May 31, 2023
By Adam Ruffner
24. Detroit Mechanix (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-17 vs Minnesota
The Mechanix lost each of the first three quarters by just a single goal before the wheels came off in the fourth in Week 5. Rookies Carson Chamberlain and Daniel Robinson each finished with over 300 receiving yards and combined for 10 goals in the game. It looks like there may be a youth movement developing in Detroit.
23. Dallas Legion (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 25-14 vs Austin
Dallas has lost all three of their games this season by double digits and are dead last in turnovers per game. There’s a looseness that’s hard to ignore, with the Legion averaging as many huck turnovers per game (10.3) as takeaways; opponents are converting nearly 15 break scores a game against Dallas, two more than the next highest team. Throwing struggles aside, Alec Wilson Holliday found his niche as a receiver on offense, and posted career highs in goals (6) and receiving yards (353) while taking over for a stretch in last Sunday’s game.
22. Seattle Cascades (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-20 vs Oakland
The Cascades are bringing their full strength lineup on the road to Portland in hopes of ending their 10-game losing streak that dates back to June 5 of last year. Garrett Martin has sharpened his throwing skills in his second stint with the team, and is fourth in the AUDL in assists per game (4.6); Martin is also 14th in total yards per game (512). He already has two 300-yard throwing performances this year after posting zero in his first 19 pro games.
21. Montreal Royal (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 15-12 vs Boston
With just 27 goals in their last two games, the Royal are stuck in an offensive rut. Montreal is having trouble keeping the disc moving with precision, and the result is a lot of miscues in transition, as well as late-stall bailout huck attempts. Six different Royal players are averaging two or more throwaways per game, tripling last season’s total.
20. Houston Havoc (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-11 at Atlanta
Facing two of the more daunting and physical defenses in the league in Carolina and Atlanta on back-to-back days, the first year Havoc looked frustrated and out of rhythm throughout most of the weekend on their way to committing 65 turnovers in two road losses. Mark Baldauf has been solid with the rock, but no other Houston thrower with more than 26 completions has a completion rate above 94 percent. The Havoc’s positionless approach spreads the love and gets their players a lot of even distribution touches. But when the going gets tough, it seems difficult for the team to know who to rely on.
19. Portland Nitro (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 24-23 vs Oakland
Following a two game absence, Leandro Marx is set to start this Friday at home as the Nitro get set to host the ‘Scades in a battle for each team’s first win. Marx was a menace against Seattle a season ago, and averaged 10 scores, 1.5 blocks, and 563 total yards in two starts. And with Raphy Hayes unavailable in Week 6, Marx could be looking at another NASA numbers night.
18. Madison Radicals (-)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-18 vs Chicago
The Radicals are a lot of things this season—energetic, possession conscious (sixth overall in turnovers per game), young—but one thing they are not is consistent, especially in the second half of tight games. The defense is still converting break chances as a top 10 team. But with fewer chances than ever before owing to their unprecedented bottom-seven block rate, there’s little room for error at the margins for an inexperienced, injury-riddled squad. Activating coach-turned-player Pat Shriwise for the first time since 2019 should indicate how far into the bag this Radicals team is reaching for a potential solution to their winless start.
17. Toronto Rush (+2)
Most recent result: Win, 15-12 at Montreal
With Philly still reeling after an 0-4 start to the season and Boston getting into the thick of their schedule, Toronto positioned themselves well with their Week 5 win in Montreal, ugly as it was. The Rush now have two different 30 turnover games already this season, and they rank 21st in the AUDL in turns per game. But there is some pop to this Toronto team, as they grinded out 15 blocks against the Royal, and are now averaging nearly 11 per game for the season.
16. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 20-19 vs Philadelphia
The Thunderbirds have had an interesting mirror to their results this season, winning their first two games by one and 16 goals before losing their next two games by 14 and one goal margins. Max Sheppard is once again a top 10 scorer and has drastically reduced his turnover numbers. He’s completing a career-best 97.5 percent of his throws through four games, nearly four percentage points higher than his previous career best. But the T-Birds offense as a whole is slumping, and has converted just 23-of-63 (36.5 percent) of their O-line possessions in their last two games.
15. Los Angeles Aviators (-2)
Most recent result: Loss, 18-14 at Colorado
Despite the roster overhaul and some initial success in their first two games, the Aviators are struggling to convert defensive break chances for the third straight season. They are 19th in defensive conversion rate in 2023, and were just 4-of-16 (25 percent) on break chances during their Week 4 road trip. With so few break scores, there’s been added pressure on their offense—a unit still trying to figure out rotations and chemistry with all the new pieces—resulting in hurried looks and increased turnovers.
14. Philadelphia Phoenix (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 20-19 at Pittsburgh
Finally! Philly gets their first win of the season, and it couldn’t be anything other than dramatic as the Phoenix dearly held onto their lead in Pittsburgh as the T-Birds mounted a just-short fourth quarter comeback. Over his last four games James Pollard is averaging over 300 receiving yards per game and has 22 total scores, and he’s creating scoring opportunities for the offense from almost anywhere on the field as a thrower. But with four early-season losses, the Phoenix face a virtual must-win in every foreseeable game, including this Saturday’s “Game of the Week” matchup with Carolina.
13. San Diego Growlers (-1)
Most recent result: Loss, 21-17 at Austin
Both Travis Dunn and Paul Lally will be in the starting lineup together for the first time this season as the Growlers get set to face-off against their SoCal rivals from LA in Week 6. It’s the first meeting of 2023 between the Growlers and Aviators, and it comes at a pivotal moment of the schedule for both teams. Max Gibson is second among rookies in scores per game (5.7), and is first in total yards per game (542), and has posted individual performances of both 300-plus throwing yards and 400-plus receiving yards.
12. Indianapolis AlleyCats (-1)
Most recent result: Win, 22-21 vs Madison
Coming off a banner year in 2022 that saw him accumulate 71 scores and nearly 5,300 total yards of offense, Levi Jacobs is playing the most precise disc of his nine-year career in Indy this season. He has just two throwaways—one a dropped pass—in his last three starts, and has shown a lot more selectivity in his downfield shots while remaining as active as ever as a receiver. In four starts in 2023, Jacobs is averaging north of 250 receiving yards per game, and is on pace for his third straight 3,000-yard season.
11. Minnesota Wind Chill (-4)
Most recent result: Loss, 16-12 at Chicago
It’s one thing to lose a tough road game to a divisional rival. It’s another thing entirely to go down 4-0 immediately as the Wind Chill did on Sunday, and finish with the fewest goals in a game for their team since 2019. Minnesota certainly had notable absences last weekend, but so did Chicago, and the Wind Chill now have just a 2-7 record against the Union since the start of the 2021 season. The upside is that Minnesota still retains its hold on first place in the division, and they get an immediate chance at revenge this coming weekend in a revenge matchup.
10. Chicago Union (+6)
Most recent result: Win, 16-12 vs Minnesota
For as bad and disinterested at times as the Union played in their home opener against Indy in Week 3, Chicago showed the poise and grit and defensive intensity that comes with two straight Championship Weekend appearances. The Union are still a long way from “pretty”, but they create opportunities with their hustle plays and show a lot of discipline at the margins. And the DNA of their defense has taken on the code of team captain Jace Bruner, with numerous players winning one-on-one foot races and jumping the lanes to create turnovers and quick transition chances. For the weekend, the Union were a ridiculous 17-of-26 (65 percent) on break attempts.
9. Boston Glory (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 17-15 at Montreal
Glory had nine franchise wins total over their first two seasons, and are already a third of the way to that total through just three games in 2023. In all 12 of those franchise wins, though, Boston has never beaten a team with a winning record, making a win on Friday against the Empire absolutely epic. Orion Cable continues to be a force as a receiver and a talisman for the offense with his playmaking.
8. Oakland Spiders (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 24-20 at Seattle
Oakland’s Week 6 doubleheader road tests in Salt Lake and Colorado are at least the biggest games in this franchise’s history since their last playoff appearance in 2017, if not their 2015 championship run. Walker Frankenberg and Keenan Laurence lead the team in scoring and downfield playmaking, but Chris Lung and Mac Hecht have been the twin motors at the center of the Spiders attack. The two complement each other extremely well in their first season together, as Hecht can operate as the steady distributor, which in turn primes Lung’s ability to roam as a mobile passer, pressing opposing defenses with his legs and carving through them with his big throws.
7. Austin Sol (+1)
Most recent result: Win, 25-14 at Dallas
Each season Evan Swiatek takes his game to a new level. Now in his third year with the Sol, the 29-year-old has added range to his deep throws, and already has as many huck completions this year through six games (6) as he did during the past two regular seasons combined (10). Other than a single matchup against the Flyers in Austin on June 10, the Sol will spend five of their final six regular season games battling their in-state brothers from Houston and Dallas. The floor right now for this team seems like nine wins.
6. Atlanta Hustle (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-11 vs Houston
Nothing like a steady diet of zone defense against an expansion team to get the Hustle back on track at home. Atlanta converted a season-high 11 break scores, which is almost as bewildering as the 25 break opportunities they generated against the Havoc, the highest total they’ve had in two seasons. Brett Hulsmeyer is somehow tied for first in the league in blocks despite playing 60 percent of his points this season on offense. If Hulsmeyer stays within the top three in takeaways, he would become the first player in league history to finish three straight seasons in that top tier for blocks; Dylan DeClerck could join him this season, while Mike Drost, Peter Graffy, Anson Reppermund, and Kevin Pettit-Scantling all finished top-three in total blocks in back-to-back seasons.
5. Carolina Flyers (-)
Most recent result: Win, 24-11 vs Houston
Winners of three straight, the Flyers are dialed in on defense and flattening opposing backfields at the point of attack. South opponents are averaging just 15 goals per game against Carolina over that stretch, and the Flyers’s margin of victory has been over eight goals. The D-line is getting contributions from everywhere and has 24 takeaways in their past two games despite no player totaling more than four blocks on the season. Jacob Fairfax is averaging the most scores per game (4.6) since his 2019 season where he finished with 39 assists and 30 goals during the regular season.
4. Salt Lake Shred (-)
Most recent result: Win, 25-13 vs Los Angeles
In his first three starts with the Shred, Grant Lindsley is living up to his legendary status, and is averaging three scores and 422 yards of offense while completing over 97 percent of his throws. Salt Lake already have plenty of weapons on offense, and Lindsley has acted like a force multiplier when he’s active in the lineup. The added confidence has been evident as the Shred are committing over four turnovers per game fewer than in 2022, and rank second overall this year.
3. DC Breeze (-)
Most recent result: Win, 20-13 at Toronto
There's a lot of interesting angles with this developing powerhouse of a Breeze team, and yet the biggest question about them remains: Where exactly is Rowan McDonnell going to lineup on any given point? DC started the season with the intention of using his significant playmaking and disc skills as a defensive anchor, but Rowan has slowly resumed his QB1 role on offense, smoothing out drives and utilizing his singular ability to problem solve defenses for the Breeze O-line. It's not much of a coincidence, then, that DC had their best offensive showing of the season in Week 4 in Toronto when Rowan played his most O-line points of 2023, despite a few notable absences from their starting rotation on the road.
2. Colorado Summit (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-14 vs Los Angeles
The Summit will be without their main distributor Jonathan Nethercutt this weekend, but will have the season debuts of Danny Landesman and much-hyped rookie Calvin Stoughton to look forward to as they get set to host Oakland on Sunday. Colorado's offense is still looking to get on track this season, but their defense has had a vice grip on West so far in 2023. They rank top three per game in the AUDL in goals allowed (14.5), blocks (13), and break scores (9.5), and opponents have notched just 11 combined goals in the third quarter over four games, signaling that this team is making key matchup and coverage adjustments at halftime. Noah Coolman, Cody Spicer, and rookie Saeed Semrin are all on pace to finish with 18 or more blocks this regular season.
1. New York Empire (-)
Most recent result: Win, 18-16 (OT) at Philadelphia
After being rested in Week 4 on an abundance of caution for a potentially developing injury, Ryan Osgar is back in the starting lineup for the Empire's big battle of the undefeateds with Boston this Friday. The reigning MVP was in top form in his last appearance, and returns to an Empire offense coming off their second worst performance of the past two seasons; New York converted on just 54 percent of their O-line possessions against Philly; an Empire "off night" without their leading scorer ranks about eighth in efficiency this season. The champs have looked vulnerable in each of their past two games, which could spell trouble for their foes in Week 6 if the Empire flex with their full strength lineup.
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