Preseason Rankings

Everyone always says that the smartest XFFL teams use the draft as a means of improving their spot in the early-August Power Rankings. So here they are, hot off the post-draft presses.

Yes, it has been a long time since the post-Princess City Floral Bowl Power Rankings we did in late December. Back then, Calvin Johnson and Marshawn Lynch were still in the league, the Soul still had a quarterback and the top two picks in the draft belonged to the Devil Raiders and the Soul.

A lot has happened this XFFL offseason. So ESPN’s XFFL staff threw all 12 teams into the Power Rankings blender and came up with this delectable springtime smoothie. Here are your initial 2016 XFFL Rankings and my and Chad Buchholz thoughts on them!

12. Omaha Bigdogs – 118.20
Ernst says: Don’t blame the fans for the lack of excitement around this franchise at the moment with the Bigdogs likely to experience tough times with Goff trying to find his way as a pro.  Fully expect Omaha to finish the season 2-11 and #1 in the Leonard Fournette sweepstakes.
Chad says: Not even one week into training camp and this team is already looking forward to next off season. Not a good sign. Hopefully they can find their QB of the future. Record 1-12.

11. San Francisco Devil Raiders – 140.10
Chad says: Can Winston take the next step to Elite QB status? I think he is still a year away. Record 8-5.
Ernst says: I also want to temper expectations on Jameis, I’m expecting a bit of a sophomore slump and this team doesn’t quite have the talent at the skill positions yet to make up for that, but it will soon and this team will win a league championship under Winston.  Record 6-7.

10. Boise Bobcats – 147.83
Chad says: This team needs a running back to step up and become a quality starter to take some heat off of Russell Wilson and those WRs. Don’t see it happening this year. Record 6-7.
Ernst says: I actually want this team to lose enough games to go grab that elite runner in the next draft. That’s the only way this team will ever get out purgatory and find their first playoff win.  This team is talented enough to go 5-8 but please don’t.

9. Miami Soul – 150.00
Ernst says: Based on owner Andrew Lundt’s poker face and code speak, there’s no telling who steps onto the field as the starting quarterback for the upcoming season as they look to replace thirteen year starter Peyton Manning and thanks to the selfishness of newly acquired LeVeon Bell, the running game won’t be much help to whoever the QB is.  5-8 will be the record if they’re lucky.
Chad says: No Bell for four weeks will be rough on this team. Especially missing out on four very winnable games. That will start a downhill roll that this team isn’t talented enough to recover from. I give them one less win, 4-9 will be the record.

8. Orlando Swarm – 151.00
Ernst says: What?  How do the defending Zeroes Champions rank 8th? The Swarm will light up the scoreboard early in the season with the return of Tony Romo and the addition of Thomas Rawls but this isn’t a team built to compete in the playoffs.  Too many injuries concerns for them to be a serious threat.  This looks like a 8-5 football team at the end of the day.
Chad says: Romo is back. Dez is back. Things are buzzing in Orlando. That is until they get injured within the first couple weeks. This team does have some depth for insurance on those injuries however. Record will be 9-4, good enough for third in the Zeroes.

7. Atlanta Predators – 152.73
Ernst says: Here’s a team that will creep up the rankings throughout the season.  We’ll see how their additions sync during training camp, preseason and the first quarter of the season.  The Atlanta Predators will field one of the most exciting young running games in the league, but the defense still poses legitimate concerns.  This team goes 6-7 and finds a playoff spot.
Chad says: I know that you like these guys and this team always does better than expected. But I just can’t predict it. Record 4-9.

6. Chicago Direwolves – 152.80
Chad says: It’s like this team is going for the #1 draft pick but they don’t even own their pick.  I have no clue what owner Dave Hopper is doing over in Chicago.  This team will be lucky to better their record from last year, 3-10 for them.
Ernst says: This is another team we disagree a bit on.  No way they’re as bad as they were last year with all those injuries.  They may not be as good as they were a few years ago but they can be in playoff contention at 5-8.

5. Kansas City Rebels – 154.83
Chad says: This league isn’t too kind to first year teams. Expecting a playoff run for these guys is delusional. I see a 6-7 team that is a few years away.
Ernst says: This isn’t your typical first year team though.  Pittsburgh Freaks’ owner Mitch Nehman left a lot of talent behind when he decided to retire after last year.  New owner Ben Harrison has made some questionable moves since taking over, a 5-8 record is on the horizon.

4. New York Hitmen – 155.58
Ernst says: The Hitmen have surrounded quarterback Andrew Luck with grade-A offensive skill players but nonetheless, there’s concern the offense will once again operate unbalanced after a season where they finished #1 in the league in rushing yards but 12th in receiving yards.  Newly acquired, Alshon Jeffery adds a newfound respect for the group but we will see if that’s enough to get this team where it wants to be.  I see a 2nd place finish at 8-5.
Chad says: No team is in win now mode more than the Hitmen with no 1st or 2nd round picks for the next three drafts. With all these old guys they better win it now because in a few years we might see the ol’ 0-30 Hitmen teams of years past. Record 9-4.

3. Philadelphia Blizzard – 159.23
Chad says: Needs a quality running game to go alongside Cam and those WRs.  They’ll find a way to get into the playoffs in the weak Heroes division but don’t expect a repeat of last year. Record 8-5.
Ernst says: The defending league champions is led by their defense as it allowed the fewest points in the league last season and will once again carry the team into the postseason in 2016.  Quarterback Cam Newton will exceed expectations with an above average crew of wideouts and owner Josh Hopper will find someone capable of running the ball. Never count out this team. 7-6 but dangerous.

2. Cincinnati Dragons – 162.18
Chad says: This team fields the league’s second best starting lineup but it has no depth. Hopefully they don’t get any injuries or it could be another disappointing season in Cincinnati. Record 9-4.
Ernst says: Ezekiel Elliott will pump a lot of life into this team’s running game and that will make a big difference for this team.  If it can avoid the injury bug this team should run away with the Heroes division.  Record 10-3.

1. Boston Americans – 165.13
Ernst says: Quarterback Tom Brady decided to give up the fight against the league’s four game suspension ruling, but he’s going to return with fireballs in his eyes.  In his true competitive spirit, the signal caller will seek revenge for his tarnished image.  After observing quarterbacks Derek Carr and Blake Bortles for four games and winning three, Boston will go on an extended win streak, which should be enough to win the division.  Boston will roll through the season with a very balanced offense and a dominating defense to clinch home field advantage through the postseason while finishing 11-2 and capturing their first league championship.
Chad says: You’re right. No Brady for four weeks wont hurt this team much. Not much depth is a concern however but this is the year of the Americans. Record 11-2.