Preseason Power Rankings
1. Orlando Rockets
There is no reason to doubt the defending champions right now. Owner Jeff Stoi has done an incredible job of making this squad one of the deepest in the league. If anything were to hold them back it would be Ricky Ray finally having age catch up to him, but even then, their backfield is ridiculously stacked with Devonta Freeman, Andre Ellington, Robert Kelley and Jerome Messam all in the mix. Defensively, this team might not be as dominant as last year but has some great athletes.
2. San Antonio Marshalls
Bo Levi Mitchell looks to pick up right where he left off the past two seasons as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. There may not be a truly established running game, but the Marshalls will score and they really get after the quarterback. Ryan Carrethers and Sam Acho can dominated in the trench.
3. Columbus Explorers
Columbus made a nice turnaround last year with Terrelle Pryor running the show, but the Explorers might be looking to give Jordan Lynch a bigger role as well. Theo Riddick might be this year’s top dual-threat running back and may even lead the Explorers in rushing and receiving (or more likely in receptions). Expect the defense to be among the best in the league as well.
4. Michigan Stags
Perhaps the ineffective quarterback play in their exhibition game might be a cause for concern, but the Stags have a tremendous team that should contend to be among the best when it’s their starters running out there the entire game. They have so many options out of the backfield with Jeremy Langford, Thomas Rawls and Denard Robinson. They heavily invested in their receiving corp as well, but the Stags appear to have the deepest group of cornerbacks in the league. Defense and running game, it’s an old school approach.
5. Atlanta Firebirds
It’s a big risk switching from Aaron Murray to Matt Barkley, but Barkley has performed very well this offseason and in the preseason. At least he’ll have some great receivers to throw to as well. Allen Hurns is coming off an MVP season where he smashed almost all of the receiving records. Cameron Meredith has also stepped up and looked to be just as dangerous. If Alfred Morris can continue to be an effective runner the offense should be fine. The underrated addition might be Trindon Holliday, who should give the Firebirds a dangerous return man. Defensively, they might not shut anybody down, though, but they do have some nice players.
6. Seattle Orcas
It’s hard to doubt this team because they always perform at a high level and with that defense, led by just a remarkable secondary, and a dominant running game, the Orcas are built like the 2015 championship Marauders. Quarterback, once again, though, seems like a problem areas. Ryan Griffin just good, but is not a guy who has proven he can put the team on his back and be a secondary option to a win.
7. Dallas Six-Shooters
The quarterback position is sort of up in the air, but Trevone Boykin is definitely a talented athlete. But this team will run the ball and Rex Burkhead will be the bellcow of this team. Defensively, they should be a tough unit, though it would be ridiculous to think they can get as many interceptions as they did last year. Then again, they got three in their latest preseason exhibition.
8. Birmingham Predators
We shouldn’t put too much on Dak Prescott right away, but he has looked incredible and the Predators did a very good job of getting some talented receivers on the roster around him. But before we can declare this team as one of the best in the league they need to establish a running game (Jamaal Charles has not looked good at all) and prove themselves on defense.
9. New York Marauders
The Marauders were gutted by the NFL last offseason after winning the championship and had a trying 2016 season, but they look to be back and ready for another playoffs run in 2017. This time, though, it will be because of a great passing game. Stefon Diggs and Brandon Coleman may be best receiving tandem in the league and with Will Tye looking great they may have three 1,000 yard receivers. Defensively, the secondary should be strong and they have playmakers at linebacker. They could be back in the postseason this year.
10. Philadelphia Bulldogs
We’re past the Michael Vick era and into the Bryce Petty era. He’s looked good in the preseason, but not necessarily great. Still, this team is going to rely on their running game a lot more. The progression of Jay Ajayi and additions of Tim Hightower and Tyrell Sutton give Philly a deep group of running backs. They also have a tough defensive line that should shut the run down.
11. Minnesota Freeze
If Josh McCown is still Josh McCown then it doesn’t matter if the Freeze are under new ownership, they should be pretty good. Weslon Dressler, Rob Streater and Clarence Denmark are a great group of receivers for him, but David Cobb needs to step up and become a top running back to balance the offense. Malcolm Butler and Micah Hyde made up a great cornerback duo that leads the defense.
12. Los Angeles Stars
It seems like an impossible task to replace Kirk Cousins and Lamar Miller, but Cody Kessler is going to be a great quarterback in this league and has looked pretty good so far, and if they don’t believe he is ready they have a solid veteran in Case Keenum who can be a stopgap. At running back, Buck Allen and Zac Stacy won’t really provide much explosiveness, but Joe Hills is as tough as they won at receiver. The defense still might be a problem, but do expect the Stars to be better on that side of the ball this year.
13. Washington Wave
Washington didn’t win a game last season but they shouldn’t have to wait long for their first regular season win this year. The Wave made tremendous improvements to improve their roster, bringing in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to solidify the position. Rookie Tyreek Hill might be one of the most explosive players in the league too and their defense looks to be a world better than it was last year with so many improvements to the linebacker position. In a division without a clear favorite, heck, the Wave could contend for the playoffs.
14. Phoenix Scorpions
Before they signed ‘All Day’ Adrian Peterson there were some concerns about what this offense could do, but if Peterson performs like he should perform them this run-first squad will be able to control the clock and rely on their defense. It might not be a sexy team, but it is effective. Mike Reilly is a very skilled quarterback who may have more weapons to work with.
15. Nashville Renegades
Is Jamarcus Russell their starting quarterback? That might be a horrible mistake. AJ McCarron should be the guy, and they should lean on their running backs, which seems to be a pretty deep group. Nashville made some very aggressive moves in the offseason to improve their defense too, but they got torched by New York in their exhibition game.
16. Charleston Dragons
Luke Tasker looks ready to pick up right where he left off, but Charleston will need more from their quarterbacks this year. Kellen Moore has always been a favorite of owner Colin Durina and seems to have the support to just go out and play without looking over his shoulder. The running game might be a worry as Zach Zenner hasn’t progressed the way they probably hoped. Defensively, look for a big year out of Kyle Emanuel as he has even more support around him.
17. New Orleans Nightmare
If Zack Mettenberger cuts down on his turnovers then the Nightmare can really be a huge threat because they have great pieces in place. Alfred Blue is one of the most underrated running backs in the league and significant additions to the receiving corp made this squad a tough one to match up against. Rueben Randle, Dwayne Bowe and Mario Manningham are all proven NFL players now running around in New Orleans. Captain Munnerlyn was also a tremendous addition to the secondary to solidify that aread.
18. Pittsburgh Forge
Wendell Smallwood and Devontae Booker make up a very good, young running back duo, but the Forge don’t have a quarterback in place that will take pressure off of them and don’t look to have playmaking receivers to help out either. The defense won’t be bad, and has some nice veterans to help out, but they still seem to be a year or two away from really competing.
19. Louisville Cougars
There has been a very nice talent upgrade in Louisville, but maybe not enough in the right areas. The Cougars have not secured a franchise quarterback and night be switching between the three they have throughout the year. Running back might be even more of a mess too, though CJ Spiller has looked somewhat decent. The problem is that the team may just be down too much to stick with the run. At least they should be better defensively. But the offense is an issue.
20. Carolina Generals
The Generals have a tough defense, but the offense just hasn’t improved quite enough since last year. Kenneth Dixon can be a great running back in this league, but he’ll need some help. The quarterback position is a big problem area and their veterans at wide receiver look to be well past their primes.
21. Omaha Express
Can Tim Tebow make his magic happen in Omaha? Despite using the second overall pick on Joe Callahan, the Express signed Tim Tebow after he decided to return to football after a try at baseball. One has to wonder if his heart is really in this though. He didn’t look nearly as impressive during the team’s exhibition game. At running back, Toby Gerhardt and the newly signed LeGarrette Blount will be a very tough duo to stop, though. Running the ball straight up the field should be the bread and butter of this team. It will take pressure off their defense that has some nice veterans, but might be a top heavy unit with Vontaze Burfict, Taylor Mays, Alphonso Dennard and Antonio Cromartie leading the way and not too much else after them.
22. Houston Wranglers
Houston is taking the slow road to building their team. There is a reason why they have nearly $9 million in open cap space heading into this season. Other than Roddy White, who has announced he will retire at the end of his one year with the Wranglers, they are going with a ton of young players. That should show and there should be some serious growing pains in Houston this year.
MVP: Bo Levi Mitchell, San Antonio Marshalls
Offensive Player of the Year: Allen Hurns, Atlanta Firebirds
Defensive Player of the Year: Tashaun Gipson, Seattle Orcas
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dak Prescott, Birmingham Predators
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Will Parks, Phoenix Scorpions
Week 1 Preview
Orlando Rockets @ New York Marauders
New York is going to come out throwing the ball all over the field with Stefon Diggs, Brandon Coleman and Will Tye, but the overall depth and power of a great Orlando Rockets team might be too much in the end.
Washington Wave @ Philadelphia Bulldogs
Washington is a very interesting team and Philly is not going to be an easy place for them to search for their first regular season victory since rejoining the SFL, but while Michael Vick is still the man in Philly, we’ll have to see how he holds up because he struggled at the end of last season. In a battle of NFL veteran QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s arm might prove to be huge in this game.
Birmingham Predators @ Charleston Dragons
As much hype as Dak Prescott has, it seems impossible that he could live up to it, but the guy has been great so far and as tough as Charleston is, the lack of established quarterback there, and really lack of established quarterback might mean a debut win for the No. 1 overall pick.
Dallas Six-Shooters @ Houston Wranglers
The Texas battle might be over by halftime. Houston is certainly going to give everything it has, but they aren’t really built to win now. Dallas will hold no punches against their Long Star State rival.
Atlanta Firebirds @ Carolina Generals
Atlanta’s weapons in the passing game just look like far too much for Carolina. The Generals have some nice pieces, but probably just not enough offensively yet.
Louisville Cougars @ Michigan Stags
Louisville is going to hang around in this game for quite a bit of time, but in the end they probably don’t have enough offensively to beat a tough as nails team like Michigan. Passing against them without a proven quarterback threat will be a difficult task for the Cougars.
Los Angeles Stars @ Pittsburgh Forge
The Stars will still have a very good offense despite losing Kirk Cousins and Lamar Miller, and stable ownership will absolutely help their cause. Pittsburgh is going to put up a tough fight but probably just don’t have enough to get the win in week 1.
Pick: Los Angeles
Phoenix Scorpions @ New Orleans Nightmare
The addition of Adrian Peterson behind the league’s best offensive line makes the Scorpions a very scary team. They won’t beat themselves and with New Orleans quarterback Zack Mettenberger struggling with interceptions throughout his career, that may be the key battle.
Columbus Explorers @ Omaha Express
Omaha would love to win in their debut, but the Explorers are just too proven and too dangerous. Theo Riddick might have a huge week in this game as an offensive weapon for the Explorers.
Nashville Renegades @ San Antonio Marshalls
Nashville surprised a lot of people with their run into the playoffs at the end of last year, but the San Antonio Marshalls are going to have a high-flying offense and their defense will make things tough for the Gades in their opener.
Pick: San Antonio
Minnesota Freeze @ Seattle Orcas
The Freeze are under new ownership but they are still one of the best teams around. This battle here will be a battle of league blue bloods as Seattle is coming off an SFL Grand Finale appearance as well. Seattle being at home with one of the few secondaries that could slow down the Freeze passing game might be the big difference, though.