Players To Watch: Week 6

May 30, 2024
By Daniel Cohen

With nine different teams playing multiple games this weekend, Week 6 should give us a great look into which players and teams show the necessary weekend-long endurance to climb their division standings.

Justin Burnett, Atlanta Hustle (Pictured)

Last time we saw Justin Burnett in a Super Series game was in Week 2 against New York, when he single-handedly demoralized an opponent that was riding a 31-game win streak. Burnett recorded three blocks and added a highlight-reel sky goal over two defenders, as the Atlanta Hustle came away with the 20-15 win. Since then, Burnett has played just one game—last week against Indy—and he finished with his best plus/minus of the season (+6) in a seven-goal win. Few other players in the league have shown Burnett’s combination of lockdown defense and elite playmaking; he’s taken yet another step forward in his pro career and looks like a pretty clear favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year through the first chunk of the season. This week he’ll look to add to his resume against a Colorado team that boasts plenty of talent on offense, and we could get some fireworks if he draws the Noah Coolman matchup.

Orion Cable, Boston Glory

While he’s yet to play more than six games in a regular season, Orion Cable’s impact is felt every time he’s on the field for Boston. This weekend he’s active for both games of a potentially season-defining double header against New York and DC. His lone appearance this year came against Toronto in Week 2, when he scored five goals and racked up over 300 receiving yards on an even split of O- and D-points. He hasn’t been deployed much on defense over the years, so it’ll be worth watching where Boston uses the 6’5” athlete with fellow bigs Jeff Babbitt and Tannor Johnson-Go more or less cemented on the O-line. Dealing with all three on the same line would be a nightmare for opposing defenses, but Cable adds a lot to this Boston D-line in the form of over-the-top help, athletic playmaking, and serving as a constant offensive threat on the counterattack. 

Kyle Henke, Austin Sol

Kyle Henke has his first battle of the season with Carolina tomorrow night, and he historically shows up big for these games. Last time he faced Carolina was in the first round of the playoffs last year, and he recorded a season-high 356 receiving yards to go with multiple highlight-reel layouts throughout the night. Against Carolina in the playoffs the year before, Henke racked up seven scores and three blocks without a turnover. He’s proven over the last couple seasons that he’s a big-game performer, and given the context of this game—Week 6 Game of the Week, Austin coming off a tough loss to Chicago, Carolina currently undefeated in first place, etc—there’s plenty of motivation for Henke to impose his will on a Carolina team that’s only faced one opponent so far in 2024. This week presents a huge opportunity for the Sol to get back on track with an upset win and reclaim first place in the South.

Allan Laviolette, Carolina Flyers

The Carolina Flyers have played just two games so far, and Allan Laviolette only appeared in one of them, but he’s a big reason why this team already looks like a championship contender. In his first UFA action since the 2021 title game, Laviolette was nearly flawless in Week 1 against Atlanta, tossing six assists and scoring two goals on a 35-of-36 throwing day, including going a perfect 3-for-3 on hucks. He was the primary engine that drove the Flyers offense, much like he was in 2021, and the fact he doesn’t seem to have lost a step should send chills down the rest of the South Division’s spine. The Flyers have a Texas double header this weekend against Austin and Dallas; last time they were in Austin, the Sol knocked them out of the playoffs. With Laviolette back in the lineup, this is the weekend for the Flyers to assert themselves at the top of the division.

Jonathan Nethercutt, Colorado Summit

Jonathan Nethercutt will take the field for the second time this season tomorrow night, and given his historic playstyle in the context of a matchup with Atlanta, one has to wonder if it’s going to be game driven by explosive plays. While this Hustle team no longer exclusively depends on the deep ball, they’ve still got two of the better deep throwers in the game in Bobby Ley and Austin Taylor, and playing at altitude, I could see them dueling with Nethercutt in a potential shootout. The identity of this Summit offense is still in flux, but the former league MVP can still be an O-line anchor, as evidenced by his four-assist, 300-yard, zero-turnover performance in Week 2 vs. Seattle. Colorado seems to be at their best when they’ve got their deep game working for them—they completed just 40 percent of their hucks in their loss to Salt Lake after starting the year 12-of-15 (80 percent) in their win over Seattle—and regardless of how the offense forms around him, Nethercutt can always provide that spark. 

Jacques Nissen, DC Breeze

It’s that time of year now that the college season is over: Jacques Nissen is back in the lineup for the DC Breeze set to make his 2024 debut. Ultiworld’s number one D-I men’s college player, Nissen led Brown to a national championship last weekend and will now shift his focus to a UFA title with the Breeze. One of the most reliable hybrids on DC’s offense over the past few seasons, Nissen ranks second in Breeze history* in completion rate (96.7 percent), and the team has scored on 63.6 percent of their possessions when Nissen’s been on the field, which is the highest individual offensive efficiency in franchise history*. The Breeze have a host of O-line players active for this weekend’s double header against Toronto and Boston, and it’s always worth watching exactly how roles shift and rotations work out in this loaded DC offense.

*minimum 30 games played 

Jake Rubin-Miller, Chicago Union

Back on the UFA field after missing last year with injury, Jake Rubin-Miller has begun his second pro season with eight blocks in four games, putting him on pace for 24 this season; only Phil Turner (2021) and Lukas Ambrose (2022) have reached 24 blocks in a season since 2021. He looks just as springy as he did pre-injury with Madison, providing that counterattack spark after using his quickness and athleticism to generate turnovers. First up for JRM this weekend is a revenge game against the Radicals in Chicago, before the Union head out to Indy to take on the AlleyCats on Saturday. Coming off a big weekend in Texas—he had two assists, two goals, and four blocks combined in Chicago’s wins over Houston and Austin—Rubin-Miller’s defensive prowess is going to be needed once again, as the Union look to propel themselves to 5-1 and control first place in the Central. 

Previous weeks: