By: Frank Astrab
The XFL was cool this weekend. I loved the fresh rules but more importantly the faster pace and more open style. There’s also serious talent in the league and potential stars. As the XFL grows we’re gonna bring you all the content that comes with it, it’s more football after all! Starting off with a preview of the Battle-Hawks/Guardians game coming up, i’ll take you through the teams, the matchups, some fantasy implications and also some betting discussion.
Meet The Teams
Both the Roughnecks and Battle-Hawks had great starts to their inaugural campaigns. St. Louis, whose market had the highest television ratings in Week 1 according to Neilsen, scored a 15-9, defensive minded victory over the Dallas Renegades. As for Houston, they easily handled the LA Wildcats, who came into opening week with highest odds to win the XFL title at 5-2, 37-17. The Roughnecks, led by head coach and offensive guru June Jones, took a more fast paced approach on Sunday as P.J Walker scored four touchdowns. The former Temple quarterback was fairly accurate in his debut, with explosiveness, athleticism and ability to push the ball down the field. Circling back to the Battle-Hawks, they had 192 yards rushing — most among the XFL’s eight teams on opening weekend on heavy volume. 41 carries were shared between running back Matt Jones (21 carries, 85 yards) and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu (8 carries, 78 yards).
Breakin’ It Down
Whilst on the outside looking in it seems these teams have pretty different styles, both led by great offensive minds, June Jones for the Roughnecks, who has a history of power man schemes with 50/50 run and pass splits, using tight ends for blocking, receiver motion in the Run N’ Shoot offense and Chuck Long in St. Louis, who doesn’t have a crazy identity as a play caller other than create space on the ground and hit short, inside and outside routes off of play-action, as well as capitalize on Ta’amu’s speed and quickness. Again, these approaches on offense have eerie parallels, as well as both teams relying on technical, good tackling and zone coverage on defense, but the differences rely in the quarterback play and pace. Last Sunday, versus the Renegades Jordan Ta’amu was conservative, efficiently placing his throws on the seams and numbers with touch where as P.J Walker was similarly accurate against the Wildcats but more open with his passes, displaying arm strength. Expect the Battle-Hawks to display alot of three receiver sets and employ slant routes to move the ball the down the field quick and effective. They’ll remain run-heavy and conservative to maintain a tempo that’s comfortable. If the Roughnecks get a chance to open the game up, speeding up the pace on offense and adhering to the same ideals on defense, playing aggressive and fast looking for turnovers, Jordan Ta’amu is more than capable of settling in and slinging it, as well as create space with his legs and move outside the pocket (this may be unlikely due to the Roughnecks linebackers playing up).
Fantasy N’ Bettin’
St. Louis is currently the betting underdog on the road going into this weekend (+8 on a -110 spread) and placed +250 on the Money line. The Over/Under at the time is 50.5. I expect the over to be covered as well as Houston to cover the spread. Moving to fantasy football, everyone’s favorite past-time, P.J Walker should be able to find holes in the stout Battle-Hawks defense and break them down, building on his 272 yards in the air last Sunday, leading the XFL in passing yards and touchdowns. He’s one of my favorite starts early this season as well as the other quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu, who will throw in mobility and methodical play to catch up to the Roughnecks’ pace. As for skill players, dynamic hybrid Nick Holley can catch the ball in space and attain yards after catch, watch out for him to get return on value.
St. Louis Battle-Hawks vs. Houston Roughnecks In-Depth Preview!Tweet