UFA Power Rankings: Way Too Early 2024

January 18, 2024
By Adam Ruffner

24. Detroit Mechanix
2023 regular season record: 0-12

The Mechanix are carrying a 74-game losing streak into 2024. And in the darkness of five-plus seasons of winless play, just three Mechanix results have come within a goal of their opponent, with their lone overtime game coming in Week 14 of 2019. Detroit did find some rhythm with their deep game in their final two games of last season, and connected on 15-of-21 (71 percent) of their huck attempts against Madison and Minnesota. But with the second worst scoring offense (15.6 goals per game) and the third most porous defense (23.3 goals per game allowed), Detroit must address both sides of the disc if they have a chance to finally tally a mark in the win column this year.

Strong side: Joseph Cubitt is one of just three players with more than 13,000 passing yards since 2021, and has nine games over the past three seasons with 500 or more air yards in a single game.

Weak side: Detroit hasn’t averaged more than 18 goals per game over the course of a season since 2016.

23. Montreal Royal
2023 regular season record: 0-12

Just three Montreal players—Antoine Rousseau, Christophe Tremblay-Joncas, and Kevin Quinlan—played in all 12 games last year, highlighting a 2023 Royal campaign marred by lineup inconsistencies and low scores. Montreal failed to score 20 goals in each of their final 11 games of the season, and their team offensive efficiency ranked dead last. But Quinlan’s arm and CTJ’s playmaking make this team punchy if they can figure out their depth and rotations, and Malik Auger-Semmar could be a “Most Improved” frontrunner with a full slate of games.  

Strong side: With one more assist, Quinlan will move past Goose Helton and into second place all-time on the league leaderboard. 

Weak side: The 2023 Royal tied the 2019 Mechanix for the lowest team scoring average in league history (14.5 goals per game). 

22. Portland Nitro
2023 regular season record: 1-11

The Nitro started their franchise by winning two of their first three games, and have gone 1-20 since. The Portland defense has allowed 30 or more goals to an opponent a league-high four times during that stretch, while the offense failed to score 20 goals in their final eight games of last season. A handful of returners have been announced already for the new season, including both team scoring leaders Jake Johnson and Quinn Buermeyer, so the Nitro have a shot a more stability in 2024.

Strong side: Johnson set franchise highs in completions (518) and throwing yards (3575) last season, and became just the second player in team history to eclipse 5000 total yards in a season. 

Weak side: Opposing offenses converted over 62 percent of their possessions into scores last year, the highest rate in the UFA; if Nitro opponents were a team, they would’ve ranked second in 2023 in offensive efficiency. 

21. Houston Havoc
2023 regular season record: 2-10

Team captain Ben Lewis finished with nearly 1600 more receiving yards than his closest teammate, so the Havoc will need to develop more targets heading into their second season. And with so many contributors—eight different Houston players notched at least 2000 total yards—and so little specialization in their lineups, the Havoc could develop a handful of options. If he cuts down on turnovers and gets more play on offense, John Clyde could emerge as one of the most potent deep throwers in the South Division.  

Strong side: Houston had 10 or more blocks in half of their games as an expansion franchise, and opponents averaged the third most turnovers per game (21.3) against them. 

Weak side: Havoc were second to last in team huck completion percentage (48.9 percent) last season, and are one of three teams since 2021 to record under 50 percent for a season. 

20. Dallas Legion
2023 regular season record: 2-10

Two of the team’s biggest playmakers Alec Wilson Holliday and Connor DeLuna have already re-signed for the 2024 season. Wilson Holliday averaged 3.8 goals and nearly 300 receiving yards per game in 11 starts for the Legion last season, and DeLuna had a seven-game stretch in 2023 where he scored 22 goals while playing 60 percent of his points on defense. But after 54 regular seasons wins in their first five seasons as a franchise, the Legion have just three in the past two years. 

Strong side: Dallas finished the season averaging just 18 turnovers per game in their last four matchups; the Legion averaged nearly 29 turns per game in their first eight games of 2023.

Weak side: No squad surrendered more goals per game than the Legion last season (24.3), which is thanks in no small part to opponents cashing in on a league-high 10.4 breaks per game against the Dallas O-line. 

19. San Diego Growlers
2023 regular season record: 3-9

The Growlers had four straight postseason appearances and a pair of division titles before their 2023 dropoff. And even if they didn’t make the playoffs, San Diego still made sure to have a major impact on the divisional landscape by eliminating the upstart Spiders in the final weekend of the regular season. Travis Dunn has had five straight All-UFA seasons, and shows no signs of slowing down; Dunn enters the season eighth all-time in assists (325), and has a shot at cracking the top five by year’s end if he hits his 50-assist season average. The Growlers have a grip of veterans that continue to shine, and last year’s rookie sensation Max Gibson has the size to be a disruptive thrower and receiver in the West for many years to come. But San Diego’s improvements have struggled to keep up with the considerable pace of their divisional rivals, and it’s hard to see another playoff appearance in their near future. 

Strong side: The trio of Dunn, Gibson, and Paul Lally averaged over 17 scores and nearly 1600 yards of offense per game for the Growlers in 2023.

Weak side: San Diego fell from fifth in blocks per game in 2022 to 21st last year, averaging almost three fewer per game. 

18. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
2023 regular season record: 5-7

On the night of July 7, the Thunderbirds pulled off a 21-18 win over Chicago to improve to 5-4 and possess the third and final playoff spot in the Central Division with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. And with a rematch the following day against the same Union squad, Pittsburgh had a chance to end a four-year playoff drought. But three straight losses—including a six-goal drubbing by Chicago on July 8—ended the ‘Birds’ postseason hopes. This team has improved their win total in each of the past two seasons, and Max Sheppard, Carl Johnson, Jonathan Mast and company were one of the better offensive units in the division in 2023, especially when the deep game was clicking. 

Strong side: Sheppard was one of just 11 players in the UFA to average both 200 passing yards and 200 receiving yards per game last year.

Weak side: The Thunderbirds were one of the best hucking teams in the league through the first two thirds of last season, and connected on 83-of-123 deep attempts (67 percent) through the first eight games before the bottom fell out and they completed just 24-of-52 (46 percent) during their three-game skid to end the season.

17. Madison Radicals
2023 regular season record: 4-8

Back-to-back buzzer beater losses on the road to open the 2023 season put the Radicals in wholly unfamiliar territory, and started a long road toward the franchise’s first losing season in its proud 10-year history. Injuries piled up over the past two years, and the active roster was often an odd mix of both too young/inexperienced and too old. But even with their struggles, a solid finish to the season anchored by strong defense play has Madison looking healthier and hungrier heading into 2024. Young defenders coming off of their first and second seasons like Kai DeLorenzo, Jake Carrico, Joe Leibforth, and more could play big roles in the Radicals resurgence.

Strong side: After managing just one performance with 10 or more blocks as a team in their first eight games of 2023, the Radicals got double-digit takeaways in each of their last four games.

Weak side: Madison’s defensive reliance on zone looks can lead to high completion percentages for opponents, but the Radicals finished last in opponent completion percentage (94.6 percent) and second to last in opponent huck rate (68.3 percent) in 2023.

16. Seattle Cascades
2023 regular season record: 4-8

All five Cascades players with 30 or more scores from last season—Jack Brown, Khalif El-Salaam, Marc Munoz, Garrett Martin, and Zeppelin Raunig—have re-signed for 2024, guaranteeing another highlight-filled season for the Seattle offense. But despite their top end playmaking potential, the ‘Scades have been hamstrung by inconsistent play since their last playoff appearance eight years ago; in 2023 Seattle set a new franchise record for fewest goals in a game (9), and then turned around in their next matchup and scored the most goals (29) since the 2018 season. The majority of this roster is still unable to rent a car because of their age, so the Cascades could develop on an accelerated path similar to the 2023 Spiders and re-enter the playoff fray sooner than later.

Strong side: The Cascades offense converted the third most holds per game in the league last season— more than the Shred, Hustle, or Breeze—and had three performances with an 80 percent or better conversion rate, including back-to-back games to end the regular season.

Weak side: Seattle’s scoring defense has ranked in the bottom four in three of the past five seasons, including 2023. 

15. Toronto Rush
2023 regular season record: 5-7

The Rush entered last season with playoff aspirations to go along with a host of big-time signings. But injuries, revolving rotations, and an improved East Division slate of opponents conspired against Toronto and forced the franchise to miss the postseason for just the second time in its team’s history. Ty Barbieri and Mike Mackenzie combined for over 100 scores in 2023—Mackenzie played his most defensive points since bursting onto the scene in 2017, and finished the season with multiple blocks in three of his final four starts—but their presences did little to change the results from the season prior. The Rush love a run-and-gun style that favors team speed and shots downfield, which is a strategy that can cut both ways as the uptempo play leads to easy breaks in transition for opposing defenses.

Strong side: James Lewis and Luc Comire both topped 5000 total yards for a second straight season in 2023, with Lewis ranking fourth all-time* in Rush history in scores per game (4.7).

Weak side: Toronto was one of just two teams last season that allowed opponents to complete more than nine hucks per game.

* Minimum 10 career games played with Rush

14. Chicago Union
2023 regular season record: 6-6

The Union losing their final three games may have given a bitter end to their 2023 season. But given the tectonic roster shake-up they experienced following their 2022 championship game appearance, and subsequent lineup adjustments and readjustments, Chicago making the playoffs last year at all was a minor miracle in itself. Jace Bruner and the D-line flew way under the radar for a unit that was top five in opponent offensive efficiency. Chicago finished bottom in the UFA last year in holds per game, so even an incremental increase in offensive scoring would pay immediate dividends.

Strong side: Andrew Sjogren might be the most consistent receiver in terms of production the past three seasons, and in his first campaign with the Union he showed off an increased throwing repertoire, notching career highs in assists, completions, and throwing yards.

Weak side: Turnovers really became an issue in the back half of the season for Chicago. In their last six matchups of the season they averaged over 23 per game.

13. Philadelphia Phoenix
2023 regular season record: 6-6

Were it not for their own lofty goals, this young Phoenix team turning around an 0-4 start would’ve been an impressive feat. But Philly, like it does in all sports, endeavors at considerable volume to be a title contender. And so anything short of, say, a win against the Empire, or a playoff victory at DC, feels like a failure. Yet there have been considerable gains on the defensive side of the disc in each of the past two seasons, to say nothing of the Phoenix offense that features playmaking stars like James Pollard, Sean Mott, and Greg Martin. For the second straight season, Philly could put it all together and look like a dark horse challenger for the East Division throne, or miss the postseason entirely—it hinges more on their mental game than their frisbee abilities.

Strong side: The Phoenix D-line finished third in break conversion efficiency, and of the eight teams to average more break scores per game than Philadelphia, seven of them competed in their divisional title games last season. 

Weak side: Over the last two seasons the Phoenix are 6-10 in games decided by three goals or fewer, with just one of those wins coming against a playoff-qualifying team.  

12. Oakland Spiders
2023 regular season record: 7-5

“Rollercoaster” doesn’t even begin to describe the highs (beating Colorado, controlling their playoff destiny heading into final weekend of regular season) and sudden, season-ending lows (back-to-back road losses while giving up scores in final two seconds of regulation) like last year’s Oakland team. Mac Hecht came in and immediately gave the Spiders a throwing talent they haven’t had in several seasons. Keenan Laurence elevated to true star level, while Evan Magsig and 2022 All-Star Chris Lung continue to improve. And Walker Frankenberg, Dexter Clyburn, and Raekwon Adkins headlined the best rookie class in the league. Now having arrived as competitors sooner than anticipated, Oakland’s biggest task will be managing expectations while staying competitive in the deepest division in the league. 

Strong side: Magsig has done nothing but improve virtually all of his counting stats season-over-season in his first three years as a pro, and had team highs in completions (55) and throwing yards (528) in Oakland’s big Week 8 win against the Summit. 

Weak side: The Spiders were overreliant on explosives/the huck last season, and struggled with offensive consistency and turnovers if their deep balls weren’t clicking. Oakland had four games with a sub-50 percent huck completion rate, including three of their last four outings.

11. Indianapolis AlleyCats
2023 regular season record: 9-3

In the past three seasons, the AlleyCats have blended youth and experience as well as any team in the league, and the result is one of the most disciplined teams on both sides of the disc. Along with the Empire and Breeze, Indy was one of just three teams to finish with a top six conversion rate for both offense and defense; the ‘Cats finished third in team completion rate, one position higher than the champs from NY. The offense has a lot of good throwers and pieces that can interchange with Keegan North, Travis Carpenter, Levi Jacobs, Rick Gross, and Xavier Payne all capable of filling multiple roles, while the league’s leading goal scorer Cameron Brock is extending his prime well into his 30s. For a franchise that was starcrossed for years, the AlleyCats have become one of the best in the business at not sustaining self inflicted wounds.

Strong side: The ‘Cats had arguably the best throwing decisions of any team in 2023. All five of Indy’s most used throwers last season—Carpenter, Payne, North, Gross, and Brock—had a completion rate above 95 percent, and the ‘Cats as a team had the second highest huck percentage (68.5 percent) for the second season in a row.

Weak side: Oddly enough for a team with this much experience and efficiency, the ‘Cats are middle of the pack in red zone efficiency. And in their playoff loss to Minnesota, Indy converted just 11-of-15 (73 percent) of their red zone opportunities. 

10. Boston Glory
2023 regular season record: 7-5

There was no big signing but rather a variety of developing players rotated into newer roles that gave Boston their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Simon Carapella emerged as a legit WR1 in his first pro season. Ray Tetreault, Cole Davis-Brand, and Benjamin Sadok took on less featured roles but found more versatility. And the defense, though it struggled to produce turnovers at times, had the personnel to give opponents fits with Chris Bartoli, Tyler Chan, Phillip Joyce, Gustav Haflin and others providing a physical dimension that the team never had on that side of the disc before.  

Strong side: There’s been an overcrowding of rookie talent for several seasons, and Caelan McSweeney was a victim of it in 2023. McSweeney was first on the team in completion rating (96 percent) and second on the team in completions and hockey assists per game, setting up much of the offensive action from the center of the field as a pivot handler.

Weak side: Glory’s offense has a high ceiling, but against playoff-level defenses they struggled to put up points. In five full games against New York, DC, and Atlanta last season, Boston averaged just 14.8 goals per game. 

9. Colorado Summit
2023 regular season record: 8-4

The Summit feel like a sleeping giant after the way their season ended. Quick refresher: Colorado added a bunch of defensive talent at the start of 2023 and began the season 5-0 before stumbling to five losses in their final eight games, including a home playoff loss to LA. Quinn Finer and Alex Atkins alone have the kind of firepower to make this team a contender on offense. And with a healthier rotation, the defense should look like a top five unit again. 

Strong side: The Summit had the stingiest deep defense in the league in 2023, allowing opponents to complete a league-low 52.6 percent of their huck attempts while forcing a league-high seven turnovers per game on hucks.

Weak side: Colorado converted on just 47 percent of their offensive possessions in their final three games of 2023, and finished the season nearly seven percentage points below their 2022 O-line efficiency levels. 

8. Los Angeles Aviators
2023 regular season record: 7-5

It was supposed to take more than one season for Pawel Janas’s arrival—and the roster overhaul that followed—to have a significant impact on the West Division order. Yet here the Aviators are, having averted the nosedive of a 1-3 start last season by finishing in the divisional final. The offense got deserved accolades after their early season turnaround and eye-popping stats, but its the Aviators defense that really seemed to be the bedrock for their success. LA is smart in identifying matchups, and with 2023 ROTY Lukas Ambrose and his ability to generate takeaways against top offensive stars, the D-line could generate more pressure than they had in years. The Aviators still needed help to make the playoffs in the final week of the season, but they’re clearly building an identity around taking advantage of their chances. 

Strong side: The Aviators rocketed from 17th to fourth in red zone efficiency from 2022 to 2023, thanks largely to the presences of Janas and Sean McDougall who have some of the best tight-window skill sets in the league. 

Weak side: LA finished last in huck completions per game (5.6), and were bottom five in huck completion rate. Without the ability to consistently stretch the field, defenses can settle in and attack throwing lanes. 

7. Minnesota Wind Chill
2023 regular season record: 10-2

It took overtime and an all-time play for Salt Lake to vanquish the hard fighting Wind Chill last year in the league semifinals. Minnesota isn’t always pretty, but their top flight defense and deep rotations makes them a tough out for virtually any opponent. Veteran big Matt Rehder is signed on for 2024, and gives another big-game x factor to a lineup that could’ve used it at Championsip Weekend. A hip injury derailed the first half of his season, but a fully healthy Abe Coffin showed his offensive potential against the Shred; a full season of O-line Abe could be MVP caliber.

Strong side: The Wind Chill defense ranked first in takeaways per game (11.5) and held opponents to the lowest offensive efficiency rate in the league in 2023.

Weak side: In their final nine games of the season, Minnesota had seven games with 20 or more turnovers in their final nine, and achieved an O-line scoring efficiency above 50 percent just once during that stretch.

6. Carolina Flyers
2023 regular season record: 7-5

Between their spacey schedule and circulating lineups, it was near impossible to get a full read on last season’s Flyers team. There’s no denying their individual talent—Jacob Fairfax, Joe White, Sol Yanuck, Anders Juengst, and half a dozen other players are capable of taking over games—but the team cohesiveness that led to a 2021 title and 2022 semifinals appearance was not present in 2023. Even so: Carolina finished top six in scoring, offensive efficiency, and red zone conversion rate despite their ever-changing O-line, and remained in the top eight in fewest turnovers for the seventh straight season.

Strong side: Fairfax has had 30 or more goals in all six seasons with the Flyers, and has back-to-back campaigns with more than 3000 receiving yards.

Weak side: Carolina finished with the third fewest blocks per game (8.0) in 2023, ahead of only the two winless teams in Detroit and Montreal.

5. Atlanta Hustle
2023 regular season record: 10-2

Two times Atlanta has had an opportunity to advance to their first Championship Weekend in franchise history. And in both games the Hustle have come up short in the most dramatic fashion, losing on walk-off scores to New York in 2021 and Austin this past August. Atlanta has the pieces and the system to be a legit title contender, but with equally ambitious divisional foes in the Sol and Flyers, it remains to be seen how many times the Hustle will be given a shot to prove they’re worthy of a final four spot. 

Strong side: Bobby Ley and Austin Taylor were the most prolific deep passing duo in the league last season, and the Hustle led the league in huck completion rating for the second straight season, and finished above 70 percent for the third straight year. 

Weak side: In their last two playoff elimination games, the Hustle have converted just 67 percent of their red zone attempts. Atlanta averaged an 82 percent clip for the season in 2023. 

4. Austin Sol
2023 regular season record: 9-3

Following a white-hot run through the South Division playoff bracket, the Sol got wiped off the map by the Empire in the semifinals thanks to Austin’s usual suspects of questionable decision making and no offensive rhythm. In 2023 the Sol defense set a new single-season league record for break rate (the raw total of D-line scores over D-line points played), while Austin’s offense finished in the bottom third of the league in efficiency. Remember how Indy’s top five throwers all finished with 95 percent or better passing marks? None of Austin’s top five finished above 94 percent, and while there is something to be said for Texas wind, there’s also a lot of ill-advised deep throws. And yet all of this is to say that the Sol’s biggest impediment may be entirely fixable, and they showed already against Carolina and then Atlanta in last year’s playoffs that they already have the talent to compete with the best.

Strong side: 24-year-old Captain Joey Wylie is coming off an All Defense First Team season and is still showing further upside as a two-way playmaker. Entering his fourth season, Wylie led the team in takeaways last year and is averaging better than a block per game in 40 career starts. 

Weak side: Austin had the second lowest offensive efficiency rate of any playoff team last season, and the lowest rate of a final four team since New York in 2014.

3. DC Breeze
2023 regular season record: 9-3

There’s been a clear upward trajectory for the Breeze, and yet in each of the past three seasons they have been eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual champion. The retirement of legendary Head Coach Darryl Stanley will certainly force some change on a team that has built a machine-like precision to its throwing lineups, but the results will likely be very similar for DC. Fun little proof of concept that throwing distance doesn’t always mean a whole lot: Christian Boxley hasn’t completed a huck in the past two seasons, yet there’s no denying his MVP-like impact in running through defenses.

Strong side: Top ranked team in completion percentage (95.5 percent) and red zone conversion rate (86.8 percent) last season, and second in offensive efficiency.

Weak side: The Breeze were averaging over eight breaks per game in the eight games leading up to last year’s East Division championship, and then registered a flat zero against New York. DC now has just six breaks total in their last three playoff elimination games.

2. Salt Lake Shred
2023 regular season record: 11-1

The second year Shred overcame every obstacle but one in 2023, losing just twice all season, with both coming at the hands of the undefeated Empire. Salt Lake flat-out lacked the experience for the size of the stage in their first championship game appearance, allowing NY to assert an early and unconquerable lead. But with perennial MVP finalist Jordan Kerr once again leading the Shred’s #1 offense, and Bryce Merrill coming off a much deserved COTY campaign, Salt Lake’s arrow continues to point up. And now they have the ultimate motivation: A chance to host and win a championship at home this August.

Strong side: Even with an almost entirely retooled defensive lineup from 2022, the 2023 Shred still finished fourth in blocks and sixth in break scores per game. 

Weak side: Salt Lake struggled to generate breaks against NY, converting just three in each loss. When they can’t win one-on-one matchups outright, there isn’t always a system to fall back on for the Shred defense. 

1. New York Empire
2023 regular season record: 12-0

After back-to-back titles and perfect 15-0 seasons, New York needs just one more win to establish a new league record for longest winning streak at 31 games. It feels inevitable at this point, and we’re approaching a 1990s Bulls-like reign of dominance if the Empire do pull off the league’s first three-peat by season’s end. The combination of talent, discipline, and also, I’ll say it, luck to get to this platform is generational, and there’s no real signs of slowing. They still roster the last four MVP winners (Ryan Osgar, Jeff Babbitt, and Ben Jagt twice), and could easily produce another two (Jack Williams and John Randolph), to say nothing of the league’s fiercest and deepest defense. 

Strong side: The Empire had six players with double digit blocks in 2023, more than any other team in the league. Ryan Drost led the team in his ninth season with the franchise, and became the first player in UFA history to register 200 career blocks.

Weak side: Other than DC and Philly forcing New York into overtime in back-to-back weeks at the beginning of last season, it’s hard to pinpoint a weakness on a team that ranks in the top five of virtually every category available.