August 11, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
With the playoffs just two days away, it's time to start narrowing down candidates for Most Valuable Player. This is by no means a final list of candidates—there's some honorable mentions listed at the end, but I could still be missing some players that will have good postseason performances—but a good rundown of the stars having premier seasons in 2022.
Players listed alphabetically by last name.
Travis Dunn, San Diego Growlers
Regular season stats: 52 assists, 25 goals, 4 blocks, 305 completions (92.9%), 2110 throwing yards, 3073 receiving yards, 20 hockey assists, 16 huck completions (84.2%)
One of the most consistently productive offensive strikers the league has ever seen, Travis Dunn combines a WR1 skillset with NASA-precise continuation passes; Dunn can create separation easily with his foot speed and stamina, and has one of the most finely tuned catch-and-release flick hucks in the game, often hitting teammates in stride. Most importantly, though, Dunn saves his best performances for San Diego’s biggest games. In four matchups against Salt Lake and Colorado this season, Dunn is averaging 6.8 assists, 2.3 goals, 33 completions, 254 throwing yards, and 352 receiving yards per game.
The highlights mostly emphasize his dominance in open space as a big-body, big-play dynamo, but where Dunn is borderline unstoppable—and most effective for the Growlers attack—is in the red zone. Dunn’s size, agility, and intelligence in orchestrating the SD offensive system alongside Tim Okita gives the Growlers a visible advantage near the goal line; the two have countless times spun opportunity out of a standstill using their patented give-and-go actions; the Growlers have been a top-six team in red zone efficiency each of the past two seasons.
Week in, week out, Dunn disposes of the opponent’s top defender, often forcing teams to cover him by committee. Dunn is undoubtedly surrounded by a terrific cast of all-star level teammates, but he remains the V8 engine at the center of San Diego’s championship charge.
Why he should win it: Clear number one option in crunchtime on a team full of AUDL stars; if San Diego makes their first AUDL Championship Game appearance
Ben Jagt, New York Empire
Regular season stats: 32 assists, 46 goals, 9 blocks, 155 completions (89.6%), 1137 throwing yards, 3284 receiving yards, 16 hockey assists, 4 huck completions (33.3%)
Six games into the 2022 season—and coming off two consecutive league MVP awards and a three-season stretch that was the greatest offensive production span in AUDL history—Ben Jagt became a defensive starter. Now, that might be hard to tell if you’re only looking at the stats: Jagt still finished in the league’s top 10 in total scores (78), goals (46), and receiving yards (3284) despite playing 125 of his final 146 points (86 percent) of the regular season on defense. But even as a defender, Jagt remains one of the most effective scorers in the league, averaging three goals and 207 receiving yards per game in his last six starts.
Jagt has been a takeaway specialist throughout his career, with 117 blocks in 81 career regular season games. But the 6’6'' behemoth is now being deployed as a matchup specialist, able to use his size and great field IQ both in space, and in set pieces as a part of double teams on the mark; Jagt has begun pulling in recent games, and his hangtime average is nearly a half a second longer than NY’s normal initiator Marques Brownlee, who has one of the best hangtime averages in the league over the past several seasons. New York is a team that founded its franchise identity on a “faceless mob” defensive mentality, and for as historically good as the Empire offense has been this year, Jagt willingly altered his role to help the Empire have their best team defense season ever; NY is first in goals allowed per game (16.8) and first in opponent offensive efficiency (42.3 percent) in 2022.
Obviously New York and their personnel have the luxury of lineup experimentation, but there is still something special about watching an all-time great flip his entire position midseason for the overall improvement of the team.
Why he should win it: Two-time MVP completely reverses role for undefeated team midseason; remains elite goal scorer and receiver
Why he shouldn’t: New York is too stacked; high turnover rate
Pawel Janas, Chicago Union
Regular season stats: 63 assists, 21 goals, 1 block, 600 completions (94.2%), 4703 throwing yards, 2036 receiving yards, 48 hockey assists, 13 huck completions (54.2%)
There has never been a more consistent volume thrower than Pawel Janas in this league. Over the past five seasons, the 28-year-old Janas has ascended the all-time passing leaderboards at a ridiculous rate, and already sits second all-time in assists (385) and completions (3658) after just 66 career games. There’s a singular kind of tenacity and smarts to Janas’s game: the more opportunities he has to see a defense, the more ways he seems to find to exploit it; Chicago is 5-1 in their last six games against Madison going back to the 2019 season, with Janas effectively “figuring out” the vaunted Radicals zone looks.
Always a great motion passer, Janas added a more visible attacking component to his handler role. Especially in red zone scenarios, Janas becomes a kind of fullback, mobilizing himself in close quarters and using his all-time great sense of balance to shift defenders out of position and free himself for easy scores; Janas nearly doubled his previous career high in goals this season.
And for as impressive as the numbers are—and as Janas continues to add new wrinkles to his individual game—the true team “value” Janas brings to this Chicago franchise cannot be overstated. As a pillar player since 2017, the entire construction of the Union’s roster has been built with Janas at the center.
Why he should win it: Best QB1 in the league; if Chicago makes their first AUDL Championship Game appearance
Jordan Kerr, Salt Lake Shred
Regular season stats: 78 assists, 29 goals, 3 block, 299 completions (92.9%), 2685 throwing yards, 2848 receiving yards, 24 hockey assists, 11 huck completions (84.6%)
Jordan Kerr began 2022 with a nine-assist breakout against the Growlers and hasn’t slowed down since, finishing the regular season with a league-best 78 assists. There might not be a better fit between player and system than Kerr with Salt Lake, as the Shred continually put Kerr and his deep bag of throws in advantageous positions. Is there a more patented throw in the league right now than Kerr freeing himself along the left rail and punching in a frozen-rope assist?
And while the Shred have weaponized Kerr as the most dangerous throwing finisher in the league, much like Dunn, what sets everything up is Kerr’s ability to initiate and work as a receiver. Kerr has become ruthless as an initiating cutter in isolation, owing to some of the best footwork in the league, which allows him to create wide open separation as a thrower; his one-two juke combos have left more than a few defenders in shambles.
Salt Lake has dealt with a myriad of injuries and lineup adjustments, and Kerr’s reliable production at an elite level—he had fewer than five assists in a game just twice this season—has been central to the team’s 10-win inaugural campaign. Just his second year as a pro and the youngest player on this list, Kerr has become a true star in short order.
Why he should win it: League leader in assists; star of 10-win expansion team
Why he shouldn’t: Quick playoff exit; West Division offensive inflation
Rowan McDonnell, DC Breeze
Regular season stats: 43 assists, 29 goals, 6 blocks, 446 completions (95.1%), 3322 throwing yards, 2194 receiving yards, 30 hockey assists, 15 huck completions (75%)
After spending a 2021 season hampered by a hamstring injury, Rowan McDonnell re-emerged this year as one of the best attacking throwers in the AUDL. A prototypical hybrid at full strength, Rowan regained his ability to stretch the field vertically as a thrower and receiver; adding “the big play” back to his arsenal makes Rowan a matchup nightmare in the Breeze’s offensive flow; Rowan had eight multi-goal games this regular season, including five in a row, after finishing with just five total goals in 2021.
An encyclopedia of throws and release angles, Rowan has combined his passing repertoire and field vision to become a virtual locksmith against opposing defenses, unraveling otherwise good coverage with a simple tweener pass, or a coin-slot blade. One of just eight players to finish the regular season with 40-plus assists and over 3,000 throwing yards in 2022, Rowan might be the best red zone weapon in the league this year; his activity and ease against any defense in tight coverage is second to none.
When Rowan is picking his spots and quarterbacking at the center of the DC attack, the Breeze look like a championship-caliber contender.
Why he should win it: Big playoff performances; DC make it past NY to get to Championship Weekend
Why he shouldn’t: DC depth; tendency for high turnover games in postseason
Sean Mott, Philadelphia Phoenix
Regular season stats: 55 assists, 16 goals, 8 block, 376 completions (93.1%), 2758 throwing yards, 2200 receiving yards, 30 hockey assists, 19 huck completions (65.5%)
It took an AUDL-record 83 career games for Sean Mott to qualify for his first postseason, but the Phoenix legend is on the precipice of his first playoff appearance after his fourth 50-plus assist season in his last five. An in-rhythm Mott is as dangerous a distributor as any in the AUDL, and the seven-year vet is playing some of his best ultimate over the last month of the season; Mott is averaging 6.4 assists, 37 completions, and 317 throwing yards in his last five starts, including three games against elite defenses in DC and New York.
Mott is always a threat with the longball, but where he's most dangerous is in transition. His understanding of the Phoenix system coupled with his lefty throws give Mott the ability to switch attack angles on a dime, often wrong-footing defenders and hitting receivers wide open and in-stride with back shoulder assists; Mott has long been one of the most creative throwers in the league, and now the Philly attack has enough receiving talent surrounding him to accentuate his talents.
Despite not taking a game from either DC or New York this regular season, the Phoenix still feel ripe for a postseason upset. And who represents that quintessential Philly punching spirit better than Mott.
Why he should win it: Face of franchise having a career season in first Philly playoff appearance since 2013
Jonathan Nethercutt, Colorado Summit
Regular season stats: 58 assists, 7 goals, 3 blocks, 538 completions (92.8%), 5145 throwing yards, 1552 receiving yards, 40 hockey assists, 34 huck completions (60.7%)
It should come as no surprise to see Jonathan Nethercutt leading the league in hucks up at altitude. But even for a former MVP, Nethercutt’s first season in Colorado has been special as the QB1 for the league’s best deep attack. Nethercutt had four games with over 500 passing yards, and finished with a career-high 538 completions for the 11-1 Summit; Nethercutt’s 58 assists in 2022 has launched him into sixth place all-time.
But more than the stats, Nethercutt has added a confidence and downright swagger that has been perfect for the young culture of this Summit expansion team. Nethercutt’s limitless range has opened up all possibilities downfield for a Colorado offense that ranks third in scoring and fourth in efficiency; rarely is there a time where the Summit O-line looks “stagnant”, owing to the guy who can hit targets 80 yards away from a standstill.
After playing just 14 total games over the past three seasons with two different teams, 2022 has been a firm reminder of the true power of a full force Nethercutt.
Why he should win it: Best player on a first place team; Colorado makes an AUDL Championship Game appearance as an expansion team
Why he shouldn’t: Throwaways; quick playoff exit
Ryan Osgar, New York Empire
Regular season stats: 67 assists, 26 goals, 2 block, 390 completions (97.5%), 2996 throwing yards, 3073 receiving yards, 35 hockey assists, 21 huck completions (95.5%)
New York moved the two-time reigning MVP to defense, and finished the regular season with the most efficient offense ever. Ryan Osgar has played with an android-like efficiency this year, and closed out the regular season with 10 assists, two goals, 33 completions, 654 total yards, and zero turnovers against Philly; Osgar never had fewer than five scores in a game in 2022, and his lowest yardage total was 343 yards. Simply put: Osgar is the best offensive striker in the league, and playing at maybe the highest level ever.
Osgar had six different games without a throwaway this season, which is kind of unfathomable when you watch how insistent and productive his attacking style is as a passer; Osgar had just three games with fewer than 31 completions. Whether it’s attacking large spaces, or probing and creating with tight window throws, when Osgar has the disc he can make any one of his six teammates on the field into a lethal target.
There’s a lot of arguments to be made for a lot of players for MVP this season, but when it comes down to it: Is there a player you’d want to have with the disc more than 2022 Osgar?
Why he should win it: Most efficient offensive season ever; best player on the best team
Why he shouldn’t: New York is STACKED
In the running: Cameron Brock, IND; Ross Barker, CHI; Quinn Finer, COL; James Pollard, PHI; Leandro Marx, POR; Evan Swiatek, ATX
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