2015 AFL Quickplay Preview and Week 1
Well, well, well. We’re back again for another season in the Arena Football League. It’s a 12-team league this year and the teams are just about ready to go. Before we dive into the opening weekend games, let’s take a look back at what happened during the offseason as well as some hints and tips.
There are teams that move each season and this past offseason was no exception. The Pittsburgh Power and San Antonio Talons suspended operations while the Iowa Barnstormers went into another indoor football league. The players of those respective teams were dispersed around the league and will pop up on some rosters.
The teams were realigned into four divisions of three teams each with only one division staying the same now as it was last season. This becomes important when we talk about how to play this game.
The 2015 divisions are as follows:
West: Arizona, Los Angeles, Las Vegas
Pacific: Spokane, Portland, San Jose
South: Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay
East: Cleveland, Philadelphia, New Orleans
So how do you play this game anyways? It’s a great question and we’ll walk you through the overall process. Each week you are going to assemble an eight-player roster in the hopes of scoring as many points as possible. It seems simple enough, but there’s always a catch, or a few, in this game.
First, your lineup must have at least one quarterback, one fullback, three wide receivers and a kicker in order to be considered a legal lineup. If you fail to set a legal lineup, your score will be based off of the last legal lineup that you submitted.
The other two players can be any that you choose to fill out the roster. You could go with five wide receivers in a week. You could potentially start three kickers if you wanted to.
TIP: Start three quarterbacks each week. They are available in this format and it makes sense to play as many of them as you can in a pass-happy league. Dual-threat quarterbacks are a little trickier but can give big points each week.
Second, you are required to have two players from each division on your lineup to make it count. Even though the Arizona Rattlers look like they are going to have another solid season, you just can’t load up on them. This rule forces you to look all the way around the league to find players for your lineup. It also makes lineup decisions tough each week because of this rule. This also makes the monsters known as bye weeks all the more important to manage properly for your lineup.
Third, time is of the essence in this game. Your lineup is due one hour before the first game of the week and can’t be modified after that point. On the first week, games run on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday so you have to have your selections in by Friday night. It adds another element of risk to the lineup since you can’t swap out players should you find out about a last-minute injury or a transaction.
TIP: This will become a factor late in the season as players potentially sign with NFL teams when training camps are closer to opening. Be ready to make changes and stay on top of potential news about it. These are the recallable reassignment transactions.
We’ll use this column to sort out the decisions to make each week and show you a lineup that we are going to use for that week’s games. Our team is called the Unemployed Punters and you can check our progress as we go over the course of the season.
Let’s set up Week 1 of the 2015 AFL season and get this going. All times Eastern.
Friday: Cleveland at Tampa Bay 7:30 pm, Los Angeles at Portland 10 pm
Saturday: Jacksonville at New Orleans 8 pm, Spokane at Arizona 9 pm
Sunday: Philadelphia at Orlando 7 pm
Monday: San Jose at Las Vegas 10:30 pm
The Week 1 roster deadline is Friday at 6:30 pm Eastern/3:30 pm Pacific so make sure your lineup is in on time. We’ll also work our way through the four divisions and set up a good lineup. The first week is always a tough one since there are many unknowns and it takes some time to see who can do what.
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Arizona quarterback Nick Davila was on top of the fantasy world last season with 857 points scored. He also led the league in 2014 with 911 points. He should be in all lineups each week unless he’s injured or on a bye.
Our other pick from this division will be another quarterback in Adrian McPherson of Los Angeles. He’s back in the AFL after not playing in 2014 and was a very difficult player to stop when he was with Tampa Bay. He’ll have the services of Donovan Morgan in the passing game and McPherson can also take off running and make plays with his feet. He set an AFL record of 31 rushing touchdowns in that 2013 campaign and could easily call his own number at the goal line.
We need to find some wide receivers and we’re going to grab one from San Jose in Reggie Gray. Gray has been a solid contributor on offense over the last four seasons, when healthy. He was a top-10 receiver last season despite having inexperienced quarterbacks. Now San Jose has Erik Meyer at quarterback and the former league MVP from Spokane should help San Jose light up the scoreboard. We’re also going to take our kicker out of this division. We’ll go with Brady Beeson of Portland. As of press time, we don’t see kickers named to the San Jose or Spokane rosters so we’ll have to go with the one we know is there. We need to satisfy the positional requirement and divisional requirement as well so Beeson, a rookie, works here.
The third quarterback we’re going to roll with is Shane Austin of Cleveland. The Gladiators went 17-1 last season and made it to the title game before Arizona curb-stomped them by 40 points. Austin was the engine behind that deep playoff run and had two solid receiving threats in Dominick Goodman and Thyron Lewis. It was tough to tell which wide receiver would get the bigger share of the work each week so it makes more sense to roll with the quarterback. You may remember Austin had the 11-touchdown game against Philadelphia last season and that helped him finish second with 751 fantasy points last season.
We need one wide receiver out of this division to complete the lineup. This looks like an easy decision as we’ll take Marco Thomas of Philadelphia for this week. Thomas was with the Barnstormers but became available when they went into the other league. Thomas led the league with 1,946 yards and was second with 151 catches and 39 receiving touchdowns. That’s the kind of production you want out of a player and that’s why we’ll take him here.
We still need a fullback here and there is none better than Derrick Ross. Ross kicked off last season with a six-touchdown performance and was the best fullback in the league. He scored slightly less than 300 fantasy points in each of the last two seasons and continues to be the best option at the position. Most fantasy players will ride Ross each week. Mykel Benson of Arizona and Odie Armstrong of San Jose are serviceable options at the position but this is otherwise the thinnest position in the fantasy game.
We need a wide receiver from this division to fill out the roster for the week and it’s a tough call. We like Greg Carr of Orlando because he performed so well last season racking up 300 fantasy points. This division also features guys like TT Tolliver and Larry Brackins to name a couple of them. Having Ross in this division is going to crimp how much production you can have out of it. You also have choices of quarterbacks Randy Hippeard (Orlando) and Tommy Grady (Jacksonville) to choose from so how you choose this one spot can make all the difference.
This is just the first week and this game is a full-season, 20-week affair so anything can, and will, happen.
Unemployed Punters Week 1 Lineup
QB Nick Davila ARI
QB Adrian McPherson LA
WR Reggie Gray SJ
K Brady Beeson PDX
QB Shane Austin CLE
WR Marco Thomas PHI
WR Greg Carr ORL
FB Derrick Ross JAX