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AAF Week 1 Recap - Fantasy Risers, Fallers (Saturday Games)


The opening weekend of the inaugural AAF season is officially in the books, and while I don't think the four games blew the roof off, the league displayed itself as a viable option for fans during the NFL offseason. There were multiple players unveiled as next level prospects, and it shows how difficult it can be to break into the NFL. We are talking about players who might be a split second too slow or perhaps an inch too short. The margin of separation between making it or not can be that razor-thin.

Nearly three millions fans tuned into Saturday's proceedings, making it a success by any statistical measure, but the longevity of the AAF is going to come down to how user-friendly the league can become. Fantasy football is king, and even though sites like altfantasysports.com (season-long) and fanball.com (daily) carved out a niche position in the market, growth will need to take place if the Alliance of American Football can take the next step.

Here at RotoBaller, we are proud to be one of the first platforms to cover the AAF market. The support we received during the first weekend was overwhelming and hope you have enjoyed the unique and exciting content that we have produced so far. Our goal is to continue to provide information that you can't find anywhere else, and we want to thank you for making the opening weekend a success. Without further ado, let's dive a little deeper into what happened on Saturday from a fantasy perspective. Check out the Sunday recaps right here.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

San Antonio Commanders 15, San Diego Fleet 6

The Alamodome was rocking on Saturday night, as the San Antonio Commanders christened the new league with a 15-6 victory over the San Diego Fleet. Despite rules that dictate defenses are only allowed to rush five defenders, both quarterbacks struggled with pressure throughout the night. Mike Bercovici from the Fleet threw for 176 yards and two interceptions on 25 pass attempts but was unable to make it through the night because of poor play. Philip Nelson took over late and didn't fare much better himself by going six of 10 for 68 yards and one INT.

On the other hand, Logan Woodside completed 18 of 36 pass attempts for 255 yards and two interceptions. Woodside was a surprise start over Dustin Vaughan, and it will be interesting to see what the team decides to do next week against the Orlando Apollos. Both teams seem far advanced on defense as opposed to offense, which is a league-wide issue that needs to be addressed if scores are to be higher.

 

AAF Fantasy Football Risers

Mekale McKay (San Antonio WR)

Mekale McKay made a strong case for why he should have been the number one wide receiver off the board in fantasy football leagues. While he only hauled in five of 12 targets on the night, McKay racked up 80 yards and barely missed out on multiple looks inside the red zone. If you are planning on doing an AAF draft this week, the Commanders wideout should be one of the first names that you consider taking.

Greg Ward Jr. (San Antonio WR)

One of the better stories from the opening weekend came from Greg Ward Jr. The 23-year-old was a former quarterback at the University of Houston and recently transitioned to WR full time. Ward Jr. brought in five catches on nine targets against the Fleet, ending the night with 65 yards through the air. He possessed speed and more refinement than was expected of him, but it must be noted that Demarcus Ayers, who is slated to be the second WR for the Commanders, was held out due to injury. Ward Jr. should be viewed as a fringe top 15-20 WR going forward.

Ja'quan Gardner (San Diego RB)

San Diego didn't wait long to answer the question of who their featured back was going to be. Terrell Watson was the name on top of the depth chart entering the night, but the Fleet made it clear early that Gardner was their man. Even though the contest had a negative game flow for San Diego running backs to succeed, Gardner was able to muster up 55 yards on eight carries and received three targets out of the backfield, snagging two for 17 yards. The running back position is a wasteland in AAF, and outside of perhaps Trent Richardson, Jhurell Pressley and Akeem Hunt, it is hard to argue against Gardner being the next name off the board.

Brian Brown (San Diego WR)

To be honest, Brian Brown was not the player that I expected to surge to the peak of the wide receiver depth chart in San Diego. I had Dontez Ford and Francis Owusu in front of him, but not only did Brown get listed as the number one WR for the Fleet, but he also performed like one. Brown caught five passes on seven attempts for 66 yards, tying for the most receiving yards for the team with TE Gavin Escobar. I am still slightly hesitant that he will be able to hold off Ford or Owusu, but it is difficult to view him as anything other than a top-10 wideout in the league as of right now.

 

AAF Fantasy Football Fallers

Mike Bercovici (San Diego QB)

This one goes without saying, but it is hard to imagine that Mike Bercovici is going to get his job back this season. Bercovici is a gritty competitor that knows how to bounce back from a hit, but he lacks the arm strength to challenge defenders downfield. Even if Philip Nelson fails to succeed at QB, I'd imagine the team would give Alex Ross a try before going back to Bercovici. The Fleets QB situation is shaping up to be a situation to avoid if you can.

Terrell Watson (San Diego RB)

Despite being named the starter all week, Terell Watson wasn't on the field during the opening drive and only recorded three carries for 10 yards during the game. With running backs nearly impossible to come by for fantasy purposes, I wouldn't be cutting ties just yet, but the 25-year-old didn't make a good first impression on opening night. Ja'Quan Gardner is only 5'7," and I still question if he will be able to handle a full workload. Third-string RB Paul James didn't do much on opening night, but the Fleet appear to be a team that will be trailing a lot this season, making him an interesting name to keep in mind. James only had one carry for zero yards, but the former Rutgers RB was on the field quite often during the last few drives.

Dontez Ford (San Diego WR)

Coming off a game during the preseason that saw Dontez Ford snatch all 11 targets for 114 yards and one touchdown, the 25-year-old flopped when compared to those standards. Listed as fourth on the depth chart, Ford caught two of three targets on the night for 56 yards. It seems likely that he will gradually work his way up the ladder and get more playing time, but it will not be easy to play him in fantasy if San Diego continues to leave him as their fourth WR. His upside keeps him as a top 25 WR, but Ford was one of my biggest fallers this week.


Orlando Apollos 40, Atlanta Legends
 6

Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier didn't look like a man that had been out of coaching since 2015. Spurrier was his usual cutthroat self and kept his foot on the gas all night. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Legends did not bring the same ferocity to the fight. Matt Simms struggled with 126 yards and two interceptions, and the Legends' offensive playmakers failed to do much of anything. Simms was eventually benched at the end of the game in favor of Aaron Murray, and it will be intriguing to see what Atlanta's head coach Kevin Coyle decides to do against the San Diego Fleet next week. Orlando has positioned themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference, while Atlanta looks like they may end up being the bottom dwellers. Orlando's star WR Charles Johnson did exit the contest with a knee injury so keep an eye on his status for next week. He would be a massive loss for the offensive unit.

 

AAF Fantasy Football Risers

Garrett Gilbert (Orlando QB)

Garrett Gilbert looks like one of the best AAF fantasy quarterbacks to own this season. The 27-year-old completed 15 of 25 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one two-point conversion, 10 yards rushing and a touchdown catch from five yards out. Gilbert was being drafted as one of the last names to come off the board but should provide top-tiered production in all fantasy leagues. If you are lucky enough to have him available on your waiver wire, don't hesitate to pick the fiery competitor up.

Akeem Hunt (Orlando RB)

Akeem Hunt led the Orlando Apollos backfield with 73 yards on 10 carries. Hunt also received five targets in the passing game but failed to come up with any of them. The 7.3 average on 10+ carries made the 25-year-old the most effective back in the first week, and his usage in the passing game is an excellent sign of things to come. Hunt should be viewed as a contender for the number one pick in the draft, although I would still select Jhurell Pressley ahead of him.

Jalin Marshall (Orlando WR)

Jalin Marshall is a slot WR that possesses a game that is quicker than lightning. Marshall has spent some time at the next level and should continue to be a breakout candidate for Orlando. On Saturday, the 23-year-old caught three passes for 51 yards and threw a touchdown on a five-yard pass. Marshall is a borderline top-15 wideout this season and should be someone that is sitting on a handful of waiver wires.

 

AAF Fantasy Football Fallers

Denard Robinson (Atlanta RB)

Denard Robinson was limited in practice all week, so I am hoping that has something to do with his miserable showing of five carries for three yards. But as someone that was being selected as the first pick in many drafts due to his NFL experience, this is turning into a potential nightmare. I still have Robinson ranked as a marginal top-10 RB in the AAF, but we will need to see something from Shoelace next week to warrant that position.

Malachi Jones (Atlanta WR)

I am willing to chalk Malachi Jones' performance up to terrible quarterbacking from Matt Simms. Jones ended the game with seven targets but disappointed with no catches. With Aaron Murray probably starting next week against the Fleet, Jones has a nice buy-low window available. The 24-year-old was Murray's go-to target in the preseason, and I am still ranking him as one of the top eight WRs on the board.

 

AAF Team Twitter Beats

Team Name Twitter
Arizona Jose Romero @RomeroJoseM
Atlanta Jaylon Thompson @JaylonThompson
Birmingham Marq Burnett @Marq_Burnett
Memphis Dylan Rubino @DylanJRubino
Orlando Tom Alexander @TheTomAlexander
Salt Lake Chantel Buchi @chantelbuchi
San Antonio Cole Thompson @MrColeThompson
San Diego Jeff Goldberg @SDFleetBeat

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