Madden NFL 23: The Best Superstar X-Factors And Abilities

Abilities are THE game changer in Madden NFL 23, and if you don't have any superstars or X-Factors on your team, you're in for a real bad time. In this article, we will show you how to increase the development trait of your players, and which X-Factors and abilities are the best.

Madden best abilities
Unstoppable Force, Double Me and Shutdown are some of the best Superstar X-Factors you can get. | © EG / EA

Here are the best Superstar X-Factors and Zone Abilities in the game. But before we begin it’s important you know the difference between Franchise mode and other modes. In MUT, Head to Head and Franchise mode, Zone abilities have the same function, but in Franchise mode they also help to develop your players faster.

While you’re here, we have an in-depth article on the best talents in Madden and the coolest draft classes for 2023 and 2024. Best grab the players who definitely have Superstar X-Factor Development and can use zone abilities.

Madden NFL 23: The Best Superstar X-Factors And Zone Abilities

First of all, we have to explain to you what the Superstar X-Factor and Zone abilities are all about. The best players in the NFL have special abilities in Madden, which are marked with a star under the player ingame. Our example here is Mark Andrews, the Baltimore Ravens tight end. He has two abilities as a superstar that are comparable to Perks in other games. In Andrews' case, these are Mid In Elite and Matchup Nightmare. As a result, Andrews makes better catches in certain conditions and matchups compared to other receivers. And that is sometimes really unfair and hard to stop. But they are also the best players in the NFL, in reality it is no different with the matchups.

Only the very best players at their position get an X-Factor and can unlock zone abilities, an upgrade on normal abilities. Derrick Henry, for example, has to rush over 10 yards several times to get into the zone. Once he is in the zone, he performs even better and is unstoppable. The opponent has to adjust his play calling completely to this player in order to get him out of the zone again. Of course, this opens up spaces for the rest of the team.

You can only upgrade the Development Trait in Franchise mode. Therefore you need to either have really good performances with your player or get awards after the season. You can only upgrade the Development Trait step by step. It is impossible to go from a "normal" Dev Trait player to a Superstar X-Factor in a single jump.

The Best X-Factors And Abilities For Each Position In Madden NFL 23

As already mentioned, X-Factors are gamechangers and can completely take over the game when they are in the zone. In Offense and Defense you can have a maximum of three X-Factors active per team position, all other players with this Dev Trait play as Superstar ingame.

Now here we have the best zone abilities for each position in Madden NFL 23. It should be said that no X-Factor is really bad. Each has its advantage, but of course we only show the best abilities.

Not all abilities are immediately unlocked for your players, that only happens when they have reached a certain OVR. Of course, Patrick Mahomes has already unlocked all abilities, but if you play with Trevor Lawrence, you have to work towards that first.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities For Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks are the most important players on any NFL team, there's no doubt about it. If you don't have a franchise QB, you're rarely in a Super Bowl window. So when you start a franchise, the priority should always be a good QB.

QB's have five ability slots compared to all other players if they have the Superstar X-Factor Development Trait. If the QB is "only" a superstar, he has two abilities at his disposal.

These are the five best abilities for a QB:

AbilityDescription
GunslingerPassers with this ability have faster passing speed and release the ball quicker
Hot Route MasterPassers with this ability have access to four extra hot routes during pre-play adjustments
Quick DrawPassers with this ability have faster passing animations when they are throwing under pressure
Dashing DeadeyePassers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all throws under 40 yards while running outside the pocket
Inside DeadeyePassers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all throws inside the numbers

The Best X-Factor For QB's

The best X-Factor for your quarterback is Omaha, made famous by Peyton Manning. If Omaha is active (you have to make consecutive passes for 5+ yards in the air), then your QB sees the opponent's coverage before the snap. You can adjust your play accordingly to the coverage you see, which is really op.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities for Running backs

Running backs can also single-handedly carry your offence. There are two different types, one is Derrick Henry, a power back who just runs over his opponents. And then there are the receiving backs like Christian McCaffrey, who is not as strong as Henry but is a real weapon in the passing game.

These are the best abilities for a RB:

Ability
Description
Backfield Mismatch
Running backs with this ability have better catch in traffic and route running when coming out of the backfield against linebackers and linemen.
Juke Box
Ballcarriers with this ability have steerable juke animations

The Best X-Factor For Running backs

Fright Train is the best X-Factor for Running backs. You have to rush several times for 10+ yards to get into the zone. If you do so, the ability increases the chance of breaking the next tackle, which it usually does. Very dangerous ability, you have to run commit if you want to deactivate it.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities For Receivers

Every offense needs at least one elite receiver, otherwise you will have problems in the passing game. The big names here include Justin Jefferson, DK Metcalf and Davante Adams. Tight ends are also part of the receiver group.

These are the best abilities for a WR/TE:

AbilityDescription
Route Technician
Receivers with this ability have a high success rate when creating separation on the last cut of any route.
Slot-O-MaticWhen lined up in the slot, receivers with this ability make faster cuts and have better hands when catching passes less than 10 yards from the LoS.

Slot-O-Matic is so good that you should consider using it instead of Runoff Elite, though it only works in the slot of course. A pure outside receiver like Mike Evans should get Runoff Elite if he never lines up in the slot.

The Best X-Factor for WR/TE

Double Me is the best X-Factor for Receivers. You activate it by making 20+ yard catches, and after that the defense has to literally double your receiver. If the opponent doesn't and you have a 1v1 matchup, agressive catches always result in completions. Huge.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities for Offensive Linemen

Offensive Linemen Superstars are very rare in Madden NFL 23. But if you have one, you are a lucky one. Cause it it sooo difficult to upgrade them to a Superstar, that is only possible if you get an award.

These are the best abilities for a Offensive Linemen

AbilityDescription

All Day

Blockers with this ability will allow less frequent shed attempts by their block target.
Edge Protector
Blockers with this ability reduce an edge pass rushers's chances of using a quick block shed move.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities For Defensive Linemen

Defensive Tackles with Superstar Abilities are very important if you want to stuff the opponent's run game. Aaron Donald will always win 1v1 blocks when his abilities pop up. Inside Stuff and Outside Stuff are very hard to counter and will disrupt the running game with a 3-man front, which also makes the passing game more difficult.

These are the best abilities for a Defensive Linemen

AbilityDescription
Inside Stuff
Defenders with this ability use faster run shed moves for a better chance at shedding block against inside zone plays.
Under Pressure
Defenders with this ability can apply pressure to the quarterback from a greater distance.

The Best X-Factor For Defensive Linemen

Fearmonger: Some pass rushers intimidate quarterbacks with their sheer presence. When they enter the zone; they can apply significant pressure on quarterbacks even while engaged with blockers.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities for Edge Rushers

Defensive Ends and Outside Linebackers are the most important players for every defense. You need to have at least one star pass rusher in your team, otherwise it will be hard to put pressure on the QB without blitzing. You activate this ability just by sacking the QB multiple times.

These are the best abilities for a Edge Rusher

Ability
Description
Edge Threat / Edge Threat Elite
Defenders with this ability use faster, more dominant pass rush moves while rushing from the edge of the defense.
Double Or Nothing
Pass rushers with this ability must spend double the pass rush points to perform a move but are granted dominant wins.

The Best X-Factor For Edge Rushers

Unstoppable Force: Elite pass rushers are a mix of strength, speed, and tenacity. When they enter the zone, this ability increases their win rate and block shed speed against one-on-one pass blocks. You activate this ability just by sacking the QB multiple times.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities for Middle Linebacker

The Middle Linebacker is your user when playing defense. It is not necessary to use a superstar player here, because you can do all the user plays by yourself. If you have a player like Lavonte David, make sure to use Lurker to get better angels to intercept a ball.

These are the best abilities for Middle Linebackers

AbilityDescription
LurkerDefenders with this ability can make jumping, 180-degree interceptions while lurking in a zone in the middle od the field.
Pick Artist
Defenders with this ability have higher chances to catch uncontested interceptions, and they have unlimited stamina on the return.

The Best X-Factor For Middle Linebackers

Zone Hawk: Zone Hawk defenders lock down a part of the field. When they enter the zone; this ability increases the rate of interceptions while in zone coverage.

The Best X-Factor And Abilities for Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks and Safeties are there to lock down the secondary. Built your roster with at least one elite Cornerback or Safety, otherwise Receivers will dominate you from the beginning.

These are the best abilities for a Defensive Back

AbilityDescription
One Step Ahead
Defenders with this ability generally react much faster to receiver cut moves when in man coverage.
Pick Artist
Defenders with this ability have higher chances to catch uncontested interceptions, and they have unlimited stamina on the return.

The Best X-Factor For Defensive Backs

Shutdown: defenders have the talent to erase receivers from the game. When they enter the zone; their coverage is tighter and interceptions are more frequent on contested catches.

These are the best tips we can give you to equip your players with the best gamechanging abilites. Use it to win with your favourite franchise team!

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