow leads the three-back committee in Seattle, while Pressley, Patrick, Cook and Michael are No. 2s with significant enough roles to be Fantasy viable at times. Williams has a pass-catching role in Seattle's committee and enough talent to have spike weeks like Week 1, but those will likely be few and far between due to the size of his role.
Gardner's current role with limited receiving makes him the least valuable back of Seattle's committee. Rose might be the favored pass-catching back for Los Angeles, but it doesn't appear either he or Hood will catch many balls in this offense. Henderson got hurt immediately in Week 1 and missed Week 2 but could figure into Houston's backfield when healthy.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
Wide receiver production is so variable and rotations fluctuated for enough teams in Week 2 that there are good arguments to rank the league's pass-catchers a number of ways, including just having a huge second or third tier. I've tried to look ahead with the below tiers, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few from the lower levels look like Tier 2 guys in short order.
Tight ends aren't differentiated from wide receivers on the major sites, so I've included them here. All routes data is courtesy of PFF while we have the guys at Occupy Fantasy to thank for the air yards.
It really doesn't matter how you rank them — these are the top two wide receivers in the league and there's probably a full empty tier between them and everyone else.
Spruce looks like an absolute stud, as he did in the AAF, and he is certainly earning another look from NFL scouts. Phillips is the top target for Walker in Houston — he's playing just about every snap while other Roughnecks receivers are rotating, and his production speaks for itself with four scores in two games.
After a limited Week 1, Ross was barely used through the first quarter of Week 2 … but then he got on the field and caught four of five balls for 95 yards. He now has 147 yards on just seven targets and six catches through two games, and is clearly a step up in this league.
The biggest hurdle for Ross is playing time, and Thompkins' return in Week 2 complicated things. Thompkins played very well, while Eli Rogers continues to look like the most consistent Defenders receiver, so all three of their top options make it into this tier.
Joining them are McKay and Reynolds, who are both clear of the rest of the field in terms of having dominant No. 1 route shares and air yards figures. Both have quarterback issues to deal with, but they should be considered high-upside options most weeks.
Badet got banged up early in Week 2, but came back to catch six of nine targets. He's not seeing the downfield looks his speed would suggest he can handle, but the role is mostly there for a high-volume passing offense, although Dallas rotates its receivers more than perhaps any team in the league.
His teammate Parham was utilized downfield often in Week 2, and looks like a key piece of the Renegades' passing game as a big tight end who splits out a lot.
Dan Williams' role shrunk a bit for Tampa in Week 2, and it's possible I'm a bit high on him. I'm giving him a bit of a pass after a strong Week 1 given the quarterback situation in Week 2. Reece Horn, who I've snuck into the back end of this tier, might be Tampa's best receiver, and the slot receiver's role grew in Week 2 as we saw a lot more three-wide sets out of the Vipers.
There's also probably a good argument that Lewis doesn't belong a tier higher than his two teammates in Tier 4, but of Houston's top four options, he's the one I feel most confident in as their No. 2.
I like Pierson-El over Washington in terms of St. Louis' top two receivers, and Washington probably stole a tier bump here after a long catch-and-run touchdown late in Week 2. He's another tough guy to place when I look at the names in the tier below, and he would be an easy guy to bump down if he has a bad Week 3.
You could convince me I'm too low on Coates, but you could also probably convince me I'm too high. His role has been significant — particularly his air yards — but he just hasn't produced, including having a long touchdown called back in Week 2 for illegal touching after he stepped out of bounds. He's carried huge DFS ownership both weeks, but that will likely change in Week 3 after two duds, and it wouldn't be surprising if he starts to lose some playing time on a team deep at wide receiver. Holley rounds out Houston's primary four-wide sets, and he's been solid for Houston, seeing his playing time spike in Week 2.
Smallwood, Nagel and Proehl all look like No. 2 receivers with some concerns. Smallwood is behind Spruce's massive share as the league's most dominant No. 1, and while I prefer him to Adonis Jennings, he has some competition there. Nagel loses some work to Parham's presence as the league's most active tight end, and like Badet hasn't seen a ton of air yards. Their downfield looks were dominated by rotational receivers Jerrod Heard in Week 1 and Josh Crockett in Week 2.
Proehl had the huge Week 1, but the slot receiver came back to Earth in Week 2. Russell could compete with Washington for No. 2 in targets for St. Louis,
I'm not sure what to make of Tolliver, whose role decreased a bit in Week 2. He should have had a bigger Week 1 than his stat line shows had Aaron Murray found him on a couple of potential touchdowns, but he looked like the No. 3 or possibly No. 4 receiver in a bad passing game in Week 2. Truesdell is the Vipers' tight end, and he's a low upside option in that offense.
Redding stole some looks from Pearson in Week 2, while Horn continued to struggle on solid volume for New York. I still expect McKay to lead the Guardians in receiving, and have a hard time differentiating these three behind him.
Whitfield has looked alright in a limited role for Los Angeles, but he might be the team's No. 5 when Saeed Blacknall is healthy. I've still ranked ranked him above Jennings, who has struggled on solid volume thus far.
Byrd is seventh in the league in air yards for Seattle, but the downfield threat has hauled in just two of seven targets.
My final tier includes a few guys whose roles are unclear and a number of the less notable tight ends. Dupre looks boxed out by the top three receivers for DC, while Jones, Mumphery, Malone and Mobley are similarly buried on their depth charts, but could grow into bigger roles. Jones and Mobley have seen solid air yards on their limited looks.
Lee isn't likely to be a high-volume tight end in that DC passing game, while Lucas, Powell and Barnes are three more tight ends who have seen reasonable volume but probably won't compete for big target numbers most weeks.
Blacknall ran a lot of routes for Los Angeles in Week 1, but was catchless on four targets, then missed Week 2. Kasen Williams has yet to play but could become a factor for Seattle.
My favorite name to watch in this tier is Crockett, who seemed to displace Heard as Dallas' preferred deep threat in Week 2, after Heard led the team in air yards in Week 1. Someone is going to hit some long touchdowns in that pass-heavy offense, and Crockett is the best guess right now after catching both of his Week 2 targets for 57 yards.
Defense and special teams
St. Louis BattleHawks
The BattleHawks have held up well considering they've played the league's pass-heaviest offenses through two weeks, and I was particularly impressed with their ability to limit Walker a bit in Week 2 to help them climb back into the game in the second half. DC has been fantastic through two weeks, and is easily the league's top scoring defense but has faced two very shaky quarterbacks who have basically gifted them two interception return touchdowns, so we'll see how they do against tougher opponents.
New York Guardians
The Roughnecks look like a defense worth targeting, as their offense will force opponents to throw. They've posted 12 and 7 Fantasy points on DraftKings over the two games, making them the only team other than DC to hit at least seven both games.
The Guardians looked imposing in Week 1, but their offense really made things difficult in Week 2, failing to sustain anything while getting shut out. There's talent on that side of the ball, though.
The Renegades have done a decent job through two weeks considering they've faced Jordan Ta'amu and Josh Johnson.
Tampa Bay Vipers
Los Angeles Wildcats
Tampa has played the same schedule as DC, and has been beaten through the air by both Matt McGloin and Brandon Silvers, which isn't promising. Seattle had a big Week 2 line, but its opposing quarterbacks helped. The Wildcats should maybe be graded on a curve having faced Houston and Dallas, but they've really struggled so far.