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AAF Week 2 Recap - Fantasy Risers, Fallers (Saturday Games)


Week 2 of the AAF season is officially in the books, and it did not disappoint. Milestones for the first 300-yard passer (Garrett Gilbert), 100-yard rusher (Zac Stacy) and most receiving yards in a game (Charles Johnson) took place during the week, not to mention that the early candidate for game of the year came between the Orlando Apollos and San Antonio Commanders on Sunday.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has been reporting betting handle that is similar to an average college basketball game, which I think is an encouraging sign for the future of the league. The first couple of weeks will be slower because of the obscurity of the AAF to casual bettors, but as they become more accustomed to the teams and players, we should see the activity level ramp up.

Major sports publications such as ESPN and Yahoo have been reluctant to get behind the brand for fantasy purposes, but with the growth that the league has seen in the past few weeks in marketing and interest, I believe we are looking at something that is going to grow into a brand of its own. Right now it is just a niche market, but it possesses the potential to be more than just a complimentary piece to the NFL. Our fantasy breakdowns from Week 2 are still to come, so without further ado, let's dive into the first two games of the slate from Saturday. If you want to read Sunday's breakdown, click here.

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Birmingham Iron 12, Salt Lake Stallions 9

The Birmingham Iron increased their record to 2-0 on the season with a 12-9 victory over the Salt Lake Stallions. The game was ugly from an offensive standpoint, but a lot of it can be chalked up to conservative play calling from both organizations. Birmingham's Luis Perez was an efficient 24-for-38, throwing for 184 yards to go along with no touchdowns or interceptions. Perez has been one of the most appealing prospects at QB in the AAF this year, remaining error-free in the opening two weeks while completing 60.5 percent of his throws. However, he has failed to find the endzone through the air, and a lot of that blame can be placed on the offensive schemes from head coach Tim Lewis and poor catch rates from his wideouts.

Birmingham runs one of the more balanced offenses in the AAF, but despite the pro-style nature of the Iron, the 24-year-old Perez is a top-three QB because of his poise and arm strength. Look for him to have a potential breakout outing against the Atlanta Legends in Week 3, and you likely won't have a better buy-low opportunity on the Division II Player of the Year than you have right now.

 

Notable Performances For Birmingham

Trent Richardson (RB)

It would be an understatement to say that Trent Richardson has been inefficient in the opening two weeks, but volume is king in football, especially for RBs. The former number three pick in the 2012 NFL draft has been given all the workload he can handle. On Saturday, Richardson plodded his way to 41 yards on 19 carries, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter. The 28-year-old has only rushed for 99 yards on 42 carries to begin the year, but three scores and seven receptions have placed him as a top fantasy RB to own. His six receptions against the Stallions for 50 yards might not be sustainable, but Perez is a checkdown machine when his opening read is covered. Richardson is one of the only bell-cow backs in the AAF and is a volume-dependent standout.

Ladarius Perkins (RB)

Ladarius Perkins got lost in the shuffle during Saturday's proceedings. After catching six passes on eight targets in Week 1, he was held to two catches for five yards against the Stallions. As mentioned above, Perez loves to dump it off quickly to his backs, and Perkins remains the best pass-catcher that the Iron have out of their backfield. During more positive game flows, the 28-year-old will see his share of action and should continue to be viewed as a back-end RB2 (six RBs per tier).

Quinton Patton (WR)

The volume was there for last week's fantasy darling Quinton Patton, but the 28-year-old was only able to haul in three catches on seven targets for 44 yards. If you own Patton, there is no reason to worry. He has accumulated 16 targets through two weeks and is Perez's favorite receiver. Patton should be treated as a WR1.

L'Damian Washington (WR)

Filling in for injured WR Amba Etta-Tawo, L'Damian Washington made his first appearance this season after missing Week 1 with an injury of his own. Both Etta-Tawo and Washington are vertical threats that have inconsistent hands, but the former Missouri product was able to convert on three of four looks for 27 yards against Salt Lake. Most of his production came in the first half, but there is an opening for someone to emerge opposite of Patton. Keep an eye out for Etta-Tawo's availability next week. If he is unable to go, Washington has top-15 WR potential against Atlanta.

 

Notable Performances From Salt Lake

Austin Allen (QB)

What is worse, not completing your first pass until the second quarter or not figuring out where the play clock was until around the same time? Those two scenarios sum up the outing from Austin Allen. The 24-year-old struggled all game, completing 15 of 31 passes for only 114 yards. It has been apparent in the 1 1/2 games without quarterback Josh Woodrum that the offense is going to need the 26-year-old gunslinger if they want to be successful. If Woodrum can make his return in Week 3 against the Arizona Hotshots, give all the wideouts an upgrade. If he can't, Salt Lake's passing game is going to remain in shambles.

Joel Bouagnon (RB)

Joel Bouagnon rushed 11 times for 70 yards against the Birmingham Iron, adding one touchdown and a reception for 11 yards. Salt Lake is going to be a run-first team this season, and the duo of Bouagnon and Branden Oliver are forming the leagues most dynamic 1-2 punch. Bouagnon is a powerful runner with good burst and is settling in as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 in fantasy leagues.

Branden Oliver (RB)

Branden Oliver is a quick scatback that can break off significant gains as a runner or pass-catcher. On Saturday, the former San Diego Charger put both of those facets on full display. Oliver carried the rock 14 times for 59 yards, adding two catches for 21 yards. The 27-year-old has averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his first two contests and is an extremely high-end RB2

Anthony Denham (TE)

One catch for 11 yards sums up what it was like to be a non-RB on the Stallions offense on Saturday, but Anthony Denham's six targets are an encouraging sign of things to come. Denham has amassed 13 throws in his direction in the opening two weeks and is one of the top-tier TEs in the AAF. If somebody in your league overreacts to the poor showing from the 27-year-old, don't hesitate to snipe him off the waiver wire.

 

Arizona Hotshots 20, Memphis Express 18

It was a slow start for the Arizona Hotshots against the Memphis Express. Arizona entered the contest as 16-point favorites in Las Vegas, but you would have never known it with them facing a 12-0 deficit at halftime. Quarterback John Wolford started the game with two interceptions in the first three drives, and the entire offense looked stagnant compared to their robust effort in Week 1 against the Salt Lake Stallions. However, their dormant form did not last long, as they were able to ramp up the intensity in the second half en route to a 20-18 victory in Memphis. With the road triumph, Arizona became the first team in league history to win away from home.

I thought the game highlighted a couple of important factors. For starters, the 16-point spread was outrageous and an overcorrection to what we saw during the first week. We are still dealing with a brand-new startup league, and teams are going to show an abundance of volatility weekly. It doesn't mean that we can't try to gauge the production level that we see on the field, but from both a betting and fantasy perspective, we can't overreact to every minute detail. It is a long season, and we need to stay the course with certain variables that we believe to be true. The second thing that I noticed is that there will be a home-field advantage in the AAF. I think that is something that we weren't quite so sure how to correctly calculate, but it is apparent that home teams will see a boost in production.

 

Notable Performances From Arizona

John Wolford (QB)

John Wolford was far from his prime self, completing 14 of 22 passes for 194 yards to go along with two touchdowns, two interceptions and one two-point conversion. The Wake product was also able to add seven carries for 24 yards, but despite his subpar performance, he keeps the top QB spot in my rankings. Wolford's bad games are still better than pretty much any other QB and if you were lucky enough to draft him onto your team, you are sitting pretty this season. While it looks like you won't need Trevor Knight outside of an injury, make sure to keep him on your roster if you currently own Wolford. Arizona's offense is going to be a haven for point production this season and holding both will eliminate a potential headache if something happens to Wolford.

Arizona's Running Back Trio of Jhurell Pressley, Tim Cook and Justin Stockton

The bell-cow days for Jhurell Pressley might already be over after one week. Pressley was impressive on the night, rushing for 57 yards on 12 carries, but a lack of red zone work mixed with no targets through the air have muddled up the backfield in Arizona. Tim Cook carried the ball 13 times for 73 yards, and Justin Stockton added another four carries for 54 yards and a score. There is enough work available to warrant a minimum of flex value for all three RBs, but there will be some clutter until we figure out each player's exact role. For now, consider Pressley an RB1 and Stockton/Cook RB3s.

Rashad Ross (WR)

Rashad Ross continued his red-hot start to the year, catching all four targets for 67 yards and a score. Only having four pass attempts thrown his direction is a slightly alarming statistic, but Ross continues to be the most explosive player in the league when the ball is in his hands, not to mention that his four targets were tied for the most on the night for the Hotshots. Arizona's offense won't be this bad usually, and the 29-year-old remains a must-start WR1 in fantasy football.

 

Notable Performances From Memphis

Christian Hackenberg (QB)

MAKE IT STOP! MAKE THE CHRISTIAN HACKENBERG EXPERIMENT STOP!!!

In fairness, Hackenberg was better in Week 2 than he was in the opening week, but the 24-year-old has plummeted the production of all wideouts in the offense. His seven carries for 39 yards and a touchdown salvaged the day from a fantasy perspective, but Hackenberg is averaging 94.5 yards per game through the air and is only completing 50 percent of his throws. With the Express being 0-2 on the year, I can't imagine head coach Mike Singletary will allow this to go on for much longer. Brandon Silvers will most likely be his replacement if you desperately need a replacement for the former second-round pick.

Zac Stacy (RB)

Say hello to your first 100-yard rusher in an AAF game. While 49 of those yards did come on one carry, Zac Stacy was brilliant for the Express, rushing for 101 yards on 19 carries to go along with two catches for eight yards. Stacy was a top-six back coming into the weekend, but he has catapulted into the conversation of being the top overall back. For a position that doesn't have much consistency in the AAF, Stacy is one of the only bell-cows in the league.

Reece Horn (WR)

Reece Horn was one of my favorite under-the-radar WRs coming into the year, but a two-catch effort for 28 yards in Week 1 got him off to a slow start. On Saturday, Horn was able to grow off his meager first-week production, pulling in five receptions for 56 yards. His upside is limited with Hackenberg under center, but you shouldn't ignore him as a possible top-15 WR this season, especially if Brandon Silvers takes over at quarterback.

Fabian Guerra (WR)

Perhaps the most disappointing wideout this year, Fabian Guerra has done next to nothing in his first two games with the Memphis Express. Guerra was a standout in camp, making numerous ridiculous catches, but it has not translated to success on the field. Through two games, the former Division II star has only provided one reception for 11 yards. Guerra has good lateral quickness and some of the best hands in the league, but until Hackenberg gets replaced, the entire receiving core is going to struggle. Consider him a flex option until things turn around, but the upside is still there to be one of the best WRs in the league.

 

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