Welcome RotoViz readers to the wonderful world of AAF daily fantasy sports! Each week I’ll be running through some of the top plays, stacks to target, and a few punts to consider when building DFS lineups at Fanball. Let’s dive into Week 3.
Target Running Backs with Volume
Over the first two weeks, few teams have decided to utilize bellcow backs, opting to rely on a heavy rotation at the position. The backs that are sparingly used remain tough to rely on as a source for fantasy points, with inconsistent volume and touchdown upside. Unfortunately, that means if we want to get those heavy-hitter backs with rushing, receiving, and red zone work, we’re forced to pay up.
Trent Richardson’s ($7,200) pedestrian NFL yards per carry (3.3) has somehow been even worse in the AAF (2.4) despite lighter competition. Luckily for Richardson, the Iron are set on him as their lead back, with him seeing a league-high 69 percent of his team’s backfield snaps and 73 percent of Birmingham’s touches. He almost doubles the field on red-zone touches (11; the next closest is Zac Stacy with six) and has been a reliable receiver out of the backfield where he paces the position with 10 targets through the first two weeks. He also draws the softest run defense to date, with Atlanta allowing a league-high 5.3 yards per rush attempt.
Ja’Quan Gardner ($7,000) is coming off the heels of a fantastic outing, rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. His 17.7 fantasy points per game trail only Richardson. Gardner is currently tied for the league-lead in rushing (157 yards), and now takes on a San Antonio defense that has allowed 4.9 yards per carry to opposing offenses. This San Diego/San Antonio matchup has the closest spread on the slate (SD -2.5), which should keep gamescript in check for Gardner as both a runner and receiver. Terrell Watson remains a factor after seeing more snaps than Gardner last week (16 to 14), but Gardner’s electric performance should keep Gardner in the driver’s seat for touches once again.
Kenneth Farrow ($6,400) has been growing on me as the week progresses. Not only does he play on the league’s fastest team (38 plays per game), but he also runs on one of its most efficient offenses at sustaining drives. San Antonio leads the league in 3rd-down conversion rate (57.8 percent), which is a stark contrast from their opponent, San Diego, and their 29.63 percent rate. Farrow ranks fourth among all backs with 27 carries through the first two weeks and has now scored in back-to-back weeks while nearly doubling the red zone (14) and goal-line snaps (6) of teammates Aaron Green (7, 3) and David Cobb (8, 3). Farrow’s price puts him in a unique tier by himself.
Chase the Targets at Wide Receiver
The perennial RotoViz moniker, targets are the lifeblood of fantasy, applies to the AAF just as much as the NFL.
Last week’s showstopper, Orlando’s Charles Johnson ($7,400), turned plenty of heads with his 7-192-1 stat line on 10 targets. He currently sports a 28 percent target share with his 15 targets on the season ranking third at the position. He’s one of just 10 players that have seen at least five targets in each game to open the year.
San Antonio’s Mekale McKay ($6,200) had a touchdown taken away last week due to a penalty. He has a strong chance to turn that around in a plus-matchup no matter where McKay lines up against San Diego this week. Coming off the heels of 12-target and 9-target outings, McKay leads all wideouts in total targets on the year (21) and routes run (78). Combining San Diego’s poor coverage unit with McKay’s heavy target volume (26.3 percent target share), we could be looking back at Week 3 in amazement with how McKay was so low-owned.
Through two weeks, Quinton Patton ($6,300) has emerged as the top receiving option for Birmingham. Despite the heavy volume that Trent Richardson is seeing, Birmingham currently ranks second in both dropbacks per game (35.5) and pass play percentage (53.3 percent). That pass volume has directly led to Patton ranking second in the league in both targets (16) and routes run (68). He also has seen 10 deep targets (20-plus yards) to date, leading the AAF, and showcasing a field-stretching role that is perfect for GPPs.
Stacks to Target
Garrett Gilbert ($7,300) and Charles Johnson ($7,400)
To put it succinctly, as long as Memphis’ continues to trot out Christian Hackenberg, their opponent should continue to have plenty of play volume and extra possessions.
That means Orlando stacks — despite being chalky — are likely the right move to center around in cash games. Gilbert leads the AAF in fantasy points per game (28.4), completion percentage (63.9 percent), yards per attempt (11.6), and total passing yards (620). Pairing him with his top wideout — Charles Johnson — is worth every penny after what the two have done together during the first two weeks of the season. Johnson leads the AAF in both receptions (11) and receiving yards (252).
John Wolford ($6,800), Rashad Ross ($6,900), and Jhurell Pressley ($5,400)
Wolford went off in Week 1 in this very same matchup, throwing for four touchdowns, two 2-point conversions, and netting 33.3 fantasy points. Despite the Stallions now getting “film” to analyze Wolford, I still believe he’s one of the top-two quarterbacks in this league and could easily carve up this secondary for the second time in three weeks. Ross’ 4.36 speed was on full display the last time these two teams met, with him surpassing the century mark and racking up a 5-103-2 stat line. Ross currently sports a healthy 3.27 Yards per Route Run, one of PFF’s highly predictive statistics. For context, Julio Jones led the NFL in this statistic with 2.93 YPRR. Bringing back this passing combination with Pressley, could be a tournament winner if these three encapsulate a hefty portion of Arizona’s projected 44 points. Pressley had 19 touches the last time these two teams faced off in Week 1, including a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. I like the idea of having heavier exposure on this Arizona stack while others gravitate towards the chalky Orlando squad.
Punts ($5K and Below)
A few quick-hitters on punts worth targeting. Tight ends remain an easy fade here with few seeing enough volume or red zone usage to warrant considering. Running backs down at this price level are also going to be tough to rely on unless we get late injury news and can elevate them for more touches. These are mostly going to be wideouts for the majority of plays in this week’s segment and moving forward.
San Antonio’s Alonzo Moore ($5,000) has started the year with back-to-back weeks of five targets. Moore isn’t running with the starters, but he’s frequently being targeted downfield by quarterback Logan Woodside, and now has gains 46 and 25 yards through the first two weeks. The Commanders pass the ball 52.6 percent of the time (third-highest rate) and enter this competition as minor road dogs (+2.5), leaving gamescript in Moore’s favor.
The one running back exception that is going to be tough for me to fade at his price is Branden Oliver ($4,500). Oliver looked like he had taken over the lead back duties in Week 2, and now gets to face an Arizona defense that had a tough time keeping Stacy in check (19-101-1 rushing stat line). The Salt Lake Stallions are currently 4.5-point home dogs, and could use Oliver as a check-down option this week. Oliver’s NFL rookie season (2014) featured a 36-reception campaign, making Oliver a fantastic multi-dimensional punt of the week.
Another Arizona player worth mentioning this week is wideout Richard Mullaney ($4,400). Mullaney had a strong outing against Salt Lake in their Week 1 matchup, catching all five of his targets for 57 yards and a 2-point conversion. Double-digit fantasy outings at this price point have low probabilities, but with how often and how successful Wolford and company threw against Salt Lake in their previous encounter, it’s not difficult to envision Mullaney finding repeated success against this squad.