Players To Watch: Week 4

May 16, 2024
By Daniel Cohen

Loads of explosiveness on this week’s watchlist including two former MVPs, must-watch hybrids, and key contributors playing in early-season statement games. Get your popcorn ready.

Jeff Babbitt, Boston Glory

I know, I know. It’s the second time he’s been on this list and we’re only four weeks into the season. But let’s face it, if there’s one player we’re most looking forward to watching in one particular matchup this year, it’s reigning MVP Jeff Babbitt taking on his former team in what feels like the truest “Revenge Game” I’ve ever seen in this league. Through four games, Babbitt has 10 goals and seven blocks for Boston, and while he hasn’t exactly been taking over in some of the same ways we saw last year, he’s effortlessly slotted into this Boston O-line. Unguardable in the red zone and able to get the offense out of jams between the 20s, Babbitt has been exactly what the Boston offense has needed, and he remains as dangerous as ever on the defensive side when the O-line has to earn the disc back. It’ll be interesting to see who matches up with Babbitt from New York this week—reigning DPOY Antoine Davis vs. reigning MVP would be my vote—but I’m getting antsy for a monster performance. Time to remind New York what they’re missing.

Cameron Brock, Indianapolis AlleyCats

In a postgame interview this past weekend, 12-year UFA vet Cameron Brock commented: “I feel great. Honestly, felt really fast in warmups, felt 25 again. I’m feeling really good.”

The "Swing Pass" co-host is facing his first test of the season this weekend against Atlanta, and I couldn’t be more excited to hear him talk about it in this week’s preview episode and next week’s recap. Brock recorded six goals against Atlanta last year—no one else on the team had more than two in the game—but that was the lone bright spot for Indy in their nine-goal loss. After rumors this offseason (started by Brock himself?) about potentially switching to D-line this year, Brock returned to his O-line cutting role last week against Detroit and it was business as usual: four goals, 30-for-30 on throws, and zero D-points played. With Indy running a new offensive system this year, it’ll be worth watching how Cam and the rest of the O-line continue to gel, and they’ll have a chance to make a statement at home this week against a top five team.

Noah Coolman, Colorado Summit

Who knew Noah Coolman had the offensive game that he showed off in Week 2? With Quinn Finer out of the lineup against Seattle, Coolman took over his downfield hybrid role, handling 30-plus touches and racking up over 600 total yards with seven scores. Coolman’s speed and athleticism was on full display all game, as he routinely gained separation from the Cascades defense, but it’s really his throwing that makes him feel like the next star of this Summit offense. After a Jonathan Nethercutt-based offense in 2022, this team has shifted to a much more versatile, decentralized attack, and with the amount of athletes they have running downfield who can also complete hucks, they could easily be the most explosive team in the league this year. Finer is out again this week, as is Nethercutt, so it’s worth watching how this offense continues to adapt and develop their new identity.

Tobe Decraene, Montreal Royal

Montreal Royal rookie Tobe Decraene has been outstanding this year. He’s a highlight machine, not afraid of any matchup, and gives this Montreal offense a spark they haven’t had since Kevin Quinlan and Quentin Bonnaud were putting on a show in 2019. Decraene has recorded over 600 total yards in all three games he’s played this season, and his statistical dominance also features 22 scores and eight blocks. We’re witnessing a future UFA All-Star, All-UFA selection, and probable Rookie of the Year winner—and he’s just 20 years old! Decraene has revitalized this franchise and helped them notch their first win since 2022 this past weekend against Toronto; next up is a home game against New York this Saturday, a team he overwhelmed back in Week 1 in his season-high plus nine (six assists, two goals, four blocks) performance. Like many young players, turnovers are going to be the stat to watch—Decraene is averaging 3.3 throwaways per game—but if he can limit himself to one or two, this game will be on Upset Alert.

Ben Jagt, New York Empire

Ben Jagt has had a slow start to the season, as the New York offense is still looking to work out the kinks following the offseason departures of O-line studs Babbitt, John Lithio, and Ryan Osgar. He has just seven total scores in two games, an uncharacteristically low total for a player who’s averaged 6.1 scores per game in his 110 career games. Osgar’s absence seems to be particularly hurting his totals, as New York has completed just eight hucks this year, and their 34.8 percent completion rate on those throws is the lowest rate of any team in the league. Without the ability to reliably get the disc to Jagt downfield, this offense is significantly lacking the explosiveness that became a crucial part of their identity over the last five-plus years; keep in mind, New York played arguably the most impressive game ever in last year’s East Division Championship Game when Jagt had 11 scores and nearly 700 receiving yards. Jagt needs to get going to right this ship and give the offense back its edge, and a matchup with Boston this Friday night sets the stage for a massive statement game.

Jordan Kerr, Salt Lake Shred (double header)

With just one throwaway and 16 scores this year, Jordan Kerr’s 2024 MVP campaign is off to a strong start. With a double header coming up this weekend against Oakland and Colorado, he’ll likely have to dial in even more against two opponents with notable home field advantages, and he’s done it before; in the five Shred games he’s played at Oakland and at Colorado, Kerr has averaged 7.4 scores per game. With Grant Lindsley and Elijah Jaime both out this week, Kerr’s plate could be more full than usual as both a distributor and downfield cutter—doubling his season scoring total this weekend doesn’t feel out of the question. The Salt Lake Shred have started the season 3-0 with wins over DC, San Diego, and LA, and they have a chance to cement their status atop the West Division if they can stay undefeated after this weekend’s road trip.

Bobby Ley, Atlanta Hustle (Pictured)

A throwing arsenal like Bobby Ley’s in an indoor environment feels unfair, but that’s what we’re getting this week as the Hustle head up to Indianapolis to take on the AlleyCats in their second interdivisional game of the season. Ley is coming off his highest usage game as a member of the Hustle after completing 50 throws in Carolina last week, and with 12 assists in three games this season, he’s on pace for his first 40-assist season in a Hustle jersey. With his hucks as dialed in as ever, I’m really not sure what Indy will be able to do to limit him this weekend; it feels like he’s going to be able to hit any throw on the field, at any time, even more so than usual. Even last year when he faced the AlleyCats in Atlanta, Ley completed 39-of-40 throws and tossed five assists. Christian Olsen is out this week for Atlanta, as is Matt Smith, which could mean a more clear cut two-man backfield of Ley and Austin Taylor while Brett Hulsmeyer does his thing downfield.

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