May 10, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: N/A
With both Walshes possibly inactive with injuries, Joe Cubitt could become the first player in league history to register two different 1,000-yard performances in his career. He accumulated 1,064 total yards in Week 2 last year, throwing for an AUDL single-game record 947 passing yards on 80 completions.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 31-17 at Austin
After getting dusted in the first half of their trip to Austin and committing 21 turnovers in the first two quarters, the Legion got focused in the locker and committed just 10 total turns in the second half while showing pop on offense. Jason Hustad and his mighty hammer throws might be the premier chucker in the league this season. The Legion are extremely thin at handler, and Hustad isn’t afraid of any coverage or distance when it comes to pulling the trigger. Connor DeLuna continues to evolve into a force in one-on-one matchups in space.
22. Houston Havoc (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-18 vs Austin
The Havoc showed they have the “energy” part of a winning formula down in their first-ever game. Now comes the hard part of refining that into a more effective offense. Four different Houston players had four throwaways in Week 1, which by themselves would often be too much against the elite competition in the South, let alone accounting for the rest of the team’s turnovers. John Shelley was the lone thrower to complete more than 11 passes without registering multiple turns.
21. Seattle Cascades (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-19 vs Salt Lake
The Cascades have started 0-3 in three of the past four seasons, which has historically put them behind the eight ball in the West Division standings to begin each year. Opponents are converting nearly 64 percent of their offensive possessions into scores this season against Seattle, which is the equivalent to a top three O-line from 2022. Khalif El-Salaam is currently pacing the league in points played per game for all individuals with multiple appearances, and could be in the pole position the remainder of the season.
20. Toronto Rush (-8)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-14 at Boston
25 goals scored in two games. 49 goals allowed. 2-of-17 on defensive break opportunities. 56 total team turnovers. It was about as bad of a 2023 debut as possible for the Rush, but that means that there are few directions to go from here but up. The uptempo and effective offense that Toronto played at the end of the 2022 season was replaced by franticness and poor decisions. Toronto has a get-right game at home in Week 3, but will be without a host of starters and could be staring down the barrel of an 0-3 start if they don’t shore up their self-inflicted mistakes.
19. Montreal Royal (+1)
Most recent result: N/A
With Toronto suffering two devastating road losses to open their season, the Royal must be licking their chops at the chance to take on their longtime rivals this weekend. Montreal opened their 2022 season with a 26-19 win in Toronto, with Malik Auger-Semmar accounting for seven scores, three blocks, and 544 total yards. After missing the latter part of last season in the Royal’s wave of injuries, the 25-year-old is now fully healthy and could be in for a career year.
18. Portland Nitro (+4)
Most recent result: Loss, 22-20 vs Salt Lake
The Nitro will always have a few head-turning highlights whenever both Leandro Marx and Raphy Hayes are active. But what really helped Portland assert themselves early against the Shred was a renewed vigor on defense. Rookie Landon Lavoie made a big layout block in the first half, and generally the Nitro seemed much more aggressive in engaging their counterattack than they did in last year.
17. Madison Radicals (+1)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-17 at Pittsburgh
With injuries starting to pile up on offense, the Radicals could turn more towards second year playmaker Kai DeLorenzo. After having some difficulties with turnovers in his rookie season, DeLorenzo looked much more polished and comfortable in his 2023 debut, finishing with four scores, 21 completions, and over 300 yards of offense compared to just one turnover. Madison doesn’t take the field again until May 20 in Indy, so they have time to adjust their rotations.
16. San Diego Growlers (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-16 vs Colorado
Reggie Sung gave the Growlers about as good of a start to their season as possible, blowing up Colorado’s first pass on their first possession with a block, and San Diego converted the break shortly after. But from that point, it all started to go downhill for SD. Team leader Paul Lally suffered a knee injury four points into his 2023 campaign that will leave him sidelined indefinitely, and the Growlers offense was held to their second lowest offensive efficiency since 2018. Travis Dunn and Michael Tran were responsible for 33 percent of the team’s total completions, which could be the standard volume/load for the two heading into the rest of the season.
15. Indianapolis AlleyCats (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 23-21 vs Minnesota
Time is a flat circle when it comes to Indy playing at home, gaining an early lead, and then frittering it away late in the second half as they did against the Wind Chill in Week 2. The ‘Cats were 11-for-11 on deep balls, and committed just 12 turnovers as a team as they regained their offensive rhythm after a poor debut in Atlanta. But when the defense has produced just 11 takeaways in two games, there is too much pressure on the Indy offense to score, inevitably leading to forced passes and mistakes. Travis Carpenter has just one throwaway on his first 77 passing attempts after missing the entirety of last season.
14. Philadelphia Phoenix (+1)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 at DC
Philly fought and clawed their way back from a five-goal deficit with opportunistic defense and Greg Martin going full beast mode, but it still wasn’t enough to best the Breeze as the Phoenix suffered their third one-goal loss in four meetings with DC. The Phoenix offense has struggled to show the fire of last year, completing just 12 hucks total in their first two games after averaging 10 per matchup in 2022. The bright spot has been the defense, which just held the Breeze offense to their lowest efficiency rating since July 2021.
13. Boston Glory (+4)
Most recent result: Win, 25-14 vs Toronto
Over his last two season debuts, Orion Cable has collected 10 goals and nearly 700 receiving yards as an indomitable downfield receiving option. Boston as a team is now 3-0 as a franchise in their first game of the season, and once again show a lot of promise on both sides of the disc. Chris Bartoli ate up Toronto huck after Toronto huck, and finished with a career-best five blocks while leading the Glory D-line to their best performance ever. And with such ample break opportunities, it allowed team captain Brendan McCann to showcase his counterattacking abilities to their fullest extent, tying Cable for a game-high seven total scores.
12. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 18-17 vs Madison
With just 15 turnovers in their home opener win, the Thunderbirds continued a trend they started at the end of last season of limiting unnecessary mistakes that have cost them mightily during the franchise’s four-year playoff drought. Pittsburgh now has five straight games with 17 or fewer turnovers, and the tighter margins are pushing them back into contention. Right around the same time the shift in play started last season, franchise blocks leader Anson Reppermund switched into an offensive receiving role, giving the T-Birds a big downfield target and allowing other receivers Max Sheppard and Jimmy Towle to exploit more favorable matchups.
11. Oakland Spiders (-)
Most recent result: Win, 24-23 (OT) vs Seattle
After an energetic-if-somewhat-sloppy win in their home opener, the playoff hopeful Spiders now get a true test as they play host to the 3-0 Shred in Week 3. Oakland likes a lot of motion in their offense—similar to how an NFL team may use pre-snap adjustments to smoke out defensive schemes—and the Spiders have the arm talent to spot and exploit gaps in coverage almost on command. Mac Hecht has every throw at his disposal, and the flurry of Chris Lung, Evan Magsig, and Walker Frankenberg puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses; the Spiders can smallball opponents to death, which also grants additional opportunities for Hecht, who is lethal from range.
10. Los Angeles Aviators (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-15 vs Colorado
LA literally threw away their 4-1 lead against Colorado as eight different Aviators players finished with multiple throwaways, including a team-high five for Pawel Janas in his 2023 debut. The new-look Aviators have nice features—Janas and Jason Vallee have great passing chemistry and can navigate tight spaces fluidly, Sean McDougall continues to be a stat-stuffing impact player, and Daniel Brunker was great as a continuation attacker on offense—but for now it’s a bunch of components still searching for a whole.
9. Chicago Union (-)
Most recent result: N/A
The Union start their season at home against Indy on Saturday in a rivalry matchup that often goes down to the wire. Nate Goff is listed as active, and has been an Avengers-level player for Chicago over the past two seasons against the ‘Cats. He had one of the most vicious posterizing scores of all-time two years ago, and then last season secured the game-clinching bookends in Indy in Week 9. Indy has averaged 11 huck attempts per game in 2023, which could mean a high block performance from Goff.
8. Minnesota Wind Chill (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 23-21 at Indianapolis
Big credit to Dylan DeClerck, Tanner Barcus, and the Minnesota defense as a whole for manufacturing turnovers with clutch defensive plays to start the second half in their comeback win. It’s tough to generate turns indoors at Indy’s Grand Park, and Minnesota brought pressure to rattle the ‘Cats throwers just enough to cause disruption. The Wind Chill have now ranked top three in takeaways per game in all but one season (2018) since their franchise’s founding in 2013, and led the league in break rate last season. Madison has long held the distinction as the Central Division’s best defensive unit, but the Wind Chill have their own strong case for the title.
7. Carolina Flyers (-3)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-19 at Atlanta
Even with Jacob Fairfax turning into a one-man wrecking crew and stampeding for almost 700 total yards against the Hustle, the Flyers are struggling to find a rhythm on offense. They’ve scored just 35 goals in their first two games, and most alarmingly are dead last in the AUDL in red zone conversion rate, having punched in just 19-of-29 (65.5 percent) of their opportunities in 2023; the Flyers finished second and fourth in red zone conversion rate in 2021 and 2022, respectively. It’s not time to panic yet for a team this talented in a division with the easiest path to the playoffs, but 0-3 would be completely unprecedented for this franchise if they don’t get a win against the Sol this coming Saturday.
6. Austin Sol (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 31-17 vs Dallas
The Sol took one of the biggest leads ever into halftime with their 19-3 advantage over Dallas last Saturday, so the Legion outscoring Austin in the second half was completely moot; seven of the Sol’s top 10 goal scorers through the first two games play on D-line. Jake Radack and new backfield partner Duncan Fitzgerald look like a dynamic passing duo, and they will get a full test this upcoming weekend against the stout defenses of Atlanta and Carolina.
5. Salt Lake Shred (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 25-19 at Seattle
While the rest of the West has struggled to rein in their mistakes, the Shred have been refining their execution game by game, dropping their turnover numbers from 18 to 13 to just 11 in their most recent win in Seattle. And they’re agile in their adjustments: The Nitro jumped all over the Shred in the rain last Friday night, securing an 8-3 lead after the first quarter. But Salt Lake re-focused and dialed in, committing just seven throwaways in the final three quarters. The exemplar of this style has been Jacob Miller, who doesn’t have a throwaway in 85 passing attempts so far this season. And for all the (deserved) hype for a cutting core featuring Jordan Kerr, Will Selfridge, and new addition Elijah Jaime, it’s been Jace Duennebeil who continually finds separation in the end zone for a team-high 12 goals through three contests.
4. Atlanta Hustle (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 24-19 vs Carolina
With eight scores, seven blocks, and nearly 900 yards of offense through two games, Brett Hulsmeyer would be a damn good argument for MVP through Week 2. But beyond the individually great performances—Liam Haberfield had a Him Rating through the roof against Carolina, and Matt Smith is playing some of his best ultimate of his long career with 12 scores and zero turnovers so far in 2023—this Hustle team looks like the most complete version of itself. They’re efficient, deep, and showed a knack for matching each of the Flyers’ big plays with one of their own, particularly down the stretch as the Hustle used a 6-2 run to close out the victory.
3. Colorado Summit (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-15 at Los Angeles
Similar to his start last season, Jonathan Nethercutt entered 2023 with his proverbial fastball in peak condition, passing for 15 assists and over 1,000 yards through the air on a dizzying array of deep balls in Colorado’s two road wins. But more impressive than the Summit’s air raid/“four verts”-style offensive attack was the pressure their D-line brought all weekend. Colorado’s defense forced 54 turnovers out of San Diego and LA last weekend while allowing just 31 goals total. 2022 DPOTY Cody Spicer was sticky on handlers and clogged up reset space, and there’s a stable of athletes to chase discs down in the open field.
2. DC Breeze (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-19 vs Philadelphia
Another blitz of big defensive plays by DC’s D-line gave the Breeze a commanding 10-5 against Philly last Sunday out of the gate. But for the second straight game, the Breeze offense stagnated in the second half, allowing their opponents to creep back in and make it a tight contest. Rowan McDonnell was shifted back into his offensive facilitator role in the second half in an attempt to stabilize rotations, and the Breeze were able to trade out and hold on for the one-goal win. But DC has converted just 46.8 percent of their offensive possessions through two games, nearly 20 percent below their conversion rate from 2022 when they finished third in the league.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 24-11 vs Toronto
Through two games the Empire defense currently has more break scores (23) and blocks (29) than goals allowed (19), and their break rate (53.5 percent) is 10 percentage points higher than the league record set by Dallas in 2016. New York is smothering opponents at the point of attack and in the backfield, leading to short field possessions off of turnovers, quick D-line scores in transition, and two big routs. Rookie Jeff Holm has been great for his size and situational awareness in and around the disc, allowing other bigs Ben Jagt and Antoine Davis to roam more and make plays in space.
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