May 19, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
25. Detroit Mechanix (Previously 25th)
After their 22-goal performance in Week 2, Detroit is ninth in huck completion percentage, largely thanks to the record-setting performance of Joe Cubitt at Indy. But the Mechanix offense continues to show improvements at the margins, with second-year receiver Jack Havey emerging alongside Cubitt, Andrew Sjogren, and Bryan Walsh as a foundational piece of their O-line unit; Havey had nine total scores and over 700 yards of offense for the Mechanix in their last game. And for the first time since 2016 Detroit is not dead last in offensive efficiency, boasting a franchise-best 45.5 percent conversion rate.
24. Tampa Bay Cannons (Previously 24th)
The Cannons started strong for the third straight game before eventually fading in the second half in their second matchup against Carolina in as many weeks. Tannon Hedges had a career night last Saturday, contributing six scores and 558 total yards of offense while committing just a single turnover; Hedges was 4-for-4 on hucks versus a top tier Flyers defense. The new Tampa Bay offense can be potent when it’s in rhythm, but the new pieces are still adjusting as the Cannons are second to last in scores per game (14.3).
23. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (Previously 22nd)
After dropping two straight and dealing with a bye in Week 3, Pittsburgh plays host to Indianapolis on Saturday night in an early season-make-or-break matchup for both teams. Thomas Edmonds and Max Sheppard always play energized at home, and Indy will be playing their first game outdoors in 2022. The Thunderbirds' chances could hinge on the season debut of big receiving target Noah Robinson, who scored 15 goals in three games with the Thunderbirds in 2018; Pittsburgh had only four wins that season, but a highlight was Robinson’s six-goal performance in the T-birds road upset of Minnesota.
22. Seattle Cascades (Previously 20th)
Once again without their main handlers, the Cascades struggled to just three first quarter goals on the road in Salt Lake. Seattle eventually found their rhythm through a wonky assemblage of Declan Miller, Alexander Belfiore, and Drew Swanson, the latter of whom had a career night on offense; a third-year defensive specialist, Swanson came into Salt Lake with four career assists in 23 career games and tossed six against the Shred while finishing with over 400 total yards. This is all to say, though, that things are not going to plan for the winless ‘Scades as they continue to plug players into makeshift roles as they continue to bear substantial absences.
21. Oakland Spiders (Previously 21st)
Even without Justin Norden on the road in Portland in the preseason, the Spiders pushed the Nitro to overtime, which bodes well as Oakland gets set to host the expansion team on Saturday. Keenan Laurence was a star in that game, continually finding separation for deep scores in the Spiders’ second half comeback. But equally important for Oakland’s offensive attack was the quick-strike motion handling of Evan Magsig. Now in his second year, Magsig is set to make his season debut at home in Week 4 and could be a perfect complementary piece alongside Norden in the backfield.
20. Indianapolis AlleyCats (Previously 19th)
The ‘Cats sprinted to a 10-5 lead midway through the second quarter against Madison last Saturday night thanks to their early defensive pressure, with Keegan North and Levi Jacobs blading throws over Madison defenders. But from there everything kind of unraveled for the home team in Indy. Despite converting on 6-of-7 break opportunities against the Radicals, the AlleyCats could do nothing to impede Madison’s erosion of their lead in the second half. And while Indy leads the league after three weeks in scores per game (27.5) and red zone conversion rate (95.8 percent), they managed just nine total red zone opportunities against Madison, which was a major contribution in the ‘Cats scoring just three goals in the fourth quarter; when Indy can’t connect on hucks and throw over the defense, their offense can struggle.
19. Dallas Legion (Previously 14th)
After losing on Friday in Austin, the Legion returned home on Saturday and gave Minnesota a competitive first half before two days of Texas heat caught up to them; Dallas scored just two goals in the fourth quarter against the Wind Chill in their second loss in as many days. There are pieces to like about this young Dallas roster—Jimmy Zuraw is a legit QB1, and Alec Wilson Holliday is a defensive nightmare in space—but there is no semblance of a whole yet. As a team, the Legion are bottom three in completion percentage, offensive efficiency, and red zone conversion rate, and are fourth worst in scoring at 16 per game.
18. Ottawa Outlaws (Previously 15th)
A week after disrupting Boston’s voluminous deep attack, Ottawa’s defense had no answers for the Rush in Week 3, surrendering 29 goals and 16 completed hucks as Toronto committed just nine turnovers against the Outlaws. Without some starters, the young Ottawa defense was lacking in height, as they were continually outmatched in the air by Rush receivers. But Geoff Bevan continues to look like one of the 10 best throwers in the league, finishing with six assists, 60 completions, and 1,013 total yards in the loss; Bevan joins Nick Boucher as the only pair of AUDL teammates to both have 1,000-plus yard games in their career.
17. Los Angeles Aviators (Previously 17th)
Similar to last season, the Aviators continue to shoot downfield on offense and defense, resulting in 27 team turnovers in their Week 3 loss to San Diego. But 22-year-old Brandon Van Deusen has emerged as LA’s latest backfield bomber on offense, finishing last Saturday with game highs in completions (73), throwing yards (618), and total yards (680) while committing just two throwaways; Van Deusen has nine assists and over 1,100 throwing yards through two games this season. LA is dead last in takeaways per game, with just 10 in two games, including only two against the Growlers last weekend.
16. Philadelphia Phoenix (Previously 16th)
There’s no doubt that Philly is the best winless team in 2022, with their three losses coming by a combined four goals; Friday night’s loss at the buzzer in regulation to a Montreal hail mary was a real heartbreaker. The Phoenix generally looked like the better team against the Royal, but a variety of unforced errors on offense in their own half of the field yielded easy break opportunities for their opponent. And while the Philly defense continues to restrict opposing offenses, the Phoenix have failed to score 20 goals in two straight games, and are in the bottom six in scoring for an eighth straight season.
15. Toronto Rush (Previously 22nd)
The Rush offense completely turned things around after their Week 1 loss to Montreal, going from 19 to 29 goals against Ottawa, and improving their red zone conversion rate by nearly 30 percent from one game to the next. Toronto also showed off a high-powered huck game, with brothers James Lewis and Wilkie Lewis connecting on a series of deep shots, while rookie Oscar Stonehouse had six goals and 439 receiving yards in his second game as a pro. This young Toronto team—like the other two Canadian franchises—plays best when they can turn the game into an offensive shootout, and feed off of the collective energy that big plays generate.
14. Boston Glory (Previously 16th)
Boston battled with New York throughout the first half before a strong third quarter by the Empire handed Glory their third straight loss. But even in defeat, Boston played a solid game, especially on defense where they limited the Empire to just three huck completions; Cam Wariner is one of the best defensive playmakers in the division, and gives Glory a canopy over the top. Orion Cable skied and smashed his way to seven goals, and now has 11 in just two games this season. But with three losses in the first three weeks—and three games remaining against DC (twice) and New York (once)—how many more missteps can Boston afford if they want to stay playoff competitive?
13. Madison Radicals (Previously 13th)
For the second straight week Madison won ugly, punching back from an early five-goal deficit to finally take the lead late in the fourth quarter and steal one on the road. Kai Marcus finished with game highs in assists (8) and total yards (753), and acted as Madison’s main pocket passer in just his second game with the team. Marcus’s massive buzzer-beater throw to a towering Jacob Wham to end the first half was a turning point for the Radicals, and his hucks continue to add a different dimension to this offense’s vertical attack.
12. Montreal Royal (Previously 12th)
After the emotional high of Christophe Tremblay-Joncas’s walk-off winner on Friday and improving to 3-0, Montreal went into DC on Saturday and got worked out of the gate, going down 7-2 in the first quarter before eventually losing 27-17 to the Breeze. But despite the 10-goal setback, the Royal have put themselves in terrific position for the third and final playoff seed in the East Division, even at such an early stage in the season. And with the returns of André Arsenault, Quentin Bonnaud, and Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky expected for this Saturday, Montreal could take significant control in the standings with a win at home over Philadelphia.
11. Austin Sol (Previously 11th)
Straight up: This is far too low of a ranking for a very good Austin team. And after having some criticisms after their three-goal win in Week 1 over Dallas, Austin’s both-sides-of-the-disc domination of the Legion in Week 3 put most of them to rest. The Sol defense generated 25 turnovers and converted 12 breaks on Saturday, with Jake Reinhardt, Eric Brodbeck, and Matt Armour adeptly quarterbacking counterattack drives all game long. Jake Radack adds a different dimension as a thrower for this team, and is able to both set the table as a distributor, and also take over drives by himself; Radack attacks with his legs and his throws, and can dictate in small spaces or just unleash a huck into space for Evan Swiatek or Kyle Henke.
10. Minnesota Wind Chill (Previously 10th)
For all my yapping about the positive effects the new additions would have for this Minnesota team, it was the return of Andrew Roy to the lineup that made all of the difference for the Wind Chill down in Dallas. The teams may have combined for 47 total turnovers, but Roy had just two throwaways while registering game highs in completions (32), throwing yards (353), and total yards (412); Roy played six defensive points, and is instrumental as a pivot handler on either offense or defense for Minnesota. Coming out of halftime up just one goal, Minnesota converted their opening drive of the half as Roy found a streaking Quinn Snider with a 30-yard dart past the Dallas defender. It was just one assist in the box score, but it cemented a two-goal lead and gave the Wind Chill a confidence they didn’t let go of the rest of the game.
9. San Diego Growlers (Previously 9th)
The Growlers took care of business for the second straight week, earning a wire-to-wire win over their interstate rivals from LA with an impressive 15-block defensive effort. San Diego hosts Seattle Saturday before having a two-week bye through the start of June, giving the Growlers a nice road to 3-1 before they host Portland in Week 7. Travis Dunn and Sean McDougall continue to look as potent as any receiving pair in the West, and the entire Growlers offense converted 16-of-23 offensive opportunities, their best mark of the season so far.
8. Portland Nitro (Previously 8th)
Portland is the last of the three expansion teams to have their first road trip, and could become the third to continue the remarkable trend of perfection on the road for the new franchises. The team will be without Jack Hatchett and Raphy Hayes in Week 4, but Leandro Marx and Daniel Lee feel more than capable of picking up the slack given their performances in the first two games. And Eli Friedman continues to play some of the most balanced offense in the league, collecting 12 scores and nearly 1,100 yards of total offense while committing just two throwaways. Friedman operates as both a nimble facilitator and a standstill deep thrower, and his utility takes center stage on the road this weekend.
7. Chicago Union (Previously 7th)
D-line Dalton Smith lived up to the hype in his Week 2 Chicago debut, anchoring the defensive counterattack with 31 completions and getting three blocks of his own in the road win. Smith’s availability during the regular season remains to be seen, but when he’s active, he makes the Union function like a Championship Weekend team. But for as good as the top line talent is for Chicago, it was their depth that carried them to victory in Minnesota, and could prove to be their edge against potential playoff opponents as the season develops.
6. Colorado Summit (Previously 6th)
The Summit sit idle in Week 4 before hosting undefeated Salt Lake in their home opener in Colorado in maybe the most important game of the first month of the season. And with Jon Nethercutt playing like he’s the best thrower in the league, it’s tough to bet against the Summit in any matchup; Nethercutt’s ability to make 13 assists, 122 completions, and over 1,000 throwing yards in two games an expected result is absurd. The focal point for Colorado will be limiting their turnovers, as they currently sit 19th in the league averaging over 23 per game.
5. Salt Lake Shred (Previously 5th)
Another highlight-packed win for the Shred as they turned their 32-21 home opener victory into an electric factory from the opening pull. The Salt Lake offense led by Jordan Kerr looks like one of the most balanced attacks in the AUDL in their first three outings. But it’s the Shred defense that continues to steal the show, as they converted 12 breaks, with most of them coming in emphatic style; Taylor Barton hitting Garrett Martin for the layout and break score in the first quarter was pure adrenaline.
4. Atlanta Hustle (Previously 4th)
With just two playoff spots in the division, Atlanta ousting Austin this upcoming Saturday night would be a big boost for their postseason chances. Michael Fairley, Brett Hulsmeyer, Bobby Ley, and John Stubbs are all set to make their 2022 debuts, adding significant firepower to an already dangerous Hustle lineup. Austin Taylor remains the visible QB1 for Atlanta’s offense, and has over 200 more throwing yards than the next closest teammate. Ley and Stubbs will give the Hustle more points of attack, and could open up the scoring quickly with their deep throws.
3. DC Breeze (Previously 3rd)
Jonny Malks didn’t disappoint in his 2022 debut, going perfecto on 41 throws while contributing five scores and a game-high 513 total yards in the DC rout of Montreal. With Malks in the lineup—and a resurgent Rowan McDonnell running rampant downfield—the Breeze can attack from anywhere on the field, as demonstrated by their 10-of-13 huck completions and 77 percent offensive hold mark from Week 3. Defensively, DC’s re-additions are really hitting their stride. David Cranston is a mobile safety in the lanes for their defense, Alexandre Fall is explosive when he gets a read on a throw, and Moussa Dia gives them a big matchup defender to experiment with; there is balance and depth everywhere on this roster.
2. Carolina Flyers (Previously 2nd)
Even without All-AUDL talent in Henry Fisher, Anders Juengst, Eric Taylor, and Sol Yanuck in the lineup in Week 3, the Carolina offense didn’t miss a beat as they completed 9-of-12 hucks and converted 16-of-18 of their possessions in the red zone. After matching up on Ryan Osgar in the 2021 AUDL Championship Game, Alex Davis is finally getting reps on offense and getting big results. Davis has always been able to win a footrace because of his insane top speed, but it was his operation in tight corridors—particularly with his throws—that buoyed the Flyers offense even without four of its stars. Well, that and the fact Carolina seamlessly put Noah Saul and Matt Gouchoe-Hanas in the backfield, and the two veterans completed 82-of-82 throws against Tampa Bay; Week 3 was a frank rebuttal of any doubt that the Flyers are the deepest team in the league.
1. New York Empire (Previously 1st)
The Empire continue to sustain the best shots of opposing teams and come away relatively unaffected as they outperformed Boston in the second half of Saturday’s win thanks to the utility play of the New York stars. Ben Jagt and Jack Williams played 12 and nine defensive points, respectively, with Williams quarterbacking entire D-line possessions on his own; the Empire coaching staff continue to toy with Jagt in different lineups and set plays, employing him on double teams and trying to leverage his height and playmaking in as many places as possible. And that has all become possible because of offseason additions like Charles Weinberg, who has filled his striker role on offense to near perfection through three games.
Follow Adam Ruffner on Twitter.