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Matchups

Silva's Week 3 AAF Matchups

by Evan Silva

You can play AAF DFS at the website Fanball, which this week is offering a 588-entry tournament with a $1,000 top prize and another 235-entry contest top prized at $500.

 

Sunday’s AAF Slate

 

4PM ET Game

Birmingham Iron @ Atlanta Legends

Team Totals: Iron 22.5, Legends 16

 

Iron Passing Game

 

After a high-scoring Week 1 win over Memphis, Birmingham’s offense took a sizable step back in last week’s 12-9 slugfest against Salt Lake. Harassed relentlessly by Stallions edge rusher Karter Schult, Luis Perez slipped to 4.8 yards per attempt and went three-plus quarters without engineering a touchdown drive. Perez is plus sized (6’3/219) with a good enough arm, but his drawback is nonexistent mobility with slow feet and 5.27 “speed,” complicating matters under pressure. Fortunately for Perez, Kevin Coyle’s Legends have shown minimal pass rush with just eight QB hits and four sacks in two games. It’s telling that Atlanta managed six hits and three sacks against San Diego’s porous pass protection last week. The week prior, San Antonio teed off on the Fleet for ten hits and six sacks. Even if Garrett Gilbert and John Wolford have clearly passed him as DFS options, Perez’s cheaper salary keeps him playable in tournament stacks with Quinton Patton and/or Week 2 passing-game monster Trent Richardson. Game stacks can extend to Legends receiving-maven RB Akrum Wadley, who is coming off an eight-catch Week 2.

 

Perez’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Quinton Patton 16; Trent Richardson and LaDarius Perkins 10; Tobias Palmer 6; Amba Etta-Tawo and Connor Davis 5; L’Damian Washington and DeVozea Felton 4; Weslye Saunders and Ty Isaac 3; Quan Bray 2. … With a lofty 26% target share and NFL resume, Patton will be a top-five DFS receiver play each week. Atlanta’s secondary has yielded DFS-viable wideout lines to Charles Johnson (4/60/0), Nelson Spruce (4/58/0), and Jalin Marshall (3/51/1). … Palmer failed to capitalize on Etta-Tawo’s (knee) Week 2 absence, drawing just three targets for the second game in a row and dropping a would-be 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Even as a near-full-time player, Palmer is commanding little usage in a passing offense dominated by Patton and Birmingham’s running backs. … A Week 1 DNP, Washington was the main beneficiary of Etta-Tawo’s inactivity with 27 yards on three catches. Tall (6’4/195) and fast (4.43), Washington’s tools give him theoretical upside, although his DFS usability is tied to Etta-Tawo’s availability. … Felton teased on a 32-yard reception in Week 1, but his target counts are 1 and 3 as a low-volume role player. … Bray is catch-less through two games, seeing one target in each. … Saunders stands atop Birmingham's tight end depth chart after Connor Davis (undisclosed) joined Week 1 starter Braeden Bowman (knee) on I.R. Formerly of the Colts and Steelers, Saunders lost a costly Week 2 fumble but caught all three of his targets for 21 yards. Wide-bodied Saunders offers red-zone upside at 6-foot-5, 270.

 

Iron Running Game

 

Trent Richardson played through his hamstring injury in last week’s comeback victory over Salt Lake, dominating Birmingham’s backfield with 25 touches and punching in the game-winning touchdown from two yards out. Although Richardson’s efficiency has been putrid (2.36 YPC), his league-high 49 touches and heavy scoring-position usage have made T-Rich the AAF’s most-valuable fantasy back. Richardson’s Week 2 passing-game role was particularly promising; he caught 6-of-7 targets for 50 yards to lead the Iron in receiving. Atlanta’s run defense is the worst in the league, hemorrhaging a combined 49/274/3 (5.59 YPC) rushing line to Fleet and Apollos backs in Weeks 1-2. … His snaps halved from 33% to 16%, LaDarius Perkins was all but phased out of Birmingham’s Week 2 offense after logging 11 touches and eight targets in Week 1. Ty Isaac – who didn’t play in the opener – out-targeted Perkins 3 to 2 and carried once, while Perkins didn’t carry the ball at all. T-Rich is locked in as the Iron’s every-down back.

 

Legends Passing Game

 

Benched for Aaron Murray toward the end of Atlanta’s 40-6 Opening Day loss to Orlando, Matt Simms embraced the role of risk-averse checkdown machine in last week’s loss to the Fleet. The Legends jumped out to a 9-0 first-quarter lead, then were outscored by San Diego 24-3 the rest of the way, continuing to show zero explosiveness on offense. According to PFF, Simms has been under pressure on a league-high 43.5% of his dropbacks, while Atlanta’s offense is averaging 3.9 yards per play – third worst in the eight-team league – and could conceivably change quarterbacks at a moment’s notice. Murray and ex-Vikings camp arm Peter Pujals are coach Kevin Coyle’s alternatives. Albeit against Salt Lake and Memphis’ anemic passing games, Week 3 opponent Birmingham dominated its first- and second-week competition by holding Stallions and Express QBs to 28-of-58 passing (48.3%) for 223 yards (3.84 YPA), no touchdowns, and two picks. Cleverly nicknamed the "Iron Curtain" defense, Birmingham has allowed a league-low nine points.

 

Legends Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Seantavius Jones 15; Malachi Jones 9; Akrum Wadley 8; Ervin Philips 7; Bug Howard and Justin Thomas 5; Tarean Folston 4; Charles Standberry, Montay Crockett, and Keith Towbridge 2; Denard Robinson 1. … The Legends understandably overhauled their Week 2 skill-position usage after getting trounced 40-6 by Orlando on Opening Day. Seantavius Jones seeing heavy target volume (7) and failing to produce was one of the few constants; Jones has 66 scoreless yards on his 15 targets. Another inefficient effort seems likely against Iron star CB Jamar Summers, who has allowed two catches for -1 yard on eight targets. … Catch-less on six targets in Atlanta’s opener, Malachi Jones woke up to score the Legends’ first-ever touchdown from 19 yards out in last week’s first quarter. Plus sized (6’2/211) with adequate speed (4.53), Malachi would be a more intriguing DFS option if his quarterback play, matchup, and pricing were better. Atlanta’s passing game has been a black hole.

 

Legends Running Game

 

Week 3 brings the winless Legends to Atlanta for their first home game against an undefeated Iron club that played its first two games in Birmingham. The Legends’ point differential is a league-worst -46 with pathetic scoring totals of 6 and 12 in Weeks 1-2. After Notre Dame alum Tarean Folston paced Atlanta’s Week 1 backfield in touches (15) and snaps (54%), he was abruptly demoted to a 15% player with six carries and zero passing-game usage in last week’s loss to the Fleet. … Power back Lawrence Pittman (5’11/220) out of Wingate led the Legends in Week 2 carries (9) but hasn’t been targeted two games in, playing 14% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps in Week 1 and 25% last week. … Week 1 DNP Akrum Wadley looks like this week’s best DFS bet after playing 60% of Atlanta’s Week 2 snaps and leading the Legends in receiving (8/70/0) as checkdown-machine Simms’ primary safety valve. A two-year starter at Iowa, Wadley isn’t very big (5’10/194) or fast (4.54) but caught 63 passes in college and had eight catches in three preseason games with the 2018 Titans. Wadley deserves a shot at a big role in a Legends offense bereft of playmakers. Last week, Salt Lake backs caught 4-of-4 targets for 36 yards against the Iron and shined on the ground for 27/133/1 (4.93 YPC) rushing, suggesting this sets up as a plus draw for Wadley.

 

Score Prediction: Iron 23, Legends 10

 

8PM ET Game

San Antonio Commanders @ San Diego Fleet

Team Totals: Fleet 23, Commanders 20.5

 

Fleet Passing Game

 

Fresh off their first win, the Fleet will presumably stick with Philip Nelson at quarterback despite an ugly debut start versus Atlanta lowlighted by Nelson’s no-look, over-the-back pass into heavy traffic that was miraculously caught by TE Gavin Escobar. San Diego’s run game and defense were far more responsible for the victory; Nelson played in a panic and averaged a measly 4.7 yards per attempt but did add value on the ground (6/28/0). Nelson also got very little help from his drop-plagued pass-catcher corps in rainy conditions. Albeit in a game started by since-benched Mike Bercovici, this same Commanders defense held the Fleet to six Week 1 points, collecting six sacks and ten quarterback hits. San Diego coach Mike Martz abandoned his running game against San Antonio, but didn’t repeat that mistake versus the Legends and would be wise to stay the course in Sunday’s Fleet-Commanders rematch, leaning on star RB JaQuan Gardner and limiting Nelson’s impact on the game. Nevertheless, I like the under on this game’s total (43.5), featuring teams that are strongest on defense and have already felt each other out.

 

Fleet Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Brian Brown 12; Francis Owusu 10; Gavin Escobar and Nelson Spruce 8; Dontez Ford 7; Marcus Baugh and Kameron Kelly 6; JaQuan Gardner 5; Paul James 1. … Brown was tackled just short of the end zone on a 26-yard reception in last week’s win over Atlanta, yet was otherwise quiet. He’s still seen consistent usage with six targets apiece in Weeks 1-2 and continued to lead Fleet wideouts in routes run (26) against the Legends. Brown offers mild bounce-back appeal against a soft Commanders secondary that’s given up plus production to Charles Johnson (7/192/1), Jalin Marshall (3/84/1), Chris Thompson (2/70/0), and Brown himself (5/66/0). San Antonio has yielded a league-high ten completions of 20-plus yards. … A height-weight-speed specimen who did not produce at Stanford, Owusu is tough to trust with just 12 yards on his ten targets. … After an 11-yard opener, Spruce looked like San Diego’s best receiver against Atlanta, showing a connection with Nelson, tying Brown for the team lead in targets (6), and pacing the Fleet in catches (4) and receiving yards (58). Spruce did so despite finishing fifth among Fleet receivers in routes run (13) and will see expanded usage with Kelly converting to cornerback. Colorado University’s all-time leading receiver, Spruce had cups of coffee with the Rams, Bears, Chiefs, and Chargers before arriving in the AAF. … Escobar tied Brown for the team lead in Week 1 receiving yards (66) against this same San Antonio defense but was less visible with Nelson at the Week 2 helm (2/12/0), rendering Escobar a Week 3 wildcard. … After a 56-yard opener, Ford took a 17-yard backseat with Spruce stepping up and Nelson starting against Atlanta.

 

Fleet Running Game

 

Efficient but underutilized in the Fleet’s Week 1 loss to San Antonio, Maurice Jones-Drew lookalike JaQuan Gardner erupted for 111 yards and two TDs on 16 touches in last Sunday’s win over Atlanta. Short (5’6/201) but elusive with deceptive pop, Gardner has shown superb vision navigating between the tackles and a knack for bursting into the open field. In last week’s fourth quarter, Gardner scored San Diego’s first-ever touchdown from eight yards out on a fake-toss play called “90 Flip,” patented by Marshall Faulk for Fleet coach Mike Martz’s Greatest Show on Turf. A one-cut, zone runner averaging 6.9 yards per carry, Gardner also caught 62 passes over his final two seasons at Humboldt State and has commanded five of the Fleet’s six running back targets. San Antonio’s run defense looks unimposing after yielding 25/122/1 (4.88 YPC) rushing to Fleet and Apollos backs, including Gardner’s 8/55/0 line in Week 1. For game-script purposes, it’s notable that this is San Antonio’s first road affair after leading the AAF in attendance in each of the first two weeks, creating some letdown-spot potential. … The thunder to Gardner’s lightning, plus-sized Terrell Watson (6’1/236) emerged as a major Week 2 factor in the Fleet’s win over Atlanta with 14 carries for 49 yards, mixing in near the goal line and helping to salt away late-game clock. Watson out-snapped Gardner 55% to 48% but has not been targeted in two games.

 

Commanders Passing Game

 

Logan Woodside has been a roller coaster in two starts, delivering an up-and-down opener before beginning last week’s loss to Orlando 5-of-5 for 51 yards, only to go 15-of-34 (44%) for 172 yards (5.06 YPA), one touchdown, and a pick the rest of the way. Although Woodside ranks second in the AAF in passing yards (478), he’s needed a league-high 75 attempts to get there with a substandard 6.37 YPA and 1:3 TD-to-INT ratio. Woodside lost Week 2 spot snaps to former North Carolina dual-threat Marquise Williams, who sparked San Antonio’s offense with 32 yards on three scrambles, potentially earning more playing time. Williams started over 2017 No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Mitchell Trubisky for two years in college, rushed for 26 TDs in those seasons, and could give the Commanders a game-breaking element should coach Mike Riley tire of Woodside’s inconsistency. In his first-ever AAF road start, this could be a make-or-break game for Woodside against a Fleet defense that has held enemy quarterbacks to 35-of-61 passing (57.4%) for 415 yards (6.80 YPA), one touchdown, and three picks. The vast majority of Woodside’s struggles have come under pressure; San Diego arguably sports the AAF’s best pass rush, keyed by former NFL third-round pick Damontre Moore. The Fleet have generated 17 QB hits and six sacks while allowing miniscule Weeks 1-2 points totals of 15 (San Antonio) and 12 (Atlanta).

 

Commanders Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Mekale McKay 21; Greg Ward 13; Alonzo Moore 10; Demarcus Ayers 8; Aaron Green 6; Josh Stewart 5; Evan Rodriguez, Cole Hunt, and John Diarse 4; David Cobb and Kenneth Farrow 2. … McKay leads the AAF in targets but has uneven receiving lines of 5/80/0 and 2/36/0 to show for it. McKay did drop his 80-yard game on this same Fleet defense in Week 1, and San Diego’s secondary wasn’t tested by Legends checkdown king Matt Simms last week. McKay looks like a classic boom-bust DFS gamble with elite volume and size (6’4/207) in his favor. … Ward is a prime Week 3 bounce-back candidate after slipping from 65 receiving yards to 12 but losing only one target off Week 1 and continuing to see manufactured touches with an 11-yard gain on the ground. … Ayers’ Week 2 breakthrough was a reminder that early-season depth-chart clarity remains elusive in the startup league. A Week 1 DNP, Ayers emerged as Woodside’s top weapon against Orlando, starting in the slot and leading the Commanders in receiving (5/80/0) with all five grabs gaining first downs. A 2016 seventh-round NFL pick, Ayers spent time with the Steelers, Patriots, and Bears after shining at wideout and kick returner for the University of Houston. Albeit lacking McKay’s ceiling, Ayers has a chance to settle in as San Antonio’s highest-floor wideout. … At 6-foot-1, 199 with 4.47 wheels, Moore is San Antonio’s lower-volume, high-variance deep threat with a pair of 25-plus-yard gains among seven catches so far. Moore appears to be No. 4 in the wideout rotation behind McKay, Ward, and Ayers.

 

Commanders Running Game

 

Kenneth Farrow reasserted himself as San Antonio’s top back in last week’s loss, pounding the Apollos on the ground (13/74/1) and catching both of his targets for 25 yards after Farrow drew zero Week 1 passing-game looks. Farrow hit pay dirt in each of the Commanders’ first two games, and increased receiving usage will enhance Farrow’s box-score floor and ceiling. Although the Fleet stymied Farrow for 37 yards on 16 carries in these clubs’ Week 1 date, all other backs to face San Diego have combined for a robust 4.78 yards per carry, and Legends RB Akrum Wadley caught eight balls for 70 yards against the Fleet last week. Back home for this rematch with a 14-17 touch projection, Farrow remains squarely in DFS play. … Rewarded for an explosive opener, Aaron Green’s snaps leapt from 25% to 40% in Week 2, parlaying nine touches into 54 yards with five targets and rendering plodding No. 3 runner David Cobb (7/17/0) largely obsolete. Arguably San Antonio’s most-talented all-around back, Green is cheaply priced in DFS and could experience another usage spike after Farrow (back) turned in a limited practice week  and was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.

 

Score Prediction: Commanders 20, Fleet 17

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