Quarterback Phillip “P.J.” Walker showed out in Week 1 for the Houston Roughnecks. The gunslinger was deadly accurate, firing off 23-for-39 for 298 total yards (272 passing) and four touchdowns in the home opener versus the LA Wildcats.
Walker led his posse to a 37-17 victory on Saturday. The entire XFL debuted with a bang, but it was Walker who emerged with the accolades over the weekend as he was named the first ever XFL Star of the Week. Its a star Walker hopes to continue to wear as the season progresses. Walker “Texas Ranger”, as some have dubbed him, was on absolute fire with 4 passing touchdowns and 206 yards in the first 36 minutes of the game.
Walker demonstrated his dual threat ability by adding 26 yards on the ground, but his capability to escape and extend plays was the key to his success. Walker used his legs to keep plays alive the entire game as demonstrated on this deep bomb to wide receiver Sam Mobley.
“I’ll always walk out on the field like I’m the best player on the field.”-P.J. Walker
While watching Walker handle the run and gun style offense, he reminded me of the XFL’s version of Deshaun Watson, and playing in the same city no less. Walker even has a speedy receiver with questionable hands in Sammie Coates. Fun Fact: Coates was on the Houston Texans roster in 2018.
Head coach June Jones hand selected the majority of players to fit in with his scheme and named Walker the starter over Connor Cook just a day before the season opener. Many, including myself, had already pegged Cook the starter for week 1 before the news broke on Friday. Luckily for me, the relatively unknown Walker was still on the fantasy waiver wire at the time.
Jones will air it out in his “run & shoot” offense and clearly trusts Walker’s skillset and former NFL experience. 11 of Walker’s 38 pass attempts traveled at least 20 yards downfield in week 1. That is a roughly 29% deep ball rate and a significantly higher mark than the NFL average. Yes, it’s a one game sample versus an XFL defense and yes Walker was an Indianapolis Colts practice squad player for several years. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of beating out some current starters on the big stage.
With both Jones and Walker willing to chuck the ball all over field, they will undoubtedly test St. Louis on the back end in week 2.
St. Louis BattleHawks QB Jordan Ta’amu had 9 rushes for 77 yds, mostly on design in Week 1 versus a Landry Jones-less Dallas Renegades. The Hawks defense did not allow a touchdown in the contest and they boast the most run heavy offense in the league after a week (191 yards). Ta’amu didn’t have to throw the ball much but still tossed a TD on 209 yards passing. Hawks RB Matt Jones was upgraded to limited on Thursday, but even matching his 21 carry 85 yard performance from week 1 may not be enough to keep pace with the Roughnecks and their trigger-happy signal-caller. Take the over on Ta’amu attempting only 27 passes a game moving forward, high chance that change starts in Houston (50.5 O/U, highest of the week in the XFL) and continues throughout the season as 12 of the top 15 XFL fantasy scorers came from the WR position last week.
I’ll take a sentence here to say Houston’s defense deserves some credit for Walker’s success as they forced 3 turnovers and compiled 5 sacks. On offense Walker shared the love, distributing 4 TDs to 4 different receivers, all of which caught at least 4 targets.
Although i’ts early (only 10 reg. season XFL games), another solid performance will inch Walker closer to the consensus league MVP.
So can Walker wrangle up the energy to match his Week 1 heroics, or was LA just a bad football team? Will Ta’amu and company bulldoze their way to a 2-0 start on the road, or will Walker take the bull by the horns for a second straight week? Football fans should be excited to find out on Sunday in the battle of 1-0 teams as the St. Louis BattleHawks visit the Houston Roughnecks.
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- Miles Peacock is a content writer covering the NFL’s Houston Texans and XFL’s Houston Roughnecks for the Rumboyz.net and Timeskewed.com fantasy sports websites. Follow Miles on Twitter @FF_Peacock.