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Matchups

AAF Sunday Matchups

by Evan Silva

You can play AAF DFS at the website Fanball.

 

4PM ET Game

Orlando Apollos @ San Antonio Commanders

Team Totals: Apollos 25.75, Commanders 19.75

 

Apollos Passing Game

 

Orlando visits San Antonio as a six-point favorite and ideal test case for AAF defensive impact after Steve Spurrier’s fun-and-gun Apollos destroyed Atlanta in Week 1. Spurrier’s first-week passing game was prolific, clocking the hapless Legends 40-6 on the back of former five-star high school recruit Garrett Gilbert, who spent time with five NFL teams and popped big-play TDs of 33 and 26 yards in Orlando’s opener. Gilbert caught a third touchdown on a trick-play pass from WR Jalin Marshall. … San Antonio’s stout defense held Week 1 foe San Diego to six points, keyed by an ultra-talented secondary headlined by ex-NFL players SS Orion Stewart (Broncos, Ravens, Rams), FS Derron Smith (Bengals, Browns), CB De’Vante Bausby (Chiefs, Bears, Eagles), CB Zack Sanchez (Panthers), and S Kurtis Drummond (Texans). Shaan Washington was the AAF’s most-disruptive Week 1 edge rusher with two sacks and a forced fumble. San Antonio’s defense as a whole logged a league-high six sacks and looks to pose a serious obstacle for Gilbert.

 

Apollos Week 1 target distribution: Charles Johnson and Chris Thompson 5; Jalin Marshall 4; Ishmael Hyman and Akeem Hunt 3; Gilbert, De’Ernest Johnson, Donteea Dye, Ronnell Hall, Scott Orndoff, Marvin Bracy-Williams, and De’Veon Smith 1. … Orlando ran a league-low 53 offensive snaps in Week 1 because they executed so many explosive plays, specifically 33- and 26-yard touchdown passes and Akeem Hunt’s 31-yard scamper. … A onetime middle-round pick in season-long fantasy leagues, Charles Johnson destroyed last preseason with Teddy Bridgewater and the Jets and paced the Apollos in Week 1 receiving (5/60/0). Johnson looks like a high-floor DFS option as the No. 1 wideout in one of the AAF’s few competent passing games. … Thompson and Marshall appear likely to round out Orlando’s receiver corps after Spurrier promised to tighten his team’s skill-player rotations. Thompson has spent time with the Texans, and Marshall is an NFL-caliber talent who fell out of the league after a PEDs suspension. Marshall destroyed Atlanta on Week 1 crossing routes for 51 yards and a touchdown and threw a second score to Gilbert on a trick play. … Hyman should operate as the Apollos’ No. 3 wideout after parlaying his three Week 1 targets into 34- and 11-yard receptions. At 6-foot, 196, Hyman has 4.45 wheels and some downfield playmaking ability after averaging over 14 yards per catch in each of his final three seasons at James Madison.

 

Apollos Running Game

 

The Commanders’ Week 1 run defense was unimposing, yielding an 11/65/0 (5.91 YPC) rushing line to the Fleet, who nevertheless refused to stay committed to the run under pass-focused coach Mike Martz. Even as a part-time player, Akeem Hunt is a high-ceiling DFS play as a near-touchdown favorite against this same San Antonio front. A veteran of four NFL teams, Hunt blazed 4.4-flat at 5-foot-10, 189 coming out of Purdue and parlayed a team-high ten carries into 73 yards in the Apollos’ Week 1 destruction of Atlanta, drawing three targets but catching none. Regardless, Hunt is clearly one of the AAF’s most-explosive skill-position players, and coach Spurrier’s public pledge to tighten his backfield rotation should bode well for Hunt’s Week 2 usage. … In Orlando’s 40-6 blowout win over Atlanta, De’Veon Smith and D’Ernest Johnson each handled six touches behind Hunt’s ten. At 5-foot-11, 223, Michigan alumnus Smith is the Apollos’ short-yardage/goal-line specialist after converting a one-yard touchdown and two-point conversion against the Legends. … Even more so, Johnson made the most of his Week 1 chances with 35 yards on five carries and a 33-yard receiving score where he lined up at wide receiver.

 

Commanders Passing Game

 

Fresh off a hard-fought 15-6 win over San Diego, the Commanders catch a fear-instilling Apollos defense highlighted by ex-49ers CB Keith Reaser, onetime Ravens SS Will Hill, Cowboys draft pick CB Marquez White, and FS Josh Evans, who formerly started for the Jaguars. Coached by ex-Chargers HC Mike Riley and GMed by “Moose” Daryl Johnston, the Commanders are expected to start Toledo alum Logan Woodside at quarterback after projected starter Dustin Vaughan was a surprise Week 1 scratch. Woodside’s Opening Day numbers weren’t pretty – 18-of-36 for 255 yards and two picks – but he did average over seven yards per attempt, delivered the ball fairly consistently to arguably the AAF’s best three-wide package, and was done in by San Antonio’s red-zone woes, where the Commanders settled for three field goals inside 30 yards. San Antonio also ran a league-high 73 offensive plays in Week 1. Woodside is a boom-bust DFS option fading the matchup and betting on the Commanders’ talent.

 

Commanders Week 1 target distribution: Mekale McKay 12; Greg Ward 7; Alonzo Moore 5; Cole Hunt and John Diarse 4; David Cobb 2; Aaron Green, Evan Rodriguez, and Josh Stewart 1. … Leading the AAF in Week 1 targets and making numerous highlight-reel catches, McKay was Woodside’s clear-cut go-to guy at 6-foot-4, 207 with limited speed (4.55-4.61) but indisputable playmaking ability. McKay has garnered NFL attention, spending time with the Broncos, Bears, and Cowboys. He looks like the centerpiece of San Antonio’s offense. … A quarterback at the University of Houston, Ward is the AAF’s version of Antwaan Randle-El in his prime after an exciting opener where Ward commanded screens in addition to sideline deep shots among seven targets, ran a jet sweep, and even threw a reverse pass against the Fleet. Ward is not big (5’11/182) or fast (4.59) but he offers versatility and big-play potential as San Antonio’s clear-cut No. 2 wideout. … With Diarse (undisclosed) sidelined, Moore's snaps should elevate after he outproduced (5/78/0) Diarse (1/9/0) in Week 1 despite Diarse playing more snaps. Moore is the Commanders’ situational deep threat at 6-foot-1, 199 with 4.47 jets, offering serious big-play upside. … Rodriguez (56% snaps) and Hunt (52%) split time as San Antonio’s top-two tight ends against San Diego, even as Hunt was more involved in the passing game. Hunt (knee) has been ruled out, however, freeing up Rodriguez to dominate snaps. Bears 2012 fourth-round pick Rodriguez drew comparisons to Aaron Hernandez coming out of Temple.

 

Commanders Running Game

 

San Antonio’s rushing attack takes on an Orlando defense that limited Atlanta backs to 20/59/0 (2.95 YPC) rushing in Week 1 and incorporates three members. Ex-Chargers RB Kenneth Farrow served as the Commanders’ lead rusher on 14 carries against San Diego last week but managed 37 rushing yards (2.6 YPC) and wasn’t involved in the passing game. 2015 Titans draft pick David Cobb (nine carries, two targets) was next in line, and former Ram Aaron Green was third, showing the most burst in the backfield (6/43/0) and catching his lone target for a gain of three. Texas A&M product Trey Williams (foot) isn't yet healthy enough to make his AAF debut. Green looks like the best talent of the bunch but has an uncertain role.

 

 

8PM ET Game

Atlanta Legends @ San Diego Fleet

Team Totals: Fleet 24.25, Legends 14.75

 

Fleet Passing Game

 

Legends-Fleet sets up as a low-scoring affair with Week 2’s lowest total (39) and San Diego favored by 9.5, even after Mike Martz’s club failed to score a touchdown in last week’s 15-6 loss to San Antonio. Martz fell out of the NFL in large part because his offense never changed, stubbornly demanding his quarterbacks take seven- and nine-step drops that stressed pass protection with disastrous results if his offensive lines didn’t hold up. Week 1 starting QB Mike Bercovici felt the effects, absorbing six sacks, throwing two picks, and eventually getting knocked out of the game in favor of Philip Nelson, who is expected to start this week. Nelson served as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ fourth-string quarterback in the CFL last season after walking on at East Carolina. Nelson’s job security is a concern, but his matchup is enticing against a Legends defense that got flamed for 40 points by Orlando in Week 1, hemorrhaging 9.1 yards per pass attempt including two 25-plus-yard touchdown throws by Apollos QB Garrett Gilbert.

 

Fleet Week 1 target distribution: Francis Owusu 7; Brian Brown 6; Gavin Escobar 5; Marcus Baugh 4; Dontez Ford, JaQuan Gardner, and Kameron Kelly 3; Nelson Spruce 2; Paul James 1. … Owusu had little (2/12/0) to show for his Week 1 target lead but appears safely locked into a starting job and offers elite measurables at 6-foot-3, 221 with 4.37 wheels. Production has always been elusive for Owusu, though; he never caught more than 13 passes across four seasons at Stanford. … The 47th pick in the 2013 draft, Escobar is now over three years removed from his 2015 Achilles’ tear and was featured in San Diego’s Week 1 passing game (4/66/0). Always a better receiver than blocker, Escobar has soft hands at 6-foot-6, 254 and should settle in as the Fleet’s top red-zone weapon. He logged 72% of the team’s Opening Day offensive snaps. … Criminally underpriced on Fanball’s DFS site at the stone minimum, Brown led San Diego in Week 1 receiving (5/66/0). Albeit not overly big (6’1/204) or fast (4.61), Brown looks like a relatively high-floor option after leading Fleet pass catchers in Week 1 playing time (77%) and playing a high-percentage possession-oriented role. … Ohio State alumnus Baugh is the Fleet’s No. 2 tight end.

 

Fleet Running Game

 

Although negative game script and Martz’s pass-first preferences limited him to 11 touches in last week’s loss to San Antonio, JaQuan Gardner operated as the Fleet’s clear lead back over Paul James (1 touch) and Terrell Watson (3 touches). Heavily involved in the passing game, Gardner also looks to be catching Week 2’s friendliest run-game matchup after Atlanta was steamrolled for 20/121/1 (6.05 YPC) rushing by Orlando Apollos backs last week. Despite twice earning Offensive Player of the Year in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference playing at Humboldt State, Gardner never drew NFL interest at 5-foot-6, 201 with 4.58 speed. Nevertheless, he is shaping up as a role-secure lead runner with all-purpose usage in a plus draw on a Fleet team favored by over a touchdown at home.

 

Legends Passing Game

 

Atlanta is AAF’s consensus worst team, having lost head coach Brad Childress and OC Michael Vick since the franchise was organized, then getting pummeled 40-6 by Orlando in Week 1. The Legends now play their second straight road game across the country against a Fleet defense that allowed one Opening Day touchdown to a talented San Antonio offense. Averaging 4.5 yards per attempt and throwing two picks, Week 1 starter Matt Simms was an unmitigated disaster before Aaron Murray came on in late-game relief. Simms is tentatively expected to start, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he got yanked again.

 

Legends Week 1 target distribution: Seantavius Jones 8; Malachi Jones 6; Bug Howard 5; Tarean Folston, Ervin Philips, and Justin Thomas 4; Charles Standberry 2; Denard Robinson 1. … As Simms and Murray combined for only 164 yards on 35 Week 1 pass attempts, Atlanta’s pass-catching production was slim. Former Saints WR Seantavius Jones did dominate target share (23%) and led the Legends in receiving (3/43/0). At 6-foot-3, 208, Jones is a plus-sized weapon whose box-score outlook will again hinge on his quarterbacks’ ability to get him the ball. Jones was the only wide receiver in the AAF to play 100% of his team’s Week 1 offensive snaps. … A pint-sized quarterback at Georgia Tech (5’9/181), Thomas saw some manufactured touches in last week’s loss to Orlando, tacking 12 rushing yards onto his 4/35/0 receiving line. Thomas has big-play speed (4.35) and an exciting all-purpose game. … Appalachian State alum Malachi Jones rounds out Atlanta’s three-receiver package after going catch-less on six targets in the opener. Jones was a first-team All-Arena League pick after logging a 94/1,439/36 receiving line for the Albany Empire last year. … A wide receiver at North Carolina, Howard is playing tight end for Atlanta.

 

Legends Running Game

 

Tarean Folston beat out Denard Robinson for Atlanta’s lead back job and saw Week 1 workhorse usage against Orlando, parlaying 15 touches into 45 yards. Robinson (6 touches) and Lawrence Pittman (3) were largely afterthoughts. Notre Dame product Folston is an uninspiring talent, however, with 4.76 speed at 199 pounds and is an entirely volume- and matchup-based DFS play. The Fleet did flash some run-defense vulnerability in Week 1, yielding a 29/116/1 (4.0 YPC) rushing line to San Antonio backs. Folston’s robust passing-game involvement should buoy his floor if Atlanta falls behind as projected.

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .