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Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, particularly in spring football, resulting in a constant cycle of evaluating and ultimately adjusting our priors in order to keep up with and stay ahead of an ever-changing landscape. However, as we enter the inaugural season of yet another new spring football league, there is plenty of carryover from past iterations, including players and coaching staffs we covered extensively in both the USFL and XFL before it. This gives us an opportunity to revisit each of the surviving eight teams and set the stage from a fantasy perspective for Week 1 kickoff on March 30.

Unlikely 2023 XFL champions, the Arlington Renegades went just 4-6 during the regular season, sneaking into the playoffs thanks in part to a weak South division. They’d go on to beat the Houston Roughnecks before toppling the D.C. Defenders 35-26 to be crowned champs. The offense returns many of the pieces from the 2023 unit and should boast plenty of Week 1 continuity.

HC Bob Stoops is back for a second straight season and will embark on his third overall year with the Renegades organization after he led the XFL 2.0’s Dallas Renegades in 2020. In 2023, Stoops and OC Chuck Long maintained a fairly balanced play-calling approach, ranking fifth out of eight XFL teams in situation-neutral pass rate (56.2%) and seventh in overall pass rate (60.4%) last season. That was a slightly more run-centric approach than Stoops deployed in 2020 with Air Raid godfather Hal Mumme installed as offensive coordinator, where his Renegades dropped back at a blistering 69.6% clip. With his 2023 offensive nucleus intact, I’m expecting play-calling tendencies to mirror their XFL averages this season.

The key component of that offensive nucleus is starting QB Luis Perez, who was acquired midseason via trade with the now-dissolved Vegas Vipers. Perez would take over as the team’s QB1 in Week 8, closing out the season with a five-week stretch where he completed 67.6% of his passes for 7.2 YPA with just a 1:2 TD:INT ratio. Through his last two seasons of spring action, Perez has completed a healthy 68.7% of his passes on 7.1 YPA and a 2:1 TD:INT ratio and should have a long leash as the XFL’s Championship Game MVP. Perez is a traditional pocket passer, unlikely to offer fantasy upside with his legs. Over the last two seasons, he’s posted 25/50/1 on the ground, including a 2022 USFL season where his 12 logged rushing attempts netted -11 yards. Perez posted a 10.1-yard aDOT in his final five games, showing an ability to distribute the ball to all areas of the field, targeting his primary slot receivers at a 23.8% clip, his TEs at a 20.8% rate, and his perimeter receivers another 55.4% of the time.

While Arlington’s pass-catching corps returns 78.5% of their 2023 target share and 82.9% of their Air Yards, it isn’t immediately clear which receivers can be penciled in as top target earners, let alone Week 1 starters, particularly as training camp rosters have yet to be trimmed to their 50-man requirement. What we can expect is plenty of 11 personnel usage with TE Sal Cannella as the primary pass-catching threat. Cannella has been a consistent target earner in all forms of spring football, drawing an 18.3% target share and 25.1% Air Yards share in his first stint with the New Orleans Breakers before managing a 19.4% target share and 21.3% Air Yards share with the Renegades last season. Capable of playing in the slot — as he did for 46.5% of his 2023 routes — out wide, and in-line, he should once again be utilized in Arlington’s aerial attack.

As for the remainder of the Renegades’ pass-catching corps, there are a lot of familiar faces from last season’s championship squad but not a lot of individual production. Tyler Vaughns brings with him the next-highest returning target share from 2023 (16.5%), as he played primarily on the perimeter, running 96.3% of his routes outside. Having run a route on a position-high 54.0% of 2023 dropbacks, there’s no guarantee Vaughns, or any single Arlington receiver, will be utilized as a full-time player if Stoops and Co. are inclined to a rotational approach as they were last season. Lujuan Winningham and JaVonta Payton fit that profile as well, running a route on 46.6% and 42.5% of dropbacks, respectively, most of which came on the perimeter. Winningham edged Payton in TPRR (17.3% to 14.8%) and aDOT (14.3 to 13.2), as both were used as the team’s downfield threats. The biggest loss in the receiving room comes in the form of de facto slot man Brandon Arconado, who ran a route on 43.7% of dropbacks, 97.6% of which came from the slot. With Caleb Vander Esch returning this season, he should be expected to get the first crack at those opportunities given his own slot usage (68.9%).

While the team retained a significant portion of their pass-catching production, some reinforcements are on the way via offseason acquisitions. The team made just one WR selection during Phase 2 of the dispersal draft, selecting former Houston Roughnecks deep threat Deontay Burnett with their second pick in January. Burnett should add some competition for targets on the perimeter, where he ran 98.9% of his routes last season, earning an 18.3% target share on a healthy 14.2-yard aDOT. Arlington used their second-round selection in Phase 3 of the UFL dispersal draft to select another receiver in slot specialist Calvin Jackson, who had signed with the Seattle Seadragons before the team dissolved. He’ll provide competition for slot opportunities with Vander Esch. The team currently employs eleven receivers, which will almost certainly be trimmed down by final cuts on March 23.

Spring football workhorses were already tough to come by when the talent pool was dispersed amongst 16 possible teams. With talent more concentrated across the eight remaining teams, I suspect RBBC will be an overarching theme this season, with a few exceptions of course. Down the stretch last season in Weeks 6-9 with incumbents De’Veon Smith and Leddie Brown both healthy, the duo managed a near-perfect 50/50 split with Smith leading in snaps (51.3% to 49.6%) and designed rushing share (48.9% to 37.1%) while Brown served as the go-to pass catcher, running a route on 40.5% of dropbacks to Smith’s 30.0%. Already trending toward a split backfield, Arlington made matters worse for fantasy players in the offseason, using two dispersal draft picks on former XFL starting RBs Devin Darrington and Morgan Ellison. Darrington and Ellison handled 32.2% and 27.9% of their team’s designed rushing share last season, respectively, though neither profile as prolific pass catchers, likely leaving that role mostly to Brown. If the team chooses to carry four RBs into the regular season, it’s possible — likely, even — that all four earn touches.