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Top 10 Players to Know in the UFL: XFL & USFL Divisions (2024 Fantasy Football)

Top 10 Players to Know in the UFL: XFL & USFL Divisions (2024 Fantasy Football)

The 2024 UFL regular season commences on March 30, 2024, featuring a matchup between the champions of the USFL (Birmingham Stallion) and XFL (Arlington Renegades). Let’s dive into the standout players to watch out for in the upcoming UFL season. Here are the top players to know from both UFL divisions (the UFL consists of a USFL division and an XFL division to pay homage to the two former leagues) from Josh Shepardson and Mike Fanelli.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Top UFL Players to Know in the XFL Division

Arlington Renegades

QB Luis Perez

Luis Perez is a spring football legend. He was traded last season from the Vegas Vipers to the eventual XFL Champion Arlington Renegades. Perez captured the MVP for the championship game after carving up the D.C. Defenders, completing 28-of-36 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Perez was also Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) highest-graded passer and had the highest big-time-throw rate (6.9 BTT%) in the XFL last season. He’s been around the block and piled up passing yardage and touchdowns in his winding spring football career.

Unsurprisingly, Bob Stoops has named Perez as Arlington’s starting quarterback.

Perez is a classic pocket passer. He’s also demonstrated he could work in a committee, forming a formidable duo with De’Andre Johnson for the 2022 New Jersey Generals in the USFL. Perez isn’t flawless but he’s a savvy veteran who can throw darts when in a groove.

D.C. Defenders

QB Jordan Ta’amu 

Abram Smith was initially slated to appear in this piece as the representative from the D.C. Defenders. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending torn ACL injury in his knee.

Smith was the XFL’s leading rusher last year, rumbling for 788 yards. Jordan Ta’amu will be tasked to pick up the slack without his dynamic running back. He’ll also have to adjust to a new receiving corps.

Ta’amu is a dual-threat quarterback and a spring football veteran. He was efficient and effective in the 2020 XFL and for the Defenders last season. However, Ta’amu was inaccurate and turned the ball over too often for the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 2022 USFL season. The Defenders can’t afford for Ta’amu to regress to his 2022 form.

San Antonio Brahmas

WR Jontre Kirklin 

Jontre Kirklin was a seldom-used wide receiver at LSU and played quarterback in his final collegiate game. He was an undrafted free agent but received preseason playing time for the Cardinals in 2022 and the Saints in 2023.

Sandwiched between those opportunities, he thrived for the Houston Roughnecks in the 2023 XFL. According to The Football Database, Kirklin had 15 receptions, 253 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 26 targets in five games. He also tossed a 49-yard touchdown on a double pass.

Kirklin wasn’t just a gadget player. As his receiving statistics suggest, Kirklin was a headache for XFL secondaries.

Kirklin was a lynchpin of A.J. Smith’s pass-heavy offense. He’ll be reunited with Houston’s former offensive coordinator. Smith will join Wade Phillips on San Antonio’s coaching staff. Despite Phillips’ defensive background, he allowed Smith to call a pass-centric attack to his heart’s content. Furthermore, the Brahmas have better quarterbacks than the 2023 Roughnecks had. Kirklin might be one of the UFL’s breakout stars.

St. Louis Battlehawks

QB A.J. McCarron 

A.J. McCarron has played 19 games and started four in the NFL. He was on Cincinnati’s practice squad for two months last year before he was elevated to the active roster, serving as Jake Browning’s backup.

McCarron is a borderline NFL-caliber quarterback and an elite spring football signal-caller. Last year, he was second in the XFL in passing yards (2,150), first in quarterback rating (108.4) and first in passing touchdowns (24), earning the league’s MVP. McCarron has his top weapons back and should once again post blistering numbers.

WR Hakeem Butler 

Hakeem Butler was a man amongst boys in the XFL last year. According to PFF, he had the third-most targets (69), second-most receptions (51), fourth-most receiving yards (605), was tied for the most touchdown receptions (eight) and the fifth-most yards per route run (1.84 Y/RR) among players targeted at least 25 times.

Butler’s success earned him a look in training camp and the preseason from the Steelers but he didn’t stick. As a result, he’ll link back up with McCarron. The big-bodied wideout has competition for targets but that didn’t stop him from dominating last year.

Josh Shepardson

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Top UFL Players to Know in the USFL Division

Birmingham Stallions

QB Adrian Martinez

Adrian Martinez should be the Week 1 starter for Birmingham despite former third-round NFL Draft pick Matt Corral being on the roster. He only spent a few months in the NFL with the Detroit Lions after going undrafted in 2023. Yet, Martinez had an impressive college career, totaling 45 passing touchdowns and 35 rushing scores in four years at Nebraska before transferring to Kansas State. He only had 184 pass attempts in his lone season as a Wildcat. However, he did show off his rushing ability, totaling 10 rushing touchdowns.

Memphis Showboats

RB Darius Victor

Last year, Darius Victor played for the New Jersey Generals, totaling 100 rushing attempts for 551 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. While those numbers are eye-popping on the surface, he averaged over 5.5 yards per attempt on a meaningful workload. Furthermore, the running back also had a role in the passing game, totaling 19 receptions for 189 receiving yards and three touchdowns. With Trey Williams and Titus Swen as the other two running backs on the roster, Victor could lead the UFL in rushing yards this season.

TE Sage Surratt 

The top tight end in the UFL is Birmingham’s Jace Sternberger. He had the fourth-most receiving yards (517) and the most touchdowns (seven) in the USFL last season. However, Sage Surratt put up similar numbers in 2023, totaling the third-most receiving yards (552). However, he only had one receiving touchdown with the New Orleans Breakers. Yet, he could push Sternberger for the top tight end spot this year. Surratt should be a go-to target for Case Cookus or whoever is under center for the Showboats.

Michigan Panthers

EDGE Breeland Speaks 

Breeland Speaks was a four-star recruit coming out of high school for Ole Miss. He had an impressive final college season, totaling eight tackles for a loss and seven sacks, both career-highs. Unfortunately, the former Ole Miss star struggled his rookie year, totaling only 1.5 sacks in 16 games. After bouncing around the NFL on practice squads, Speaks played for the USFL’s Panthers in 2022, totaling three sacks and a forced fumble in his debut. Don’t be surprised if he leads the UFL in sacks this year.

Houston Roughnecks

DL Toby Johnson 

There are several interesting defensive linemen in the UFL this season. However, Toby Johnson might be the best of the bunch. He spent the past two years with the New Jersey Generals in the USFL. The former Georgia Bulldog made an All-USFL team in 2022 and 2023, totaling 76 tackles and 5.5 sacks the past two seasons. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Houston has the fifth-longest odds to win the 2024 UFL Championship. Yet, those odds could quickly change if Johnson can be a force for the Roughnecks’ defense.

-Mike Fanelli 

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