2017 Week 5 Power Rankings

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2017 Week 5 Power Rankings

By Adam Ruffner

Rankings Archive

Rank Team Record Trend Comment

1

5-0 Even though the road trip included Nashville and Atlanta, winning back-to-back away games is not an easy task in the league, especially with the 14-person roster Dallas brought to Tennessee and Georgia. Matt Jackson even made a brief appearance and caught a goal during the Roughnecks game against the NightWatch, despite it being less than a month since his brutal arm break and ensuing surgery. In his stead, Abe Coffin has been playing the best ultimate of his pro career, leading the team with 12 assists to go along with seven goals over the last three games.

2

4-1 Never ones for big performances on the road, the FlameThrowers got the job done in their SoCal road trip, sweeping the Aviators and Growlers. The biggest news wasn’t necessarily the wins, but the re-addition of Eli Kerns. A standout handler with seemingly every throw, Kerns returned and barely missed a beat, throwing 10 assists and 53 completions in the two games. But never to be outdone, Cassidy Rasmussen threw 14 assists on the weekend, upping his season total to 27 through four games, placing him second in the league.

3

5-1 Even though Raleigh is loaded with talent, the depth of this team is what continues to impress. Six different Flyers have 10+ assists, and almost a completely different set of six players have 10+ goals. And nearly two years after being one of the only players in league history to notch a 50-assist, 50-goal season, Justin Allen is flourishing as a counterattacker on the defense. His powerful gunslinging has paced a lot of Flyers drives off of opponents’ turnovers, giving the team an added potency on defense. He’s second on the team with 18 assists despite playing predominantly on defensive lines, and is throwing an assist one out of every five completions.

4

4-1 +9 Yep. They’re here. Because other than the three teams above them, the Spiders, right now, could beat any team in the league. That’s how locked in they are on both sides of the disc. They are the second deepest team in the league behind Raleigh, with every player filling their roles at an an optimal level, and can boast the most well conditioned team in the AUDL at this point in the season. If there is one weak spot, it is the defense and their susceptibility to opponents attacking deep space. But even for their deficiencies, San Jose’s D-line has shown an unparalleled patience and effectiveness in taking the turnovers they do create and converting them into break scores.

5

2-1 Tyler Monroe has arrived in 2017. Through two games played (both wins), Monroe leads the Breeze with 14 goals and is second on the team with nine assists, time and again stepping up with the score when the team needs it most; by comparison, he registered just 19 goals in 11 games in 2016. He showed a lot breakout potential last season on a deep roster, especially as a downfield receiver, but this level of production is a bit beyond expectations. There’s still a little concern with Monroe’s turnover rate—he has five throwaways to just 32 completions—but when he’s scoring on a league-best 50%+ of his points played, it’s a worthy tradeoff.

6

2-1 It’s a little too early to make any kind of definitive call, but this New York defense is likely to end up among the all-time greats, if not the best ever. The 21 goals the Empire allowed over the past two games is the lowest point total allowed for a two-game stretch in AUDL history.
But to really get a sense of just how tough this New York defense is, we need to dive deeper into the stats. On average, Empire opponents require 19.14 completions to score, the highest amount in the league and a sign of New York’s intense defensive pressure; the second highest amount is held by Madison at 15.73. To put the nearly four-completion gap in perspective, the difference between the Empire and the Radicals is the same difference #2 Madison and #15 Montreal.

7

2-0 +1 The Wind Chill made nearly every statement play in their big 22-20 win against the Radicals, with the exclamation coming on Brian Schoenrock’s SportsCenter-worthy layout goal to start the final frame. The defense continually made the normally unfazed Radicals offense uncomfortable, while the offense was guided by the handling core of Josh Klane, Jason Tschida, and Austin Lien, who combined for 209 completions and just 11 throwaways in the steady wind. Still, it feels like Minnesota left something on the table by allowing Madison to crawl back into the game at the end, and the goal differential could prove vital later in the season.

8

1-1 -4 Saturday was a tough defeat to the Wind Chill, and essentially means Madison has to win both of their next two matchups against Minnesota to have a shot at their fourth straight Midwest Division regular season crown. But for all of the disappointment of their first regular season loss in nearly two years, the Radicals nearly closed an 18-11 gap entering the fourth quarter on the road, and without players like Peter Graffy, Brian Hart, and Ryan Tucker.

9

4-1 Not the Cannons player I anticipated at the beginning of the season to lead the league in scoring, but Jeremy Langdon has been in the zone through five games, racking up 20 assists and a league-high 27 goals. Mischa Freystaetter still sits at number two in the league with 23 goals,
yet it just feels so pedestrian compared to his output last season. But with Langdon’s emergence on offense, the team has started lining up Freystaetter more on the defensive side of the disc with good results. The Cannons don’t generate a lot of turnovers, and more importantly, fail to convert the opportunities they do have. With the league’s best receiving target now available to convert breaks, Jacksonville feels more balanced than ever.

10

2-1 It’s a hard loss to give up a lead at home as Los Angeles did last Saturday, especially with the Aviators looking to break into the league’s true elite with a win against San Francisco. The offense is converting nearly 70 percent of their points played into scores, which would place them in the top third of the league. But defensively, the team is starting to show some cracks. The 26 goals they surrendered to the FlameThrowers was the second time in three games they’ve allowed 26 points to an opponent, and they’re having trouble slowing down opposing offenses. It takes just 9.84 throws to score on LA, the sixth worst rate in the AUDL.

11

2-0 Which Thorne brother is this? Historically it’s been the older brother Alex who has claimed the title of “thrower” in the family, but in his absence this season, younger brother Max has been dropping dimes all over the field for the Thunderbirds. Through two games he has thrown 11 assists and 93 completions to just two throwaways, and has already established a wicked deep ball connection with Tyler Degirolamo—the two have connected on six scores so far in 2017, most of them on hucks. Pittsburgh is currently tied with Dallas for the most goals per game, largely thanks to the deep attack of Thorne, Degirolamo, and Pat Earles.

12

2-1 Through five weeks of play, Seattle may be the most exciting team to watch in the league. Even in their loss to the Spiders last Friday, the Cascades continued their big risk, big reward style of ultimate. MVP hopeful Mark Burton hasn’t seen a huck he doesn’t like so far in 2017, Brad Houser and Simon Bryson-Fox have emerged as reliable downfield targets, and the Cascades role players make a few plays every game that leave my jaw hanging open. Tomorrow’s Cross Coast Challenge matchup with Pittsburgh will be an important litmus test for this team and their expectations for 2017.

13

2-1 +5 At one point late in the third quarter of Saturday’s monumental upset of the Rush in Toronto, the Royal led by an eye-popping 20-12 margin, even without the services of important players like Kevin Groulx and Christian Foster. Montreal now goes into its home opener tied for first place in the East, the first time in franchise history they’ve occupied that spot in the standings. Through three games, the Royal are playing the best team ultimate they’ve ever played as a unit, led by the throws of their superb handling quartet of Steve Bonneau, Antoine Genest, Felix-Antoine Daigle, and Kevin Quinlan.

14

1-2 -8 Week 5 marked the first time in Rush franchise history that the team lost back-to-back games, let alone two games in a single weekend. And were it not for a late game rally against the Empire, Toronto would be staring at an 0-3 hole to start 2017. Cam Harris leads the team in assists (8) and goals (12), but other than him, there have been few Rush players willing to step up, particularly on defense. It’s not time to panic quite yet, but for a Toronto team that has perennially ranked in the top five defensively, there are a lot of glaring issues. Case in point: It is taking Toronto opponents just 9.27 throws to find pay dirt, the third worst rate in the league.

15

1-1 +2 The Outlaws offense showed no signs of rust due to their late start, putting up 53 goals in their two game split of their opening road trip. Veterans Derek Alexander (13 assists, 4 goals) and Andy Ouchterlony (8 assists, 3 goals) look better than ever, with the latter connecting on multiple half-field hammer assists over the weekend. But the true star for Ottawa was Alec Arsenault, who couldn’t stay out of the endzone and hauled in 15 goals combined against DC and Philly, just seven goals shy of his 2016 total.

16

1-3 -1 For the past two times they’ve played, Atlanta has given Dallas as good a matchup as anyone in the league, but continue to fall just short of the mega upset. Robert Bradham’s bookends to tie it up at 19 to start the final frame on Sunday looked like the catalyst for the Hustle’s redemption, but the O-line committed an uncharacteristic six throwaways down the stretch of the fourth quarter to essentially hand the Roughnecks the win. At 1-3 and facing a brutal Texas road trip in another week, Atlanta’s path back to the playoffs is very uncertain at this point.

17

0-5 -3 No AUDL team has been victimized by a schedule quite like the Sol. Through five games, they’ve exclusively played the three teams from their division that rank in the league’s top 10. But even for the adversity their schedule presents, the Sol have a lot to work on. Austin often lives and dies by the huck, which is an intrepid strategy for a team that struggles to get the disc back off of turnovers. The Sol generate just 9.2 blocks per game, the third worst mark in the league. There is hope on the horizon, though: Austin will face Atlanta and Nashville in each of their next four games, and could very well be one win shy the next time they face the Roughnecks on June 17.

18

1-3 -2 To be very clear: I have not been more surprised at the outcome of an individual play than when I saw Michael Ames drop the game-tying goal in Saturday’s gut wrenching loss to the Thunderbirds. I was stunned. Over the entire history of the AUDL, and with the possible exception of Andrew Brown, there has not been a more reliable handler and anchor to offensive attacks than Ames. Before Saturday, he had zero drops in 2017, and just eight total in 1400+ touches since the beginning of 2015. The AlleyCats continue to be snakebitten by an almost cosmic-level of untimely mistakes.

19

0-4 April has been hard on San Diego. For the second time in three seasons, the Growlers have gone the first month of the season without registering a win. What has been most surprising about their slow start is the team’s inability to generate turnovers after specifically addressing that need during the offseason. It’s not personnel that they lack—Steven Milardovich, Nate Page, and 2016 All-AUDL Defense Team member Jeff Silverman have the talent to start for almost any team in the league—but rather a strategic focus on limiting the first option for opponents.

20

0-4 Like San Diego, much of Vancouver’s slow start can be attributed to their lack of a discernible game plan on defense. They’ve now allowed 27+ goals in three of their four games, and have done little to deter the stars on opposing teams, with San Jose’s Justin Norden and Chuck Cao largely allowed to do what they want on Saturday. Combined with their division-worst 91 percent completion rate as a team, and the Riptide have a lot of work ahead if they want to match their potential

21

0-3 The Phoenix have held a lead in each of their three games in 2017, but the results are still the same. There’s a lot more pop to Philadelphia’s offensive attack, but they’re still committing a league-high 26 throwaways per game, with three of their top six throwers completing less than 90 percent of their throws. Philly has a week off to make adjustments before they head on the road for a two-game trip to Canada to face the Royal and Outlaws.

22

1-1 +1 Detroit’s second straight win at home against Chicago wasn’t unexpected, but the 23-14 margin is definitely surprising for the upstart Mechanix. Having a superstar in Johnny Bansfield definitely helps, who finished Saturday’s game with three assists, four goals, and few massive flick hucks upwind in a game in which every other handler wasn’t even thinking about making those throws. Bansfield brings a new dynamic of playmaking to the team that was desperately needed, and alleviates the responsibilities Detroit’s still-developing depth on the roster.

23

0-2 -1 After an impressive debut offensively against the Thunderbirds, the Wildfire returned to mediocrity in their loss against Detroit by scoring just 13 goals. It’s the fourth time in five regular season games dating back to 2016 that the team failed to score 20 in a game, and now they must face the Radicals defense in Madison.

24

0-4 Nashville cannot catch a break at home, either with the weather or on the scoreboard. Week 4 was marked by torrential downpours, only to be followed in Week 5 by gusting winds that exceed 20 miles per hour. The eight goals the NightWatch scored on the Roughnecks at home was a franchise low, which means there’s only a way up from here.