How goes it AAF fans? It’s been an exciting couple weeks of football as the inaugural Alliance of American Football season has kicked off and is now in full swing. From a jaw-dropping, helmet flying sack by Shaan Washington where he victimized Mike Bercovici to set the tone of this new league, a Week 2 shootout between Orlando and San Antonio to a blast to the past with players such as Trent Richardson, Zac Stacy and Charles Johnson, among others, taking the field. The AAF has covered its bases with exciting experimentation of rules, an NFL pipeline of players, notable coaches and flat out entertainment. It seems as if that void of spring football will finally be filled, as the early product the AAF has fielded leaves myself and many others optimistic for its future.
Now let’s get down and dirty and talk fantasy football. If you’re anything like me, you weren’t going to enjoy this league without partaking in fantasy affairs. What an intriguing concept it was entering my first AAF fantasy draft. How exactly do I attack this? Do I just go for the most notable players? Maybe pay attention to the positional drafts? Where does the positional value lie? And to be honest, that’s what made the experience that much better. Everyone is seemingly on an even playing field because we know absolutely nothing about these teams. Who are going to get the bulk of the touches on their respective squads? How will these offensive schemes pan out? With all the uncertain variables and vital yet secret information, let the chaos commence.
With two weeks in the books, my team sits at 2-0 fresh off a league high 110 points. At this point it’s safe to say I feel confident, but it’s a long season and you never know how things can turn around. With that being said, if you’re 0-2, no need to worry as I’m here to help you get back on track in this week’s AAF Fantasy Football Forecast.
Also, I will be keeping track of AAF Fantasy Football Scoring Leaders if you’re interested in bookmarking that.
Garrett Gilbert big play to Chris Thompson (again, not that one) pic.twitter.com/2NP6oQsST0
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) February 17, 2019
Quarterback Play Has Seen Its Ups and Downs
Thanks to the likes of John Wolford and Garrett Gilbert, the quarterback market isn’t as dry as you would think for a developmental league. Wolford dropped a monster 37.3 fantasy points in the opening week at the hands of Salt Lake City, while Gilbert went for 25+ in both weeks to start his AAF career as he engineers Orlando’s lethal aerial attack. As it stands heading into Week 3, Gilbert and Wolford are the only players at any position to tally over 50 fantasy points, and I think it’s safe to say that these are the two fantasy studs at QB in the early stages of the AAF.
Following Wolford and Gilbert there is a huge 30+ point drop-off down to QB3 in Birmingham’s Luis Perez. The Iron have rode their defense to a 2-0 record and have looked like one of the premier teams in the early going. Perez has secured the ball, limiting turnovers and efficiently moving the ball within the offense. While he probably won’t post many monster stat lines this season, he should be good for a solid 12-15 each week. If you’re strong at RB and/or WR with Perez as your QB, you should be in good shape.
Logan Woodside emerged as a 2nd tier starter after posting 14.72 fantasy points in a shootout loss against Orlando. He currently sits at QB4 with 21.82 total fantasy points after a rocky opening week. San Antonio has playmakers in their receiving corps and as long as Woodside continues to play facilitator, he should continue to post respectable fantasy marks.
After the top 4, we see a drastic drop-off into the low tier guys which features Memphis’ Christian Hackenberg, Atlanta’s Matt Simms and San Diego’s Phillip Nelson. If you’re desperate and the top guys are scooped up, Simms would be my pick out of this bunch as he seems to have the starting job on lock after Aaron Murray’s abysmal performance to open the season.
The wildcard of the bunch is Josh Woodrum for the Salt Lake City Stallions. Following a Week 1 hamstring injury, Woodrum was forced to leave the game and missed Week 2. His status is certainly worth monitoring as he looked decent for the Stallions as he posted 10.62 fantasy points in what was a close game, until Arizona pulled away in the second half. Assuming Woodrum is good to go within the next couple weeks, he’s worth an add if you need to bolster your quarterback play.
Trent Richardson is Living Up to the Hype… but Others Are Producing Too
If you’re active in an AAF fantasy league, chances are Trent Richardson was the #1 overall pick. Richardson quickly became the poster boy of the AAF once it was announced he would play in the league. The former top 5 draft pick rapidly wore out his welcome in the NFL and then proceeded to hang up north for a couple years in the CFL. He now finds himself in a role of redemption as he looks to take over in this new league.
From a fantasy perspective, Richardson has been a stud as he paves the way at RB1 with 41.3 fantasy points, but his 2.4 yards per carry suggests otherwise. Regardless, he’s the best fantasy running back as he conducts Birmingham’s ground and pound offense as he’s swallowing all of the volume out of that backfield. His understudy LaDarius Perkins only has 13 touches to Richardson’s 49. If you have Richardson on your roster and have an extra bench slot, Perkins is worth handcuffing as an insurance policy.
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) February 18, 2019
Following up Richardson we have Ja’Quan Gardner as our RB2. Gardner is one of the more unheralded players who has made an impact thus far. The Humboldt State alum exploded in the second half in San Diego’s Week 2 victory over Atlanta. He rushed for the first touchdown in Fleet history, and then rushed for another one five minutes later as he secured the franchise’s first win. Along with his two scores, he rushed for 104 yards–setting the new AAF record. Gardner looks like a stud and should be the main source of offense for the Fleet. While he isn’t running away with the workload, that should soon change. He has just six more carries than backup Terrell Watson, but 100 more yards.
Sticking inside the top 5 we have another couple NFL guys in San Antonio’s Kenneth Farrow (RB3) and Memphis’ Zac Stacy (RB5). Farrow should continue to garner more carries each week as he’s been by far the most impressive runner for the Commanders, although Aaron Green sits at RB11 with 14 fantasy points. Stacy has looked very good running the ball and comes off an 18.2 fantasy point performance where he rushed for 101 yards and held the record for about 24 hours. He is running away with that backfield and should continue to produce at a high pace and finish the year as a top 5 fantasy RB.
Now let’s talk about Arizona’s backfield. Leading the charge, at this point, is Jhurrell Pressley who holds the RB4 spot with 26.1 fantasy points after leading all RBs in points after a 20.4 point performance in the opening week. His production slipped this past week as we saw an emergence from Tim Cook, who was inactive in Week 1 but came back to post 13.7 fantasy points in Arizona’s Week 2 win–leading all Arizona backs. Then there’s Justin Stockton who has held his own as RB9 with 17.4 fantasy points. This is going to be a tough backfield to forecast and I even compared them to the New England Patriots backfield on The Two Point Podcast. You never know what to expect from the Patriots when it comes to fantasy, and I have a feeling the Hotshots will have a similar situation. Pressley looks to hold the most upside of the trio, but his weekly production may be sporadic as proven from the first couple games. Cook provided a ton of energy in his first game and looks like he’ll be the primary power runner and goal-line back. He’s someone I’m targeting on waivers this week. For Stockton, I don’t know that the volume will be there for him compared to the other two, but they should continue to give him consistent touches and as long as he can sprinkle in those big plays, he’s a low-end RB2.
Other interesting backfields with notable production hail in Orlando and Salt Lake City. For the Apollos, De’Veon Smith has been perhaps the biggest fantasy anomaly thus far. The man only has twelve touches, but he’s currently RB6 with 20.7 fantasy points with two 2-point conversions and two touchdowns to his credit. He shares duties with D’Ernest Johnson who leads the team with 13 carries and has averaged 7.1 yards per carry, along with Akeem Hunt who has been a solid contributor as well. It’s a tough backfield to gauge, but I suspect Johnson will still see a bulk of the carries while Smith will be the goal-line vulture as he’ll see tremendous TD/2 pt production.
The Stallions feature Joel Bouagnon (RB7) and Branden Oliver (RB8). The two-headed monster have seen similar touches and production, but I think Oliver brings more value with his pass catching ability. Bouagnon has workhorse potential and should see some big games this year as he’ll be the one out there to grind out wins in the final stages.
The last running back I’m going to talk about is Atlanta’s Akrum Wadley. What a weird path to the AAF for the former Iowa Hawkeye. After a stellar junior season, Wadley looked like one of the top backs going into the 2018 NFL Draft, he went on to go undrafted and his skillset just looked diminished as a senior. Wadley was inactive in Week 1, but came back with a huge game this past week where he dropped 16.2 fantasy points and finished with eight catches–accounting for nearly half of his team’s completions. While he may be a popular name between league-mates, he could’ve flown under the radar due to sitting out in Week 1. If he’s available on the wire, pick him up.
What a catch by Rashad Ross pic.twitter.com/yiPbb2IICN
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) February 11, 2019
Big Separation at the Top and None in the Middle
As a whole, we’ve seen disappointing wide receiver play highlighted by dropped pass after dropped pass. However, that’s not to say it’s been all bad. We have a few studs here at the top in Rashad Ross, Charles Johnson and Jalin Marshall. Ross exploded in Week 1 with over 100 receiving yards and a pair of scores. He looks to be on a different level than everyone else. Johnson and Marshall are both coming off huge weeks as they made the most of their team’s high scoring win. If you have any of these guys on your roster, you have a stud at the position.
Quinton Patton is just outside that top tier for me, but he’s the go-to guy for Birmingham through the air and has been productive through the first two weeks. He was one of my higher rated receivers during my AAF fantasy draft and he has played up to expectation thus far.
Three of the next four receivers are featured on the San Antonio Commanders with Mekale McKay (WR5), Alonzo Moore (WR6) and Greg Ward Jr. (WR8) each looking like a viable starter on your fantasy squad behind one of the best passing attacks in the league. Demarcus Ayers also looks poised to be a key contributor on that offense as he was inactive in Week 1, but went on to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards in Week 2. He’s someone I’m looking at on the waiver wire this week.
Other starting caliber receivers include San Diego’s Brian Brown (WR7), Orlando’s Chris Thompson (WR9), Memphis’ Reece Horn (WR10) and Arizona’s Richard Mullaney (WR11)–all WR2s at this juncture. Thompson is the third option in the Apollos’ passing attack, but his ability to stretch the field makes him lethal in that offense and he’s already got a 54 yard catch to his merit. He’s a sleeper I’m looking at this week as he’s overshadowed by Johnson and Marshall.
One under the radar guy who I’m going to be monitoring the next couple weeks is Nelson Spruce from the San Diego Fleet. Spruce was ultra productive at Colorado and I think he has a chance to cement himself a role within that offense. In this past week’s win over Atlanta he led the team with four catches, six targets and 58 receiving yards.
Aside from the guys at the very top, there is very little separation between the middle men in the scoring ranks with just four points between WR10 and WR20. With inconsistent passing attacks, for the majority, it’s tough to get an early gauge on these players. I’m very intrigued to see who pulls away in the coming weeks.
Tight Ends Are Unpredictable
We’ve seen the NFL evolve into a top heavy league at the tight end position. You used to be able to sit back and wait it out in your fantasy drafts and snag a good value pick, but now it seems as if you need to attack that position early if you want good production. In the AAF’s case, there just isn’t much production to be had.
Currently your TE1 is Gerald Christian with 16.5 fantasy points, nearly half of those points coming on a Week 1 touchdown. I like his potential within that Arizona offense and I think he has a strong chance to preserve that top spot among tight ends. His biggest competition I think will come from NFL veteran Gavin Escobar. Currently TE3, Escobar will be worked into that offense as a security blanket. He won’t have many big time games, but consistency will be key with him.
Still inside the top 4, we have two players from Salt Lake City. Nick Truesdell (TE2) and Anthony Denham (TE4) both serve as decent starting options, but it’s tough to pick between the two. Denham has more yards while Truesdell has the lone TD between the two. The Stallions have been implementing their tight ends more than most teams, so both of these players should continue solid production throughout the season.
After that it gets even dryer, although Evan Rodriguez (TE5) is coming off a big week where he posted 10.6 fantasy points–the fourth highest total by a tight end this season. If he’s available in your league and you need a tight end, he’s the guy to go for.
Waiver Wire Targets
- RB Tim Cook (Arizona Hotshots)
- RB De’Veon Smith (Orlando Apollos)
- RB Akrum Wadley (Atlanta Legends)
- WR Demarcus Ayers (San Antonio Commanders
- WR Nelson Spruce (San Diego Fleet)
- WR Chris Thompson (Orlando Apollos)
- TE Evan Rodriguez (San Antonio Commanders)
Week 3 Thoughts
If you stuck with me throughout this piece, I just want you to know that I appreciate it a great deal. I’ll look to publish these articles biweekly as I’ll be outlining the biggest developments in the AAF fantasy realm. If you have any AAF fantasy questions, hit my line @JonValenciaBF.
Looking ahead at this week’s slate of games, let’s just hope you have some players from Birmingham or Orlando as I’m expecting two one-sided games this week. On Saturday night we’ll see Orlando (2-0) host Memphis (0-2) in what is poised to be a dominant Orlando win. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop a 50 burger as Garrett Gilbert continues his quest towards the inaugural AAF MVP award. Stock up on Orlando skill players this week.
The early Sunday game pits Birmingham (2-0) and Memphis (0-2)–arguably the league’s top defense against the league’s worst offense. While Birmingham may not light up the scoreboard, I expect them to grind it down the field and create opportunities for production.
To start this week’s slate we’ll see a Week 1 rematch between Arizona (2-0) and Salt Lake City (0-2)–another undefeated versus winless. These two teams battled in the opening week before the Hotshots pulled away in the second half after an injury to the Stallions’ quarterback. I expect a rejuvenated Stallions team out for blood this go around, they are not as bad as their winless record would indicate. This should be a competitive game and I’ll be looking to see who stands out on Arizona’s offense, particularly out of that backfield.
The finale on Sunday night is what I’m tagging as game of the week between San Antonio (1-1) and San Diego (1-1). I’ll give the edge to the Commanders in this one, but I’m interested to see if the Fleet can carry momentum into this one after a big fourth quarter against Atlanta last week. Do they continue to operate the offense through Ja’Quan Gardner? I think so; but will it be enough to win them the game?
If you want more AAF talk, check out the Two Point Podcast: