United Football League
UFL MVP power rankings: DC Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu on the rise
United Football League

UFL MVP power rankings: DC Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu on the rise

Updated Apr. 24, 2024 12:00 p.m. ET

The 2024 UFL season continued with a stellar slate of games in Week 4 that kept football fans on their toes.

The St. Louis Battlehawks (3-1) kicked things off with a dominant win over the Memphis Showboats (1-3), and red-hot Birmingham Stallions remained perfect on the year with a last-minute victory against the DC Defenders (2-2).

The Houston Roughnecks earned their first win of the season by taking down the Arlington Renegades (0-4) at home, and the San Antonio Brahmas (3-1) bounced back after a stunning loss last week by topping the Michigan Panthers (2-2).

Here's a look at which players stood out in Week 4 for the MVP race.


1. AJ McCarron, QB, St. Louis Battlehawks 

Week 4 result: Defeated Memphis Showboats, 32-17
Week 4 stats: 35 of 45 (77.8%) for 222 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception and 23 rushing yards

McCarron has now led the Battlehawks to three consecutive victories headed into Week 5. The former Cincinnati Bengals backup ranks second in the UFL in passing (838 yards) and first in touchdowns responsible for (eight). McCarron also makes use of his playmakers on the outside in Hakeem Butler and Jahcour Pearson, and he has yet to squander the UFL’s only 100-yard rushing performances from tailbacks Mataeo Durant and Jacob Saylors.

With the crowd advantage that the Battlehawks have at The Dome at America's Center, it’s not difficult to see St. Louis' unequivocal QB1 emerging as a favorite for MVP.

2. Jordan Ta’amu, QB, DC Defenders

Week 4 result: Lost to Birmingham Stallions, 20-18
Week 4 stats: 12 of 22 (54.5%) for 161 passing yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and 24 rushing yards

Along with McCarron, only Ta’amu has managed to solidify himself as QB1 in his respective franchise. Though the Defenders have already lost twice as many games this season as they did all last season in the XFL, Ta’amu continues to make plays for a team that created the best challenge yet for the undefeated Stallions.

3. Matt Corral and Adrian Martinez, QB, Birmingham Stallions

Week 4 result: Defeated DC Defenders, 20-18
Week 4 stats: 19 of 29 (65.5%) for 240 passing yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions and 51 rushing yards (Corral)

Admittedly, this situation is a bit odd, but it also underscores what the UFL — particularly in Birmingham — has been all about: the chance to play. The desire to play and the chance to play has always been a driving force for the Stallions’ success, and it pays off in wins.

Despite a two-QB system, the Stallions lead the league in passing (917) and boast the UFL’s only 300-yard passing performance and the league’s second-leading rusher, both Martinez. He has rushed just 17 times for 164 yards.

While Corral and Martinez have each received starts, Stallions coach Skip Holtz has been steadfast about picking one to start and one to stay in reserve. For three years, he has held the policy that both of his quarterbacks — whether that be J’Mar Smith, 2023 USFL MVP Alex McGough, Corral or Martinez — deserve to start. 

Who can argue with that? Holtz is undefeated this season and hasn’t lost a game since last May. However, as the season progresses, I’ll be watching to see which signal-caller Holtz chooses to see him through the rest of the season. 

4. Darrius Shepherd, WR, St. Louis Battlehawks 

Week 4 result: Defeated Memphis Showboats, 32-17
Week 4 stats: Three receptions for 27 yards, four kick returns for 128 yards and two punt returns for 18 yards 

Shepherd leads the league in all-purpose yards, and it’s not close. He has accounted for 724 yards in returns and receiving, which is more than 200 yards clear of the Arlington Renegades' Juwan Manigo, who's in second with 505 yards.

His ability to gain great field position on kickoff returns has become a huge strength for the Battlehawks, with UFL kickers being forced to kick from their own 10-yard line and kickoff cover teams being forced to wait for the kick to land on the ground or in the returners' hands before tearing off to tackle him.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Follow him at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube.

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