With Week 5 of the XFL season now in the books, let’s break down how the top players shape up, including some prominent names that NFL fans are sure to recognize.
Top XFL Players in 2023
In our weekly XFL player rankings, performances from game to game will be taken into account in addition to each player’s pedigree and overall career résumé.
1) WR Jahcour Pearson, Seattle Sea Dragons
Last week: 1
Jahcour Pearson is still the XFL’s top offensive weapon. Who would’ve thought? The Seattle Sea Dragons’ pass catcher is the league’s leading receiver by nearly 100 yards, with 430 across five games this season. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t have an NFL tryout coming his way this summer.
2) RB Abram Smith, DC Defenders
Last week: 15
Hello, Abram Smith! The top selection in the 2023 XFL Skill Players Draft a couple of months back finally fully arrived at the halfway point of the season. Smith erupted for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Given the league’s dearth of consistently elite RB play, Smith, with 432 rushing yards, now sits nearly 200 ahead of second place (Brian Hill, 255).
3) CB Luq Barcoo, San Antonio Brahmas
Last week: 4
Luq Barcoo continues to represent the best of the best when it comes to XFL defensive backs. He tacked three tackles onto his season total and helped contain Arlington Renegades QB Kyle Sloter to just 14 completions on 26 attempts for under 150 yards, no scores, and an INT.
MORE: 2023 XFL Rosters
He allowed a couple of completions this week, but Barcoo is another player who’s playing his way into an NFL tryout this summer.
4) TE Cody Latimer, TE Orlando Guardians
Last week: 13
Cody Latimer is staking a claim to make a return to the NFL. The former Denver Broncos and New York Giants pass catcher, who’s playing a hybrid TE/WR role after a position switch, was sublime in Week 5. He corralled all eight of his targets for an earth-shattering 124 yards and a score, leaping into the top three in XFL receiving yards.
5) DB Michael Joseph, DC Defenders
Last week: 9
Michael Joseph is a ball magnet. Four interceptions in five games, and he tacked another one on this week when he picked off St. Louis Battlehawks QB A.J. McCarron. Joseph is superb at out-positioning opposing wideouts in order to bring down the football, and he’s played his way into the very top tier of XFL DBs.
6) WR Josh Gordon, Seattle Sea Dragons
Last week: 2
After climbing back into the top three, Josh Gordon slides down the list just a bit. There’s no doubt he’s one of the top players in the XFL, both in terms of on-field talent and his résumé, having led the NFL in receiving yards a decade ago. But he’s been up and down in terms of production, and he corralled just two receptions on seven targets in Week 5.
7) LB Trent Harris, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 6
Trent Harris didn’t show up on the stat sheet in Week 5, but he continues to be one of the most impactful defenders in the XFL. He still leads the league in sacks (six) and tackles for loss (eight) and is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league.
8) WR Jeff Badet, Vegas Vipers
Last week: 12
Vegas Vipers QB Luis Perez put on a clinic in Week 5, and Jeff Badet was a huge reason why. Perez’s top target hauled in five of his six targets for 80 yards and a pair of scores, playing a pivotal role in Vegas’ nailbiter win over the Orlando Guardians.
MORE: 2023 XFL Sandings
Badet, who’s emerged as one of the league’s premier weapons, now leads the XFL in touchdown receptions and sits second in receiving yards.
9) QB A.J. McCarron, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 7
A.J. McCarron provided his usual mixed bag of stellar throws that powered the offense and head-scratching decisions that left Battlehawks fans shaking their heads. In particular, the former Cincinnati Bengals QB’s two turnovers (one INT, one fumble lost), proved backbreaking in a one-score game. Those aside, he remains one of the league’s best passers.
10) WR Hakeem Butler, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 18
Onwards and upwards for Hakeem Butler. With each passing week, the Battlehawks pass catcher climbs up our rankings, and this week is no different. He dominated the target share in Week 5, securing nine of 12 targets for 86 yards. He is tied with Latimer with 336 receiving yards, top three in the league.
11) RB Brian Hill, St. Louis Battlehawks
Last week: 19
Another big week for Brian Hill. Though he now trails Smith by quite a bit, Hill is second in the XFL in rushing yards in part due to his wildly impressive efficiency. He sits at the top of the ladder in yards per carry among rushers with 15 or more attempts (5.2) and tacked on another 79 yards on 14 totes in Week 5, adding three receptions for 29 yards.
12) QB Ben DiNucci, Seattle Seadragons
Last week: 3
Week 5 represented a tough outing for DiNucci. The XFL’s leader in passing yards (1,328) allowed the worst characteristics of his game, most notably his propensity to turn over the football, to take over. While they didn’t cost Seattle the game, DiNucci’s three interceptions brought his season total to a league-leading seven picks in five games.
13) QB Brandon Silvers, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 10
Brandon Silvers had been rocketing up my rankings heading into Week 5, but we’ll have to halt his ascent after an up-and-down outing. With his No. 1 weapon sidelined, Silvers, despite throwing the ball 47 times, put up just 227 yards and one score, barely exceeding a 50 percent completion rate. He also tossed an INT and fumbled twice (one lost).
14) TE Sal Cannella, Arlington Renegades
Last week: 14
The entire Arlington Renegades offense stagnated in Week 5, and Sal Cannella was no different. But he remained the team’s top offensive weapon, as he was peppered with eight targets — double the next-highest player on the team — and he brought down four of them for 32 yards.
15) DL John Daka, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 17
John Daka continues to be a menace on the Roughnecks’ defensive line. While he didn’t register any QB takedowns this week, he did force a fumble and added another four tackles to his season total (14). He’s a tough presence for other teams to manage, and he’s even tougher for opposing linemen to move off the line of scrimmage.
16) RB Morgan Ellison, Seattle Sea Dragons
Last week: 8
Week 5 was a down one for Morgan Ellison. The league’s third-leading rusher was handed the ball just six times and managed a measly 15 yards while coming up empty through the air. He also fumbled the rock in the fourth quarter, which kept the Roughnecks in the game. We’ll see if he can get out of the dog house this week.
17) LB Tim Ward, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 21
Back into the top 20 for Tim Ward. The Roughnecks’ pass rusher is second only to his teammate Harris in sacks (five) and added another QB takedown and two tackles for loss to his docket in Week 5. Offensive coordinators are struggling to find any way to limit Houston’s pass rush, and Ward is a key reason why.
18) WR Jontre Kirklin, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 5
After weeks of dominant play, Jontre Kirklin was forced from Houston’s Week 5 contest with a chest issue. Later testing revealed the injury to be serious, and Kirklin is now expected to miss the remainder of the Roughnecks’ season.
19) DB Ajene Harris, Houston Roughnecks
Last week: 34
Two interceptions helped shoot Ajene Harris up into our top 20 this week. Despite Houston’s failure to overcome the Sea Dragons, the Roughnecks’ defensive unit surely boasts some of the top talents on that side of the ball in the XFL, and Harris is no exception. He’s now tied with Joseph atop the league leaderboard in picks (four).
20) LB Terrance Plummer, Orlando Guardians
Last week: 25
The Orlando Guardians don’t have too many entries on our list, but Terrance Plummer represents some of the best of the best on the team’s roster. He’s been remarkably steady this season and is one of the XFL’s top run defenders.
MORE: 2023 XFL Head Coaches
Linebackers that don’t rush the passer often aren’t getting enough love in the football world, so we’re giving Plummer his due this week.
Top Remaining XFL Players in 2023
21) DL Pita Taumoepenu, Vegas Vipers
22) QB Luis Perez, Vegas Vipers
23) DL Tuzar Skipper, Seattle Sea Dragons
24) DL T.J. Barnes, Arlington Renegades
25) WR Blake Jackson, Seattle Sea Dragons
26) QB D’Eriq King, DC Defenders
27) LB Tavante Beckett, Houston Roughnecks
28) DB Ben DeLuca, St. Louis Battlehawks
29) DL Jacoby Jones, Orlando Guardians
30) RB Max Borghi, Houston Roughnecks
31) DB Adam Sparks, Vegas Vipers
32) OL Mike Horton, Arlington Renegades
33) OL Kohl Levao, San Antonio Brahams
34) WR Deontay Burnett, Houston Roughnecks
35) QB Jordan Ta’amu, DC Defenders
36) RB Rod Smith, Vegas Vipers
37) DL Davin Bellamy, DC Defenders
38) DL Travis Feeney, St. Louis Battlehawks
39) DB De’Vante Bausby, Arlington Renegades
40) RB Jah-Maine Martin, Orlando Guardians
41) LB Andre Mintze, DC Defenders
42) LB Maximilian Roberts, Vegas Vipers
43) LB Vic Beasley, Vegas Vipers
44) QB Quinten Dormady, Orlando Guardians
45) WR Travell Harris, Houston Roughnecks
46) LB Willie Harvey, St. Louis Battlehawks
47) LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, Houston Roughnecks
48) RB De’Veon Smith, Arlington Renegades
49) RB Ryquell Armstead, DC Defenders
50) QB Jack Coan, San Antonio Brahmas