We’re primed for a big Week 5 in the XFL that begins Thursday night with a Roughnecks-Sea Dragons showdown and also sees the undefeated Defenders head into what should be another rowdy crowd at The Dome in St. Louis to face the Battlehawks.
As customary, we’ll try to hone in on what could be considered some of the tougher Start/Sit decisions for the coming slate, although with the XFL’s abbreviated player pool, we’ll inevitably focus on what might be considered an obvious play from time to time, particularly at quarterback.
Ahead of what should be an exciting four games, here are XFL News Hub’s Start/Sit recommendations for your Week 5 season-long fantasy contests!
Brandon Silvers, HOU at SEA
Silvers has now tossed three touchdown passes in two straight games and has thrown for multiple scores in every contest thus far. He hasn’t cracked the 300-yard mark yet, but that could well be coming Thursday night against a Sea Dragons team that runs a very reasonable facsimile of Houston’s attack.
Silvers could be putting the ball up even more than usual and has clearly built plenty of chemistry with a talented and explosive group of wideouts. The Sea Dragons defense proved vulnerable to varying degree over the first three games of the season before capitalizing on a weak Brahmas attack in Week 4, so Silvers could be primed for a season-best performance against a unit that has the league’s second-fewest sacks (8) and fewest interceptions (1) through four weeks.
A.J. McCarron, STL vs. DC
McCarron is clearly gaining comfort in the Battlehawks offense with each passing week, with his prior NFL experience clearly paying off in that regard. The one-time Cincinnati Bengal has gone from passing for under 200 yards in the first two games to generating a combined 476 yards and six touchdowns over the next pair of contests.
The Defenders have been the league’s second-best defense behind the Roughnecks, but that doesn’t mean opposing passers haven’t compiled some numbers against them. The most recent example came in Week 4 when Luis Perez took over for an ineffective Brett Hundley – who’d actually thrown for 50 yards on four completions before being pulled – and racked up 283 yards and two touchdowns.
Jack Coan, SAN vs. ARL
Coan bounced back a bit on the stat sheet in Week 4 after a nightmarish Week 3 in which he threw for only 64 yards. However, the Notre Dame alum still failed to get his Brahmas into the end zone and is receiving increasing scrutiny due to the team’s struggles. Considering there’s a player with some NFL preseason experience in Reid Sinnett behind him and San Antonio is desperate for a win, there’s no guarantee Coan plays a full game against a tough Renegades defense.
John Lovett, VGS vs. ORL
Lovett isn’t the most lock-and-load selection of the week by any stretch, but there’s a case to be made for his inclusion in your lineup if one puts a few puzzle pieces together. To begin with, Lovett has logged 12 carries over the last two games, with his five- and seven-tote tallies serving as his highest of the season. He also showed off some big-play ability with a 50-yard touchdown reception in the former contest, and perhaps just as important, he logged two more carries than backfield mate Rod Smith in Week 4.
Additionally, the 0-4 Vipers haven’t made any secret they’re desperate for more offense, and the fact Lovett technically served as the lead back in the first game since offensive coordinator Duane Taylor was let go may be a sign he’s the preferred option for the time being. The matchup against the Guardians doesn’t hurt his prospects, either, as the Vipers are notably heavy favorites, which could certainly be harbinger of a busy night for the ground attack.
Jah-Maine Martin, ORL at VGS
We’ll give Martin a bit of a pass for the last two weeks, as he hasn’t had much opportunity to showcase his bruising running style that led to 87 yards on 19 carries over the first two games. Martin was first stonewalled by a tough Renegades defense to the tune of nine yards on seven carries in Week 3, and he then gained five yards per rush over just four carries in Week 4.
This could be the week everything finally comes together for Martin, considering that despite the spread, game script may not get in the way against the only other winless team in the league, the Vipers. Vegas has also been highly susceptible to the run, surrendering an XFL-high 157 rushing yards per contest. Considering Martin isn’t without pass-catching ability as well, he makes for a good sleeper Start in Week 5.
Jacques Patrick, SAN vs. ARL
Patrick saw a season-low two carries in Week 4 and is averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt over four games overall. Lead back Kalen Ballage isn’t doing much better, but San Antonio’s running game as a whole appears to largely be a victim of poor blocking up front. Factor in Patrick’s clear No. 2 role to this point, and the FSU product seems like a logical choice to keep on the bench this week.
Chris Blair, DC at STL
Blair has rather quietly upped his profile in DC’s offense over the last two games, posting a combined 6-146-1 line on six targets in that span. The Alcorn State product had also drawn five targets back in Week 2, and with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu seemingly improving each week after a rough start, Blair makes for a viable Start option in Week 5.
The Battlehawks have been generally tough against the pass, but Blair has legitimate big-play upside that he’s demonstrated with 38- and 58-yard receptions in the last two weeks, as well as the 19.1 and 21.2 yards per grab he was able to muster in two of his college seasons. It’s also worth noting St. Louis has recorded a league-low five sacks, meaning there could be plenty of opportunity for downfield routes the likes of which Blair is adept in to develop.
Darrius Shepherd, STL vs. DC
Shepherd’s position mate Hakeem Butler was profiled as a Start option last week and delivered a rewarding 5-52-1 line, but it was Shepherd who actually stole the show. The one-time Green Bay Packer led the way with eight receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown on eight targets.
That season-best showing followed a solid 5-51 line on eight targets in Week 3, further evidence the chemistry between Shepherd and McCarron is running hot. Further brightening Shepherd’s outlook in Week 5 is the fact that while the Defenders have allowed a league-low 67.2 rushing yards per game, they’ve given up an XFL-high 232.2 passing yards per contest.
ALSO CONSIDER: Lance Lenoir, ORL at VGS
Jordan Smallwood, ARL at SAN
Smallwood arrived in the XFL having posted a promising 18-236-1 line over five games with XFL 2.0’s Los Angeles Wildcats, but he hasn’t carried over any of that momentum into the league’s latest iteration. Smallwood did open the season with a 22-yard catch, but he’s been a mostly forgotten man since then in a Renegades passing attack that’s left much to be desired. Consequently, he doesn’t really have a case for a starting spot in your fantasy lineup this week.
Alize Mack, SAN at SEA
Tight ends have yet to make anywhere near the same amount of impact as running backs or receivers in the XFL fantasy landscape, so we’ll simply roll with what appear to be the two safest options at the position through four weeks.
We start with Mack, who hasn’t recorded less than three receptions or four targets in any game thus far. The Brahmas passing game is struggling over the last two weeks in particular, but the fact Mack was able to still muster six receptions in that span further corroborates his importance to the offense.
Sal Canella, ARL at SAN
Canella is the other every-week fantasy starter at tight end for the time being. Last spring’s USFL star has proven his success was no fluke by producing a 22-181 line on 28 targets.
Cannella drew a season-high nine targets in Week 4 and finished with his second-highest receptions (six) and receiving yardage (40) totals of the season, and he remains the most secure target by far for whoever is under center for Arlington.
Jake Sutherland, STL vs. DC
Sutherland was a speculative Start option last week, and although he recorded a two-point conversion pass, he was held without any stats otherwise. The Morehead State product has only one reception for 23 yards in the last three weeks, and with the Battlehawks receivers and running backs all seemingly more appealing targets in the passing game, he looks like a candidate for a benching this week.
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