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AFL Quick Play Week 17—So Few Options

Andrew Nordmeier
Sunday July 6, 2014

Week 17 is going to be a brutal week in the world of fantasy. We’re calling this a potential train wreck before we’re even two lines into the column. Four teams are on bye this week and they all have strong fantasy value. Arizona, Spokane, Tampa Bay and Iowa are all off this week. Yikes.

Let’s take a quick flash back to last week and see who had success before we dive into the horror show known as Week 17.

The South Phoenix Bombers, one of last year’s top teams, won the week with 206 points and was the only player to break through 200 in the week. They used strong games by Tommy Grady (63 points) and Erik Meyer (53 points) to rise above the rest.

The horndawgs came in second with 197 points while Evan has a fantasy team (196) edged out the Phantom Furballs (195) for the third spot. Follow the Buzzards rounds out the top five with 187 points. Several of you seem to have run with our recommended lineup and we all wound up tied for sixth for the week with 186 points.

For the season, the Short Bus Kids still hold the lead with 3259 points with RochRush in second at 3210. The Soup Nazis (3176) have a narrow edge over the Phantom Furballs (3173) in the duel for third and fourth spots. Our team, the Unemployed Punters, stands fifth with 3153 points this season.

We go from people having success to a brutal schedule for this week.

Portland at Cleveland Saturday 8:00 p.m. Eastern (5:00 p.m. Pacific)

Jacksonville at San Antonio Sunday

San Jose at Los Angeles

Orlando at Philadelphia Monday

Pittsburgh at New Orleans Monday

BYES: Arizona, Spokane, Tampa Bay, Iowa

While we have four teams on bye this week, each division is missing just one team so that makes our task this week a little easier. Your roster deadline is one hour before the kickoff of Portland-Cleveland so make sure your picks are in.

West Division (San Antonio, Los Angeles)

This used to be so easy with Nick Davila and another Rattler of our choice. Arizona is off so we’re left with two teams that have a combined four wins and still have faint playoff dreams. Los Angeles has a tough matchup with San Jose while San Antonio hosts Jacksonville. Um, okay. Let’s try to figure this out.

The first question to ask yourself is this: Who is the quarterback in Los Angeles?

Will it be Aaron Garcia or could it be Kenny Guiton who vultures all the action in the red zone? Now you get to factor in JJ Raterink to the mess and you have yourself a monster of a problem.

The other question to consider is who is going to be the wide receiver in Los Angeles? Is it going to be Donovan Morgan or LJ Castille, the latter being acquired from New Orleans earlier this season. The answer here is Morgan. Castille was suspended by the league earlier this week so we have some clarity. Because of that, we’ll start with WR DONOVAN MORGAN of Los Angeles this week. He’s put up solid numbers this season (118-1484-28) and we expect it to continue.

Our second choice this week is going to be one of the two kickers. The reason for this is there is a much deeper talent pool to choose from in the other divisions, so we can fill the roster requirement here. We’ll take a shot this week with K KENNY SPENCER of Los Angeles.

The reason we’re still not rolling with any of the Talons is their offense continues to backslide. Their offense has seen its point total decrease in 7 of its last 8 games and that doesn’t offer much fantasy value.

Pacific Division (San Jose, Portland)

Portland has a weaker offense taking on one of the league’s better defenses in Cleveland. San Jose has the best defense in the league and they get the KISS that averages a league-worst 38.1 points per game. Matchups play a key role in fantasy and this is no exception.

We’re going to try WR REGGIE GRAY of San Jose this week but we do so with some hesitancy. Last week, San Jose dismantled Arizona in a game that was 55-7 after three quarters. The Sabercats threw three touchdown passes in the first three quarters of that game and no wide receiver finished with more than four catches. FB Odie Armstrong ran roughshod over his former team with 10 carries for 17 yards and four touchdowns and that played a role.

The KISS has allowed at least 63 points in each of its last four games and could be ripe for the picking against San Jose.

The second player from this division is even tougher to figure out but we’re going to go a little off the wall and run with Armstrong at the fullback spot this week. He’s coming off of a big game. He has a favorable matchup against a team that is -21 in turnover margin and should get several good looks from close range.

We’re halfway there and we still need to find three quarterbacks and another wide receiver.

Southern Division (Orlando, New Orleans, Jacksonville)

Let’s start by eliminating the VooDoo from fantasy contention. They have a weaker offense and a porous defense, which has them losing by an average of 16 points a week. Add to that a tough game against Pittsburgh and the Power gets DB Virgil Gray back from injured reserve and this would be a nightmare for New Orleans.

Jacksonville has a positive matchup against lowly San Antonio but we’re still not jumping on the Sharks this week. The receiving corps has been difficult to predict this season as no one player has really seized the reins and run with the top job. Add to that the return of Jeff Hughley, and this situation has the clarity of a mud puddle. Quarterback RJ Archer has posted good games but how long would he stay in when this gets out of hand? Most starting quarterbacks find themselves on the bench in the fourth quarter when they play San Antonio. Why should you take a quarterback who gets ¾ of a game instead of a quarterback who gets a full one? We couldn’t find a reason either so that’s why we pass on the Sharks this week. Incidentally, the loser of this game gets eliminated from playoff contention so there might be a little extra motivation both sides of the ball. Yes, the Talons can be eliminated from the playoff hunt if they lose and fall to 1-14.

That leaves us with QB BERNARD MORRIS and WR GREG CARR coming out of this division. Morris accounted for all five touchdowns in last week’s low-scoring slugfest and should have more opportunities this week against the Soul. Philadelphia has allowed three of its last four opponents to score at least 56 points so the Soul defense is still porous. Carr should take advantage of matchups in the passing game. It would surprise us to see Morris take off running as well and get the job done with his feet. He ran for 42 yards and a touchdown on six carries in the win over Spokane.

Orlando (8-6) needs the win this week to maintain an advantage over Tampa Bay (8-7) atop the division. The Predators are fresh off a bye week, which should also help them out.

East Division (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia)

It’s a shame we can only take two quarterbacks out of three solid ones in this division. But which two do you take out of Tommy Grady, Dan Raudabaugh and Shane Austin? This is like trying to pick between three $100 bills.

So let’s try something here. We’re going to put up each quarterback’s stats and see if you can figure out who is who.

Quarterback A: 317-of-466 for 3793 yards with 77 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Quarterback B:   369-of-609 for 3975 yards with 95 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Quarterback C: 280-of-439 for 3367 yards with 76 passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Looking at it like this, Quarterback B should be a lock this week. A and C look similar, don’t they? So how do you decide? They both play teams that allow about 54 points a game so there’s nothing there. Both are playing at home this week so that doesn’t help.

Team A has a worse defense than team C and that’s why we’re going to take quarterback A as our final pick this week. The reasoning is that team A needs to have its quarterback play well each week in order to stay in games. Team C can afford to have its quarterback not do so well and find ways to win with defense. Last-second heroics also work quite well for Team C this season.

So who are the quarterbacks? A is Dan Raudabaugh, B is Tommy Grady and C is Shane Austin. Surprised?

Grady has another game against New Orleans and that’s about as easy as it can get for him this season. Raudabaugh knows time is running out for the Soul to make a push for the playoffs and win over Orlando this week would be a huge boost if this somehow comes down to a tiebreaker scenario.

Next week should be easier with those four teams coming back into action. But until then we must all go through the same nightmare of a week and try to find points where we can. The other part of the puzzle is hoping your team can make some headway against others. It won’t be surprising if we see the top team with less than 200 points and the Top 10 separated by less than five points.

So why not Derrick Ross and his 34 rushing touchdowns this season? We feel that the quarterback matchups are better in the division and it would be very difficult to settle on one quarterback this week. Pittsburgh should maul New Orleans for a third time this season. The previous two games went to the Power by a combined 121-40 score. We broke down Raudabaugh above and prefer him this week.

Unemployed Punters Week 17 Lineup

WR Donovan Morgan LAK

K Kenny Spencer LAK

WR Reggie Gray SJ

FB Odie Armstrong SJ

QB Bernard Morris ORL

WR Greg Carr ORL

QB Tommy Grady PIT

QB Dan Raudabaugh PHI


Andrew Nordmeier is a freelance sportswriter originally from Chicago. Andrew is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and has won more than three dozen fantasy championships. He has written for local newspapers in the Phoenix area covering high school sports for the last seven years. Andrew also has done play-by-play in the USHL and on the Arizona Rattlers internet broadcast in 2011. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and two sons. You can find Andrew on Twitter @AndrewNordmeier.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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