Season 22 Preview: Everything you need to know

by Cameron Irvine

It's game week in the Simulation Football League and a lot has happened in the past two months:

  • We crowned a new champion for the first time in over two years, when the Florida Storm won its fourth title. Baltimore (5), Florida (4), Queen City (4), Denver (2), D.C. (1), Mexico City (1) and Atlanta (1) are still active franchises. Will the SFL crown its first truly new champion since Baltimore won it all in Season 15?
  • Las Vegas and Sioux Falls folded and all their best was dispersed throughout the league. The average roster size this season is at an all-time high as all top 25 teams are now more than capable of securing wins every single week. But who has the most talented roster?
  • Free Agency Frenzy set all sorts of records, with over 200 signings happening in a single hour this off-season. We ran down all of the biggest free agency signings earlier this off-season here.

Fast forward to today and the league is more stacked than ever before. Here's the top-rated, 100 overall graded players in Season 22 across the league:

  • LOU HB Duane Sammons
  • ATL FB Mitchell O'Brien, BAL FB T-Roy Gaines, CAN FB Bill Cherry, CAR FB Hattori Hanzo, FLA FB Chris Comisac, FTW FB Aaron Alexander, MIN FB Justin Williams, VAN FB Matteo Pravado
  • ARZ C Jean Benazzi, ARZ G Patrick Kelly, FTW G Frank Burks
  • DEN DE Hugo Reynosa, FTW DE Jeff Duffy, FTW DE Gerry Dee Gond, MIN DT Max Knight
  • CHS CB Cory Mennor, MEX CB Merrick Itera
  • DCD FS Jon DeSantis, FLA FS Daniel Wright, IND FS Mike Ryan, POR FS Vernard Smith

The fullbacks are an interesting dynamic around the league and explain why the league flipped to run-first in Season 21. Eight teams have perfection at fullback, but what separates them? 

Hattori Hanzo is the number one block, boasting 80 grades in both the run and pass. Besides Houston's Dan Curtis (who moved from tight end to fullback this off-season) no fullback has better hands than Alexander (74) to catch passes out of the backfield. Gaines and Pravado both have 80 speed and 80 break tackle making them two of the most expensive fullback contracts in the league. Christopher Dean (MCV), Tony Zoma (QCC) and Chuck Stellar (DCD) are not on the list, but are the fastest backfield hybrids in the SFL with calculated 82 speed - with each team paying nearly $1 million dollars to ensure their fullbacks are the most versatile. 

Before we dive into to each team, if you want an in-depth look at all these squads check out Around the SFL's overview of player grades here. Now, a look at each team's Season 22 outlook through team Power Rankings, based on the analytics of 4K23 roster construction:

  1.  FLORIDA STORM (OFF: 100, DEF: 100, OVR: 98) - It's just about the best roster a football team can have. The Storm have 28 players this season and are led by three cornerbacks in the top 10 of their player rankings - Ryan Davidson (OVR: 98), Evan Carroll (OVR: 98) and Adam Jones (OVR: 95). One thing they don't have is depth in the backfield, which could cause issues if HB Charlie Biletsky or FB Comisac gets injured. The team will rely on its better than average line, led by G Greg McDonaldson (OVR: 90) to carry the burden when their two stars need rest.
  2.  ARIZONA SCORPIONS (OFF: 100, DEF: 98, OVR: 97) - Arizona's top four highest-graded players are on their offensive line (100's Bennazi and Kelly, along with G Igor Barbatov - OVR: 97 and T Sean Crooked - OVR: 96). Like Florida, Arizona boasts their two best players in their secondary on the outside with cornerbacks Everett Garrison (OVR: 94) and Sioux Falls acquisition Terrell Davis (OVR: 93). The team lacks depth at both safety positions, which could prove costly in critical moments of the season if health is an issue. 
  3. FORT WORTH TOROS (OFF: 96, DEF: 100, OVR: 97) - With a league-high four players are in the 100 club, the Toros will win the line of scrimmage more often than not and that's what they're banking on. The Toros landed new WR1 EJ Mincin (OVR: 96) from champion Florida in the off-season, the highest-rated wide receiver in the league to start the season. Fort Worth's secondary is the definition of elite. Adam Leach (CB, OVR: 96), Ayden Davis (CB, OVR: 95) and Ben Stone (FS, OVR: 95) are all graded higher than reigning MVP Delaney Nash, who also returns to the team. Starting halfback Bacon (OVR: 84) is graded as the third-weakest starter in the league.
  4.  VANCOUVER LEGION (OFF: 98, DEF: 98, OVR: 97) - Five of the top 10 highest-graded players come from their tackles (Mike Coverson, OVR: 98 and Rylan Caudill, OVR: 93), two fullbacks (Pravado, OVR: 100 and Sawyer Stern, OVR: 97) and a running back (Robert Redford, OVR: 94). Despite what happened in Canton in the playoffs, running outside should be this team's ultimate strength. A lack of depth and star power at linebacker could hinder the Legion's defensive efforts. The unit is led by Marquis Reid (OVR: 88).
  5. SEATTLE NEMESIS (OFF: 93, DEF: 100, OVR: 96) - Seattle's elite defense is led by their secondary like Fort Worth, led by Amar Bryant Jr. (CB, OVR: 98), Daniel Valentine (CB, OVR: 96), TJ Frostee (FS, OVR: 96), Doug Day (SS, OVR: 93) and Bryant James (SS, OVR: 92). The Nemesis also have the highest-graded linebacker - Sabo Canaan (OVR: 96). Offensively, quarterback Ty Ptak only has one receiver (Gus Scott, OVR: 86) graded above an 80 - that's the least amount of 80+ wide receivers on any team, tied with Motor City, Queen City and Tulsa but all three of those teams rank in the bottom five of rosters overall. For a Championship contender, it'll be interesting to see if Seattle can overcome offensive mismatches.
  6. MINNESOTA LEGEND (OFF: 97, DEF: 99, OVR: 96) - The Legend will once again have one of the most talented defensive lines, led by Knight and defensive ends Mark Melo (OVR: 94 and Angela Meercat (OVR: 93). Tight end Jason France (OVR: 95) is the league's second highest-graded tight end and it should be a priority to figure out how to get him more touches this season. Minnesota boasts three receivers all graded overall above a 90 (Jay Taylor 93, Deezer Powell 91 and Tee DaQueen 91) tied with Fort Worth. Putting it all together in wins was the Legend's weakness last season and this season it's hard to imagine the roster would be the cause of issues in Season 22.
  7.  CANTON CLASSICS (OFF: 96, DEF: 98, OVR: 96) - It's a crowded backfield in Canton led by FB Cherry but after contract negotiations it turns out Robert Johnson will be ahead of Logan Lee, at least on the initial depth chart. Neither rank in the top nine of rostered players though, so Cherry may play an even larger role than expected. The Classics boast an elite secondary with Dedrick Law (CB, OVR: 95), Kanye Roakafella (FS, OVR: 95), Evan Lacey (CB, OVR: 90) and King Jamaal (SS, OVR: 90) all ranked in the team's top 10 graded players. Like Arizona, Canton is thin at safety with no help behind Jamaal or Rockafella.
  8. MEXICO CITY AZTECS (OFF: 90, DEF: 100, OVR: 95) - We've talked about outstanding secondaries a lot in the top 10, but none may be as good as Mexico City's: Cornerback Itera is paired with Jared Brodie (CB, OVR: 99), Jeffrey Daggs (FS, OVR: 98), Max Jackson (SS, OVR: 97) and Liam Ryan (CB, OVR: 96). Like Arizona, who's top four graded players are on the offensive line, the Aztecs top five is in its defensive backfield. People around the league wonder why teams are running more - it's builds like these that make teams second-guess throwing deep. With so much work done in free agency, it's hard to find flaws in the Aztec build ... the offensive line could leak against some of the best up front. 
  9. CHARLESTON PREDATORS (OFF: 99, DEF: 92, OVR: 95) - Last season, Charleston's offensive backfield was balanced but the production didn't match the effort to diversify. Four backs ranked 85 or better will run behind talented offensive lineman Perrin Ybarra (T, OVR: 96) and Frank James (G, OVR: 92). Talent is scattered throughout one of the highest-rated offensive units with a sneaky-good receiving corps led by Benjamin Warner (OVR: 91) and Xavier Solomon (TE, OVR: 91). The secondary is good, but not anywhere near the level of teams above them.
  10. LOUISIANA REVOLUTION (OFF: 93, DEF: 99, OVR: 95) - By all accounts, Duane Sammons is the best running back in the SFL right now - now he has to go out there and show it. It's the most talented backfield in the league - fullback Cameron Collier (OVR: 97) and halfback Chris Grant Jr. (OVR: 95) give the Revs three HB/FB over 95, the only team in the league. What's even crazier: there are six teams in the league who don't have three players graded 95 or higher and the Revs have that in their backfield. Linebacker is deep led by the return of Slinn Shady (OVR: 93). Teams with stout front sevens could give the Revs trouble.
  11. ALAMO CITY ARTILLERY (OFF: 88, DEF: 100, OVR: 94) - This may be big seasons for quarterback Ace Fenech (OVR: 93), tight end Garrison Blue (OVR: 94) and free agency acquisition Vin Calia (OVR: 93). The Season 21 semifinalist almost had it all put together before running into the Florida buzzsaw but I have a feeling without a contracted fullback, Alamo City is going to spread out the offense and get pieces like Calia - who's production was shockingly low in Minnesota - going. Kenny Hendricks made a name for himself in the minor league's with Nashville and should be one of the best kick returners this season. The defense lacks safety depth but should win a lot of battles up front - the Artillery have four defensive lineman all graded 86 or higher, amongst the top five around the SFL.
  12. BALTIMORE VULTURES (OFF: 97, DEF: 90, OVR: 93) - We all know the Vultures aren't the 12th best team in the SFL - that's just silly. They are a much improved roster, even from last season. What hurt them in the Championship (backfield depth on both sides of the ball) was addressed with the additions of halfback Hubba Kimbrel (OVR: 85) and rookie Sullivan Tyson. The linebackers are back, led by outside linebacker Keenan Samuels (OVR: 88) but don't let these ratings fool you - no one is better at getting the most out of their players than Baltimore.
  13. INDIANAPOLIS RAMBLERS (OFF: 85, DEF: 99, OVR: 92) - The big question for the Ramblers this season is going to be maximizing offensive weapons. Halfback Christian Pierce is the lowest-graded starting halfback (OVR: 78) and Ryan Roosevelt (OVR: 91) will likely carry a big load once again for the passing attack. Indy has some young pieces on offense (HB Tino Sosa, WR Devin Lloyd) but it may be a minute before this unit becomes elite. All 14 of the Ramblers defensive contracted players rank 79 or higher so there's no real holes there. While the offense grows, the defense will need to find their identity faster than last season. If they do, the Ramblers can be scary down the stretch.
  14. CAROLINA SKYHAWKS (OFF: 95, DEF: 89, OVR: 92) - Who had Harish Prasad going to halfback to back up Ike McBride on their bingo card? I sure didn't. I hope this staff wants to run the ball, because they're going to behind FB Hanzo, McBride and Prasad. Chris Curtis (OVR: 89) came over in free agency, but Riley Quintero (OVR: 91) is still Matt South's top receiver. The offensive line has taken strides too. This team's young on the back end but watching the evolution of strong safeties E-Bari Amen-Eaglin and Chris Delrow will be fun to see. 
  15. PORTLAND FLEET (OFF: 97, DEF: 85, OVR: 91) - Maybe THIS is the season? Portland has finished with a 5-7 or 6-6 record five of the last six seasons. They've successfully built the team they always dreamed of, however, with center Jaiden Taylor (OVR: 97), and tackles Randy Fat (OVR: 97) and John Warren (OVR: 94) anchoring the offense. Scott Johnson joining Ezekiel Love in the backfield for a one-two punch also bounced right for the Fleet's off-season moves. The receiving core is young but if they can continue to rise, the offense will be next level. Safety lacks depth, but possesses the team's best player, free safety Vernard Smith.
  16. LOS ANGELES LYCANS (OFF: 88, DEF: 94, OVR: 91) - What Los Angeles lacks in star power they achieve with depth. Just three players on the squad rank above a 90 overall, lowest in the league, yet they climb to 16th in these preseason rankings. This team brings the speed - receivers Bubba Tree and Daricus Iniguez have 99 speed. The key will be figuring out how to get them in mismatches so quarterback Suly Richardson can continue his assentation. This team won't win many battles in the trenches and their top linebacker is converted safety Rachelle Colston but if you underestimate them, the Lycans may just burn you.
  17. D.C. DRAGONS (OFF: 89, DEF: 93, OVR: 91) - Did you know that Peanut Seay made $1.8 million last season and is a 99-overall graded player this season to pair with DeSantis? I didn't think Seay was that big of a star but at cornerback, he's the definition of a star because we never talk about him - shutting down his side of the field one opponent at a time. D.C. also sports the best tight end in the league - 99 overall Lauren Percoco, with 97-overall husband center Michael Percoco coming over in free agency. D.C. also landed veteran and 97-overall rated Nick Fargo to their defensive line. D.C. lacks offensive explosivity with the rest of their weapons taking a back seat to star power in other areas, but should have enough to make a playoff push winning with their grind-it-out style. 
  18. SAN DIEGO MAVERICKS (OFF: 92, DEF: 91, OVR: 91) - The Mavericks are a balanced unit, with top-graded players at wide receiver, quarterback, tight end, safety, corner, center, defensive end and defensive tackle. There's no real weakness to the team - although they possess no contracted inside linebackers and a league-high five outside linebackers that will shuffle around the field. Adam Williams is the best run-blocking tight end in the league (81 run block) and center Anthony Anderson is the second-best run blocking center (83 run block) so this team should be able to run the ball pretty good. The team lacks depth in the backfield. Quarterback Jonny Pichler and his high-flying passing attack may need to get the offense out of binds throughout the game.
  19. HOUSTON HEADHUNTERS (OFF: 86, DEF: 95, OVR: 90) - Wild to say, Houston's top-rated player is tight end-turned-fullback Dan Curtis, maybe he's found his true calling. This team put in work this off-season, adding safety Guy Incognito (OVR: 97) and cornerback John Barnhart (OVR: 97) to bolster the best defense on this side of the playoff cut line. The offensive line may be a weak point, but hopefully GP Wells (HB, OVR: 94), Josh Slapp (HB, OVR: 92) and Curtis can get the team out of some jams.
  20. ATLANTA SWARM (OFF: 97, DEF: 82, OVR: 89) - This is a fascinating team. While there are plenty of names you know and love atop the roster - Moose Papineau (FS, OVR: 97), BDG Hollewood (HB, OVR: 96) and Bryant Dynasty (QB, OVR: 94), the team also signed Sioux Falls corner Nathan Barnett (OVR: 93), halfback Jason Williams (OVR: 93) and receiver Kae Marion (OVR: 89). They've also got rookie sensation receiver Henry McGee (OVR: 79, 99 speed). The Swarm, along with Mexico City, most benefited from contraction this season. They're a little thin up front - no one graded above 90 up front, just two linebackers over 80 but if Atlanta's defensive scheme against the run is as good as last season, maybe that can make up for the difference in talent.
  21. TULSA DESPERADOS (OFF: 86, DEF: 91, OVR: 88) - The Desperados understand Gabriel Manning (OVR: 93) is a one-of-a-kind talent, but the team takes one-of-a-kind to a whole new level. The next highest graded receiver on the roster is 20 points less than Manning so depending on the matchup, Tulsa could struggle. The Desperados have a whole new backfield - quarterback Michael Brown (OVR: 90) and halfback Phoenix Jones (OVR: 87). A lot of change, so little time, but the Desperados are certainly always frisky.
  22. DENVER NIGHTWINGS (OFF: 84, DEF: 88, OVR: 85) - While Denver's still trying to put the pieces together and fill out their roster, the collective has improved overall. They return reigning defensive rookie of Season 21 Luis Quintana (OVR: 71) who is living proof that grades are just numbers. They also have this season's No. 1 pick Ace Ketchum backing up star talent Baylee O'Shaughnessy (OVR: 96). 12 players grade 88 or better which is on par with most of the teams around the league. If the Nightwings can figure out how to do more with less, this season could start their turnaround.
  23. MOTOR CITY V8S (OFF: 90, DEF: 71, OVR: 82) - Motor City grades a bit skewed - the team doesn't have any contracted inside linebackers or free safeties - they'll be moving their three strong safeties, led by Nicholas Warner (OVR: 93) around defensively. But the team is extremely weak up front, with just three players with a grade over an 80 amongst the defensive line and linebackers. Offensively, however, it will be exciting to see what King Jackson (OVR: 94) can do in his first pro opportunity and if he can get his top trio of tight ends led by Phil Kos (OVR: 90) more engaged. Jackson's pass strength grades best in the league at 95 - a lot of tight end seams should be expected and successful. 
  24. JACKSONVILLE KINGS (OFF: 74, DEF: 87, OVR: 82) - OJ Bruin (OVR: 94) stabilized last season and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in a league that still doesn't have a lot of separation of talent at the position - he is the story here. Bruin's the second-fastest quarterback in the league only behind Fort Worth's Marcus Dunhill, but has a 95 scramble rating - he is the most comfortable outside the pocket, and it's not close - 15 points better than any other player. The Kings are one of the youngest teams in the league and their hybrid style of defense will continue to be a major discussion. Yung Vot (FS, OVR: 93) will lead a defense with all sorts of position changes that see Tigga Clay and John-Patrick Levine - two former defensive backs - moving down to play linebacker.
  25. QUEEN CITY CORSAIRS (OFF: 83, DEF: 77, OVR: 80) - Free agent acquisition, quarterback Eric Price, is the only skill-position player above a 90 grade offensively. But running behind guard Robert Krohn (OVR: 92) and tossing it out to James Matthew Jr. (TE, OVR: 86) are never bad options. The Corsairs caught some bad breaks this off-season and face the biggest uphill coaching challenge but the eventual explosion out of rebuild has to start at some point. At least they've got the outside covered with cornerbacks Anthony Wyo (OVR: 96), Justin Reside (OVR: 93) and Ted Haynes (OVR: 92).