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AAF Week 3 Fantasy Football Recap (Saturday Games)


I think we discovered a few new things during Week 3 of the AAF season, but many of the same elements that we have become accustomed to seeing held steady. Defensive lines continue to overpower the offensive lines, wide receivers are still dropping easy passes and most quarterbacks are struggling to find a rhythm.

Only three running backs that have had over 15 rushing attempts are averaging over five yards a carry (Ja'quan GardnerJustin Stockton and D'Ernest Johnson) and just five players are averaging over 50 yards a game (Ja'Quan Gardner, Zac Stacy, D'Ernest Johnson, Jhurell Pressley and Joel Bouagnon). The RB spot is one of the most challenging positions to find steady production from this year. Gardner leads the way with an impressive 281 yards on 35 carries, equating to a little over an eight-yard average, and Trent Richardson leads the league with six touchdowns. Richardson's 2.5 yards per carry goes to show that volume is king in the AAF, and his 59 rushing attempts are 14 more than Zac Stacy and 19 more than Jhurell Pressley.

Receiving wise, we are dealing with a similar level of inconsistency. Three players are averaging at least four receptions per game (Rashad Ross, Charles Johnson and De'Mornay Pierson-El), but Ross is the only wideout that has actually caught at least four balls in every contest. It is going to take a few weeks for these offenses to find a better level of consistency, but we are starting to see most of these units churn out more prolific football, and that is an encouraging sign as we progress through the year. Our fantasy recap from Sunday is still to come, so without further ado, let's dive into what we learned from a fantasy perspective on the first set of games. If you want to read Sunday's breakdown, click here.

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Salt Lake Stallions 23, Arizona Hotshots 15

The Salt Lake Stallions picked up their first victory of the season by a score of 23-15 over the Arizona Hotshots. I think the majority of fans will diminish this result because Hotshots star QB John Wolford was unable to re-enter the game after suffering an injury in the third quarter, but this is no different than what we saw transpire between these two teams in Week 1.

If we backtrack to the opening game, Josh Woodrum had the Stallions down 19-16 at halftime but was unable to play the second half because of a hamstring injury. Wolford ended up lighting up Salt Lake's secondary, and the Hotshots became the top team in the league, according to most followers of the AAF. With a healthy Woodrum, that game was trending towards being a battle till the last snap and not the 38-22 route that it eventually became. To make matters worse for the Stallions, they were then forced to go on the road in Week 2 to face an underrated Birmingham Iron unit and still nearly pulled off the opposite with backup QB Austin Allen.

A healthy Woodrum makes Salt Lake one of the top four of five teams in the AAF, but their upside is even more than that going forward. They have a significant home-field advantage that will feature extreme altitude, a running back duo of Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver that might be the most formidable 1-2 punch in the league and a defensive unit that excels in stopping the run. Despite being 1-2 in a difficult Western Conference, the Stallions are not a team that should be taken lightly.

 

Notable Performances For Salt Lake

Josh Woodrum (QB)

Salt Lake's run-first mentality will limit Josh Woodrum's upside, but he is my QB4 this season and should have a consistent floor. On Saturday, Woodrum completed 22 of 31 passes for 178 yards, throwing one touchdown to go along with one two-point conversion. The amount that the offense uses both Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver in the red zone will limit his touchdown potential, but his level of mobility and arm strength presents him one of the most poised QBs in the AAF.

Joel Bouagnon (RB)

Joel Bouagnon rushed the ball 12 times for 45 yards against the Arizona Hotshots, adding one touchdown and a reception for one yard. It was a weird game script for the 6'2" bruiser, who didn't get the majority of the goal line work. However, that shouldn't be the case during most games. Branden Oliver stands at just 5'8" and is more likely to be used as a change-of-pace back and pass-catcher out of the backfield. Bouagnon's lack of usage in the passing game is discouraging, receiving only three targets in the first three games, but he remains a back-end RB1/high-end RB2 because of his volume and touchdown potential.

Branden Oliver (RB)

Branden Oliver rushed 15 times on Saturday for 40 yards, adding a short rushing touchdown and one catch for negative two yards. Oliver's one-yard touchdown and usage near the goal-line was a bit of a surprise, but if that trend continues throughout the year, the former San Diego Charger will be an RB1 this season. Oliver has received at least two targets through the air in every game and rushed for at least 40 yards. The quick scatback should be viewed as a minimum of a high-end RB2, but you could make an argument that Oliver is already an RB1.

De'Mornay Pierson-El (WR)

De'Mornay Pierson-El's targets finally translated into production. The small but explosive WR caught all eight passes thrown in his direction for 90 yards, adding one touchdown and a two-point conversion. QB Josh Woodrum glanced Pierson-El's way often, and the 23-year-old looked dangerous with the ball in his hands. His touchdown came on a beautiful 25-yard score that saw him split the defense and use his legs for 20 yards after the catch. Pierson-El is the top waiver option on the board this week and immediately becomes a must-start candidate. I prefer him as a back-end WR2 because of Salt Lake's conservative nature, but he clearly looks to be Woodrum's go-to target.

Kenny Bell (WR)

After recording zero catches in Week 1 and missing Week 2 with an injury, Kenny Bell pulled in all four targets on the day for 39 yards. Bell is going to be the offenses big-play threat in the passing game, and with his jumping ability and elite speed, the former Nebraska product is going to have his breakout game before long. The 26-year-old will have some inconsistency when games turn into a run-heavy scheme, but Bell is a WR3 that has upside to end the season as a top-10 wideout. There is a nice buy-low window for anyone that needs an explosive WR.

 

Notable Performances From Arizona

Trevor Knight (QB)

Early reports have John Wolford dealing with a back strain, so it still unclear what his availability will be next week against the Atlanta Legends, but assuming Wolford is 50/50 at best, Trevor Knight will be the next man up. Knight struggled during his relief effort on Saturday, throwing for 95 yards with eight completions on 17 pass attempts. The 25-year-old is a run-first QB that ran a 4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, his lack of sense in the pocket and absence of reading a defense is discouraging. If you own Wolford, let's hope you already had Knight on your bench. But if you didn't, he is your number one waiver add this week. Despite his lack of refinement at the QB position, Knight's rushing ability will help give him a higher floor, and he is a must-own for Wolford owners.

Jhurell Pressley (RB)

Jhurell Pressley's value keeps dwindling week after week, but he remains a fringe RB1 due to his position as the lead back in Arizona's offense. Tim Cook only had three carries against the Salt Lake Stallions, and Justin Stockton managed five rushes of his own. Stockton's role seems to be firmly entrenched as Arizona's scat back, so Pressley owners should be more focused on Cook's touches going forward. While Pressley only had one catch for three yards, he did get targeted four times out of the backfield, which is a good sign after last weeks zero target effort. It will also be essential to watch the status of QB John Wolford next week. If Wolford is unable to go, the entire offense would be downgraded under Trevor Knight.

Rashad Ross (WR)

Rashad Ross continued his ascension to overall WR1 status, catching six passes for 51 yards and a score. The issue is that all Ross' catches came before Wolford left the game with an injury, and he was held catch-less in the final two quarters. If you own Ross, you are treating him as one of the premier WR1s this season, but there would be some serious concerns with his production level if Wolford was held out next week.

Josh Huff (WR)

With everyone appearing to be downgraded under Trevor Knight, Josh Huff was one of the few players to see his role increase. Huff drew multiple deep passes from Knight and led all Saturday players with 78 air yards. His four catches and eight targets were a season-high, and he is a name worth keeping an eye on. However, it must be noted that WR Richard Mullaney, who actually led the team with a 25 percent target share on the season entering the week, was held out of the game with a leg injury. Mullaney is still the preferred second option in the passing game and is someone you should consider picking up off your waiver wire if he is available.


Orlando Apollos 21, Memphis Express
 17

Despite being rejuvenated by a second-half quarterback change from Christian Hackenberg to Zach Mettenberger, the Memphis Express were unable to find the winner's circle on the season, dropping to 0-3. On the other hand, the Orlando Apollos became the first team to 3-0 after some highlight reel plays from QB Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert had his worst passing game of the year with 207 yards on 14-for-28 pass attempts, but his two best plays of the season arguably came on Saturday night.

The 27-year-old tossed a touchdown pass to Rannell Hall on a deep 37-yard throw that forced Gilbert to scramble to midfield before firing a perfect spiral into the end zone. And while that play was one of the best throws of the season, it was not to be undone by his 21-yard TD scamper, where he broke three tackles and looked like he had learned a thing or two from his time backing up Cam Newton. Gilbert has been the best player in the AAF this season and is currently the frontrunner for the MVP award.

 

Notable Performances From Orlando

D'Ernest Johnson (RB)

D'Ernest Johnson has been the most explosive running back in the AAF this season, averaging 6.5 yards on 26 carries in three games, but it was his performance on Saturday that finally got him the recognition that he deserves. Johnson took 13 carries for 79 yards, scoring a four-yard rushing touchdown while bringing in two catches for 18 yards. At least for a week, it looks like Orlando's muddled backfield is starting to take some form. Spurrier has been praising Johnson and already has announced that the former USF product will be the lead back again next week against the Salt Lake Stallions. Johnson is beginning to creep into RB1 territory and could provide an encore performance next week.

Akeem Hunt (RB)

D'Ernest Johnson taking the lead role away from Akeem Hunt isn't a death sentence to the Purdue University product. However, RB De'Veon Smith developing into the goal line back and clear second option on the Apollos is at least one nail in the coffin for Hunt. For the second straight game, Hunt had virtually no role with the team, rushing two times for nine yards to go along with one catch for four yards. The 26-year-old has only seen six total touches in the last two weeks and is nothing more than a desperate flex play for the time being. I wouldn't count out Hunt re-emerging at some point this season, but the situation is beginning to look slightly grim.

Rannell Hall (WR)

Chris Thompson and Ishmael Hyman have gotten most of the publicity as Orlando's third WR, but it is actually Rannell Hall that has worked as the third wideout in most sets. On Saturday, Hall finally had his first breakout outing, catching four balls on six targets for 68 yards and a score. The UCF-product remains nothing more than a flex option because of the inconsistent target share he receives in the offense, but his deep speed and elite hands will randomly provide home run outputs.

Jalin Marshall (WR)

Jalin Marshall's one catch for 15 yards shouldn't be too surprising if you have been reading these recaps. Don't get me wrong, Marshall is still a very high-end WR3 with weekly WR1 upside, but his target share is too small to warrant a consistent return. The 23-year-old has only received 11 total targets in three games, catching 63.6 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Marshall's speed is tantalizing, but he will need more looks if he wants to become a weekly top-12 WR.

 

Notable Performances From Memphis

Zach Mettenberger (QB)

The change to Zach Mettenberger has infused life into the Memphis Express. I am not sure why it took head coach Mike Singletary nearly three weeks to bench Christian Hackenberg, but the team should have some new spirit under the LSU product. Mettenberger almost led the Express back in the second half of Saturday's game, throwing for 120 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a 75 percent completion rate. Mettenberger is still only a back-end QB1, but any increase is a significant upgrade for the offense.

Zac Stacy (RB)

The difference between Zac Stacy and Trent Richardson comes down to opportunity. Stacy has been one of the better rushers in the AAF, but a lack of red zone looks has stunted his weekly value. If quarterback Zach Mettenberger is indeed able to implant a spark into the offense, Stacy has overall RB1 upside. His 14 carries for 29 yards against Orlando should be chalked up and overlooked, and let's see what the bruising RB is capable of next week against the San Diego Fleet before panicking.

Sherman Badie (RB)

Sherman Badie's speed is the perfect compliment to Zac Stacy's power. When trying out for the Memphis Express, Badie ran a 4.35 40-yard dash in 38-degree weather, impressing Memphis so much that they proceeded to drop their third-down back Rajion Neal. The 24-year-old put his speed on full display against the Orlando Apollos on Saturday, taking eight carries for 59 yards and one reception for 16 yards. Badie has immediately become the second back in the Express' system and is one of the first names you should consider adding off the waiver wire this week.

Reece Horn (WR)

Consider this your last warning on Reece Horn before you have to pay a premium price to acquire the wideout. Horn was only able to bring in one catch for 11 yards on Saturday, but his five targets led the team, putting him at 15 looks in three weeks. His 170 air yards this season are 68 more than any other WR on the team, and the offense finally has a chance to find a rhythm under Zach Mettenberger. Horn has top-10 WR upside and is a big wideout with sticky hands. If you do not currently own the former DII star, see if you can acquire him cheaply before the Express take the field next week against the San Diego Fleet.

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