XFL 2015: Where Do We Stand After Week 3
By: Connor Lenahan
It’s not every week that a team loses two quarterbacks to injury, trades for a third, and that saving grace third stringer ends up leading the league in scoring. The story of the third week in the XFL has to be Las Vegas shutting up every doubter possible with the 2190 point outing this past Sunday. It’s beyond fair to say no one saw this coming. Thanks to Andy Dalton miraculously catching fire for 635 points and AJ Green putting up an unheard of 580 points on ten catches for 227 yards – not a typo – the Romo-less future in the City of Sin suddenly isn’t so desolate.
With a league that only plays 13 regular season games it’s hard to make that clear of a designation after just three games. After all, everything we thought we knew about teams can change in one tackle – First Romo, now Roethlisberger. But even with that in mind, we can still see where teams stand heading forward into the season proper.
Las Vegas High Rollers (2-1)
Salvation, thy name is Dalton. Much was made (by me) last week of Las Vegas losing not only Tony Romo to his broken collarbone but Jay Cutler to hamstring issues. Las Vegas was able to swing a deal sending LeGarrette Blount to Chicago for Andy Dalton in a trade that was surprisingly mutually beneficial. Dalton will have to be the answer going forward for the High Rollers, that is, aside from the absolutely unbelievable wideout combo of AJ Green and Julio Jones, both of which are in the top 6 for receivers. Dalton is the second QB in the league, only trailing Tom Brady, and that likely won’t last – see: literally every other season of his and the defenses he’s played thus far. But the Jones & Green show? That’s got some real magic to it. Oh, and he casually has Jamaal Charles too. Damn it all.
Baltimore Bears (2-1)
Despite Laura LaBrecque notching her first career loss this week, the Bears still came away from this week a winner. Week three marked the third straight game in which the Baltimore squad logged over 1500 points. Although the win-loss record is no longer in first place, that’s only due to having the unfortunate luck of being on the receiving end of Dalton & Green both. Baltimore was the second highest scoring team and would have cracked 2000 had Devonta Freeman – a similar where-the-hell-did-this-come-from player – started over Matt Jones. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski sit this week for their bye, but yet another shellacking of a team leaves the XFL proxy to the Patriots in great shape going forward.
New York Titans (2-1)
I think Chase is just as confused as anyone else as to how he’s 2-1 right now. Make no mistake, Aaron Rodgers is quietly (thanks to Brady dominating the conversation so far) submitting a really strong case for baddest man in the league. 615 points last night on 5TDs is no laughing matter. When you remember his best wideout, Jordy Nelson, isn’t playing? Yikes. Admittedly there are some huge question marks for the Titans for the foreseeable future – Frank Gore, Brandin Cooks, Victor Cruz’s health, etc. – but that may not be hugely important. This goes against a lot of my fantasy core beliefs, but if they can even do moderately well, Rodgers alone may be able to swing this team from 5-8 to 8-5. That’s top five pick to playoffs. New York, you have my attention.
Philadelphia Panthers (1-2)
This team employs two quarterbacks, and speaking strictly statistically, is starting the wrong one. Jameis Winston is the 23rd QB in fantasy so far, while Sam Bradford is 25th. This does not speak well to the Sam Bradford Experiment in Philly, real and fantasy. Admittedly this team did get an unlucky break with Eddie Lacy’s ankle tweak, which caused a James Starks start that shouldn’t have happened. This team really isn’t all that bad aside from the QBs – Matt Pettinato is way closer to being 3-0 than you might imagine. Let me be clear, this team will likely struggle until it can get a starting-caliber QB, but it’s far from panic time. It might be time to send out some feelers.
Green Bay Blizzard (3-0)
The most interesting running back story of the rest of the season will either be Arian Foster or DeMarco Murray for vastly different reasons. Foster is going to try and torch the league while recovering from an injury that dropped his draft value like a watermelon from a skyscraper. DeMarco is trying to even vaguely justify going before Le’Veon Bell as the 15th overall pick. Matt Bruzzano, ever the maverick owner, is convinced Murray will be back to 2014 soon enough. What’s good for him is that it’s not life or death if he is. Adrian Peterson and Latavius Murray are holding down the fort just fine at the moment. But more interesting to the league on the whole? Will Bru be crazy enough to unleash Tyrod Taylor soon? Taylor, who wasn’t even that good at Virginia Tech, has been a revelation for the Bills. Purely for entertainment alone, I want to root for a team sending out Taylor, AP, and Calvin Johnson each week. Make this happen Bru.
Kansas City Killers (0-3)
If you haven’t read some of the articles about Peyton Manning recently – including how he can’t entire his shoes because he doesn’t have feeling in his fingertips, not a joke – then go do a quick study and come back. I’m genuinely frightened for Peyton’s health this season and however many more he decides to play. I’m watching with held breath at every hit he takes, hoping he’s fine. Then, of course, he goes and drops 500 points on Sunday night. Kansas City does not and will never make sense.
Seattle Rage (2-1)
This Sunday was all the proof you need that Ben Roethlisberger is a damn cyborg. How in the world he didn’t tear a knee ligament, let alone multiple, when he was rolled up on by a Rams defensive end is beyond me. The bad news for Seattle is it will have to turn the team over to Alex Smith, who isn’t completely hopeless, for the foreseeable future while Ben recovers. The good news is that the team is getting back DeSean Jackson for this week and hopefully Tevin Coleman ASAP. Seattle is one of the more impressive teams in the league when you account for the fact it’s gotten downright demolished by injuries thus far. That doesn’t account for CJ Anderson going entirely missing, but that certainly strengthens the case that Seattle is able to withstand injury/horrid play for wins. They are another interesting team to watch unfold. If they’re floating above .500 and healthy by midseason I’d be very interested to see what happens.
New Orleans Tigers (1-2)
Andrew Luck, the 2014 XFL MVP, went #1 overall in this year’s draft. Let’s play a fun game and list every QB that has scored more points than him this season.
Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Blake Bortles, Peyton Manning, Matt Stafford, Russell Wilson. In that order (!!!).
This season makes beyond no sense, ladies and gentlemen.
Washington Senators (3-0)
Now we come to by far the most surprising team of the 2015 XFL season, Washington. Cary almost has no bench. No, seriously, he has yet to drop Nick Toon who was cut by the Saints in August, Reggie Bush hasn’t played in weeks, and his core Jets players (Chris Ivory and Eric Decker) both got hurt in week 2. Yet Cary is in second place. You know what, much like Green Bay, I think it’s time for a change at QB. This pains me to say as a Seahawks fan and Oregon opponent, but Cary should be sending Mariota out starting Week 5 (the Titans are also on bye week 4). With Marshawn Lynch injured and the Seahawks visibly struggling, Cary really has nothing to lose being three games up from .500 by playing the reigning Heisman winner, especially when he’s outscoring Wilson by a considerable amount. Now if only he could get a bench.
Oklahoma City Lions (1-2)
Sorry Andrew, but Colin Kaepernick’s day on Sunday is by far the funniest of the season. 67 yards passing with 4 (repeat: four) interceptions for a whopping 60 points. This of course coming off the heels of a 635 point game in week two. Once again, this season makes no sense. But on the whole the reigning champion Lions need to get healthy faster than anyone else. Drew Brees and Andre Ellington need to be playing for the Lions to win. But credit is due to veterans Steve Smith Sr. and Jeremy Maclin almost winning the game against Washington by themselves – 815 points combined.
Denver Blaze (0-3)
The usual suspects are back again. I’ll keep this short as to not pile on, but I’m getting relatively afraid of when this backfield is going to start performing. LeSean McCoy is the 20th RB and Jeremy Hill the 35th. These two were drafted very high and were supposed to quite literally carry the team. Given the massive injury problems Denver has on it’s bench the same thing is true today as it has been since week one: #SaveUsArianFoster
Chicago Hitmen (2-1)
Now that I have played – and lost – to Chicago I can finally admit what I didn’t want to last week. That would be that Odell Beckham Jr and Amari Cooper is probably going to be the most viscerally entertaining wide out duo in a long, long time. Cooper hasn’t just arrived, he’s exploded. We knew Beckham Jr. was great, but Cooper was a relative question mark. Now we know he’s as good as we thought he was coming out of Alabama. This is a team cater-made for NFL RedZone.
Pittsburgh Spikes (1-2)
I am a huge believer that Pittsburgh just happened to pull the short straw the past two weeks. The first of the two losses came to the Baltimore Bears, who led the league in scoring that week. The second came to a suddenly, confusingly feisty Chargers team that was the fourth highest scoring team in the league. Marshawn Lynch’s health certainly will impact this team, but I refuse to believe a team with Antonio Brown, TY Hilton, Eli Manning, and Martavis Bryant (who is still suspended and will return week 5) isn’t going to prosper. Any other team week two and Pittsburgh is 2-1. Small sample size is the only thing bad for the Steel City right now.
Waverly Chargers (1-2)
Honestly I have no idea how I won last week. Getting back Le’Veon Bell was an early Christmas gift, and having the Keenan Allen-Mike Evans swap work out well for both sides certainly didn’t hurt either. I’m still waiting for this to all unravel, but a string of good luck could make Waverly an interesting squad over the next few weeks and beyond. Fingers crossed.
Week 4 Matchups
Seattle Rage vs. Waverly Chargers
Las Vegas High Rollers vs. Philadelphia Panthers
Denver Blaze vs. Baltimore Bears
New York Titans vs. Washington Senators
New Orleans Tigers vs. Kansas City Killers
Green Bay Blizzard vs. Pittsburgh Spikes
Oklahoma City Lions vs. Chicago Hitmen