ELF: Top 5 Players who exceeded expectations

During the preseason and some of the early season, we produced a Top 5 for every position in the European League of Football. Some of them have aged well, others not so much. We can owe this list to Kevin Mwamba, who pointed out his exclusion and inspired this list.

Today we’ll look through the Top 5s from the season and point out who was missed off the lists and should have been included. As well as some players who blew up the league with their breakout seasons.

Tomiwa Oyewo – Munich Ravens

Photo: Fabio Castelvetri

Everyone who had seen Oyewo with the Allgäu Comets knew that he was a potential superstar, but it seemed as if he found the perfect situation and scheme in Munich. Through 12 games he accumulated 1102 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Those put him as 2nd in the league for yards and 1st for rushing touchdowns. He was also second in Yards Per Carry for players with over 50 carries, only behind Glen Toonga, and was a key focal point on one of the best offenses in league history. Furthermore, when adding in his 337 receiving yards to his All-Purpose he totals over 1,400 yards in his debut season. The definition of an All-Star snub, he has proved himself to be an elite back at this level and there is no doubt that there will be multiple teams who will be trying to build around the Irishman.

Dawid Brzozowski – Wroclaw Panthers

Photo: Fabio Castelvetri.

The big surprise for the rushing leaders was the breakout season for Brzozowski. A total of 580 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in his debut season in 2022 had fans hopeful but it was not expected that he would take the rushing crown from all the immense talent that entered the league at RB this season. However, 1,116 yards, 12 touchdowns and a 1st team all ELF selection later and it could be argued he is the best running back in the league. He was a massive part of what kept the Wroclaw Panthers as a playoff team because he forced defenses to account for him on every play. When his QB and WR then went on to have injuries, he was still able to carry the team to success. The criticism of the Panthers going into the season was the lack of homegrown talent. It’s fair to say that has been addressed and disproved.

Alejandro Fernandez Nieto – Rhein Fire

Photo: Rhein Fire

After a slow start to the beginning of the season, Alejandro was not included in the top 5 for the defensive lineman. He began heating up in week 4 when he registered his first sack of the season and went on to finish with 11 on the season. It’s not only as a pass rusher where he has improved, but also noticeable from the tape that he has made improvements in run defense in ways that don’t always show up in the stat sheet. Unfortunately, he was unable to perform in the ELF Final and his presence was certainly missed as the pass rush was less effective without his burst and explosiveness off the edge. Statistically, there was a slight decline in his production, but given that he has had a full season with Tomsula, a defensive line specialist, it’s expected that he will continue to have 10+ sacks each year.

Kevin Mwamba – Frankfurt Galaxy

Mwamba was left off the top 5 list for less pass game influence, it was certainly a risk going in and it did not pay off! Mwamba looked further improved in the passing game this season, but his strength is still in the blocking. This statement is hard to quantify without stats, but it is important to note that he has seen a gradual increase in his receiving yards every season in the ELF. The Galaxy had a very successful season and through watching the tape Mwamba’s presence is certainly felt. He’s physical at the line, shows good pad level and has strong hands on the engagement. As a three-year ELF veteran, he will likely be on the Galaxy next season as he has been a stable part of their offence and identity as a team.

Jonathan Falk – Helvetic Guards

The Guards’ defense struggled massively in 2023, but there have been players like Beard and Hike who have received a lot of praise. One player who hasn’t seen the same amount of recognition is Falk at the linebacker position. He had 102 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 6 TFLs, 1 interception, 2 breakups and 1 forced/recovered fumble. This paints the picture of a balanced linebacker who is effective all over the field. During the season he was durable and super-consistent, only missing one game all season. In the week 11 game, he registered 18 tackles and 0.5 sacks, this was certainly the game where he was the most recognizable. We shall see if he can continue into next season, but he could be the foundation of building the homegrown talent within Switzerland.

In summary…

There we go! With the expansion of the league this season it could have easily been a top 10 or 15 but this couldn’t go on forever. The season has now, sadly, ended but the off-season has already started to come into play. Tomsula has signed onto 2024, the Vikings and signed two E spot players and a couple of Head Coaches have departed. We’re set for a great off-season! Until next time.