The Alliance: Week 2 Review & Stats to Know
Howard Bender breaks down the Week 2 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 3.
Before we get to the Week 2 analysis, allow me to pass along some actual information that has Twitter all abuzz right now. Word broke in the wee hours of Tuesday morning that Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon “bailed out” the Alliance with a $250M investment. The reports were clearly exaggerated as Alliance co-founder Charlie Ebersol explained the start-up league was already seeking additional investors to stay flush and once investor interest spiked after Week1, it was the league’s desire to secure one primary investor as opposed to several. Thus, the partnership with Dundon, who will now serve as the league’s chairman, was formed. If you’d like to learn more, there is a piece from Barry Wilner in the Charlotte Observer to which you can refer.
Big thanks to my man Joe VanDalsem from the SD Fleet’s Shipyard Podcast for sending me the article.
Now let’s get to Week 2 in The Alliance.
Week 2 Game Analysis
|San Diego Fleet||24|
Spread: San Diego -9.5 (covered)
Total: 44 (under)
Matt Simms looked slightly better than he did in his debut, but that may just be from the team using a more run-heavy scheme than the week before. If the pressure comes off him more, perhaps we’ll continue to see him on this trajectory even further, but from a fantasy standpoint, he’s likely to be league-average at best. The offensive game plan doesn’t call for too many shots downfield and he still needs to improve his efficiency if he’s just going to dink-and-dunk it downfield.
Those expecting more from Tarean Folston should remember he was not supposed to be their lead runner this season. It was supposed to be Denard Robinson who, apparently, isn’t quite ready for full-game action still. Lawrence Pittman grabbed the majority of catches, but Akrum Wadley was more of the story with eight catches for 70 yards. He also carried the ball four times for 12 yards. If Robinson isn’t good to go for Week 3, look for Wadley to play a bigger role.
It’s tough to judge the receivers’ performances due to the lack of throws/completions by Simms, but Malachi Jones did manage to haul in the Legends’ first touchdown of the season. He finished with just three catches for 37 yards but ended up the best fantasy wideout from the team. Seantavius Jones saw the most targets (7) of any receiver, but he managed to haul in just three of those for a paltry 23 yards. Montay Crockett had a pair of catches for 24 yards as well.
Everyone was on blocking duty so that Charles Standberry fantasy pick is looking grim. Keith Towbridge actually saw a pair of targets, but he failed to catch a single one.
Younghoe Koo continues to be a model citizen in Atlanta as he went 2-for-2 on kicks, though neither was for more than 30 yards, so he’s all set with the chip-shots.
The defense held up nicely through the first three quarters as they managed to get some good pressure on San Diego QB Philip Nelson, racking up five QB hits and three sacks, but fell apart in the fourth quarter as the Fleet opted to run it straight at a weary defensive line and score twice to come from behind and win the game. If you actually play in an Alliance IDP league, Ed Reynolds and Tyson Graham look like the ones to own.
San Diego Fleet
Save for that backwards, desperation flip-pass that is all over the interwebz, it wasn’t exactly the debut Philip Nelson or the Fleet were hoping for, was it? The accuracy wasn’t exactly there, the pocket presence was average, at best, and he didn’t quite connect with his receivers. He gets his first win as a starting quarterback, but it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the team turned back to Mike Bercovici for Week 3.
While the carry distribution still says committee, it seems relatively clear that Ja’Quan Gardner could take more of a lead role next week after his 15-carry, 104-yard, two-touchdown effort which led the Fleet to victory. The team is still going to give Terrell Watson some opportunities, but his 3.5 yards per carry average isn’t exactly impressing anyone. Gardner, on the other hand, is averaging 6.9 yards per carry this season and looks much more explosive pushing through the line.
A disappointing effort through the air, but again, we have to point towards the ineffectiveness of Nelson as a quarterback here. What we did learn, however, is more about the pecking order for targets. Brian Brown appears to be the top dog here with Kameron Kelly and Dontez Ford following him. After that three, you can take your pick between Francis Owusu and Nelson Spruce. Owusu has a chance to be a legit deep threat, but he’s going to be boom or bust for fantasy and in a league just starting out, that’s not what you’re looking for.
Gavin Escobar saw a few targets and was on the receiving end of that no-look pass, but overall, there was nothing going on for him this week. Maybe a switch back to Bercovici will jump-start his usage, but if Nelson stays under center, this could stay a run-first offense and the tight ends could stay in blocking assignments most of the time.
Donny Hageman has been rock-solid through two games now, connecting on all four field goals this week and two last week. In a league where kickers are taking a backseat because of the lack of kickoffs and extra-points, he’s at least proving his value for those in the fantasy realm.
The Fleet aren’t exactly an intimidating defensive unit as they rank in the middle to bottom of the pack when you’re looking at run defense or pass coverage. They do, however, look strong with their pass rush. Shakir Soto had one solo and one shared sack this week and continues to apply pressure when the Fleet need him most. For fantasy, you’d like to see them generate more turnovers, but two games hardly feels like a legit sample size to really judge.
Spread: Arizona -13 (did not cover)
Total: 47 (under)
A slight step back for John Wolford, but did we really expect him to throw four touchdowns per game with no turnovers? We did not. For the second week in a row, head coach Rick Neuheisel stuck with one guy under center, after saying in the preseason that he could use Trevor Knight during games as well. Fortunately, he’s backed off from that. Wolford has good command of this team and while it took them three quarters to find their groove, there’s a lot of promise here from a fantasy perspective. The big thing to take away from Wolford’s game is his connection with receiver Rashad Ross. The two lit it up in the end zone for the second week in a row and look like they should be a productive tandem the rest of the way.
After an outstanding Week 1, Jhurell Pressley seemed to take a backseat to Tim Cook this week and that was highly disappointing for many. The fantasy world doesn’t need or want a committee backfield, but Neuheisel did just that and gave Pressley the shorter end of the stick. Not only did Cook out-touch him in the backfield 13 to 12, but he played more snaps as well and was on the receiving end of one of Arizona’s touchdown passes. There weren’t any real explanations for the change, so perhaps Neuheisel is just giving everyone a fair opportunity to produce. That’s fine in reality, but fantasy owners are likely to suffer if there’s a 50/50 split moving forward.
As if it wasn’t obvious from the QB talk, but this passing game is all about Rashad Ross. Last week he was targeted a team-high seven times and while he only saw four targets this week (tied with three others), he certainly made the most of them with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. He’s become one of the few must-starts in Alliance fantasy football. Former Philadelphia Eagle Josh Huff put his big-play potential on display with a pair of grabs (on four targets) for 84 yards, including a 64-yard grab, while Richard Mullaney stayed active with two catches on four targets as well. Wolford made just 22 pass attempts, but at least you know this is an aerial attack capable of sustaining solid fantasy production.
It would appear that Gerald Christian has secured the No. 1 tight end spot, but keep an eye on the battle for the No. 2 spot as it was Connor Hamlett who saw three targets in this game while Thomas Duarte remained a blocker during his time on the field.
Though he didn’t see any field goal attempts this week. Nick Folk remains a decent fantasy option overall.
The HotShots defense remains one of the more solid units in the league as they continue to grade out well against the run while sitting middle-of-the-pack in pass coverage. They managed four sacks in this contest, but their tackling grades, as seen by Pro Football Focus, are weak. They’re going to need to start making tackles on first-contact if they want to stifle some of the best backfield rushers and open-field runners after the catch.
The Christian Hackenberg woes continue for the Express as the former Nittany Lion and New York Jet struggles to find his footing. He completed just over 50-percent of his passes, but amassed just 102 yards on the day and averaged just 4.1 yards per attempt. The Express have not been shy about leaning more heavily on the run, so you’re going to be hard-pressed for fantasy productivity from the team’s passing attack. He’s just not that good, plain and simple.
Zac Stacy, once again, took the lead out of the Express backfield, only this time he enjoyed a breakout performance of 19 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. Working in his favor this week was some seriously sloppy tackling efforts from the HotShots defense, but even with that, he’s still expected to see copious amounts of work in this offensive scheme. Terrence Magee and Raijon Neal also saw some work out of the backfield, but neither is really anything more than a complementary runner to Stacy.
Reece Horn and Alton “Pig” Howard remain the top two targets for the limited aerial attack of the Express and should continue to garner the majority of targets. They accounted for 13 of Hackenberg’s 25 targets distributed, but are going to find it tough to post a legitimate fantasy total in this short-passing attack. Kayaune Ross stays in his support role alongside Fabian Guerra and Dontez Byrd, both of whom have been disappointments following their preseason work.
Brandon Barnes took the lead at the position, but saw just one target in this game. Still, that’s more than Adrien Robinson saw and he seems to have lost the lead at the position.
After being shut out in Week 1, Josh Jasper converted both of his field goal attempts. His longest was 38 yards, so there wasn’t much of a test this week, but he should continue to see more opportunities in the future.
A defensive collapse in the fourth quarter led to the HotShots pulling this one out, but they looked pretty good for the first three quarters of the game. They applied some pressure to the quarterback and sacked him twice, but the real work was in the secondary as they picked off Wolford twice in this one and also forced a fumble. DeMarquis Gates looks to be the standout on the defensive side of the ball, but look for DB Channing Stribling to start covering the opposition’s top guy more moving forward.
|San Antonio Commanders||29|
Spread: Orlando -6 (covered)
Total: 44.5 (over)
The secret is out – Garrett Gilbert is the No. 1 quarterback in the league. After a stellar debut in Week 1, Gilbert threw for almost 400 yards in this game, tossed a pair of touchdowns without a turnover and even converted a pass to Rannell Hall for a 2-point conversion. If you’re playing Alliance Fantasy Football, he’s likely to be your MVP this season.
Regardless of the success of the passing attack, the fact that Akeem Hunt backed into the bushes like that classic Homer Simpson GIF was incredibly disappointing. He had zero burst through the line, totaled negative yardage on the ground and dropped one of his two paltry targets. If you’re a Hunt owner and haven’t handcuffed him to either D’Ernest Johnson or short-yardage specialist De’Veon Smith, you could be in trouble. Johnson improved on his YPC numbers with a 7.1 mark this game and Smith found himself doing some end zone dancing as well.
This is where the Apollos shined brightest. Jalin Marshall continued to look strong with another three grabs for 84 yards and his second touchdown catch of the season while Charles Johnson put his big-play abilities on full display with seven catches for 192 yards and a touchdown. These two should continue to be highly productive for their fantasy owners this season and will be giving opposing defensive backs fits throughout the season. As for the support cast, Chris Thompson and Rannell Hall seem to slide in as the Nos. 3 and 4 receivers with Ishmael Hyman a distant fifth in the targets pecking order.
Scott Orndoff? Sean Price? Anyone…? Anyone…? Maybe try a different team for your tight end needs.
Elliott Fry is now 5-for-5 on the season and in a high-scoring offense like that of the Apollos, he’s going to be a strong asset in fantasy.
While they gave up 29 points this week, the Apollos defense has still been productive in the fantasy realm. They had a defensive touchdown last week and while they only had one sack this time around, they did force another turnover (INT) and continue to apply pressure to the opposing quarterback. The points will start to come for other teams moving forward, but if they do, at lest you know the Apollos will be able to counter with a strong offense each time.
San Antonio Commanders
We’re not exactly brimming with confidence over Logan Woodside, but he did take a step forward from his Week 1 performance, completing 20-of-39 passes for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He is continuously working to improve his on-field rapport with his receivers – remember, it was Dustin Vaughn who was supposed to be the starter – so consider him a work in progress. Don’t expect Garrett Gilbert-type totals for him, but at least he’s better than Hackenberg.
Kenneth Farrow continues to shine in this backfield after another strong performance – 13 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He’s easily the No. 1 guy in this backfield and should be a fantasy star, relatively speaking. Both David Cobb and Aaron Green will remain as complements to Farrow’s efforts.
Mekale McKay remained the most-targeted receiver in the offense, but Woodside is force-feeding him and he’s not able to reliably produce just yet. He hauled in just two of his nine targets this week and is going to need to learn to get much better separation if he’s going to continue to lead this receiving corps. Slot receiver Greg Ward hauled in three of his six targets, but the real step forward taken was by De’Marcus Ayers who caught five of his eight targets for 80 yards. He looked a lot more comfortable in the offense this week and did a nice job of picking up extra yardage after the catch. Alonzo Moore improved with four catches on five targets while Josh Stewart remained in the shadows once again.
If you’re in need of a fantasy tight end and he’s on waivers, it looks like Evan Rodriguez has secured the top spot with the Commanders. He grabbed two of his three targets for just six yards, but he managed to do a little end zone dancing this week and any time your TE gets into the box, it’s a glorious day.
Another three successful field goals for Nick Rose which gives him six on the year. He’s obviously worth owning with the way the Commanders are scoring this season.
No turnovers this week for San Antonio, but four sacks against a high-flying Orlando offense is pretty darn good. Consider them a middle-of-the road option with some real nice potential/upside from De’Vante Busby.
|Salt Lake Stallions||9|
Spread: Birmingham -7 (did not cover)
Total: 44.5 (under)
Salt Lake Stallions
The Stallions actually turned to third-stringer Austin Allen this week with Josh Woodrum dealing with a hamstring injury. No word on whether Matt Linehan was also banged-up, but the team obviously felt better about their back-up’s back-up. Unfortunately, they failed to take the training wheels off as they focused on a heavier ground attack and almost exclusive with short passes. Allen’s YPA was a paltry 3.7 as he tossed just 114 yards on 15 completions. Considering the lack of scoring, don’t be surprised to see Woodrum under center in Week 3.
After a quiet season-debut, Joel Bouagnon had a decent breakout performance here with 11 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. He had a nice burst of speed through the line and looked rock-solid on his 24-yard run that helped set up the Stallions only touchdown. Branden Oliver also looked solid and actually out-touched Bouagnon with 14 carries for 59 yards. The two are likely to work in a committee situation, but Bouagnon should eventually take the lead with Oliver serving in more of a pass-catcher role.
With Kenny Bell inactive due to a hamstring issue, it was De’Mornay Pierson-El who led the receiving corps in yardage while Adonis Jennings saw the lead in targets. Jennings, however, only came down with two catches, so we’re going to need to see more from him and his QB should the personnel not change next week. The assumption is that Bell will step in as a top target once healthy and Jennings will step back in line with the likes of Jordan Leslie, and Sam Mobley.
Anthony Denham remained the most-targeted tight end and actually saw the second-most targets of the team entirely. One catch, however, isn’t going to cut it, but again, willing to give him a pass based on the QB change. Nick Truesdell stayed involved in the pass-catching game as well, but played just a minor role this week with no red zone targets.
Taylor Bertolet didn’t see any attempts in Week 1 and after watching him go just 1-for-4 this week, he may not be long for the league. No extra-points or kick-offs aside, if he’s missing field goals like this, he’s not worth owning.
Credit where credit is due – the Stallions did a great job keeping the pressure on Luis Perez throughout the game. Karter Schult was a beast with two sacks and four QB hits and Gionni Paul helped from the other side of the field with a half-sack and a QB hit of his own. Considering how the Iron offense dominated in Week 1, this game, though the Stallions lost, appeared to be the defensive performance of the week.
We’ll credit the Stallions pass-rush and throw some shade at the Birmingham offensive line, but Luis Perez looked like he took a major step backwards from his performance in Week 1. He was still able to help extend plays with his legs, but those weak-ass touch-passes he was throwing weren’t going to get the job done. He also looked like he was too focused on spreading the ball around rather than exposing a weak match-up in the secondary. Unless he plans on taking a back seat to the ground game, he needs to shake this off and get back to what made him a promising QB last week.
Good ol’ Trent Richardson, folks. He carried the ball 19 times for just 41 yards and solidified that 2.2 YPC he’s so famous for producing. Yes, he got into the end zone as the Iron opted to ignore Ladarius Perkins out of the backfield, but if it wasn’t for the volume or the six catches out of the backfield, he’d be the laughing stock he was back in the NFL. He’s just not an explosive back and if you watched the broadcast and heard Terrell Davis’ analysis, you’d understand that he’s only going to get you so much in fantasy. If the Iron can get him enough touches inside the five-yard line, he’ll be great. If they don’t, he’s barely mediocre.
We can credit the coverage in the secondary, but we can also blame the step back Perez took. He forced throws to Quinton Patton and failed miserably and he failed to take full advantage of the mismatch in coverage we saw with L’Damian Washington. He only saw four targets and should have been considered for more work. Instead, Perez tried to spread it around to 10 different pass-catchers with the heavy focus leaning on the passes to Richardson to avoid the pass-rush. This needs to be addressed in a major way if Birmingham wants to stay undefeated next week.
With Busta Anderson and Braedon Barnes on the shelf, it was Connor Davis who saw the majority of targets to the tight ends. He didn’t do much with them and stayed on more as a blocker while Weslye Saunders worked his way into the mix. If Anderson is out again next week (Barnes is on IR), look for Saunders to be the better play.
After being the most productive kicker in Week 1, Nick Novak didn’t do anything this week at all. He missed one kick and failed to see any opportunities. He’s still probably the No. 1 kicker in the league despite the stumble.
If it wasn’t for Jamar Summers, Jack Tocho and Shaheed Salmon, the Iron would have lost this barn-burner 9-6. The defensive touchdown sparked the Iron and helped them overcome a fourth quarter deficit to pull out the win. Save for that forced fumble and score, there wasn’t much to write home about. The coverage was ok and the pass rush had its moments, but stifling a third-string QB isn’t exactly something to write home about.
Stats to Know
|Target Leaders||Receptions Leaders|
|Mekale McKay||WR||SA||21||Charles Johnson||WR||ORL||11|
|Quinton Patton||WR||BIR||16||Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||9|
|Seantavius Jones||WR||ATL||15||Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||8|
|Charles Johnson||WR||ORL||15||Brian Brown||WR||SD||8|
|Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||13||Richard Mullaney||WR||ARI||7|
|Alton "Pig" Howard||WR||MEM||13||Mekale McKay||WR||SA||7|
|Anthony Denham||TE||SL||13||Alton "Pig" Howard||WR||MEM||7|
|Brian Brown||WR||SD||12||Quinton Patton||WR||BIR||7|
|Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||11||Reece Horn||WR||MEM||7|
|Most Carries||Most RB Pass Targets|
|Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||42||Ladarius Perkins||RB||BIR||10|
|Zac Stacy||RB||MEM||31||Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||10|
|Jhurell Pressley||RB||ARI||30||Akrum Wadley||RB||ATL||8|
|Joel Bouagnon||RB||SL||27||Raijon Neal||RB||MEM||6|
|Kenneth Farrow||RB||SA||27||Akeem Hunt||RB||ORL||5|
|Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||23||Tarean Foster||RB||ATL||4|
|Branden Oliver||RB||SL||22||De'Veon Smith||RB||ORL||4|
|Tarean Folton||RB||ATL||18||Branden Oliver||RB||SL||3|
|Terrell Watson||RB||SD||17||Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||3|
|David Cobb||RB||SA||16||Jhurell Pressly||RB||ARI||2|