XFL 2015: Hot Take Time
By: Connor Lenahan
Andy Dalton is the highest scoring player in the XFL currently. Carson Palmer is number two. Besides the fact that it’s clear my red headed brothers are quickly taking over the football world – not too late to get Devonta Freeman some hair dye while we’re at it – this is all the proof you need that we are at a weird time of the season. Not much makes sense right now. Le’Veon Bell has returned to great effect for the Steelers, but he has less points than Lance Dunbar thanks to his two game suspension. Travis Benjamin looked superhuman one game against the Titans and now the rankings make him look better than Julio Jones. Weird things happen, and in this league especially, they happen often.
You know what this sounds like to me? This sounds like a fun time to make some gross overstatements and give out some scorching hot takes for the XFL. Here’s how this will work: I’m going to come up with something weird for each team and then try to defend it to the best of my ability. I may not believe everything I say – I likely will be drinking my own Kool Aid for sport – but this is going to be fun.
Let’s make our way down the standings and drop some truth bombs.
Washington Senators (4-0)
Hot Take: Enjoy first place while you can, because Washington isn’t going to the playoffs.
Let’s start with a tough one to defend. Cary’s Washington Senators squad has capitalized on a number of early successes, namely the emergence of Kendall Wright and Chris Ivory, to take standalone first place at the quarter-season mark. This is great, in theory. After all, Cary technically only needs to go 3-6 the rest of the season to make the playoffs.
Well let’s kick that stove up a few notches. Washington is going to be without Ivory, Eric Decker, and Greg Olsen this week, making their starting roster thinner than a runway model. Going forward there are extreme concerns about depth. The backup running backs for the Senators are Fred Jackson and Reggie Bush. Wright is the team’s best wideout, and he ranks as the 27th best in the league. Chalk 4-0 up to some great luck and weak competition early. Washington doesn’t need much to play on into Week 14, but should anything go wrong then the tower is crumbling down fast.
Baltimore Bears (3-1)
Hot Take: Baltimore is going to be the number one seed in the playoffs, but the championship isn’t going to Charm City.
With Devonta Freeman’s emergence as the baddest man on the planet it’s hard to deny that Baltimore is downright horrifying. Tom Brady, Matt Forte, Devonta, Dion Lewis, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandon Marshall, Rob Gronkowski. The fact that this team has a starting lineup I can name without looking is not a good sign. Worst of all? Brady and Gronk already served their bye. Everyone from here on out will have to face them both. I am not able to in good conscience bet against a team that’s outscoring everyone by the margin they are. However, no number one seed has ever won the championship before. As unstoppable as this year’s Bears team looks, being the best is all well and good until people catch fire in the playoffs – 2007 Patriots, what’s good?
Green Bay Blizzard (3-1)
Hot Take: Tyrod Taylor has to carry this team, and he wasn’t even that good at Virginia Tech. Green Bay is doomed.
This weekend saw Green Bay swing it’s ninth huge trade of the season, this time swapping Ryan Tannehill, Mike Evans, and Dorial Green-Beckham for Andrew Luck. Surprise! Luck has a partially separated shoulder as reported earlier today. Guess what that means ladies and gentlemen? It’s Tyrod Taylor time for the near future. Taylor has, somehow, excelled so far in his starting stint for the Bills and stands as the 8th best QB in the league currently. That’s fine, but swapping for Luck shows that Matt Bruzzano doesn’t want to commit to the Virginia Tech product at the position. I can’t blame him either. Taylor’s performance thus far might continue, or his Cinderella story might end quickly. For Green Bay to survive they need 1. Taylor to keep doing well, 2. Luck to get healthy, or 3. A 10th trade. Don’t rule any of them out, but if they don’t happen, then Bru is going to be in lots of trouble.
Las Vegas High Rollers (3-1)
Hot Take: It’s really going to suck when Julio Jones gets hurt.
Let me emphasize that I don’t want this it happen. Not only do I have Matt Ryan on my team, but I am enamored with watching Julio Jones destroy the league – save for last week when the Texans wouldn’t have stopped me from ripping off some 20-yard runs. But am I the only one waiting for the inevitable? Jones is terrifying me because I’m convinced in the irrational part of my brain that he’s going to have something go wrong. Please don’t let this happen, but I’m afraid it’s going to.
Pittsburgh Spikes (2-2)
Hot Take: Marshawn Lynch is going to finish the year outside the top 15 of all running backs.
Last week at physical therapy I was doing some basic leg workouts for strength improvement. I ended up having my right quad feeling like it was on fire for the next three days. I could barely move without it being in some form of pain. No matter the treatment – Motrin, heat pads, Sprees – I was hurt. I didn’t have to go and face off against some of the strongest men on the country that want to hit you really, really hard. Lynch missed last night’s game with a calf injury, and after years of being a tank, I think this is going to be a rough couple of weeks ahead. Leg injuries are no joke, and Seattle is lucky they’ve won two games (one by luck and maybe/kinda breaking a rule, the other by Chicago’s ineptitude on defense). Lynch is going to be tasked with saving this team and he might not be willing to take that weight. I’m a bit skeptical about 2015 Beast Mode.
Waverly Chargers (2-2)
Hot Take: The Chargers are finishing the season at 10-3.
You want a hot take? How about them apples, Matt Damon? The Chargers are blessed with some absurd luck going forward this season. Here are a couple of players that will not be facing the Chargers due to bye weeks: Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Chris Ivory, Eric Decker, Greg Olsen, Drew Brees, Carlos Hyde, and more. In fantasy all it takes is a couple of things to break right for you. If anyone knows anything about breaking things, it’s me. 10-3 season, LET’S DO THIS.
Oklahoma City Lions (2-2)
Hot Take: Jeremy Maclin will finish the season as the biggest steal of all wide receivers.
The Kansas City Chiefs football association is not a terribly good team this year. However, somehow, Jeremy Maclin has quietly put together two straight games where he has torched teams. Did you know he’s averaging 292 points a game over his last two? Did you know Alex Smith is just throwing it in Maclin’s general direction and hoping that he will do good things with it – to much success? Much has been made about big names like Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, and Antonio Brown, and they likely will do better than Maclin. However, getting the 12th best wideout in the end of the fifth round is no joke. He’s good again.
Seattle Rage (2-2)
Hot Take: Ben Roethlisberger returns this week and plays the rest of the season before it’s revealed he’s been playing on a torn ACL all year.
This one is easy, look at the hit that the Rams laid on Roethlisberger and tell me honestly that he didn’t tear something in his knee. He had to have. Big Ben is the toughest dude in the league almost without question, so I don’t see him staying down for long, even if medically he should have.
Chicago Hitmen (2-2)
Hot Take: Amari Cooper is going to finish the season ahead of Odell Beckham Jr. in points.
This one comes from an eye test. Beckham Jr. finally has the attention of the best corners in the game. People finally recognize how good he is. Not only that, but Eli Manning has been sharing the ball much more this season, a trend that figures to increase with the return of Victor Cruz. Amari Cooper, meanwhile, is the only hope for Oakland. He’s getting the ball on damn near every play. Since Derek Carr is suddenly looking like the QB the Raiders prayed he would be I figure Cooper is going to have a lot of opportunities to shine.
New York Titans (2-2)
Hot Take: The Titans find themselves in a low seed in the playoffs and Aaron Rodgers carries them into the Final Four, and maybe farther.
Do not bet against Aaron Rodgers. Don’t. Don’t do it. This guy is unstoppable. Jordy Nelson tears his ACL and Rodgers still finds a way to obliterate defenses like it’s nothing. The Titans will not have the easiest road into the playoffs, but I think they can hang on for somewhere between the 6-8 seeds. If they do, once again, don’t bet against Aaron Rodgers. He’s going to be the doom for someone come playoff time if given the chance.
Philadelphia Panthers (1-3)
Hot Take: Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the Panthers come back from 1-5 to make the 8th seed of the playoffs.
Here’s how I get there. The Panthers drop to 1-4 this week against the Baltimore Bears unless something crazy happens. Then in week 6 they have to deal with a returning Martavis Bryant and the dangerous Spikes. After that the Panthers have a fairly standard schedule, but I can’t help but think the talent on the team will help them out a lot. Eddie Lacy, Tyler Lockett (who I think is going to be huge the next few years), Randall Cobb, and Demaryius Thomas are all extremely good. All Sam Bradford and/or Joe Flacco have to do is not suck. Halfway decent, top 20 player play will work. The Panthers are going to be interesting, maybe.
Kansas City Killers (1-3)
Hot Take: The playoffs aren’t likely, but upon his return no player in football will do better than Dez Bryant.
Dez Bryant strikes me as reasonably insane. He has that competitive gene that comes out when he decides to remind everyone in the league that no wideout, and really position player for that matter, is quite as physically terrifying as him. Dez is going to wreck some defenders when he gets off the bench. It’s going to be scary, and amazing television. Get your popcorn ready, he’s going on a tear.
New Orleans Tigers (1-3)
Hot Take: Like Drake, Mr. Bruzzano is going back-to-back.
Not. A. Fan. Of. This. Team. At. All. Unless something big changes, I think you’ll be seeing the Tigers picking first again in 2016.
Denver Blaze (0-4)
Hot Take: LeSean McCoy is going to end the year backing up Karlos Williams.
Injuries and playing in the absolute wrong scheme have me betting against all things Shady McCoy this season. Sorry Denver, but this doesn’t look too good.
Week 5 Matchups:
Waverly Chargers vs. Washington Senators
Seattle Rage vs. Pittsburgh Spikes
Philadelphia Panthers vs. Baltimore Bears
Denver Blaze vs. Kansas City Killers
Chicago Hitmen vs. New York Titans
Green Bay Blizzard vs. Oklahoma City Lions
New Orleans Tigers vs. Las Vegas High Rollers