Opening Weekend Power Rankings

April 25, 2024
By Adam Ruffner

24. Detroit Mechanix
Key additions: TBD
Key losses: Joseph Cubitt, Robby Davenport, Jack Havey, Jake Kenniv, Malachi Neil, Daniel Robinson, Bryan Walsh

74 straight losses. And on April 29, seven years since their last win. 

23. Portland Nitro
Key additions: Felix Moren
Key losses: Raphy Hayes, Jake Johnson, Austin Kelly, Jonathan Lee, Genichi Nakano, Aaron Peterschmidt, Ian Sweeney

With new ownership and a revamped lineup, Portland hit a big reset button going into their third season as a franchise after winning just three games in their first two years. Quinn Buermeyer jumped from eight goals in his rookie season to a team high 34 last year, and will once again figure to be the team’s top option on offense. Jon Snyder started in just seven games for Portland in 2023, but averaged over 40 completions per game at a 94 percent clip when he was available.

22. Houston Havoc
Key additions: TBD
Key losses: John Clyde, Jordan Salazar, John Shelley

Reports out of Houston have indicated that the team has recalibrated their roster specifically around speed this offseason, which would help improve a Havoc team that was middle of the pack last year in pace of play. Six players finished last season with 200 or more completions, but it never felt like Houston identified anything resembling a QB1 or a finisher in their system; just one thrower (Ben Lewis, who finished with 151 completions) had more than 20 assists. Houston draws Dallas in their home opener Friday night, and have lost their last two meetings with the Legion.

21. Dallas Legion
Key additions: Eric Carter, John Shelley, Carson Wilder
Key losses: Ryan Buckingham, Griffin Miller, Kevin Richardson, Brooks Wallace

Getting Wilder back and adding Shelley will help shore up a Dallas throwing unit that was almost entirely—and detrimentally—The Jason Hustad Show last season. The Legion finished dead last in huck turnovers last season and were the only team pumping seven turnovers per game on deep shots. Even a modest depreciation in the unnecessary turnovers would close the gap considerably with opponents; Dallas had nine losses by eight or more goals in 2023. 

20. Montreal Royal
Key additions: Quentin Bonnaud, Tobe Decraene (rookie), Kevin Groulx
Key losses: Brandon Adibe, Malik Auger-Semmar, Max Ayad, Kayle Campbell, Martin Gallant

The receiving prowess of Bonnaud and Decraene—the latter of whom finished as a runner-up in Ultiworld’s “European Players of the Year” voting— combined with the passing talents of Kevin Quinlan could catch some teams in the East flat footed if they’re not careful. Montreal finished with a historically bad offense last year, and that just doesn’t appear to be the case in 2024 with their revitalized lineups. Their winless streak, however, likely won’t end in Week 1, as they must begin their season with a brutal road back-to-back in Boston on Friday, and then in New York in Saturday. 

19. San Diego Growlers
Key additions: Matt Miller
Key losses: Collin Gall, Paul Lally, Steven Milardovich, Trevor Purdy, Jeff Silverman, Elliot Warner

Following last season’s triumphant home win to close out their campaign, the Growlers are approaching the new year with exactly the mindset that could make this team a big problem for playoff contenders in the division. ““We’ll make it as annoying as possible to play us,” Head Coach Kevin Stuart told Evan Lepler earlier this week. “That’s always one of our goals.” Travis Dunn has been selected to All-UFA teams for five straight seasons, and shows no signs of slowing down. Max Gibson was one of just two rookies last season to finish in the league’s top 40 in total scores, and could have an even bigger Year 2. 

18. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
Key additions: TBD
Key losses: Jacob Anthuvan, Clint McSherry, Steve Mogielski, Mikey O'Brien, Alex Thomas, Sam VanDusen

At the start of the season, Max Sheppard sits seventh all-time in total scores (560), and could move into top five territory with another season like 2023. Sheppard has been held underneath three total scores just once in his last 50 starts—in a wind-torn game back in 2022 that had Pittsburgh score a franchise low eight goals—and had at least two assists and two goals in 10 of his 12 starts last season. The Thunderbirds have been historically pesky against Minnesota at home, having won their last matchup in Pittsburgh 24-17 against the Wind Chill way back in May of 2019. Saturday could be the second straight season the T-Birds start with a shocker. 

17. Toronto Rush
Key additions: Brandon Adibe, Akifumi Muraoka
Key losses: Ty Barbieri, Geoff Bevan, James Lewis, Wilkie Lewis, Mike Mackenzie

The Rush have slowly upped their win total by a single victory each season over the past two seasons, and continuing the trend would put them at 6-6 by the end of this year. But that seems like a fairly lofty goal given the toughness of the East, and Toronto’s inability to get wins against divisional opponents outside of Montreal. The return of Muraoka—who was a very capable scorer if a little mistake prone in his solid 2019 rookie season—could offset some of the O-line departures, but there’s still a bunch of questions at the skill positions for this team. They do benefit from the easiest slate in the division, which could have them lingering on the fringes of playoff discussion if they can pull off an upset, or win on the road. 

16. Madison Radicals
Key additions: Kai Marcus (injury)
Key losses: Eric Blais, Thomas Coolidge, Kai DeLorenzo, Henry Goldenberg

Madison won’t get its first game of the season until Week 3 when they go on the road to face Pittsburgh; the Radicals began last season by losing at the buzzer to the Thunderbirds. Of their eight total losses, the Radicals were an astonishing 0-6 last year in games decided by two goals or fewer. So while this team may be perceived as floundering, they’re actually much closer to breaking through their five season playoff drought than many realize. A fully healthy Marcus will give this Radicals offense a new dimension in deep space with his throws. In his last start on May 14, 2022 against Indy, Marcus bombarded the ‘Cats for eight assists, two goals, 43 completions, and 494 passing yards*. 

* Madison’s franchise high for a single game

15. Seattle Cascades
Key additions: Lukas Ambrose, Christian Foster, Tommy Li, Steve Mogielski, Jeremy Norden, Ian Sweeney, Shane Worthington
Key losses: Tarik Akyuz, Peter Geertz-Larson, Jamie Kauffman, Parker Howard, Dante Lopez-Escarez

The ‘Scades picking up last season’s blocks leader (Ambrose) and adding veterans up and down both lines has Seattle looking spicy for a franchise that hasn’t passed five wins in a season since 2017. Khalif El-Salaam and Garrett Martin showed last season that they have the firepower to carry this team offensively, with an array of young receivers to feed in their huck happy system. And now with some defensive stoppers, Seattle could finally crawl out of the basement of the league in terms of scores allowed and keep themselves in tough games. They open the season at home against the Growlers before facing an underratedly tough road trip through Colorado and Oakland in Week 2.

14. Oakland Spiders
Key additions: Jace Bruner, Itay Chang (rookie), Eli Kerns, Justin Lim, Sawyer Thompson, Jake Thorne, Jason Vallee
Key losses: Brandon Fein, Mac Hecht, Ray Mendoza

One of the youngest teams in the league, the Spiders enjoyed a meteoric rise in the middle of last season thanks to the throwing prowess of Hecht and the incredible playmaking of a handful of not-legal-drinking-age ballers. But back-to-back last second, one-goal road losses made Oakland crash and burn out of the playoff picture. Now without Hecht anchoring their O-line possessions, and rumors about some other high profile absences this season, there could be questions for a team that looked like the next big thing in the West. But they did add a host of veteran D-line block getters, including former Chicago standouts Bruner and Vallee, as well as the two-time UFA champion Kerns. The offense that ranked in the top 10 could take a tumble, but the added defensive pressure will keep the Spiders firmly in the playoff picture in the crowded West.

13. Indianapolis AlleyCats
Key additions: Nicholas Betsch, Cody Curran, Robby Davenport, Jack Havey, John Jones, Jake Kenniv
Key losses: Jacob Fella, Fletcher Hare, Conner Henderson, Jeremy Keusch, Will Quigley, Carter Rae, Colin Ringwood, Mason Zetsch

The AlleyCats have won 19 games and made two playoff appearances since the start of the 2021 season. And yet none of the victories—no, not even last year’s home playoff win against the 6-6 Union—have come against a team with a winning record. It’s a quasi-damning stat for a team that sees itself as eye level with its rivals in a jam packed Central Division, and one Indy wants to change as soon as possible but will have difficulty doing; unless Chicago or Madison or Pittsburgh improves, Indy is scheduled to face just three winning squads from last season in 2024. The defense has a lot of holes to plug, while Keegan North figures to lead the offense for the third straight season; North is averaging 5.7 scores and 410 total yards per game in his last 23 starts with the ‘Cats. 

12. Chicago Union
Key additions: Henry Goldenberg, John Lithio, Dylan Power, Jake Rubin-Miller, Jeff Weis, Joe White
Key losses: Paul Arters, Ross Barker, Jace Bruner, Charlie Furse, John Jones, Nico Lake, Asher Lantz, Didzis Malderis, Wyatt Mekler

Every year there is one Mega Unknown team—last year I would contend it was LA—and this Chicago team feels like the choice for the new season. They backed into their fourth consecutive playoff appearance last year, lost their final three games of the season (including an eight goal first round loss at Indy), and then experienced massive roster losses for the second straight winter. But by bringing in three game-changing stars in Lithio, Weis, and White, the Union have added size and playmaking to a team that desperately needed both in 2023; the trio of former Radicals in Goldenberg, Power, and Rubin-Miller also all provide need-fit talents for this Union lineup. Chicago was primarily defined by its lack of identity last year, and they already look like a reinvigorated group at the start of 2024.

11. Philadelphia Phoenix
Key additions: TBD
Key losses: CJ Colicchio, Marc Sands

Before the last month of news, it looked like Philly might be one of the offseason “winners” in the East Division. Their rivals from Boston, DC, and New York all experienced significant roster losses, while the Phoenix and their developing core remained intact. But with Babbitt’s move to Boston, New York reworking their lineup, and DC adding the top prospect from last year’s Beach Worlds event, suddenly Philly feels stationary as the rest of the potential playoff competitors have made moves. But with all three of those teams competing in Week 1 action, and Philly set to start their 2024 season at home versus DC in Week 2, the Phoenix have an opportunity to scout and prepare their opponents; Philly’s first four games are all against Boston, DC, and New York.

10. Los Angeles Aviators
Key additions: Brent George, Bryan Nguyen, Will Turner
Key losses: Lukas Ambrose, Calvin Brown, Nate Kirchhofer, Matt Miller, Chris Mazur, Marcel Osborne, Kevin Tien, Jason Vallee

After last year’s glorious takeoff to begin the Pawel Janas Era found the Aviators just a few goals shy of a Championship Weekend spot, the 2024 Aviators will have some turbulence to get through if they want to reach the same highs. The 2023 Rookie Of The Year Ambrose and his league-leading 24 blocks are gone to Seattle, and there are notable absences on both lineups, particularly on defense, since last year’s West Division playoff run. It was already a narrow path into last year’s postseason—LA didn’t control their destiny heading into the final weekend of the 2023 regular season, and it took San Diego knocking off Oakland for the Aviators to clinch a spot—and the margins feel even thinner now. Sean McDougall will need to continue his torrid production, as he’s had at least 27 assists, 40 goals, and 3500 total yards in each of the past three seasons.

9. Minnesota Wind Chill
Key additions: Greg Cousins, Matt Rehder, Leo Sovell-Fernandez (rookie)
Key losses: Abe Coffin, Marco Dregni, Jason Tschida

Defense has headlined Minnesota’s successes the past several seasons, and 2024 will be no different. The Wind Chill haven’t finished outside of the league’s top three in takeaways since 2018, and they’re one of just three teams to average over eight break scores per game in each of the past two seasons. Dylan DeClerck has paced the defensive production as both a block getter and goal scorer in the counterattack, but Sam Berglund, Brandon Matis, Tanner Barcus, Paul Krenik, and many others provide critical contributions in the team’s defensive schemes; Minnesota excels at game planning for their matchups, as evidenced by allowing just 19 goals to the league’s top scoring team in last year’s semifinals.  

8. Colorado Summit
Key additions: Dennis Bechis, Chance Cochran (rookie), Cody Johnston, Jeremy Knopf, Logan Pruess
Key losses: Justin Abel, Joe Anderson, Cody Spicer, Calvin Stoughton

It’s hard to overstate the impact the loss of Spicer will have on this defensive unit. But with improved health and more D-line depth this season, Colorado may be able to produce similar results in the aggregate, even without the one-on-one star lockdown coverage of Spicer. What remains the biggest curiosity for this Summit team is how their talented offense will perform after struggling to end last season. Quinn Finer has been the most efficient, dynamic, and high volume scorer outside of Ryan Osgar over the last two seasons, and Alex Atkins has a Durant-like expansiveness to his offensive game that makes him tough to contain in any area of the field. The only other O-line starter besides those two to average more than 20 offensive points per game last season—Stoughton—is gone, so there will be a need for someone else to step into a big role. 

7. Carolina Flyers
Key additions: Cam Bellando, Allan Laviolette (injury), Clint McSherry, Drew Swanson, Seth Weaver (injury)
Key losses: Alex Davis (injury), Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, Andrew McKelvey, Kevin Pignone, Liam Searles-Bohs, Connor Russell, Eric Taylor, Joe White

At the start of the season, the Flyers are under the radar. They’re coming off of their lowest win total in franchise history, a raft of injuries and absences that kept their lineups out of sync all season, and a first round exit from the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They’ve also lost some significant playmakers in Davis (injury), Gouchoe-Hanas, Searles-Bohs, Taylor, and White heading into 2024. And yet: This all feels very akin to when Jack Williams headlined an elite class of Flyers departures following the 2018 season, and Carolina went on to win 10 regular season games in 2019. The Flyers have one of the most turnover averse team systems in the league, and their talent across both offense and defense is still undeniable. And while there’s only been glimpses of it at the pro level, Ethan Bloodworth on offense could be the next big thing.

6. Boston Glory
Key additions: Jeff Babbitt, Tannor Johnson-Go, Ben Katz, Jonah Stang-Osborne (rookie)
Key losses: Tanner Halkyard, Stewart Kelley, Ray Tetreault

For a franchise that has one playoff game appearance and more losses than wins in their first three seasons, this high spot is probably me buying into too much of the hype. But when Boston adds an MVP (Babbitt), a defensive mastermind (Katz), and re-signs a slew of big athletes to both lines, suddenly this Glory roster looks very “dark horse title contender” on paper (on paper!) Their starting rotations look formidable, especially given the size Boston can now impose on teams; just think of offensive lineups with Babbitt, Johnson-Go, and Orion Cable on the field at the same time, or end of quarter scenarios; how important has Babbitt alone been in winning quarters for New York the past several seasons? Thank goodness we don’t have to wait to see this team in action, as they’re set to play in the inaugural game of the 2024 season on Friday night at home versus Montreal. 

5. Atlanta Hustle
Key additions: Aidan Downey, Franky Fernandez (rookie)
Key losses: JP Burns, Mischa Freystaetter, Liam Haberfield, Kennith Taylor, Max Thorne

No team suffered a harder loss than the Hustle did at home to the Sol in last year’s epic South Division finale. It was apparent at the time—Atlanta won the division outright during the regular season, and were a combined 5-1 against their closest rivals Austin and Carolina before the Sol’s playoff win—and it’s even more clear now and as outlined in the terrific documentary series “Beyond The Hustle”. The Hustle return the bulk of their core in 2024, including All-UFA First Team member Brett Hulsmeyer coming off a career year. Atlanta was one of just two teams last year to finish top six in both offensive efficiency and defensive break rate, and they will need that balance immediately with their gauntlet of an early schedule. The Hustle face Carolina on the road in Week 1 before hosting New York in Week 2 in the “Super Series”. Don’t think for a second the Hustle have forgotten that they were the last squad to take down the Empire during the regular season in their 2021 classic.

4. Austin Sol
Key additions: Jordan Salazar, Mason Zetsch
Key losses: Eric Carter, Michael Matthis, Tyler Reinhardt, Jacob Sames, Zach Slayton, Shane Worthington

With a glut of games against in-state opponents from Dallas and Houston, the Sol have the benefit of enjoying the most favorable slate of any team this season. But don’t be too fooled by the numbers: Austin still has four combined games against Atlanta and Carolina, as well as hosting the completely enigmatic Chicago Union on May 25 in a spicy interdivisional matchup that will have big ramifications for both divisions. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2021, Evan Swiatek is one of just four UFA players to register more than 10,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons. He’s 16th all-time in UFA history in goals per game (3.68), and sits just one goal behind teammate Kyle Henke for the most in franchise history, despite starting in 18 fewer games.

3. DC Breeze
Key additions: Elliot Bonnet (rookie), Zach Burpee, Ryan Weaver
Key losses: Christian Boxley, David Cranston, Moussa Dia, Alexandre Fall, Jeremy Knopf, Joe Merrill, Benjamin Oort 

Both juggernauts in the East—the Breeze and the Empire—experienced seismic losses this offseason. Boxley and Oort gave DC’s offense a dynamic playmaking one-two punch, while Cranston, Dia, Fall, and Merrill would all be defensive starters for any team in the league. And much like their rivals in New York, the Breeze still have a championship caliber roster in the aftermath of substantial turnover. The DC O-line still goes 10 players deep with some of the best throwing options available, and their defense is anchored by 2021 DPOTY and 2023 All Defense selection AJ Merriman. And like the French countrymen that have preceded him in the UFA—Quentin Bonnaud, Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky, Quentin Roger—Bonnet could have an immediate and electric impact on offense, particularly as a scorer. But with the league’s fifth toughest schedule, DC needs a win this weekend in the premiere “Super Series” matchup with the Shred.

2. Salt Lake Shred
Key additions: Taylor Barton, Ben Field (rookie), Joe Merrill
Key losses: Joel Clutton, Max Dehlin, Braden Eberhard, Everett Saunders

Since their first game in 2022, the Shred have been one of the most exciting and successful teams in the UFA. Salt Lake already has a 24-5 overall record, back-to-back double digit win regular seasons, a West Division crown, and a league championship game appearance all in their first two seasons. And now comes the hard part: managing expectations. The Shred have a chance to hoist the UFA trophy at home come August, but the West Division alone is going to be a brawl for all three playoff spots, to say nothing of their home opener this Saturday against the Breeze, or their trip to New York in late June in a title game rematch. Salt Lake saw virtually unmitigated improvements across their lineups from Year 1 to Year 2, and if that trend continues, they could be hugging hardware with Shredheads in a few short months.  

1. New York Empire
Key additions: Axel Agami, Liam Haberfield, Sean Keegan, Connor Russell
Key losses: Jeff Babbitt, Ryan Holmes, Ben Katz, John Lithio, Ryan Osgar, Matt Stevens

It’s a true testament to this franchise’s talent crop that they will be without the last two league MVPs heading into Week 1, and they still look like the odds-on favorites to win the UFA title this year. It is said (and often proven) that defense wins championships, and this D-line will once again be scary good. They could have three potential DPOTY candidates that includes the reigning winner Antoine Davis, as well as John Randolph and Bretton Tan. Two-time MVP Ben Jagt continues to play his best in the biggest spots, and is likely to return to his dominant role as the WR1 for this Empire offense. Jack Williams remains one of the most efficient and clutch playmakers in the sport, veteran thrower Sean Keegan will don the NY pinstripes for the first time since 2017, and newcomer Liam Haberfield could blossom into a full-blown star in his second season in the league. Winners don’t reset—they reload.