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What Tampa Bay Vipers Week 1 snap count tells us about the depth chart

We have our baseline of information for assessing the XFL. Week 1 is a wrap and we can consider snap counts and performances to prepare for Week 2.

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Aaron Murray of the Tampa Bay Vipers walks to the line of scrimmage during the second half of their XFL game against the NY Guardians at MetLife Stadium on February 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The NY Guardians won, 23-3. Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Vipers were probably the biggest disappointment of Week 1. Their quarterback, Aaron Murray, completed just 47 percent of his passes and was picked off twice while scoring no touchdowns. The passing offense wasn’t awful, as Dan Williams led all receivers in Week 1 with 123 receiving yards while the starting running back, DeVeon Smith averaged 4.9 yards per carry on his 79 rushing yards, but Murray hurt their scoring chances as they managed just one field goal.

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 Tampa Bay’s pregame depth chart with their snap count to figure out what to consider for Week 2.


The initial depth chart was accurate for the offensive starters, as QB Aaron Murray, RB De’Veon Smith, WRs Dan Williams, Jalen Tolliver, Reece Horn and TE Nick Truesdell all led their positions in snaps. Only four wide receivers saw snaps in total, with Tanner McEvoy being the fourth with just two snaps. That doesn’t bode well for Seantavius Jones, who didn’t see the field.

Williams led the way in targets, receptions and yards while Horn and Tolliver had similar games, catching three passes each. But there were drops, as Williams had two, and Horn had one. That’s not helpful to a quarterback who was not playing well as it was.

In a Marc Trestman offense you can bank on running backs getting work in the passing game, but it looks like the Vipers might not have the back Trestman wants, as running back Jacques Patrick saw three targets to Smith’s one, and Patrick dropped one and caught one of the three for negative one yard. Patrick was the only other running back to see work, as Smith had 47 snaps and and 17 touches to Patrick’s nine touches.

Quinton Flowers is listed as the third-string quarterback on the depth chart but also as a running back on DraftKings. He saw five snaps at quarterback and 21 at running back, throwing for 37 yards on one completion and rushing five times for 34 yards, which was the best yards per carry on the team. His usage could increase after Murray’s poor start to the season, so he’s worth keeping an eye on in fantasy.


The Vipers starting defensive end Jason Neil didn’t play and was replaced by Bobby Richardson, who was second in defensive snaps at 48. The defensive line also rotated Deiontrez Mount and Ricky Walker. Shelton Lewis was listed as a starting cornerback but played just 17 snaps while Tarvarus McFadden was listed as a backup and saw 32 snaps.

Overall, the team could not get to the quarterback, recording no sacks and two QB hits. Defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock graded out as the top defensive player for Tampa Bay per PFF, as he had one QB hit and three hurries while also making two stops. It wasn’t a good day for the defense as a whole though, which could explain some of the rotating starters versus backups.