The DC Defenders won their XFL season opener on Saturday, beating the Seattle Dragons 31-19. A pick six and a big goal line stop were critical to the win, and DC got a strong effort from quarterback Cardale Jones. The multi-dimensional threat threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for another 28 yards.
Earlier in the week, the eight XFL teams released their Week 1 depth charts. In the NFL, the PR departments emphasize the depth charts are unofficial and don’t necessarily reflect what Sunday will show us. It’s not a big deal most of the time because we have a lot of history on these players and teams.
In the XFL, we have no such history. These teams were thrown together over the past two months, and so the depth chart is all we have to work with in assessing who is worthwhile in daily fantasy football and who will impact the point spread.
Now that Week 1 is a wrap, we can start to assess where the depth charts were accurate. Pro Football Focus has tracked the snap counts for the XFL, so we have a good starting point. We can compare DC’s pregame depth chart with their snap count to figure out what to consider for Week 2.
The team started Cole Boozer at right tackle after listing Malcolm Bunche as the starter. Bunche started at right guard and Rishard Cook was moved over to left guard in place of Dorian Johnson.
At running back, Jhurrel Pressley started as expected, but Donnel Pumphrey was plenty active, getting 26 snaps to Pressley’s 36 snaps. Pressley rushed 12 times for 31 yards while Pumphrey had four rushes for five yards.
The big question is at wide receiver. DeAndre Thompkins did not play due to a foot injury. The Defenders started Malachi Dupre and Eli Rogers, and Rashad Ross was the third receiver. Simmie Cobbs ended up with 17 snaps and caught one pass for 14 yards.
The big difference was in the secondary, where the Defenders sent out Rahim Moore opposite Matt Elam as their starting safeties. Moore had an interception and a pass deflection.
We also saw Jonathan Massaquoi moving ahead of Antwione Williams at linebacker. The depth chart provided for a 3-4 look, but in reality DC rotated between three and four-man fronts all day long.