The Alliance: Week 1 Review & Stats to Know
Howard Bender breaks down the Week 1 games for The Alliance of American Football (AAF) from a fantasy football perspective and offers up additional stats to know for waiver claims and Week 2.
The first week of games for the Alliance of American Football is in the books and, overall, it was a rousing success. Save for the Orlando Apollos thrashing of the Atlanta Legends, the games were competitive, the coaching was strong and the officiating was good enough to limit the usual complaints. Was everything perfect? Of course not. A new league like this, put together so quickly, is going to have its growing pains. But if this is the foundation upon which this league is being built, it’s only going to get better and should be around for a very long time.
From a fantasy standpoint, we also have a fantastic base-coat. We’re still looking to nail down every team’s official depth chart, but for the two we’ve been missing, Arizona and Birmingham, we can put our own together based on what we saw in Week 1. But ahead of the games, the league issued a full set of practice reports and also provided a public API to feed us the statistics we so desperately crave. It was up to us as an industry to take what we were given and turn it into something you the fantasy owners could work with. Again, it was a rousing success.
While we here at Fantasy Alarm provide you with player rankings, a Live Stats page, Vegas odds, a soon-to-arrive scoreboard and various other tools for weekly research, other sites have also been doing a tremendous job keeping you informed and in-the-game as well.
Kudos to Brian (I can’t find his last name) who created a platform for seasonal Alliance leagues on altfantasysports.com. He put the site together within a couple of weeks when he saw that no one else was going to be offering a platform to house AAF leagues.
Scott Fish and the crew over at Fanball.com get a huge shout-out for providing us with the only Alliance DFS game in town. They did an outstanding job putting everything in place and posting a number of contests the Friday before Week 1.
And finally, Matt Swanson of NoExtraPoints.com who put together a site with articles, starting rosters, game box scores and soon enough, player projections. He’s been a huge help to those who play Alliance fantasy football, both seasonal and daily.
We expect, eventually, to see the big boys like ESPN, Yahoo, FanDuel and Draft Kings to get involved, but no matter the platforms and contests they build, remember who it was who paved the way. We hope you will continue to support those who had both the passion and initiative to provide you with your fantasy football fix for another 10 weeks.
All that being said, now let’s get down to the Week 1 game analysis and research you need for Week 2 waiver claims, lineup decisions and DFS plays.
Quick notes for those placing bets on Alliance games:
- All four home teams won
- All four favorites covered the spread
- The under hit for three of the four games
Week 1 Game Analysis
|San Diego Fleet||6|
|San Antonio Commanders||15|
Spread: Commanders -3 (covered)
Total: 50.5 (under)
San Antonio Commanders
Logan Woodside beat out Dustin Vaughn for the starting job at the last minute and helped lead the Commanders to their first win of the season. He completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards, but failed to throw for any touchdowns. He’s clearly got some work to do on his decision-making and accuracy, as evidenced by the two interceptions, but any talk of Vaughn replacing him appears to be minimal at the moment. A fair amount of blame can be lifted from his shoulders as the Commanders’ offensive line struggled in pass-protection on numerous occasions and gave up three sacks to the Fleet. Head coach Mike Riley gave more attention to the passing game this week, but could employ a more run-heavy scheme until Woodside feels 100-percent comfortable.
Former Chargers running back Kenneth Farrow came into the game listed as the team’s top option and he did not disappoint, carrying the ball 14 times for 37 yards and a touchdown. The score was nice, but a 2.6 YPC isn’t exactly must-have for fantasy owners. Former NFL running back David Cobb and Aaron Greene both chipped for a total of 79 yards on 15 carries. They also both kicked in some pass-catching with one grab each. Farrow should continue to see work moving forward, but keep an eye on Green as he was certainly the one who looked the most explosive. Most importantly, though, keep an eye on the offensive line. Their pass-protection struggled at time s and their run-blocking certainly needs some extra work.
While he didn’t get into the end zone, Mekale McKay certainly lived up to the preseason buzz. He was targeted 12 times and posted five grabs for 80 yards, but he also had a 40-yarder called back which could have really padded the night. The former Bearcat has great size, good speed and decent hands. He should continue to see a heavy dose of targets, though he could stand to tighten up his route-running a bit.
The speedy Greg Ward looks like he could be the reliable chain-mover in this passing game as he caught five of the seven passes thrown his way and totaled 65 yards. He’s clean on the routes and has great hands. The former QB will also find himself in the middle of some trickery as he’ll be used in some jet-sweeps and can obviously throw the ball well too.
The supporting receivers hung in pretty well with Alonzo Moore totaling 78 yards on three catches (five targets) while John Diarse caught just one of the four targets to come his way. Josh Stewart has definite potential, but he saw just one target on the night. He still looks like he could be the third guy in 3-WR sets, but for immediate fantasy purposes, McKay and Ward appear to be the way to go.
Cole Hunt caught just one of his four targets for four yards and looks like he’ll be used to block more than receive moving forward. If the offensive line jells sooner than later, though, he could be in more block-and-release game plans and find some grabs over the middle.
Nick Rose was a solid 3-for-3 on field goals, though he didn’t have too challenging a night as all three kicks went for less than 40 yards.
The Commanders defense looks strong here at the start of the season as they registered five sacks and three interceptions. The secondary is probably this team’s best asset, but the pass rush was strong as well. They did have some help as the Fleet o-line had some breakdowns, one of which led to that now-famous, crushing hit on Mike Bercovici that popped his helmet off and left him slow to get up.
San Diego Fleet
It’s difficult to lay much blame on Mike Bercovici as the offensive line let him down in pass-protection in a major way. Five sacks and another five QB-hits say it all, really. But credit Bercovici for at least trying to hang in there and gut out the rest of the game. Unfortunately, head coach Mike Martz had seen enough turnovers from his quarterback (two INT) and opted to use Philip Nelson for the fourth quarter. Nelson wasn’t exactly effective himself, completing just 5-of-10 passes for 68 yards and an interception of his own, but it was apparently enough as Martz already named him the starter for Week 2.
Ja’Quan Gardner got the starting nod out of camp and the 5-foot-7, 205 lb bowling ball rumbled his way to 55 yards on eight carries. He should continue to lead Terrell Watson in the backfield, but mostly because of his pass-catching abilities. He caught two of his three targets for 17 yards. We could see more of Watson between the tackles and in short-yardage situations as he’s built like a behemoth, standing 6-foot-1, 244 lbs. However, we’ve seen what Martz does with his pass-catching running backs and while we would never compare this club to the Greatest Show on Turf, it does bode well for Gardner’s chances at success.
While Brian Brown and Kameron Kelly were listed as the starters on the Fleet depth chart, it was Francis Owusu who saw the team high seven targets. He only brought in two passes, but again, this Fleet passing attack is a work in progress. A lot of people were on Owusu early on last week, but keep in mind that six of his seven targets came from Bercovici, not Nelson. We’ll have to see if he remains the lean for this passing game.
Meanwhile, Brown posted a solid effort as he caught five of his six targets for 66 yards, but Kelly was disappointing with one catch on three looks. Keep an eye on Dontez Ford who caught all three of his targets and is now 15-of-15 on grabs between this game and the pre-season scrimmage.
There was a heavy lean on the tight ends as Gavin Escobar and Marcus Baugh combined for six catches on eight targets for a total of 77 yards. As expected, Escobar did most of the work here and could prove to be a major target in this team’s passing game.
Donny Hageman was 2-for-2 on kicks with a longest of 47 yards. He seems reliable enough and should the Fleet’s offense continue to stall inside the red zone, he should see ample work.
A decent effort for the Fleet defenders who registered a total of three sacks and two interceptions. Their corners had some trouble covering the speedy wideouts of San Antonio and actually got lucky on a touchdown that was called back, but the Fleet look like they could be vulnerable against the deep ball. Like everyone else, though, a work in progress.
Spread: Apollos -5 (covered)
Total: 50 (under)
There’s just no denying the game Garrett Gilbert had as he threw for 227 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Head coach Steve Spurrier even got a little cut and ran the Philly Special where wide receiver Jalin Marshall took the ball on a reverse and tossed a five-yard score to Gilbert. He showed good mobility, had a decent pocket-presence and looks like he could be a solid fantasy option in this Steve Spurrier-led offense.
It was Akeem Hunt who led the ground game for the Apollos, carrying the ball 10 times for a solid 7.3 YPC, though he failed to haul in any of his three targets. His NFL experience and explosiveness through the line should carry him through as the primary back, but D’Ernest Johnson should also retain a strong presence in the backfield. He carried the ball five times for 35 yards but his real strength appears to be his speed, as evidenced by his 33-yard touchdown catch-and-run. You can expect a shared role between the two moving forward, but also look out for De’veon Smith whose short-yardage work provided the lone rushing touchdown in this game.
Charles Johnson and Chris Thompson led the team in targets with five each and the two combined for eight catches and 90 yards. Johnson looks like the guy to stretch the field more while Thompson was the one who took the short passes and helped move the chains. But Spurrier got his other wideouts involved as Ishmael Hyman showed off his speed and Jalin Marshall proved to have steady hands, especially on his touchdown catch early in the game. At a glance, Thompson and Marshall appear to be the fantasy standouts, but the others will continue to stay heavily involved. Marvin Bracy-Williams had some promise here as well, but an injury early in the game has now landed him on injured reserve.
We didn’t really see much of Scott Orndoff in this one as he was targeted just once, but given the strength of the wide receiver corps, there might not be many targets left for the tight end.
Elliott Fry was 2-for-2 on field goals with both coming in under 40 yards. From a fantasy perspective, though, he could be very intriguing moving forward as this offense looks like it could be a high-scoring unit all season.
Weakside linebacker Terrence Garvin looks like a strong option as he was all over the place in this game. He had eight tackles (one for a loss) and picked off Atlanta QB Matt Simms twice, returning one for a touchdown. The team’s pass-rush looked solid as they laid six hits on the quarterback, including three sacks. They did a great job stuffing the run and frustrated the Legends’ passing game, holding them to fewer than 165 yards through the air. It’s just one game, but the unit looks like it’s got some serious bite.
The decision to go with Matt Simms over Aaron Murray surprised many, but the results didn’t really match up. Simms completed just 15-of 28 passes, but the big problem was that there were very few shots taken downfield. Perhaps the loss of Brad Childress as head coach and Michael Vick as the offensive coordinator so close to the start of the season is to be blamed, but current head coach Kevin Coyle called a pretty conservative game. The Legends say they are sticking with Simms under center, but for how long is still up in the air.
With Denard Robinson dealing with an injury (nothing new for the former Jaguars back, amirite?) it was Tarean Folston who shouldered the bulk of the load, carrying the ball 12 times for just 32 yards. He and Robinson could end up sharing the role should Coyle want to maintain fresh legs at all times, but also keep an eye on Lawrence Pittman who could poach some work, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations, if the Atlanta offense ever gets close enough. Again, tough to evaluate as a back-up got the start under a new coach and offense in some disarray.
Overall, the receiving corps could prove to be this offense’s biggest strength, though it’s tough to see after just one game. Seantavius Jones was the most-targeted receiver on the field with eight but he only managed three grabs while Malachi Jones was targeted six times and came up empty. He wasn’t credited with any drops, though, so again, you look at the struggles on offense and the short time they had to work under their current coach. Justin Thomas looked pretty sure-handed though catching all four balls that came his way, but if looking ahead to next week, the Jones boys look like the way to go.
The team is actually listing the 6-foot-4, 221-lb Bug Howard as a tight end instead of a receiver which could prove strong for his owners in fantasy. If he qualifies as such in your leagues or if the DFS community grant him eligibility, he could be a steal. He hauled in four of his five targets and definitely outshined Charles Standberry.
Former San Diego Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo connected on both his field goal attempts and could prove to be an interesting option early on as the Atlanta offense gets its feet wet. He’s got a fairly strong leg, but it was his accuracy, or lack thereof, that sent him packing from the NFL.
This could be the Achilles heel of the Legends. Their secondary looks porous and they didn’t exactly generate much of a pass rush, recording just one sack and three QB-hits. They appear to be a nice unit to target against which could bode well for the Fleet next week.
Spread: Iron -3 (covered)
Total: 49.5 (under)
While he failed to throw any touchdown passes, Luis Perez looks like he could be a valuable option in fantasy. He completed 19-of-33 passes for 252 yards and, in his defense, could have had a better game had it not been for five dropped passes. He also fell back into more of a game-management role as the Iron were dominating both on the ground and on the scoreboard. The upside is definitely there and could be even more on display next week against the Stallions who gave up plenty through the air to Arizona in Week 1.
Good ol’ Trent Richardson led the backfield with a whopping 23 carries, but while he did find his way into the end zone twice, his 2.5 YPC was very reminiscent of his struggles in the NFL. He also caught one of his three targets for 14 yards, but it was Ladarius Perkins who saw most of the passing work out of the backfield. Perkins carried the ball five times as well, but the eight targets were certainly enough to get everyone’s attention. Look for a communal role here between the two as there is still very little faith in Richardson.
Former 49ers wideout Quinton Patton looked outstanding in his Alliance debut, hauling in four of his nine targets for 107 yards, including a 42-yarder that just looked like a thing of beauty. There was a booth review but replays showed his control of the ball well before he hit the ground. If he can be more sure-handed and limit the drops (he had three this game), he’s going to be a force in this passing attack thanks to his speed, but keep tabs on both DeVozea Felton and Amba Etta-Tawo. Again, it’s tough to grade out the receivers in a gam that didn’t command a lot of passing for Birmingham.
Everyone was looking for Busta Anderson to bust a move here, but despite leading the way with 56 snaps, he served as a blocker and failed to see a single target. Braedon Bowman saw the field less than both Anderson and Connor Davis, but he did make two key grabs for first downs and a total of 32 receiving yards. We’re going to have to watch closely as to how much Anderson gets in the way of targets moving forward.
Nick Novak went 4-for-4 on kicks, including a 47-yarder and should continue to be a strong option for fantasy owners. If the offense continues to jell, he should be in line for a boatload of opportunities.
Any defense that posts a shutout gets mad props, even if this was the first week and four teams were held to 15 points or fewer. They did a fairly good job stuffing the run, but when the Express pushed into catch-up mode, the secondary held up beautifully, holding Memphis receivers to just 119 yards on the day. The pass-rush was tight, registering two sacks and six QB-hits, and the picks by Jamar Summer and Xzavier Dickson helped shut down the Memphis team in a hurry.
Christian Hackenberg struggled at every step along the way and managed to complete fewer than 50-percent of his passes and for just 87 yards. He and back-up Brandon Silvers each threw one pick and this offense looks like it’s stuck in the mud. But fear not, Hackenburg owners! The Express already mentioned they’re sticking with him…at least for one more game.
Despite not being listed as the starter on the Express’ depth chart, former Rams running back Zac Stacy led the team with 12 carries for 58 yards and looks to be their top option in the backfield. With the struggles we’re seeing at the quarterback position, you may want to give some attention to the ground game, but Stacy won’t be the only back to see work. Terrence Magee saw five carries and Anthony Manzo-Lewis had four, though neither were as effective as Stacy in this first game. We also saw Rajion Neal get the short-yardage work and the majority of the passes out of the backfield. For fantasy purposes, the lean is Stacy right now but keep a watchful eye on the carry distribution and in what situations each guy is getting his touches.
Fabian Guerra was the guy everyone was watching heading into the game, but it was Alton “Pig” Howard who saw a team-high six targets in this one. Guerra and Reece Horn each saw four targets while Kayaune Ross had three and Dontez Byrd had one. You can expect Howard to stay active in the passing game, but we’re going to have to track the targets for the rest of the group in the coming weeks. That is, of course, if Hackenberg can settle in as a legitimate passer.
Adrien Robinson led the tight ends with two targets, but Brandon Barnes saw the majority of snaps at the position and made one grab of his own. Robinson profiles as the better pass-catcher and should be the primary option moving forward, but there’s not much to excite the fantasy owner just yet.
John Jasper missed a 46-yard field goal, his only attempt, and was never really looked at in this game as the Express just couldn’t move the ball against the stout Iron defense. With the way this offense looks, he’s at the low-end of the spectrum of desired kickers.
Despite allowing 26 points, including two rushing touchdowns, the Express defense wasn’t all that bad. They stalled plenty of drives for Birmingham who settled on four field goals and they registered nine QB-hits, including a pair of sacks. They also forced two fumbles, though the offense failed to capitalize and convert into points. DeMarquis Gates looks like the guy to watch closest as he registered 10 tackles on the day and was the guy who forced both fumbles. If they can shore-up that run defense, they could be intriguing.
|Salt Lake Stallions||22|
Spread: HotShots -3.5 (covered)
Total: 51.5 (over)
While everyone expected Trevor Knight to be the guy, head coach Rick Neuheisel turned to John Wolford instead. Word from Neuheisel, at least on the Fantasy Alarm Show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio last Friday, was that Wolford would start but Knight would see some action, however, it just wasn’t necessary. Wolford completed 18-of-29 passes for 275 yards and tossed four touchdowns against a surprisingly soft Salt Lake secondary. He never looked like he was under much pressure and stayed in the pocket well under some very minor duress. Expect Wolford under center again next week, but if you’re an owner, the handcuff might be necessary.
Larry Rose? Meh. Justin Stockton? Not too shabby posting a 6.6 YPC on seven carries. But it was Jhurell Pressley who looked like the best all-around back with 64 yards on 18 carries and one catch for a 30-yard touchdown. Pressley should maintain a lead role in this backfield and did a great job with yards after contact (3.39) but handcuffing him to Stockton is probably your safest play.
What a game for Rashad Ross who is likely to be the most sought-after free agent this week. He was targeted a team-high seven times and came away with five grabs for 103 yards and two touchdowns. The expectation heading into the game was that Josh Huff and Richard Mullaney would be the top two targets and while they each had five, neither came close to Ross’ production. Mullaney did amass 57 yards and did catch a 2-point conversion, but we’re not going to dismiss Huff just yet. This offense looks high-powered enough to have all three eat at the big kids’ table each week, so if you own either Huff or Mullaney, hold tight and still consider them as starters depending on your league’s roster construction. For now, Marquis Bundy and Freddie Martino are on the outside looking in.
The expectation coming in was that Thomas Duarte would be the primary tight end, but Gerald Christian worked himself into the mix late and came away as the better option, catching three of four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Duarte caught his lone target for 21 yards, but it looks like Wolford and Christian have the better connection.
Nick Folk missed a 46-yarder, but he also connected on one from 53 yards out and one from 32 yards. With such a strong offense, he should see ample opportunities moving forward.
Coach Neuheisel said to keep an eye on #59 Steven Johnson and he was right as rain here. Johnson led the team with seven tackles and had one interception to help stifle the Salt Lake offense early. Robert Nelson also came away with a pick of his own and, overall, the HotShots looked solid on both sides of the ball. From a fantasy perspective, the defense didn’t generate a whole lot of points, but if matching them up with the rest of the teams in The Alliance, they should stand out nicely for you.
Salt Lake Stallions
Josh Woodrum got the start and threw for 103 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but was forced out after the first half with an injury. Matt Linehan took over and threw a touchdown and a pick of his own, but now we’re waiting on practice reports to see what Woodrum’s condition is this week. Neither guy look particularly better than the other, so injury might not be the only reason this job gets shared. Stay tuned, for sure.
Joel Bouagnon led the backfield with 16 carries but he only amassed 39 yards for a very weak 2.4 YPC average. Branden Oliver got into the mix with eight carries for 40 yards and one catch for six, but as expected, it was the Assman who did the end zone dancing. Just like his time spent with the Vikings in the NFL, Matt Asiata handled all the short-yardage and goal-line work. He finished with a typical Asiata line of four carries for four yards and a touchdown. If he’s going to continue being a TD vulture, then it might not even matter whether Bouagnon or Oliver takes off as the leading rusher.
Anyone see Kenny Bell? Where the heck did he go? He was one of the most talked-about receivers in The Alliance and was expected to go off on the HotShots who showed a vulnerability to the deep pass in the preseason. He played the most snaps of any Stallions wideout, but saw just three targets the entire game and failed to haul in a single pass.
De’Mornay Pierson-El led the receivers with five targets but only caught one pass while Adonis Jennings and Dres Anderson each caught two of their four. Jordan Leslie wrangled in two of his three targets, once of which found him in the end zone. It would be silly to dismiss Bell at this time, but until we get clarity under center and a better pecking order for the receivers.
Anthony Denham was not only the lead tight end, but he also led the team in targets with seven. He caught five passes for a team-high 59 yards and, while he left for a bit with an ankle injury, he found his way back onto the field. Consider him a strong possibility in your waiver claims if you’re looking for a team’s primary pass-catching tight end. Nick Truesdell did catch all three of his targets and was the recipient of a touchdown from Linehan, so don't rule him out either.
N/A – Not a single field goal attempt this week
Clearly this unit needs work as they were carved up in the secondary by John Wolford and struggled to stuff the run too. Four QB-hits and two sacks helped put them on the board for defensive scoring, but not enough for anyone to get excited. They’ve got a tough task next week facing Birmingham, so if you’re playing DFS, quarterback Luis Perez is looking tasty.
Stats to Know
|Target Leaders||Receptions Leaders|
|Mekale McKay||WR||SA||11||Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||5|
|Quinton Patton||WR||BIR||9||Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||5|
|Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||7||Richard Mullaney||WR||ARI||5|
|Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||7||Brian Brown||WR||SD||5|
|Francis Owusu||WR||SD||7||Mekale McKay||WR||SA||5|
|Seantavius Jones||WR||ATL||7||Charles Johnson||WR||ORL||4|
|Malachi Jones||WR||ATL||6||Chris Thompson||WR||ORL||4|
|Brian Brown||WR||SD||6||Justin Thomas||WR||ATL||4|
|Alton "Pig" Howard||WR||MEM||6||Alton "Pig" Howard||WR||MEM||4|
|Most Carries||Most RB Pass Targets|
|Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||23||Ladarius Perkins||RB||BIR||7|
|Jhurell Pressley||RB||ARI||18||Raijon Neal||RB||MEM||5|
|Joel Bouagnon||RB||SL||16||Tarean Foster||RB||ATL||4|
|Kenneth Farrow||RB||SA||14||Branden Oliver||RB||SL||3|
|Tarean Foster||RB||ATL||12||Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||3|
|Zac Stacy||RB||MEM||12||Akeem Hunt||RB||ORL||3|
|Akeem Hunt||RB||ORL||10||Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||3|
|David Cobb||RB||SA||9||Jurhell Pressly||RB||ARI||2|
|Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||8||David Cobb||RB||SA||2|
|Branden Oliver||RB||SL||8||Matt Asiata||RB||SL||1|