News & Analysis

Fantasy football depth charts: How the AAF is shaking out

Heading into Week 1 of the AAF football season, attempts at depth charts and playing time division for fantasy football purposes were largely based on rumor, educated guesswork, and ages-old scouting reports. Now, after a week of games, we might not know everything, but we can form depth charts and figure out a full approach to the new league.

Today, with a framework of depth charts compiled by our own Jeff Ratcliffe ready for our perusal, we’re looking at what we know so far for the new league and how that impacts our fantasy preparations for Week 2.

Arizona Hotshots

Quarterback: John Wolford took every pass attempt for the Hotshots in Week 1, putting up a 92.5 overall PFF grade that was easily the best in the league and adding in four touchdowns.

Running back: Jhurell Pressley dominated snaps out of the backfield for Arizona, taking 20 (Larry Rose and Justin Stockton combined for 16). He had 18 carries and the lone running back target, while Stockton got 7 carries and Rose 6. Stockton did manage a strong 6.6 yards per carry on his attempts, but both he (4.14) and Pressley (3.39) amassed plenty of after-contact yardage.

Wide receiver: Wolford spread the ball around Sunday — Rashad Ross led the team with 7 targets, while Richard Mullaney had 5 and Josh Huff had 4. Ross pulled down 5 of his targeted for 103 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a league-best 89.0 PFF grade, while Mullaney caught 100% of his targets and managed an 80.2 grade himself. Huff caught only 1 of 5 targets.

Tight end: In addition to looking to several receivers, Wolford looked to lead TE Gerald Christian three times. He caught them all, amassing 44 yards and a touchdown, en route to a 92.4 PFF grade that led all flex players in Week 1. Arizona’s other tight ends, Thomas Duarte and Connor Hamlett, saw a single target each.

Atlanta Legends

Quarterback: Things didn’t go very well for Atlanta in Week 1. The two quarterbacks combined for only 164 passing yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions, with Matt Simms’ 40.8 PFF grade the far superior of the two, outpacing Aaron Murray’s lowly 28.3. Simms got the lion’s share of the work as well, with 57 snaps compared to 9 for Murray.

Running back: Atlanta fell behind 16-3 early on its way to a 40-6 shellacking Saturday, so it might be premature to take too many lessons from the backfield performance. For what it’s worth, Tarean Folston led the committee in every aspect, with more snaps (36), carries (12), and targets (4) than Denard Robinson and Lawrence Pittman combined … not that any of the group did much with their work.

Wide receiver: Atlanta wide receivers combined for 92 yards despite 22 targets, so we’re not exactly writing home about anyone here. Seantavius Jones’ 7 targets led the way, though he only caught 3 while Justin Thomas was 4-for-4 on his targets. The most noteworthy (and not in a good way) stat line here belonged to Malachi Jones, who was targeted 6 times and didn’t pull a single one down — though he didn’t have any drops, either.

Tight end: Bug Howard’s 4 receptions on 5 targets for 34 yards was probably the most positive stat line Atlanta had on offense Saturday, for what that’s worth. Charles Standberry Jr. chipped in a pair of receptions of his own.

Birmingham Iron

Quarterback: Luis Perez took all 37 of Birmingham’s dropbacks and was third in the league with 252 passing yards, though with a 57.6% completion percentage and no touchdowns, it’s not exactly a glowing review. In his defense, though, he had a league-leading 5 of his passes dropped by his receivers. And with Birmingham shutting Memphis out 26-0, there wasn’t much need to press Perez. There’s upside here.

Running back: Trent Richardson is back! He had nearly five times the carries of teammate Ladarius Perkins (23 to 5) and scored twice, though only 2.5 yards per carry isn’t a number you love and he lost a fumble. In Richardson’s considerable defense, he was hit an average of a third of a yard behind the line of scrimmage, so his 2.8 yards after contact per attempt gives you a better read, and that number is fine. Perkins did dominate the backfield receiving work, with 7 targets (6 receptions) compared to only 2 (and 1) for Richardson.

Wide receiver: Quinton Patton finished Week 1 second in the AAF with nine targets, though he also led the league with 3 drops. That explains how he ended up with 107 receiving yards (best in the league) but only a 58.3 PFF grade. No other Birmingham receiver topped 2 receptions, so we’ll see how the rest shakes out.

Tight end: The fantastically named Busta Anderson led the way with 56 targets for the Iron and managed a strong 71.4 pass-blocking grade, but he was targeted a grand total of 0 times. Connor Davis (37 snaps) and Braedon Bowman (17) didn’t see the field as much as Anderson and only combined for 3 targets themselves (Bowman caught both of his targets for 32 yards and two different first downs), so for now, the Birmingham TE group is a big wait-and-see.

Memphis Express

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg’s yards per attempt Sunday: 3.8. His completion percentage: 43.5. His passer rating: 36.0. Those numbers ranked, respectively, last, last, and fourth-to-last among quarterbacks who saw any action in Week 1. He had 26 of Memphis’ 30 QB dropbacks as they were handled 26-0, so either something turns around there or it could be a long 10 weeks in Memphis.

Running back: As with Atlanta, the beatdown Memphis took means it’s hard to read too much into a lackluster rushing game. Zac Stacy led the team with 12 carries and 58 yards, while Terrence Magee, Rajion Neal, and FB Anthony Manzo-Lewis split 12 carries themselves for only 36 yards. Neal had all 5 backfield targets but took his 3 receptions for only 12 yards. For now, Stacy is the only interesting name here.

Wide receiver: Alton Howard’s 6 targets, 4 receptions, and 33 yards all comfortably led the way for Memphis receivers, which should tell you a fair amount about their day. Reece Horn and Fabian Guerra had 4 targets apiece, Kayaune Ross had 3, and Dontez Byrd added 1, but there wasn’t much here.

Tight end: If you thought the Express receivers didn’t distinguish themselves, boy are you in for a treat. Adrien Robinson was the team leader in TE targets with … 2. He and Brandon Barnes each caught a single pass and combines for 17 yards. Barnes had almost triple the snap count of Robinson, but Robinson will be more of a pass-catcher, if this offense produces one.

Orlando Apollos

Quarterback: Points! Orlando led the way in Week 1 with 40 points, and as such we got some real offense to talk about. At quarterback, Garrett Gilbert took 27 of the 28 dropbacks, completing 15 of 25 attempts (60%) for 227 yards and a pair of scores. That works out to 9.1 yards per attempt and a 116.6 passer rating, both second in the league.

Running back: In limited run in his NFL days, Akeem Hunt put up 5.1 yards per carry over 45 attempts 2015-2017. That got even better Saturday, as he led Orlando with 10 carries and took them for 73 yards (7.3 YPC), including an average of 3.5 yards after contact. He led the league in rushing yards in Week 1 despite finishing only seventh in carries, with less than half as many as league leader Trent Richardson. De’Veon Smith and D’Ernest Johnson had 5 carries apiece; Johnson put up a productive 35 yards on his carries compared to only 13 for Smith, but Smith was the one here who found the end zone.

Wide receiver: Gilbert moved the ball around his receivers. Charles Johnson and Chris Thompson had 5 targets apiece, while Jalin Marshall had 4 (including a touchdown), and Ishmael Hyman had 3. We’ll see how this shakes out long term, but for now at least the first three names need to stay on radars.

Tight end: And here’s where it ends. There were plenty of wide receiver targets for Orlando. There was exactly 1 tight end target, going to Scott Orndoff and falling incomplete. At a light TE position in the AAF, Orlando’s crew might be the lightest of all.

Salt Lake Stallions

Quarterback: Salt Lake quarterbacks (Josh Woodrum and Matt Lineham) threw a pair of touchdowns and led the team to 22 points (not great, but 10 more than the other three losing teams this weekend scored combined) but attempted 35 passes and only managed 159 passing yards (4.5 yards per attempt). And with them splitting work more than any other team’s duo (Woodrum had 23 dropbacks, Linehan 14), this situation is a stay-away until we get more clarity.

Running back: Joel Bouagnon dominated the workload out of the backfield, with twice as many carries as Branden Oliver, who had twice as many as Matt Asiata, but Oliver was the star here. He outrushed Bouagnon 40-39 despite 8 carries compared to 16, including a 4.3 after-contact average that smoked Boaugnon’s 2.4. And Asiata got the touchdown, really complicating things.

Wide receiver: Kenny Bell played 61 snaps, most among the team’s receivers by 19, but failed to pull in any of his 3 targets. Frustratingly, no receiver on the roster had more than 2 receptions, so Bell, De’Mornay Pierson-El, Adonis Jennings, and Jordan Leslie are all names we should watch without getting too excited about any of them.

Tight end: Wide receiver was underwhelming for Salt Lake. Tight end? Less so. There wasn’t dominance here, but Anthony Denham hauled in 5 of his 7 targets for 57 yards, while Nick Truesdell caught all three of his targets and scored a touchdown. With the position looking even rougher in the AAF than in the NFL, those statlines are enough to be relevant.

San Antonio Commanders

Quarterback: Logan Woodside: 40 dropbacks (league lead), 36 pass attempts (league lead), 255 passing yards (No. 2). Also Logan Woodside: 2 interceptions (league lead), 50% completion percentage, 50.1 passer rating. He’s the No. 1 quarterback in San Antonio and had the second-best overall PFF grade at 71.9, but fantasy owners need to see some improvement.

Running back: As ball carriers, none of Kenneth Farrow, Aaron Green, and David Cobb really stood out. Farrow got the most work with 14 carries, but Green led the way with 43 yards despite only 6 carries himself. Farrow got the touchdown, but had only 1.9 after-contact yards per carry compared to 3.2 for Cobb and 5.2 for Green. Rather, the strength here was the pass-blocking. Both Farrow and Green finished the week among the top six running backs in PFF pass-blocking grade. Assuming that continues, they’ll likely get the majority of the snap share.

Wide receiver: No receiver saw more targets in Week 1 than Mekale McKay, who was the only player in double digits with 11 targets. He only caught 5, but a target market share like that should turn into more success, and he did still total 80 receiving yards. Greg Ward also made it among the league leaders with 7 targets of his own, while Alonzo Moore had 5. All three topped 60 receiving yards.

Tight end: That makes 1 combined reception for Evan Rodriguez and Cole Hunt despite 5 targets, with Rodriguez going 0-for-1 and Hunt going 1-for-4 for 4 yards. Moving on.

San Diego Fleet

Quarterback: Mike Bercovici’s AAF debut is going to be remembered primarily for a huge hit. And that’s probably a good thing for him, because any other memories of that game are going to be even worse. Bercovici did total 176 yards, but threw two interceptions, managed only a 48.8 overall PFF grade, and was replaced by Philip Nelson. The team has already said Nelson will take over as starter for Week 2.

Running back: The San Diego offense struggled to get anything going Saturday, was really apparent in the team’s running game. Ja’Quan Gardner had a decent enough day, carrying the ball 8 times for 55 yards, but the team totaled only 11 RB carries as a group, so it remains to be seen what we want to do there.

Wide receiver: Francis Owusu landed among the league leaders with 7 targets but caught only 2 for 12 yards, an underwhelming 1.7 yards per target. One of his targets was also intercepted, so the end result of his day was a 0.0 passer rating when targeted. Brian Brown fared much better, hauling in 5 of his 6 targets for 66 yards. Those two dominated the workload — Brown might be the one to opt for going forward, but Owusu was more intriguing to start, so both are worth monitoring.

Tight end: Gavin Escobar finished Week 1 with the best PFF pass-blocking grade among all tight ends, at 80.9, and finished second at the position with 48 receiving yards. He was the closest thing to a bright spot the San Diego offense had in Week 1.

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