With no time to waste, let’s just get right to the Week 3 action in The Alliance of American Football (AAF).
Week 3 Game Analysis
|Salt Lake Stallions||23|
Spread: Arizona -4.5 (did not cover)
Total: 45.5 (under)
Salt Lake Stallions
It was the return of Josh Woodrum, who missed Week 2 with a hamstring injury, and it could not have been better for the Stallions. He didn’t take too many shots downfield, but he was efficient with his passes, completing 22-of-31, and his chemistry with his receivers was much more improved from where we saw them in Week 1. We’d like to see him take a few more chances, but this is still fixing to be more of a run-first offense.
Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver split the carries fairly evenly, though Oliver saw a few extra this time around. Both found their way into the end zone, but Bouagnon did seem to struggle in the short-yardage situations. Again, he found his way into the box, but that was on a 4th and goal at the one-yard line and his third attempt trying to punch it in. Oliver could start seeing the extra work down there if Bouagnon doesn’t learn to get a better push through the line.
It looks like De’Mornay Pierson-El has become the new favorite of Woodrum. The two connected well in Week 1 when Kenny Bell was hardly used due to injury and it continued here as Pierson-El led the team with eight catches on eight targets for 90 yards, a touchdown and one two-point conversion. He does a good job of getting separation and that is allowing him to pick up significant yards after the catch. Bell caught all four of his targets, but still needs more time on the practice field with Woodrum. Kaelin Clay was second on the team with seven targets, but the majority of his work came on very short passes.
It was Nick Truesdell who saw the extra targets in this one, but both he and Anthony Denham were underutilized. They took on more blocking assignments as Woodrum spread the ball around to his receivers which is probably something to take notice of now that it’s back to Woodrum from Austin Allen.
We’ll be checking the practice reports intently as John Wolford left this game early due to injury and we got the return of Trevor Knight. Back in the preseason, Knight was supposedly the starter, but head coach Rick Neuheisel tilted towards Wolford with thoughts of a possible shared-role. Knight never took the field in the first two weeks, so it should be interesting to see who is under center for Week 4. Neither QB was impressive in this one, but that’s more a nod to the Stallions defense than anything else.
It looks like Neuheisel is trying to maintain a pass-first mentality as the running backs saw just 18 carries all game. Jhurell Pressley led the way with 10 carries, but managed just 3.4 yards per carry and failed to break any run longer than 10 yards. Neither Tim Cook nor Justin Stockton did anything of note either. Pressley and Stockton combined for six targets, but amassed just 22 yards in the defeat.
Rashad Ross continues to be the No. 1 receiver for this squad regardless of who is under center, but his connection with Wolford is obviously stronger. The switch to Knight brought eight targets each to Josh Huff and Marquis Bundy, but only seven of the 16 passes were caught and neither caught a pass for over 20 yards. This is going to be an interesting situation to watch as the receivers we’ll want to use for fantasy
Similar to the receivers, whomever is under center for the Hotshots will be key to knowing which tight end to start. Wolford seemed to have a stronger connection with Gerald Christian while Knight and Thomas Duarte seemed to be more in-tune with each other. Duarte did a real nice job picking up 41 yards on just three catches and looked good picking up yards after the catch.
Spread: Orlando Apollos -15 (did not cover)
Total: 45 (under)
Credit the Memphis pass-rush and coverage as this wasn’t all that great a day for the Apollos’ aerial attack. Garrett Gilbert completed just 50-percent of his passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, but he had a tough time finding his weapons open downfield. He still hit on some decent passes, but you can tell by his 43 rushing yards on seven carries that he was flushed out of the pocket often and felt the need to take off running as opposed to forcing a throw. He picked up a rushing touchdown so he did bail out his fantasy owners, so the day wasn’t a complete bust.
We saw the beginning of this last week, but after three games, we can all but confirm that D’Ernest Johnson is the lead dog in this backfield. For the second week in a row, Akeem Hunt took a backseat both in rushing attempts (13 to 2) and passing targets (3 to 1) while Johnson has flourished in this offense. He is currently averaging 6.6 yards per carry through three games and has one rushing and one receiving touchdown. Given how explosive the Orlando offense can be, he should prove to be an outstanding asset this season. You do need to keep watch of De’Veon Smith though as he seems to have also leapfrogged Hunt and is taking on more than just the short-yardage work. He had eight carries for 52 yards this past week and should continue to see some complementary work each week.
It was a tough week for the Apollos receivers who have been absolutely fantastic this season, but ran into a wall of coverage by the Express this week. Neither Charles Johnson nor Jalin Marshall posted anything worthwhile for fantasy owners and it was actually Rannell Hall who managed to get open downfield for a long touchdown strike. We expect things to normalize next week for Orlando, so don’t let one bad week for their top guys ruin you on them.
Scott Orndoff finally got some work in, likely due to the fact that the Express corners were doing such a bang-up job on the receivers. He managed two catches on three targets for 41 yards, all season-highs for him, and finished the day as the third most-targeted pass-catcher for the team. I wouldn’t get too carried away, however, as sustaining this level of production is going to be difficult against the weaker secondaries.
The big news from the AAF this week was the change at quarterback for the Express. And can we all just say “finally” here? Wow. After completing just 8-of-14 passes with two interceptions, Christian Hackenberg was benched in favor of former Tennessee Titans back-up Zach Mettenberger who went on to complete 9-of-12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He actually surpassed Hackenberg’s full-season production in just one half of a game. Considering how close he kept the game, we’d be very surprised to not see him under center this week.
While Zac Stacy remains the lead dog in this backfield, take notice of the recently-signed Sherman Badie. The former Tulane star signed just days before the game and churned out 59 yards on eight carries and even caught a pass for 16 yards in his debut. The Express have wanted a complementary runner alongside Stacy and may have finally found him. If you’re in need of some running back help in fantasy, we all know this team is going to stay run-first even if they fall behind.
First off, let’s get a milk carton and plaster Fabian Guerra’s face on it. This guy has been a bust since Day-1 and was left inactive for Week 3. There was no talk of injuries throughout the week and he wasn’t even on the injury report before the Week 3 games, so he’s clearly falling out of favor with the coaching staff. As for the rest of the targets, it looks Dontez Byrd and Devin Lucien are the guys with whom Mettenberger is jelling with the most. Reece Horn saw five targets in the game, but most were from Hackenberg, and Pig Howard was completely left out in the cold.
Brandon Barnes saw extensive work once the team switched to Mettenberger under center and could prove to be a reliable short-pass target as the offense makes its adjustments. Given the state of the tight end position throughout the league, any bit of help form the position is appreciated.
Spread: Birmingham -7 (covered)
Total: 40 (push)
Considering the modest effectiveness of the ground game, it would appear that Luis Perez is never really going to have the reins taken off this season. He had another underwhelming game in which he completed just 17-of-31 passes for 160 yards and one interception. He did help convert two two-point conversions, but there are minimal pass attempts beyond 20 yards and the team seems content to ride their running backs and defense.
Once again, it’s all Trent Richardson as he punched in touchdown No. 4, 5 & 6 in this one. Of course, he’s got squadoosh in yardage. Scary as it seems, his horrific 2.7 yards per carry average in this game actually brought his overall numbers up this week – from 2.2 to 2.5. Richardson did have another strong day of targets with five and that aspect is actually hurting the value of Ladarius Perkins who was supposed to be the complement to Richardson. He still is, sort of, but eight carries for 25 yards won’t be paying the fantasy bills. As painful as it is to admit, Richardson is the top back in the AAF and in fantasy right now.
As we lament over the run-first game plan, we can mourn the fantasy loss of Quinton Patton who wrangled in 100-plus yards in Week 1 and has been relatively quiet ever since. Sure, he had four grabs for 58 yards, but even in a PPR format, that’s not exactly moving the needle, is it? L’Damian Washington continues to earn second-fiddle commendation while guys like Tobias Palmer and Wes Saxton Jr float in and out.
With both Connor Davis and Busta Anderson on the shelf, Weslye Saunders moves up into the pass-catching role. Of course, he saw just three targets this past week and failed to make a single catch. Feel free to move along. Nothing left to see here.
The question on everyone’s mind shouldn’t be “why are the Legends sticking with Matt Simms like this,” but rathe, “how bad has Aaron Murray looked that the team isn’t even thinking about a switch?” Perhaps this week has helped the team realize a change is necessary, but on the other hand, this team has been in such disarray after losing their head coach and offensive coordinator maybe a week before the first game. If you can avoid having to use this quarterback situation, you should.
The Legends backfield has been awful with the injury to Denard Robinson and now that he’s healthy, we’re learning that he’s really not much better than the other guys. Tarean Folston wasn’t even active for this game and while Lawrence Pittman and Akrum Wadley were fully available, neither did much to help out against this Iron defense. It’s just a combination of weak coaching, weak personnel and a bad match-up. And probably another situation you want to leave along in fantasy.
Seantavius Jones is becoming one of the most targeted receivers in the league, so since there are very few stand-outs around the AAF, you may want to just roll with him based on volume. He saw eight targets and racked up 72 yards in the game for the team lead and should continue to see the heavier workload. James Quick also saw eight targets, but he failed to do much and he just doesn’t strike me as the guy who would be the No.2 receiver. That should be Malachi Jones and Montay Crockett, both of whom had more productive days even on fewer targets and both of whom should fare better than Quick in the future.
How about 12 targets between three tight ends? Keith Towbridge led the way with six, but Bug Howard has been converted from wide receiver to tight end and has probably been the most efficient of them all. Charles Standberry ended up with two targets this week and is starting to become an afterthought. Howard has the speed edge over the other two and should end up the primary guy, but even Towbridge should post some value, again, due to the disaster of the position in this league.
|San Antonio Commanders||11|
|San Diego Fleet||31|
Spread: San Diego -2.5 (covered)
Total: 43 (under)
San Diego Fleet
The Fleet stuck with Philip Nelson under center this week and the choice paid immediate dividends as he threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, he threw a bad interception, but overall, his performance was rock solid. He’ll continue to get the nod while Mike Bercovici rides the pine and holds the clipboard.
Hello, Ja’Quan Gardner! He was the cover-boy for the DFS Playbook in Week 3 and he delivered in a major way with 122 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. He also kicked in a pair of catches for 21 yards and though he only got into the end zone once, he was still light-years better looking than Trent Richardson and his three scores. Gardner will continue to shoulder the load, or at least the lion’s share, while Terrell Watson works as the complementary back. Watson hit pay-dirt on a pair of two-point conversions and also racked up 73 yards on 13 carries. The Mike Martz offense is just getting warmed up and these two backs are ready to reap the benefits.
The Spruce is loose, baby! With the move of Kameron Kelley to the defensive side of the ball, Nelson Spruce saw a team-high seven targets which he turned into four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Brown was seeing the looks earlier in the season but this adjustment has the Fleet looking like a more efficient unit. Spruce and Brown should continue to be the 1-2 punch while Dontez Ford and Laquvionte Gonzalez work in the three and four-WR sets. That should probably be the fantasy pecking order for those who need the structure.
Gavin Escobar remains the top tight end target on the team and should remain as such unless health becomes an issue. He’s a chain-mover between the 20’s right now, but there is still obvious hope for some red zone action too.
San Antonio Commanders
It was a rough week for Logan Woodside who had a reasonably favorable match-up, but the Fleet were crazy amped for this re-match. He got picked off twice, sacked five times and took seven different QB-hits. The Commanders tried to avoid the heavy pass-rush by using a run-heavy scheme, but that did very little to take the pressure off Woodside. He did have one really nice connection – the deep touchdown pass to Mekale McKay, something fantasy owners have been dying for since Week 1. If he can build more off that, we could be in for a much-improved rest-of-season from him.
Kenneth Farrow has been dealing with a bad back over the past week and the team opted to limit his workload. A finally healthy Trey Williams grabbed a share of the carries here, as did David Cobb, but considering how far the team fell behind, it was of no help to stick with the run. Farrow should be ok for Week 4, but with how effective Williams was, it wouldn’t surprise us to see a shared workload again.
Besides McKay hauling in four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, the rest of the Commanders passing game looked a little weak. Demarcus Ayers and Greg Ward served as adequate complements, though no one really shined too bright.
While there was an even targets-split between Evan Rodriguez and Cole Hunt, it was Rodriguez who caught the two-point conversion and appears to be the primary target down inside the red zone. Again, maybe that’s splitting hairs, but red zone looks could be a huge difference-maker in your weekly match-ups.
Stats to Know
|Target Leaders||Receptions Leaders|
|Mekale McKay||WR||SA||26||Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||15|
|Seantavius Jones||WR||ATL||22||Charles Johnson||WR||ORL||14|
|Quinton Patton||WR||BIR||21||De'Mornay Pierson-El||WR||SL||14|
|Charles Johnson||WR||ORL||20||Mekale McKay||WR||SA||11|
|Rashad Ross||WR||ARI||20||Quinton Patton||WR||BIR||11|
|De'Mornay Pierson-El||WR||SL||19||Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||10|
|Greg Ward, Jr.||WR||SA||17||Brian Brown||WR||SD||10|
|Josh Huff||WR||ARI||16||Seantavius Jones||WR||ATL||10|
|Nelson Spruce||WR||SD||16||Nelson Spruce||WR||SD||9|
|Reece Horn||TE||MEM||15||Gavin Escobar||TE||SD||9|
|Brian Brown||WR||SD||15||Alton "Pig" Howard||WR||MEM||8|
|Most Carries||Most RB Pass Targets|
|Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||59||Trent Richardson||RB||BIR||13|
|Zac Stacy||RB||MEM||44||Akrum Wadley||RB||ATL||11|
|Jhurell Pressley||RB||ARI||40||Ladarius Perkins||RB||BIR||9|
|Joel Bouagnon||RB||SL||39||Branden Oliver||RB||SL||7|
|Branden Oliver||RB||SL||38||Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||7|
|Kenneth Farrow||RB||SA||36||Raijon Neal||RB||MEM||6|
|Ja'Quan Gardner||RB||SD||35||Zac Stacy||RB||MEM||6|
|Terrell Watson||RB||SD||30||Aaron Green||RB||SA||6|
|D'Ernest Johnson||RB||ORL||26||D'Ernest Johnson||RB||ORL||5|
|David Cobb||RB||SA||19||Jurhell Pressly||RB||ARI||5|