We’re on to Week 4 of the Alliance of American Football, which means we once again have the luxury of competing in the glorious pastime known as daily fantasy football.
Here’s this weekend’s four-game slate:
- San Diego Fleet (-6) at Memphis Express: Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on B/R Live
- Orlando Apollos (-4) at Salt Lake Stallions: Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network
- San Antonio Commanders at Birmingham Iron (-7): Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
- Atlanta Legends at Arizona Hotshots (-13.5): Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network
FanBall offers daily fantasy contests featuring six-player lineups with a $35,000 salary cap with one quarterback, one running back, one wide receiver and three flex players (running back, wide receiver or tight end). Scoring is pretty much the industry-wide point-per-reception format with multi-point bonuses for clearing 100, 150 and 200 rushing or receiving yards and 300, 350 and 400 passing yards.
And if you’re looking for more in-depth analysis, we have you covered with all the AAF content your heart could desire:
- AAF Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 4
- Ranking Every AAF Team’s QBs, Backfields and Receiving Corps
- Week 4 AAF Schedule, Odds: Over/Unders Continue to Fall
- Koerner’s AAF Power Ratings: Week 4 Lines to Act On
Before getting into strategy, let’s assess each team’s quarterback, backfield and receiving room to see who has had success — or, at the very least, volume — through three weeks.
San Diego Fleet
- Philip Nelson ($6,100) is entrenched as the Fleet’s starting quarterback and had his finest performance yet in their 31-11 victory over the Commanders. Nelson rebounded brilliantly after throwing an interception on the game’s first play to complete 17-of-25 passes (68%) for 193 yards (7.7 Y/A) and a pair of touchdowns. Still, QB3 is a steep price to pay for Pro Football Focus’ second-lowest graded starting quarterback.
- San Diego was the only team that utilized just two running backs in Week 3. Both Terrell Watson ($4,900) and Ja’Quan Gardner ($7,000) racked up double-digit touches for the second time in as many weeks, although Watson (60% snaps) was the offense’s preferred goal-line and two-point conversion back over Gardner (40%). Still, both are clearly talented and can be treated as the AAF’s version of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, meaning it’s okay to play both in the same lineup if the matchup and prices are right.
- Nelson Spruce ($6,000) has emerged as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the Fleet. Brian Brown ($4,900) and tight end Gavin Escobar ($4,700) were the only other receivers to play at least 65% of the offense’s snaps in Week 3, as Francis Owusu ($3,100) and Dontez Ford ($4,200) played 22% and 40% of the offense’s snaps, respectively. Spruce should be the primary focus for fantasy investors, as he’s one of just seven receivers with at least 25% of his team’s air yard market share (per NoExtraPoints.com).
- Zach Mettenberger ($5,500) had only 12 pass attempts last week, but he managed to throw more touchdowns (2) than Memphis’ original starter Christian Hackenberg ($5,000) managed in 63 attempts (0). The former LSU quarterback’s ability to consistently dice up the Orlando defense downfield was particularly impressive. Mettenberger offers plenty of upside at his current price tag considering a league-high 25% of his passes have traveled at least 20 yards downfield.
Imagine starting Christian Hackenberg over Zach Mettenberger pic.twitter.com/KG21axjO0M
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 25, 2019
- Zac Stacy ($6,200) keeps racking up touches despite Sherman Badie ($4,500) and Terrence Magee ($3,400) continuing to stay involved. Overall, Stacy (49% snaps) was one of only two lead backs in Week 3 who failed to play at least half of their offense’s snaps. Still, Stacy’s 50 touches are more than anyone outside of Birmingham can attest to having through three weeks. Stacy is the RB3 this week in our Week 4 fantasy rankings.
- Reece Horn ($4,800) and Gerrard Sheppard ($4,200) led the way last week by playing 97% and 72% of the offense’s snaps, respectively. Alton Howard ($4,400) and Devin Lucien ($4,300) played only 56% and 38% of the offense’s snaps, while Dontez Byrd ($3,900) and tight end Brandon Barnes ($4,000) posted respective snap rates of 23% and 66%. Horn is the clear value play of the group. Note that the Express’ unofficial depth chart had Lucien ahead of Sheppard this week.
- Garrett Gilbert ($7,100) has worked as the AAF’s best quarterback since pretty much the first play of Week 1. Gilbert ranks third and first in yards per attempt on 20-plus yard throws and play-action passes, respectively. This willingness to attack every inch of the field in Steve Spurrier’s Sun ‘N’ Gun offense has helped Orlando easily stand out as the league’s most-productive offense after three weeks of action.
- D’Ernest Johnson ($5,500) has overtaken Akeem Hunt ($4,800) as the lead man in Orlando’s backfield. Johnson (54% snaps) was one of only six running backs in Week 3 to play more than half of their offense’s snaps. And while De’Veon Smith ($4,200) remains plenty involved as a short-yardage specialist and early-down grinder, Spurrier indicated after the Apollos’ Week 3 win that Johnson had played well enough to keep the starting job. Johnson has the second-most opportunities per dollar among all running backs in this weekend’s main slate.
Top AAF running backs in opportunities per dollar on @Fanball …
1. Branden Oliver (18 carries and targets in Week 3, $5,300 Week 4 salary)
2. D'Ernest Johnson (16, $5,500)
3. Zac Stacy (18, $6,200)
4. Trent Richardson (22, $7,600)
5. Terrell Watson (14, $4,900)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 27, 2019
- The Apollos currently have one of the league’s most-clearly defined pecking orders at wide receiver. Both Jalin Marshall ($5,600) and Charles Johnson ($7,200) didn’t miss a snap last week while Rannell Hall ($5,000) played 64% of the snaps compared to just 5% for Chris Thompson ($3,800). Exposure should certainly be focused on the Marshall-Johnson-Hall trio, but the explosiveness of the offense makes this a situation to monitor weekly. Thompson (No. 2), Johnson (No. 5), Marshall (No. 16) and Hall (No. 24) rank among PFF’s top-25 receivers in yards per route run this season.
Salt Lake Stallions
- The Stallions have out scored this week’s opponent, the Hotshots, by five points in six quarters with Josh Woodrum ($6,200) on the field this season. Salt Lake is certainly capable of continuing to win games with steady quarterback play and a strong run game and defense, but there isn’t much fantasy upside in the passing game as long as Woodrum continues to not run the ball or test defenses downfield. He’s currently averaging the second-fewest yards per attempt in the league, yet carries the second-highest price tag among all signal callers.
- Branden Oliver ($5,300) continues to work ahead of Joel Bouagnon ($5,400), although both have received plenty of work in Salt Lake’s run-heavy offense. Terrell Newby ($3,100) was also involved in Week 3 and threatens to steal receiving work from both backs. Only the Express (48% pass-play rate) and Hotshots (50%) have run the ball more than the Stallions (53%) have. Oliver and Bouagnon are values at their current price tags as long as the Stallions remains committed to feeding both backs.
- Anthony Denham ($3,000) remains one of the league’s few tight ends worthy of fantasy consideration, but he played only 49% of the Stallions’ snaps last week and failed to practice on Wednesday due to a leg injury. The passing game seemed more concerned with returning contributors Kenny Bell ($4,400) and Kaelin Clay ($4,100), along with No. 1 receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El ($6,200). Still, it’s a crowded situation with Adonis Jennings ($3,100) and tight end Nick Truesdell ($3,300) also involved. I’m more inclined to take a chance on Bell or Denham at their cheap price tags considering they’ve at least seen eight and 13 targets this season, respectively.
San Antonio Commanders
- Logan Woodside ($5,800) has the worst quarterback rating and the worst completion rate among starters. Marquise Williams ($5,200) has only attempted eight passes, but was good enough to keep Mitchell Trubisky sidelined at North Carolina for two seasons. It’s a situation to avoid as long as the Commanders continue to rotate signal callers, but keep an eye on Williams in the future as a potential week-winning dual-threat option.
Marquise Williams is going to be a 2004 Madden Mike Vick-level cheat code in AAF DFS if/when San Antonio benches Logan Woodside
AAF QBs with 50+ rush yards:
Williams: 65 yards (25 snaps)
Garrett Gilbert: 58 yards (174)
John Wolford: 55 yards (176)
Philip Nelson: 53 yards (156)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 25, 2019
- Kenneth Farrow ($5,200) seemed to be entrenched as the Commanders’ lead back entering Week 3, but Trey Williams ($4,100) emerged as the offense’s only path to production in the second half of his debut. Williams out-touched Farrow 8-to-4 in the second half of San Antonio’s loss to San Diego and was easily the offense’s most efficient back. David Cobb ($3,200) also remained involved, as this was one of just two backfields in Week 3 without a running back with a snap rate of at least 50%. Williams seems like the best bet to seize a featured role, but there are plenty of options here considering Aaron Green ($3,200) could also be activated in any given week.
- Mekale McKay ($6,300) is locked in as San Antonio’s No. 1 receiver and leads the league with a 24.3% target share. He’s struggled with efficiency, but it’s probably a good idea to continue investing in one of the only four receivers who has more than 300 air yards. Greg Ward ($5,400) and De’Marcus Ayers ($5,100) fill out 3-WR sets, while tight end Evan Rodriguez ($3,900) is more of an H-back and has been featured near the end zone. Alonzo Moore ($4,300) played only 34% of the offense’s snaps in Week 3. Ward in particular seems poised for positive regression after he scored two touchdowns last week … but one was overturned by penalty and the other by review.
- Luis Perez ($5,400) boasts bottom-five marks among quarterbacks in yards per attempt, quarterback rating and completion rate. Birmingham remains the league’s only offense without a passing touchdown through three weeks. Perez deserves some slack considering the Iron also lead the league in dropped passes (10). Last week’s matchup against San Antonio’s seventh-ranked scoring defense is as good a chance as ever for Perez and the pass game to get on track.
- Trent Richardson ($7,600) is literally the AAF’s only bell-cow back. This has helped him rack up six touchdowns through only three games, but T-Rich has struggled mightily to establish any sort of consistency on the ground. His average of 2.5 yards per carry trails what he managed at Alabama (5.8) as well as with the Browns (3.5) and Colts (3.1). And yet, Richardson remains a cash-game lock that’s a difficult fade in tournaments with this absurd workload.
Nine running backs in @TheAAF have at least 30 combined carries and targets …
Trent Richardson (72)
Zac Stacy (50)
Jhurell Pressley (45)
Branden Oliver (45)
Ja'Quan Gardner (42)
Joel Bouagnon (42)
Kenneth Farrow (39)
D'Ernest Johnson (31)
Terrell Watson (31)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 25, 2019
- Quinton Patton ($6,500) leads the league in air yards and is one of only five wide receivers with a target share of at least 20%. L’Damian Washington ($4,600) was the only other Birmingham receiver to play even 40% of the offense’s snaps in Week 3, but he missed practice Wednesday with a groin injury. Paying up for Patton will continue to be a priority as long as Perez continues to feature him as the offense’s clear-cut No. 1 option.
If 100% exposure to Quinton Patton is wrong I don't want to be right pic.twitter.com/ASm6cYE2EK
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 23, 2019
- Matt Simms ($5,900) wasn’t terrible in Week 3, but investing in the league’s worst offense shouldn’t be a priority. The only potential saving grace could be the Legends’ potential disregard for the run game: They boast a league-high 65% pass-play rate through three weeks. No other offense is above even 56%.
- I don’t like the idea of riding with Denard Robinson ($3,200) any more than the next guy, but a near-minimum price tag for what could be the Legends’ starting running back is tough to ignore. He could see reduced snaps due to his general ineffectiveness and brutal end-zone drop, but Lawrence Pittman ($3,500), Akrum Wadley ($4,300) nor Tarean Folston ($3,200, inactive Week 3) have done much to warrant additional touches. Of course, the fantasy solution to this backfield might simply be: “No.”
- Seantavius Jones ($5,800) joins the fab-five AAF receivers with a target market share of at least 20.2% as well as the fantastic-four players who have at least 300 air yards. Somehow, he’s cheaper than Malachi Jones ($6,100), who has a pedestrian 12.8% target share this season and played only 53% of the offense’s snaps last week. Seantavius has easily shown the most big-play ability in this offense and is the recommended Week 4 fantasy option.
- It’s #WolfordWatch time in Arizona as starting quarterback John Wolford ($5,700) was unable to return after the first play of the second half in Week 3 due to a strained back. Trevor Knight ($5,300) didn’t put up great statistics in relief, but his willingness to throw the deep ball could produce some fantasy-friendly opportunities when paired with the 96th-percentile SPARQ-x athlete’s rushing ability. Either quarterback would offer value and salary cap relief as long as we know which will be starting under center prior to lock.
- Jhurell Pressley ($5,000) racked up a combined 14 carries and targets while leading the way with a 51% snap rate in Week 3. Neither Justin Stockton ($3,400) nor Week 2 hero Tim Cook ($3,100) have significant roles, but it seems unlikely any single back winds up with a consistent three-down workload. Pressley will continue to be the preferred fantasy back, and his four targets in Week 3 are a good sign moving forward.
- Rashad Ross ($6,900) has caught 15-of-20 targets for 221 yards and four touchdowns this season. Josh Huff ($5,700) also offers upside, although Richard Mullaney ($3,000) could be the slate’s free square if he’s able to return from injury. Either way, Ross has received an incredibly fantasy-friendly workload as the offense’s featured deep ball and red-zone target this season and is locked in as a top-three overall receiver.
Rashad Ross has been targeted 20 times this season
Incomplete passes: 5
Swaggy celebrations: ~10 pic.twitter.com/KnYOhJuA4W
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 27, 2019
Roster Construction Notes
Garrett Gilbert is again worth paying up for despite being the slate’s highest-priced quarterback. Meanwhile, John Wolford has gone from the QB2 in pricing to the QB6 simply because of a back injury. There’s a drop off in passing ability from Wolford to Trevor Knight, but Knight’s unique rushing ability shouldn’t be ignored.
Zach Mettenberger is also firmly in play at his reduced price tag.
The rest of the slate’s quarterbacks either don’t offer enough upside (Josh Woodrum, Philip Nelson and Matt Simms) and/or are actively involved in a quarterback competition (Logan Woodside and Marquise Williams).
Trent Richardon remains underpriced relative to how massive his workload has been. His efficiency has nowhere to go but up, and Birmingham’s spotless record hasn’t given the coaches much reason to stray from the game plan.
Zac Stacy, Jhurell Pressley, Branden Oliver and D’Ernest Johnson are the league’s other clear starters, although each is dealing with multiple vultures in their respective committees. San Antonio’s backfield appears to be trending toward Trey Williams.
The best situation to capitalize on is in San Diego. Ja’Quan Gardner and Terrell Watson are locked in as high-floor options as the only backfield utilizing fewer than three backs in the league’s best rushing offense.
Charles Johnson, Rashad Ross, Quinton Patton and Mekale McKay are locked in as the fantasy’s top-four receivers. De’Mornay Pierson-El, Seantavius Jones and Nelson Spruce also appear to be their team’s respective No. 1 pass-game options. Memphis is really the only situation that’s still unclear due to its recent change under center, and each of its top receivers (starting with Reece Horn) are accordingly values thanks to their reduced price tags.
Josh Huff, Greg Ward, Jalin Marshall, Rannell Hall and De’Marcus Ayers are the next best bets for consistency among team’s No. 2 and No. 3 receivers.
One edge that we need to keep an eye on is minimum-priced receivers who are returning from injury. Amba Etta-Tawo and Richard Mullaney could fit that description this week, although neither offers the most-explosive profile.
The only tight ends worth considering in the flex spot this week are Gavin Escobar, Anthony Denham, Wes Saxton and Gerald Christian, in that order.
Cash Game Strategy
The main question for cash game lineups this week is simple: Do you want to pay up at quarterback? Let’s run through both options.
Yes, Let’s Pay up at Quarterback
We’ll need to find some salary relief to get in both Garrett Gilbert along with cash-game lock Trent Richardson.
Moving off Ja’Quan Gardner and Charles Johnson in favor of Terrell Watson and Jalin Marshall, respectively, saves the lineup countless dollars while sacrificing very few snaps. I’m okay with adding a third Apollos player in running back D’Ernest Johnson considering how much better the Orlando offense has been than the rest of the league as well as Johnson’s strong pass-catching ability out of the backfield.
This core leaves you with $4,300 left to either take a chance on Devin Lucien or potential lead San Antonio running back Trey Williams. I prefer the Williams route.
No, Let’s Save Money at Quarterback
Hopefully we know whether it will be John Wolford or Trevor Knight who will start for the Hotshots before lock. I’m a big fan of locking in both Trent Richardson as well as the entire San Diego backfield with Ja’Quan Gardner and Terrell Watson.
If Wolford plays, we can roll with Zach Mettenberger and finish the lineup with one of his aforementioned under-priced receivers and one of Seantavius Jones, Josh Huff or Jalin Marshall. If Wolford is out, consider locking in Trevor Knight with Josh Huff before finalizing the lineup with one of Akrum Wadley, De’Veon Smith or Trey Williams.
Garrett Gilbert, Zach Mettenberger and whoever winds up starting for Arizona have all consistently attempted to stretch defenses down the field. Targeting the top Orlando and Arizona receivers along with the cheaper Memphis options could help diversify tournament lineups from the public, which will likely lean on running-back heavy exposure.
Denard Robinson and Justin Stockton are the cheapest running backs who should probably be considered while Richard Mullaney and Amba Etta-Tawo are potential min-priced receiver options if they return from injuries — although both players failed to practice to open the week and should be considered doubtful.
Quinton Patton remains my favorite high-priced receiver to take a shot on, but I’ll be avoiding exposure to Luis Perez this week.
- Orlando: Garrett Gilbert, Charles Johnson, Jalin Marshall/D’Ernest Johnson/Rannell Hall
- Arizona: John Wolford/Trevor Knight, Rashad Ross, Josh Huff/Jhurell Pressley/Richard Mullaney
- Memphis: Zach Mettenberger, Reece Horn, Devin Lucien
- QB: Trevor Knight ($5,300)
- RB: Justin Stockton ($3,400), Denard Robinson ($3,200)
Leaving either of the $7,000 backs out of tournament lineups is a risky endeavor, but D’Ernest Johnson, Branden Oliver, Jhurell Pressley and Terrell Watson offer a higher floor than we’ve seen from mid-priced backs in recent weeks.
Arizona (Ross, Huff), Orlando (Johnson, Marshall) and San Antonio (McKay, Ward) all offer a more-than-competent No. 2 receivers capable of out-performing their pass game’s No. 1 option at a massive discount. Quinton Patton remains the league’s most clear-cut No. 1 receiver thanks to the lack of competition on his own depth chart.