With Week 9 in the books, we’re heading into the final week of the XFL regular season and, as such, the final iteration of our Top 50 XFL Players. Let’s break down how the top players shape up.
Top XFL Players in 2023
In our weekly XFL player rankings, performances from game to game are taken into account in addition to each player’s pedigree and overall career résumé.
1) RB Abram Smith, DC Defenders
Last week: 1
Yes, Abram Smith fell back to Earth for the first time in a while, but the XFL’s leading rusher retains the No. 1 spot in our final Top 50 XFL Players piece.
MORE: 2023 XFL Rosters
Despite his disappointing Week 9 performance on the ground (10 carries for 27 yards), he contributed nicely through the air, hauling in all three of his targets for 29 yards. Smith holds a 331-yard lead over the league’s No. 2 running back in rushing yards on the season. Simply put, he was the league’s most dominant player this season.
2) WR Jahcour Pearson, Seattle Sea Dragons
Last week: 5
He’s back! Jahcour Pearson returned to peak form in Week 9, amassing seven receptions for 115 yards and a score. A highlight-reel play in which Pearson caught a pass over the middle of the field, broke a tackle, and ran through what looked like the entire St. Louis Battlehawks defense epitomized just how special the former Ole Miss Rebel can be.
3) TE Cody Latimer, Orlando Guardians
Last week: 3
An injury was the only thing that could have slowed down Cody Latimer’s stellar season with the Orlando Guardians. Arguably the league’s best pass catcher, Orlando’s star tight end was sidelined with a knee injury in Week 9. The XFL’s worst team will hope to have him back for their final match of the year.
4) QB AJ McCarron, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 2
In his return from a shoulder injury, McCarron looked uncomfortable and rusty all game against the Sea Dragons. The oft-composed and measured passer barely completed 50 percent of his attempts and threw two picks, was sacked four times, and managed just 186 yards. We’ll look for him to get back on track in the regular-season finale.
5) QB Jordan Ta’amu, DC Defenders
Last week: 4
Pushing McCarron for the title of the league’s top passer, Jordan Ta’amu was again impressive in Week 9. The Defenders’ star threw an interception but was otherwise near-flawless, completing 70% of his passes for a strong 9.4 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. He added an additional 14 rushing yards on two attempts.
6) DB Michael Joseph, DC Defenders
Last week: 6
Don’t sleep on a Michael Joseph NFL opportunity after this season is up. Arguably DC’s best “defender,” the do-it-all DB continued to stymie opposing pass catchers in coverage and was equally sturdy in run defense, tacking on five tackles and a TFL to the docket.
7) DL Pita Taumoepenu, Vegas Vipers
Last week: 7
Pita Taumoepenu didn’t make as much noise as usual in Week 9, but his presence continued to be felt in the opposing backfield. Taumoepenu was a key reason that Houston Roughnecks QB Brandon Silvers seemed off-kilter all afternoon. Vegas’ best defensive asset remains one of the league’s top pass rushers.
8) WR Lucky Jackson, DC Defenders
Last week: 10
Two targets. Two catches. Two touchdowns. Lucky Jackson didn’t rack up the yards in Week 9, but he clearly didn’t need to in order to make an impact. Ta’amu’s most reliable target, Jackson is the go-to man when the team needs a big play, and it’s not difficult to see why.
9) LB John Daka, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 20
John Daka is a beast — plain and simple. He recorded 1.5 sacks on Vipers QB Jalan McClendon and continued to pressure him all game long. Daka, Trent Harris, and Tavante Beckett make up the best LB corps in the league.
10) DB Ajene Harris, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 18
Arguably the XFL’s most fun defender to watch, Ajene Harris was once again starring for the Houston Roughnecks’ lockdown defense.
Following a short Vipers pass attempt to the flat, Harris simply said, “that’s mine,” and swiped the ball right from the Vegas wideout’s hands. Harris ran in the other direction and flipped into the end zone for six.
11) LB Trent Harris, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 8
Trent Harris still leads the league in sacks? Of course, he does. And unless Taumoepenu or Delontae Scott manage a huge Week 10, Harris will likely finish the year with the QB takedown crown.
Harris was relatively quiet in Week 10, but the opposing QB always needs to know where he is on the field. That’s one of the best compliments you can give a pass rusher.
12) QB Ben DiNucci, Seattle Sea Dragons
Last week: 13
It’s always boom or bust with Ben DiNucci. In Week 9, we saw a bit of both. His 21 of 31 line was respectable enough, and he piled up 260 receiving yards and two scores. But, of course, his propensity to turn over the ball reared its ugly head, as DiNucci also threw an INT.
The Sea Dragons’ leading man is tops in the league in passing yards and picks, and he’ll almost certainly end the season at No. 1 in both categories.
13) LB Tavante Beckett, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 19
Tavante Beckett rises up the top 20 after another strong performance. He continued to wreak havoc for the opposing offense, wracking up six tackles, a half-sack, and a fumble recovery to boot.
14) CB Luq Barcoo, San Antonio Brahmas
Last week: 9
The XFL’s stickiest cover corner, Luq Barcoo will close out the season as one of the league’s top defensive backs and is likely to get another NFL shot. As every pro football general manager knows, you can never have too many good DBs, and Barcoo’s youth, height, and production this past season are nearly sure to yield another opportunity at the highest level.
15) DL Delontae Scott, San Antonio Brahmas
Last week: 15
Delontae Scott continues to dominate. He added a key 13-yard sack to his highlight reel in Week 9 and sits second in the entire league in both sacks and tackles for loss. The former SMU stud spent a few years in the NFL and is paving the way back there over the season’s final weeks.
16) LB Travis Feeney, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 16
Not quite as active in Week 9 as he was the week prior, Travis Feeney cooled down a bit against the Sea Dragons, but he’s still a menace that needs to be accounted for at all times. He supplemented his stat sheet with another two tackles, including one for a loss, and might just be the Battlehawks’ most important defender.
17) LB Terrance Plummer, Orlando Guardians
Last week: 30
Terrance Plummer has set himself squarely among the league’s best linebackers. His ability to defend the run is top-notch, and every one of his seven Week 9 tackles proved as much.
As I’ve mentioned previously in this space, run-stopping ability isn’t as flashy as pressuring the quarterback, but it can be just as valuable when it’s demonstrated with such consistency.
18) DL T.J. Barnes, Arlington Renegades
Last week: 24
T.J. Barnes is one of the Renegades’ most important players, and he showed why in Week 9. Though he’s often making his mark as a pass rusher, it was in run defense where he shined against the Defenders, helping to bottle up Smith, the league’s most dynamic running back.
19) WR Chris Blair, DC Defenders
Last week: 12
Chris Blair finally cooled down in Week 9. After rocketing up the league’s receiving leaderboard, Blair remains in the top three, just ahead of his teammate (Jackson), but he only managed to haul in two of his seven targets for 32 yards this past week.
We’ll see if another big performance can help him leapfrog Latimer (No. 2 in receiving yards) in the finale.
20) WR Hakeem Butler, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 11
With teammates Marcell Ateman and Darrius Shepherd hogging the targets and McCarron uncharacteristically struggling, Hakeem Butler couldn’t get anything going in Week 9. He failed to bring down either of his two targets. That said, the 6’5″ tank is still tied atop the league in touchdown receptions (six) and is sixth in receiving yards (435).
Top Remaining XFL Players in 2023
21) RB Max Borghi, Houston Roughnecks
22) RB Jacques Patrick, San Antonio Brahmas
23) WR Blake Jackson, Seattle Sea Dragons
24) RB Brian Hill, St. Louis Battlehawks
25) DL Drew Beesley, San Antonio Brahmas
26) LB Jordan Williams, San Antonio Brahmas
27) WR Jeff Badet, Vegas Vipers
28) DB Lukas Denis, St. Louis Battlehawks
29) RB De’Veon Smith, Arlington Renegades
30) TE Sal Cannella, Arlington Renegades
31) OL Michael Maietti, DC Defenders
32) LB Francis Bernard, DC Defenders
33) WR Josh Gordon, Seattle Sea Dragons
34) DL Tuzar Skipper, Seattle Sea Dragons
35) LB Tim Ward, Houston Roughnecks
36) WR Deontay Burnett, Houston Roughnecks
37) QB Jalan McClendon, Vegas Vipers
38) OL Kohl Levao, San Antonio Brahmas
39) RB Rod Smith, Vegas Vipers
40) OL Mike Horton, Arlington Renegades
41) LB Willie Harvey, St. Louis Battlehawks
42) QB D’Eriq King, DC Defenders
43) QB Quinten Dormady, Orlando Guardians
44) WR Juwan Green, Seattle Sea Dragons
45) WR Eli Rogers, Orlando Guardians
46) RB John Lovett, Vegas Vipers
47) DL Jacoby Jones, Orlando Guardians
48) WR Travell Harris, Houston Roughnecks
49) LB Colin Schooler, Arlington Renegades
50) LB Maximilian Roberts, Vegas Vipers