March 21, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
5. Austin Sol
Mark Evans - Kyle Henke - Evan Swiatek
Per game averages: 9.0 assists, 8.2 goals, 79 completions, 4.17 turnovers, 446 throwing yards, 721 receiving yards
It makes a lot of sense that the high risk, high reward, “yeehaw” lifestyle would be embodied by a Texas trio with a penchant for gunslinging. The Sol squad brought the heat last season, producing over 17 scores and almost 1200 yards of offense per game for a top six O-line.
Always a big scorer and highlight producer, Henke doubled his throwing usage and halved his throwaways in 2022, fully transforming into one of the most dangerous and clutch hybrids in the league. Henke threw the game-winning assist in the team’s big Week 8 win in Madison, and had a career night in Austin’s playoff loss to Carolina, notching seven assists, two goals, three blocks, 491 total yards, and 31 completions without a turnover.
Evans quickly became one of Austin’s primary throwers in his first season with the team, capable of carving up defenses with his big hucks and hammers from the striker position. His athleticism keeps him a step ahead of defenders, and his quick trigger and varied release angles allowed him to tie the team high in assists as a rookie.
With 91 goals and over 6000 receiving yards in his first 23 games as a pro, Swiatek will always be considered a primary threat as a receiver. But don’t sleep on him as a distributor, as Swiatek completed 20 or more passes in 10 of his 13 starts last season, and has expanded his range considerably.
4. Carolina Flyers
Jacob Fairfax - Anders Juengst - Terrence Mitchell
Per game averages: 5.2 assists, 8.6 goals, 53 completions, 2.9 turnovers, 327 throwing yards, 580 receiving yards
The Flyers offense can hurt defenses on all three levels—short, midrange, and deep—thanks to the talents of their hybrid trio. Fairfax and Mitchell have been two of the most consistent continuation throwers over the past several seasons, and Juengst fluidly interchanges between functioning as a fast-twitch reset option, and one of the most lethal goal scorers in the league.
For all his development as a thrower, Fairfax is most known for dominating defenders in the air. He has five straight seasons with 30 or more goals, and is one of the best end-of-quarter targets ever. His big play receiving potential allows him to gauge defenses for big gainers, and opens up throwing lanes for his flick huck in transition.
Mitchell made a name for himself as a human highlight reel and scorer, but his career has become defined by excellent decision making as a midfield option. For five straight seasons, Mitchell has had single digit throwaway totals, including just three throwaways total in 11 career postseason games. He still has plenty of pop entering Year 8, and his timing allows him to control most matchups.
Despite being sidelined with an injury for the majority of last season, the 2021 Rookie Of The Year Juengst was still supremely effective in limited action. Juengst’s combination of acceleration and strength allows him to blow by all but the most elite defenders, and his field sense and tight throws make him a valuable distributor.
3. DC Breeze
Christian Boxley - Cole Jurek - Tyler Monroe
Per game averages: 6.4 assists, 7.0 goals, 71 completions, 3.7 turnovers, 380 throwing yards, 648 receiving yards
It remains to be seen exactly who will start where as the DC Breeze adjust to their surplus of starting O-line talent. But any configuration that involves Boxley-Jurek-Monroe will present a myriad of coverage issues for opposing defenses.
All three players possess the physical tools to make them great primary options as receivers. But it’s their vision and precision as midrange throwers that makes this trio so dangerous. The Breeze seldom use the longball—they completed the fifth fewest hucks per game in 2022—but had the third most efficient offense in the league thanks to the throwing prowess of their downfield players, and their ability to attack from almost any position on the field; Jurek spent his first three seasons in Minnesota, and has a game tailormade for the Breeze’s spread system; Boxley, Jurek, and Monroe all averaged over 20 completions per game last season.
There’s a kind of thunder-and-lightning balance for this lineup. Both Jurek and Monroe operate as large framed, mobile passers who can leverage their size in space to beat defenders to the spot, while Boxley has evolved into one of the best glue throwers and goal-scoring finishers in the East Division, if not the league as a whole. The overall effect is one that looks like a lot of easy pitch-and-catch opportunities for the Breeze offense, while defenses are dizzied by the continual disc movement.
2. Colorado Summit
Quinn Finer - Jay Froude - Matt Jackson
Per game averages: 6.9 assists, 8.9 goals, 64 completions, 3.2 turnovers, 420 throwing yards, 712 receiving yards
Finer and Froude would both be WR1 options on any other team in the league, and together they form a true pick-your-poison proposition for opposing defenses. Froude is one of the most productive scorers in AUDL history, and Finer is set for season two with the Summit after putting up the most efficient high-scoring season ever as a rookie. Two of the fastest players in the league, the duo can leverage a lot of pressure on the opposition in a hurry, similar to how Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle stress test NFL defenses; with the ability to eat up yards in mere seconds, Finer and Froude can force defenders to overcommit, which opens up a lot of spacing for their Summit teammates.
With defensive coverages forced to focus on limiting Froude and Finer, Jackson operates as a perfect glue piece and playmaker in Colorado’s starting rotation. His quick feet and reads allow Jackson to navigate the midfield with ease, knifing into available space and exposing soft spots in the defense. Jackson often connects the Summit’s strong backfield with their downfield receivers, keeping Colorado in rhythm in between their deep huck looks.
The Colorado offense steadily improved throughout their first season—the Summit converted on 65 percent or better of their offensive drives in eight of their last nine games—and with a fully healthy Alex Atkins and rookie Calvin Stoughton ready for big roles, the Finer-Froude-Jackson core could be just starting to tap into their potential.
1. New York Empire
John Lithio - Ryan Osgar - Charles Weinberg
Per game averages: 8.7 assists, 7.6 goals, 67 completions, 2.8 turnovers, 403 throwing yards, 693 receiving yards
The tip of the spear for the New York Empire’s record-setting offense last season, this pod is equally productive and precise, and boasts the lowest turnover rate on this list. MVP Osgar is the obvious anchor, but Lithio and Weinberg offer diverse-yet-complementary skill sets that amplify the entire O-line’s effectiveness.
Coming off of perhaps the best offensive season in league history, Osgar’s super power is his adaptability. No matter what his role is on the field, Osgar is decisive in his play, striking quickly as both a cutter and a thrower when any window of opportunity becomes available. His throws have a Terminator-like calibration at seemingly any distance or release angle, and his feet racked up 17 goals and 903 receiving yards in the final three games of the season.
At 6’5”, Lithio presents an immediate matchup problem for most defenses in any context. What makes the third year pro borderline unfair is his ability to balance off of Osgar and others as a passer. When the MVP was forced into a receiving role in the playoffs, Lithio assumed a larger throwing load and excelled, completing 60-of-61 throws in three postseason starts.
Weinberg was the final puzzle piece in the NY offensive lineup. In his first season with the Empire last year, Weinberg showed a similar capacity to what made him so standout in Minnesota: Making highly productive plays within the flow of the system. In the championship game against Chicago, Weinberg threw five assists on just 13 completions, and registered almost 300 yards of total offense.
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