July 8, 2021
By Daniel Cohen
Elliott Chartock, New York Empire
Absent from the Week 5 New York Empire active roster, Elliott Chartock returns this week as the Empire’s primary O-line handler. With no Harper Garvey this year, Chartock has taken command of this backfield, and his absence was felt this past weekend against DC; the Empire scored on a season-low 51 percent of their offensive possessions. With a strong arm and the willingness to huck to a variety of athletic cutters, Chartock averages nearly 500 throwing yards per game in an aggressive Empire offense. Part of what makes him a great handler is not relying solely on hucks to move the disc; Chartock is completing 94.1 percent of his throws on the year and still leads the team in completions despite missing a game. With Chartock back in the mix, New York should see an increase from their below-average 92 percent team completion rate a week ago.
Dalton Smith, Dallas Roughnecks
Expected to make his 2021 debut this week is fifth-year Dallas Roughnecks vet Dalton Smith. Smith was dominant in the Roughnecks’ 2019 playoff run working alongside his backfield counterpart Abe Coffin; the two anchored one of the best give-and-go offenses in the league. Smith possesses the speed and quickness to torment handler defenders, and his vision as a thrower makes him well-suited to tear through opposing zones. Over his last two seasons, Dalton has averaged 5.5 scores per game playing primarily on the Roughnecks O-line. With back-to-back matchups against the Roughnecks’ Texas rivals this weekend, Smith should be fired up to avenge the team’s Week 2 loss to the Sol.
Update: Smith is currently listed as questionable with injury for Week 6
Evan Swiatek, Austin Sol
In his first year with the team, Austin Sol captain Evan Swiatek has been a central piece both offensively and defensively. He’s played 63.5 percent of his points on offense as a primary cutter, leading the team in receiving yards per game with 285—nearly 80 more than the next closest player. On the defensive side, he’s averaging 1.7 blocks per game, the second-highest average on the team. Swiatek slots in wherever needed and brings a consistent energy to whichever line he’s playing with, and the result has been a 3-0 record in the games he’s played; he did not play either of the two games on the Sol’s west coast road trip. Now facing back-to-back games against the Roughnecks, look for the Sol to lean on Swiatek to keep them within striking distance throughout the weekend.
Austin Taylor, Atlanta Hustle (pictured)
The Atlanta Hustle’s early season MVP has been the driving force behind the O-line through the first third of the season. Primarily known for his throwing ability, Austin Taylor has been an extremely valuable asset striking downfield with both his legs and his throws, averaging nearly 400 yards of total offense per game. Whether he’s finding Parker Bray slipping out of the backfield or bombing flick hucks to Antoine Davis, his throwing range unlocks the talent on the Hustle offense, and his quickness allows for dynamic handler movement and red zone efficiency. And while he’s completing a rock solid 95.1 percent of his throws, 16 of his 98 completions have gone for assists; he’s found the optimal balance of limiting turnovers while maintaining the aggressiveness to get the disc in the end zone. This week Taylor and the Hustle face their toughest test yet against a red-hot DC Breeze team—both teams carry four-game win streaks into Saturday’s game.
Zach Norrbom, DC Breeze
Zach Norrbom has emerged this season as a top option in the DC Breeze offensive backfield. He’s basically only played three games this year though his stats will say four; he was injured on his first and only point in DC’s Week 1 game against Tampa Bay, then missed the next game against Raleigh. If you average his season stats over his three full games, Norrbom would lead the team in the following categories: assists per game (3.3), scores per game (7.0), plus/minus per game (+7), total yards per game (478.7). No other player on DC is averaging more than 400 yards per game; Norrbom has been the most productive offensive player for DC in every game he’s played fully. Perhaps at times overshadowed by the multitude of options on the DC offense, it’s time for Zach to officially get his recognition: watch him play a critical role this week against an elite Atlanta Hustle defense.
Pawel Janas, Chicago Union
Chicago Union quarterback Pawel Janas is about to face what could be his toughest test of the regular season. The Union are headed up to Madison this Saturday for a rematch with the Radicals; this past weekend Chicago defeated Madison 18-15 at home, their slimmest margin of victory and lowest point total of the season. Facing the number two defense in the league known to force turnovers with their signature zone, Pawel needed to be perfect on the day and he was, completing 51-of-51 throws—a 2021 season high—to preserve the Union win. He has now accounted for 16.7 percent of the team’s completions and 23.1 percent of the team’s throwing yards through the first five weeks of the season. With one of the best home field advantages in the league, Pawel and the Union offense will have their work cut out for them once again, as they look to stay patient against the Madison zone for the second consecutive game.
Tannor Johnson, Boston Glory
After suffering an injury in Week 1 against Pittsburgh, Tannor Johnson has missed each of the last four Boston Glory games. The 6’4” cutter is expected to return to the Glory lineup this week against the Philadelphia Phoenix, and his presence should be immediately felt on the Boston O-line. Johnson totaled five scores in his AUDL debut and was involved in the offense at all levels; he’s equally comfortable stretching the field deep as he is working underneath with shorter throws. Johnson’s disc skills and deep cutting ability add a new dimension to the offense; playing alongside 6’3” Tanner Halkyard gives the Glory a pair of versatile bigs destined to give the Phoenix defense fits on Saturday.
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