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There may not be a single UFL team that experienced more roster and coaching staff turnover from the previous year than the San Antonio Brahmas, who will be under the guidance of former Houston Roughnecks HC Wade Phillips in 2024. Phillips brings with him the offensive nucleus we saw during his one-year stint in Houston, headlined by OC A.J. Smith and assistants Andre Gurode (OL), Payton Pardee (WR), and Marvin Williams (Offensive Quality Control). Though this coaching staff has an uphill battle, trying to implement an offense with a new roster with just a one-month training camp, the continuity within the coaching staff should help expedite the process.

Smith orchestrated the XFL’s second-most pass-happy offense in 2023, dropping back at a 68.8% situation-neutral clip while almost exclusively using 4-WR sets with two receivers locked into perimeter roles and a rotating cast of slot receivers who played strictly on the inside. In fact, Houston’s 2023 offense had five receivers post at least a 53.3% snap share, while lone TE Garrett Owens ran a route on just 8.1% of dropbacks. A disciple of Hal Mumme’s Air Raid system who also spent time coaching alongside pass-first play-callers in June Jones and Noel Mazzone, Smith should once again be expected to contend for the league lead in situation-neutral pass rate, utilizing a high-percentage, low-aDOT game plan designed to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.

Using their first overall selection in Phase 3 of the dispersal draft on former Orlando Guardians QB Quinten Dormady, we’re anticipating San Antonio will deploy him as the team’s Week 1 starter. Dormady showed well in four starts with the Guardians last season, posting a 68.3% completion rate, 7.4 yards per attempt, and a 2:1 TD:INT ratio. Not known as a runner during his collegiate career, Dormady did show at least a willingness to use his legs in the XFL, posting a 25/97/4 rushing line last season. Not a foregone conclusion that Dormady will open as the Day 1 starter, or remain there if he does, the Brahmas also signed Chase Garbers and Tom Flacco in January. Garbers had a productive collegiate career at Cal, where he posted a 62.4% completion rate, 6.9 YPA, and a 2:1 TD:INT ratio before signing with the Raiders as a 2022 UDFA. In a limited six-game NFL preseason sample, Garbers completed 62.7% of his passes for 6.0 YPA.

Despite Smith’s blistering pass rate and utilization of 4-WR sets, no individual Roughnecks receiver had overwhelming fantasy success last season, something I firmly expect to change with the Brahmas in 2024. Before suffering a season-ending injury, Jontre Kirklin was the lone Houston receiver finding consistent fantasy success in Smith’s offense last season, running a route on 84.0% of dropbacks, averaging an 18.8% target share on a healthy 14.8-yard aDOT. During a four-game stretch to start the season, he averaged 16.0 DraftKings points per game and looked like a true deep threat on the perimeter. Signed by San Antonio in January, I expect him to be one of the team’s primary perimeter receivers in Week 1. With one of their two Phase 2 selections that wasn’t formerly a member of the Houston Roughnecks, San Antonio selected former Orlando Guardians TE Cody Latimer, reuniting him with his Guardians QB, likely making him one of the team’s top overall targets. Officially listed as a TE, Latimer is capable of playing anywhere, just as he did last season, running 80.5% of his routes from the slot, earning a 26.7% TPRR rate to go along with an impressive 2.47 YPRR on a 7.4-yard aDOT. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound Latimer isn’t a traditional slot receiver and thus may move to the perimeter in Smith’s offense, but regardless of where he ultimately lines up, he should be on the field plenty.

Slot receivers play an important role in Smith’s offense and are oft-targeted as we saw in Houston, with receivers who ran at least 54.6% of their routes inside accounting for 55% of the team’s total targets. Former Buffalo Bills sixth-round pick Marquez Stevenson was signed in January and could have an early track at an every-down role as one of the team’s slot receivers. In college, Stevenson ran 88.6% of his routes inside, posting a 147/2,269/22 receiving line in 32 games. Landen Akers returns to the Brahmas after earning a team-high 38 targets in 2023, where he ran a route on 71.1% of dropbacks in the six games he appeared, 78.9% of which came from the slot. Akers posted a paltry 3.9-yard aDOT and could be an ideal high-volume, low-aDOT receiver in this Air Raid attack.

Though Max Borghi scored the league’s third-most rushing TDs (6) for Smith’s Roughnecks last season, the backfield usage was hardly conducive to consistent weekly production, as Borghi handled just 34.7% of the team’s designed rushing attempts while running a route on just 19.1% of dropbacks en route to a modest 8.2% target share. Borghi will not join the coaching staff from Houston to San Antonio, but the Brahmas did add former Pittsburgh Steelers fourth-round pick Anthony McFarland while also bringing back Brycen Alleyne, who handled 19.6% of the team’s carries in 2023 and ran a route on 14.4% of dropbacks. They used a second dispersal draft pick on Jaylen Samuels and signed former Vegas Vipers RB John Lovett in January. As it stands, McFarland is tentatively penciled in as the team’s RB1, though a RBBC approach should be widely expected here.