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  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

XFL Week 5 Special Teams Power Rankings; A Comprehensive Breakdown

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

We actually made it past Week 5 this time guys! With only 5 weeks left in the season, is your favourite specialist climbing the Power Rankings or sitting in the hot seat? Let's discuss that;

 

Kickers

In Week 5, kickers attempted a total of 7 field goals and completed 6 of them, which is good for a completion percentage of 85.7%, matching their accuracy from last week. While some coaches elected not to bring their kicker onto the field, this week's games still showcased some noteworthy performances. Let's discuss how each of the Kickers performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Kicker Power Rankings;

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  1. John Parker Romo (SA) successfully completed his only field goal attempt from 45 yards out this week, keeping him in the First Position. Romo holds the XFL Record for Longest Field Goal and 5 of his completions came over 40 yards. To add to his praises, He was also named on the midseason All-XFL 2023 team this week!

  2. Matthew McCrane (DC) did not attempt any field goals this week.

  3. Taylor Russolino (ARL) started his night with a beautiful 43-yard field goal straight down the middle, following it up with a short, 25-yard field goal to finish 2-for-2 on the night. It's impressive to see three of our kickers making a comeback from a rough start to the season. The Top 3 have a great chance of finishing the year with a field goal completion rate of over 90%!

  4. Hunter Duplessis (HOU) did not attempt any field goals this week but was seen working on his craft in this behind-the-scenes video!

  5. Dominik Eberle (SEA) did not attempt any field goals this week.

  6. Donny Hageman (STL) is one of just two kickers to either rise or fall in this week's Power Rankings, and fortunately for him, he is moving up. He completed 2 field goals this week, one from 36 yards out and another from 34 yards away later in the game, raising his field goal completion percentage from 50% to 60%. He has improved since week 3 and has now hit 3 field goals in a row.

  7. José Borregales (ORL) did not attempt any field goals this week but will fall due to the competition around him playing at a higher level.

  8. Bailey Giffen (VGS) is struggling and I sympathize with him. He went 1/2 on field goals this week, making his first attempt from 39 yards out but missed wide left on a 56-yarder to close out the first half. He did have the leg strength to make the field goal, though, if that counts for anything. Evaluating Giffen has proven to be very difficult and nuanced. Throughout the season he has missed due to field conditions, laces facing the wrong way, an unaccounted blocked field goal, and now a 56-yarder, which isn't a guaranteed completion. If we subtract those 4 misses, Giffen is 5/7 (71%). The Vipers will do their best to clean up these mental/scheming issues and I suspect Giffen will have a much better second half of the season.

 

Punters

Punters did not fare very well either this week, posting the lowest numbers the group has seen all season. With 34 punts the average was just 38.5 yards and 32.8 net yards per punt, both of which are season-lows. There was also a significant decline in the number of punts over 50 yards, with only 2 of the 34 punts travelling that distance (5.9%). However, 9 punts that landed inside the 20-yard line (26.5%), and 2 of them even managed to land inside the 10-yard line. Let's discuss how each of the Punters performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Punter Power Rankings;

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  1. Daniel Whelan (DC) had another impressive game again this week punting 4 times for an average of 48.3 yards and 47.5 net yards per punt. He had 3 punts land inside the 20-yard line, like this beauty that resulted in a fair catch at the 10-yard line. He also showed us just how consistent he can be after a 45-yard punt landing on the 8-yard line gets called back due to a penalty. Whelan promptly came back out and launches the ball 49 yards and it lands on the 8-yard line! With a penalty on the return team, this ball was placed on the 4-yard line. Whelan had a third punt result in a fair catch showing off an impressive hang time.

  2. Brad Wing (SA) had his worst game thus far, and this will result in him dropping into the Second Position this week. He punted 5 times for an average of 42.6 yards and 31.4 net yards per punt. Wing's most impressive punt was a 35-yarder that resulted in a fair catch at the 15-yard line. Brad, if you're reading this we want to see pictures of your tattoos!

  3. Race Porter (HOU) played well this week, punting 6 times for an average of 35.8 yards and 25.3 net yards per punt, with 1 fair catch inside the 20-yard line. His best punt of the night was a 31-yard punt that resulted in the above-mentioned fair catch at the 10-yard line. He will not be penalized for his low net average as the Seattle Coverage Team got 2 blocked punts this week (more on that later).

  4. Marquette King (ARL) had one of the most exciting games for a punter in recent memory. He punted 5 times for an average of 42.4 yards and 30.8 net yards per punt. King was able to pin his opponents inside the 20-yard line twice but was also put in a bad position, being asked to punt on the opposing team's 35-yard line 2 times! One of these punts landed on the 4-yard line but unfortunately went into the endzone for a Touchback, which ensured King's punt only travelled for a net of 3 yards. The second time, he did much better and his sky-high punt landed INSIDE THE 1-YARD LINE and bounced back to the opposing team's 10-yard line where he was waiting to recover it! You don't get to see a punter recovering their own kick very often these days

  5. Mac Brown (ORL) will round out the middle of the pack this week. Brown had his best week yet, punting 3 times for an average of 47.7 yards and 38 net yards per punt. His most impressive punt came from when he was backed up on his own 1-yard line. He managed to somehow punt the ball 52 yards to get his team out of a sticky situation.

  6. Sterling Hofrichter (STL) had a rough week, punting 5 times for an average of 35 yards and 28.2 net yards per punt. Sterling also had a punt that travelled out of bounds, which will push him further down the Power Rankings. His best punt came from a short 20-yard punt that took a friendly bounce and was downed at the 18-yard line.

  7. Cameron Nizialek (SEA) did not impress me this week, punting 4 times for an average of 39 yards and 34.3 net yards per punt. He did manage to get 2 of those punts resulting in a fair catch, which indicates that he is at least not out-kicking his coverage team.

  8. Michael Carrizosa (VGS) played well this week, but only punted 2 times for a total of 77 yards (38.5 Avg.) and 70 net yards (35 Net Avg.). His first punt of the night travelled 38 yards through the air and was downed on the opponent's 8-yard line. I would like to see more distance from Carrizosa, as I know he can do it. He averaged 46 yards per punt in the USFL, so expect him to increase his averages in the second half of the season.

 

Kickoff Specialists

Kickoffs are still being sorted out after I introduced a new method of statistical analysis, and we are finally starting to see how each player is performing. There were 31 kickoffs during Week 5, and specialists averaged 62.3 yards per kickoff. This number has steadily increased since Week 1 and is a sign that specialists are starting to figure out the best strategies on the kickoff. Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Kickoff Power Rankings;

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  1. Hunter Duplessis (HOU) remains the best kickoff specialist in the XFL; however, he did have a down week in terms of kickoff distance, averaging just 59 yards per kickoff. He did manage to add yet another kickoff inside the 25-yard line on his stat sheet.

  2. Dominik Eberle (SEA) averaged 66.3 yards on 4 kickoffs and had 3 of those remaining inside the 25-yard line. He has quickly separated himself as a top talent in the kickoff game. Here is a 66-yarder that was returned to the 20-yard line, showcasing just how talented Eberle is.

  3. Donny Hageman (STL) will remain in the Top 3 after kicking off 5 times for an average of 62.6 yards per kickoff. There was a situation where his opponents received a penalty, and the 10 yards were enforced on the kick off, forcing Hageman to kickoff from the 45-yard line instead of the 35-yard line. If they want to penalize D.C., it should've been applied after the return was made.

  4. John Parker Romo (SA) will jump into the Top 5 after a good performance this week (Averaged 62 yards over 2 kickoffs). He is one of the least penalized kickoff specialists in the league and just needs to work on placement to ensure more of his kickoffs remain inside the 25-yard line.

  5. José Borregales (ORL) will close out the Top 5 this week after an impressive performance of 63 average yards over 5 kickoffs. He also had 1 of those remaining within the 25-yard line, bringing his total to 4 on the year.

  6. Taylor Russolino (ARL) has seemingly sorted out his kickoff issues experienced in Week 3, and this week had 4 kickoffs averaging about 63 yards each. He had another kickoff remain inside the 25-yard line this week, bringing his total to 4 as well.

  7. Matthew McCrane (DC) struggled this week, kicking off 3 times for an average of 66.3 yards per kickoff. He had 2 balls land in the endzone resulting in 2 Major Touchbacks being added to his totals and dropping him a few positions on the Power Rankings. He did manage to secure a tackle on the returner this week, so he's at least been working on that!

  8. Bailey Giffen (VGS) had 6 attempts this week, averaging about 57.3 yards per kickoff. He is averaging the lowest number of yards per kickoff and is tied for the most penalized kicker in the league. I would be interested to see if Carrizosa gets an opportunity to kick off during the second half of the season.

 

Return Specialists

Kickoff Return Specialists

We were treated to some prime kickoff returns this week as return specialists put up 23.5 yards per return, a season-high. Returners also managed to accrue 6 returns over 30 yards, which is tied for most in a given week. Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Kickoff Return Power Rankings;

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  1. Darrius Shepherd (STL) did it yet again! His first kickoff return was brought back for 52 yards, which is impressive by itself but that's not all. Shepherd came back later in the game and returned another kickoff for 80 yards this time! Darrius is the best returner in the XFL and it looks like he will have kickers shaking in their boots moving forward. He finished the night with 3 returns for 155 yards, averaging 51.7 yards per return.

  2. Cinque Sweeting (VGS) did it once again for the Vipers, returning 1 of his 2 opportunities for 41 yards! I was concerned we wouldn't see him play due to injury but he showed up and balled out! Additionally, we saw Deandre Torrey return 3 kickoffs for 81 yards, with a long of 42 yards himself! The Vipers have the best return duo in the league!

  3. Dejoun Lee (HOU) returned 4 kickoffs for 73 yards, averaging 18.3 yards a return. This performance is enough to earn him a spot in the Top 3.

  4. Fred Brown (SA) did not return any kickoffs this week but is the team's best returner at this point in the season. Kalen Ballage returned all 4 kickoffs for the Brahmas this week, accumulating 81 yards (20.3 Avg.). His longest return was for 27 yards and showed that while Ballage hasn't broken one off for a +30-yard return, he does have the ability to plow through multiple tackles.

  5. Kenneth Farrow (ARL) returned 2 kickoffs for 39 yards and a long of 20 yards. He will remain in the Fifth Position for another week while we gather more data.

  6. Jaquez Ezzard (DC) returned 4 kickoffs for 101 yards (25.8 Avg.) He returned one for 34 yards and a second for 31 yards! We also saw K.J. sails return 1 kickoff for 19 yards. This performance will boost him to the Sixth Position in our Power Rankings.

  7. Kelvin McKnight (SEA) returned 1 kickoff for just 10 yards.

  8. Justin Rogers (ORL) returned 6 kickoffs for 99 yards but was unable to make any significant plays with his opportunities as his longest return was just 19 yards. I believe he has the talent to return kicks, but his blockers need to do better for him.

Punt Return Specialists

Punt Return Specialists also had a productive week and put up 176 yards over 19 punt returns, averaging 9.3 yards per return. There were no fumbles to be seen and two returns went for over 15 yards. Let's discuss how each of the Punt Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Punt Return Power Rankings;

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  1. Joe Powell (ARL) jumps a huge 4 Positions to take over the #1 Spot this week. He returned 4 punts for a total of 56 yards, averaging 14 yards a punt. He returned this punt for 19 yards but his best return can be seen here, where he returned a punt 28 yards and broke several tackles.

  2. Will Likely (HOU) did not return any punts this week but is the Roughneck's best option in my opinion. Travell Harris returned 2 punts for a total of 19 yards. I want to give them another week to see where the team stands on will, and if they consider him their primary returner moving forward.

  3. Mathew Sexton (VGS) will climb into the Top 3 after returning 2 punts for a total of 27 yards. His first was returned for 13 yards, and the second was a 14-yard punt return.

  4. Darece Roberson (SA) returned 3 punts for 33 yards and will fall due to the increased competition around him.

  5. Justin Rogers (ORL) returned 1 punt for 7 yards.

  6. Austin Proehl (STL) returned 1 punt for 3 yards.

  7. Jaquez Ezzard (DC) returned 2 punts for 16 yards.

  8. Kelvin McKnight (SEA) struggled to get anything off of returns this week, averaging just 3.8 yards over 4 punt returns.

 

Coverage Teams

Coverage teams struggled to contain returners this week, but there were a few exceptions. Overall, the league gave up an average of 9.3 yards per punt return and 23.5 yards per kickoff return. There were 10 penalties handed out this week, but we did get to see 2 blocked punts in one game! Let's discuss how each of the Cover Teams performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 5 XFL Coverage Team Power Rankings;

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  1. The Las Vegas Vipers gave up only 7 yards on the sole punt return and allowed an average of 16.5 yards on 6 kickoffs, which is around the league average. They continue to be the team to give up the least number of yards on any type of return and have only accrued 4 penalties in 5 games.

  2. The St. Louis Battlehawks gave up 16 yards on 2 punt returns (8 Avg.) and 122 yards on 5 kickoff returns (24.4 Avg.). While their allowed kickoff return yards are a bit higher than usual, their previous play will keep them in the Second Position.

  3. The San Antonio Brahmas climbed 1 spot into the Third Position this week after allowing 56 yards on 4 punt returns (14 Avg.) and 39 yards on 2 kickoff returns (19.5 Avg.). They are one of the last few teams to remain below the league averages for yards allowed.

  4. The Seattle Sea Dragons jumped 2 spots into the Fourth Position after an incredible week. Not only did they allow just 19 yards on 2 punt returns (9.5 Avg.) and 73 yards on 4 kickoff returns (18.3 Avg.), but they also managed to block 2 punts and did not receive a single penalty!

  5. The Houston Roughnecks performed well in terms of limiting yards, allowing just 15 yards on 4 punt returns (3.8 Avg.) and 22 yards on 2 kickoff returns (11 Avg.). However, they shot themselves in the foot when they received 3 penalties, bringing their total up to 9 on the season, which leads the league. They will fall into the Fifth Position due to this.

  6. The D.C. Defenders only let up 3 yards on 1 punt return but really struggled to contain the Battlehawks kickoff returners, allowing 155 yards on 3 kickoff returns (51.7 Avg.) This, and the fact that they received 2 penalties, will force them to slide into the Sixth Position.

  7. The Arlington Renegades allowed an average of 11 yards over 3 punt returns and 20.3 yards over 4 kickoff returns. Though their execution has been below average all year, and they have accumulated a staggering 8 penalties, they are not the worst coverage team in the XFL and will look to right the ship moving forward.

  8. The Orlando Guardians gave up 27 yards on 2 punt returns (13.5 Avg.) and 139 yards on 5 kickoff returns (27.8 Avg.). They did not receive any penalties this week but their prior performances and penalties will keep them in the Eighth Position.

 

As you come to the end of this article, I hope that you have found it informative and engaging.


Thank you for taking the time to read my work.

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