Players To Watch: First Round Playoffs

July 27, 2023
By Daniel Cohen

After 13 weeks, it’s officially playoff time. Many rosters are at full strength this weekend, headlined by several notable returns across the league and no shortage of stars looking to will their teams to the Divisional Championship round.

Tyler Chan, Boston Glory

Back in the lineup this week after missing Boston’s regular season finale, Tyler Chan will look to help Glory pull off the upset in their first ever playoff game. Chan has mostly led the Boston D-line this season, but in two games against DC this year, he played 30 O-points compared to just seven D-points. It’s no coincidence that Boston struggled to convert breaks in those games—3-for-10 (30 percent) in their first game against the Breeze, and just 2-of-6 (33.3 percent) in their most recent game. Chan’s offensive ability after turnovers, as both a thrower and receiver, has provided a notable boost to the D-line for the bulk of the season, and he should resume his D-line dominant role with a fully loaded Boston O-line coming into this weekend’s game. Up against the third most efficient offense in the league, turnovers will likely come at a premium, putting the emphasis on the Chan-led counterattack to take full advantage of their opportunities.

Kyle Henke, Austin Sol

The last time he went up against Carolina in a playoff game, Kyle Henke went off. He was flawless in last year’s South Division Championship Game, doing all he could to try and will Austin to Championship Weekend; Henke finished with five assists, two goals, and three blocks on a perfect 31-of-31 throwing day. His plus/minus of plus-10 marked a single-game career high. He again played turnover-free in his most recent game against Carolina, and he’ll need to continue that trend this Saturday if the Sol are going to keep their Championship Weekend hopes alive. Henke’s efficiency has taken a notable dip this season after completing a career-high 97 percent of his throws last year, but he clearly still has the ability to turn it on for big games, and with Austin looking for their first ever playoff win, expect another impressive playoff performance from their franchise star. 

Pawel Janas, Los Angeles Aviators (Pictured)

University of Colorado alum Pawel Janas heads back to his old stomping grounds this weekend, looking to keep LA’s momentum alive into the postseason. He’s played more playoff games than any of his active teammates over the last three seasons (six), and the team will need his leadership heading into a road environment like Colorado; the Summit had nearly 2,000 fans show up for their regular season finale against New York. Janas has handled a gargantuan workload in his first year with Aviators—he’s touching the disc more this season than ever before on a per-point basis—and he’s completing a career-high 96.7 percent of his throws. The AUDL assist king played one of his better games of the season when LA went to Colorado earlier this summer, as he racked up 644 yards of offense on 66-of-67 throws, accompanying his five assists and two goals. He’ll look to overcome the fullest-strength Summit roster of the year, as the ‘yaters look to keep their late-season magic going.

Danny Landesman, Colorado Summit

Danny Landesman will make just his second appearance of the season this Saturday against LA, taking on his former team (and his dad) for the third time in two seasons. After thriving in a downfield cutting role for the Aviators in his first two years in the league, Landesman was the go-to complement of Jonathan Nethercutt in the Summit backfield last season, and he had a career year as a thrower—in 11 games, Landesman completed 97.2 percent of his 354 throws with 27 assists and over 2,500 throwing yards. The University of Colorado product’s lone game this year was the Summit’s 27-22 home win over Oakland, and Landesman played perfectly, completing all 28 of his throws with four scores and nearly 450 yards of offense. It remains to be seen exactly how he’ll fit into a full-strength Summit lineup—Calvin Stoughton, who’s only appeared in three games this year, is also active for Saturday—as the structure of the offense has varied significantly throughout the season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a featured role despite the missed games.

Keegan North, Indianapolis AlleyCats

Keegan North returns to the AlleyCats lineup this week after missing each of the two Pittsburgh games to close out the regular season. Notably, Travis Carpenter is not expected to play this weekend against Chicago, so we’ll likely see a heavy workload for North. His volume was already up this year—North’s 318 completions in the regular season set a new career high—and without Carpenter’s approximate 40 completions per game, the backfield production could lean heavily on North, who’s also rocking a career-high 95.5 percent completion rate. He’ll be up against his former team in the first round of the playoffs this Saturday, after recording 300-plus total yards in each of their two meetings this season; Indy averaged a six-goal margin of victory over Chicago in their two wins. If North is able to limit mistakes and keep the AlleyCats offense stable in the outdoor home game, he should lead Indy to their first playoff win since 2019. 

Andrew Roy, DC Breeze

Andrew Roy has killed Boston this year, and he’ll have a shot at a third dominant performance this Saturday in his first playoff game with DC. In two games against Glory this season, Roy completed 112-of-113 throws for over 700 yards and eight assists—he averaged just 1.2 assists per game in his other 10 appearances. Roy has excelled at setting up the Breeze offense this year as a primary backfield option, and while he’s still most comfortable close to the disc, he’s fit well within the Breeze system in his ability to rotate through the offense and create space for his teammates. He’s been exactly the high volume, low-turnover thrower that this offense thrives on, and his career-high 98.2 percent completion rate is a big reason for DC’s third-ranked offensive efficiency. He’ll have DC’s full stable of complementary throwers available this weekend to grind down the Boston offense, as the Breeze look to rally their momentum towards another shot at New York. 

Joe White, Carolina Flyers

While he’s played just four games this season, Joe White’s most recent weekend of action featured one of the more memorable individual performances of the year. White tormented DC in the first game of Carolina’s Week 6 double header road trip, as he racked up 10 assists, three goals, and nearly 800 yards of offense against what has been a top 10—arguably top five—defense over the past few seasons. With Eric Taylor still out of the Flyers lineup, in addition to the absences of Matt Gouchoe-Hanas and Liam Searles-Bohs this weekend, the Flyers may have little choice but to lean on the throwing talents of White again in their first round game vs. Austin this Saturday. There’s been plenty of variance with the Flyers O-line throughout the season, but the team is still just two years removed from an AUDL title, and they boast the depth and top-end talent necessary to climb to the top again in 2023. If White can string together a couple big playoff performances, the Flyers could easily find themselves back at Championship Weekend for the third consecutive season.

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