AFL Quickplay Week 17
Week 16 of the Arena Football League proved to be another exciting week of action with several teams wrapping up playoff spots and the postseason picture starting to take shape.
Arizona is in and Spokane and San Jose picked up wild-card spots leaving the Central Division winner to be the only team of those three to make it to the playoffs. In the American Conference, Philadelphia and Jacksonville are tied at 10-5 with three weeks to go as they duel for the #1 spot. Tampa Bay looks to almost certainly have the third spot wrapped up while New Orleans, Orlando, Cleveland and Pittsburgh jostle for the fourth and final spot.
In terms of fantasy football, this makes these last three weeks rather unpredictable to say the least. Some teams still have plenty to play for while others (i.e. Utah) are relegated to playing out the string. Keep watch as to who has their playoff spot locked up as that can impact your fantasy decisions as we go forward in the final three weeks of the season. Just like in the NFL, teams might rest their key players to be healthy for the playoffs. And that can still make for a volatile finish.
Last week, we saw a bunch of new names hit the top ten for the week and it also shook up the overall standings as well. Here's how it looked when the dust settled.
Arenabowlbound won the week with a score of 227 points. The Soup Nazis and Polster were just a point back at 226 each. The HornDoggs edged out Legnbaz 221-220 for fourth place. The rest of the top 10 for the week were the Phantom Furballs (208), Excelsior Pilots (200), SF Valleys (197) and the Unemployed Punters forged a ninth-place tie with Chillin' N' Winnin at 194 points. Any other team with 194 points is also part of that tie.
Overall, Arenabowlbound is tightening their grip on the top spot with 3,444 points for the season. The South Phoenix Bombers stand firm in the second spot with 3,376 points. The Unemployed Punters leapfrogged several teams to capture third place with 3,310.
The Punters can't get comfortable since there are seven teams within 50 points of them for that third and final spot that pays out in AF Points. Teams that are still in the hunt are the Nebraska Predators (3307), Short Bus Kids (3300), RochRush (3290), SKillet (3286), The Voice Says...(3271), Phantom Furballs (3270) and Legnbaz (3265).
With the season winding down and a lot of unpredictability remaining, the whole enchilada is still up for grabs. That being said, let's get down to business this week and use the Unemployed Punters as a guide for the week.
This week's schedule is : Utah at Philadelphia, Iowa at Orlando, Spokane at Jacksonville, Cleveland at Chicago, Tampa Bay at San Antonio, New Orleans at Arizona and San Jose at Pittsburgh. All the byes are gone so all teams are available.
This week, I'm still going to roll with the usual suspects in Derrick Ross and Tiger Jones of the Soul. The Soul takes on a Utah team that is only going to try and play the role of spoiler. With the way Philadelphia has been rolling along lately, both Ross and Jones should have solid games and help out your team.
If you're looking for sleepers in the division, try Cleveland quarterback Chris Dieker who has had a couple of strong games in a row. For the season, he's thrown for 32 touchdowns and run for 13 more. The Cleveland offense has woken up as of late with 128 points in its last two games so Dieker could be worth a look. Pittsburgh wideout Mike Washington is also coming on strong at the end of the season here as well. Washington only had 60 yards and a touchdown last week against Cleveland but is capable of going off any week.
I'm avoiding the San Antonio Talons this week because their offense has hit with a hard thud lately. They have posted consecutive weeks of 35 points after putting up more than 50 points in each of the two prior weeks. When they are in a tight race with Chicago for the division crown and a #2 seed, this is not the time to go thud. Rohan Davey looks like he crashed back to Earth after a couple of solid games and should be avoided.
Instead, we'll go with Reggie Gray and Jose Martinez of the Rush this week. The Rush should be able to rebound after getting thumped, hard, by the Soul this past week as they take on a Cleveland team that allows 57.9 points per game. Both Gray and Martinez should be busy lighting up the scoreboard.
For a sleeper pick, JJ Raterink of Iowa has a good matchup against an Orlando team that gave up 84 points to Arizona last week. Iowa won't be able to duplicate that feat but they should put up a good amount of points against a leaky defense.
This is where things are going to get interesting as the quarterback situation in the division has gone plum loco over the last couple weeks. Bernard Morris is coming back off the injured list in Jacksonville (as is WR Jeff Hughley) so it's uncertain whether RJ Archer will continue to roll under center or if Morris walks right back into the starter's spot.
Over in Tampa Bay, Adrian McPherson missed another game with his hyperextended knee and Randy Hippeard took the snaps yet again. Watch this over the course of the week to see who will actually be the starter. If you played McPherson last week hoping he would be back, you got a big, fat zero on your scoresheet. I know I did.
In New Orleans, Kurt Rocco was inactive and Chris Dixon took the reins for the VooDoo as they posted a 63-49 win over Utah. Dixon has been looking sharp when he has come on in relief of Rocco and would logically look like he's going to start the rest of the way for the VooDoo. Of course their final three games are not a cake walk to say the least. They head to Arizona this week before hosting Jacksonville and going to Orlando for a Week 19 showdown that could decide a playoff spot.
So with all of the flux in the division's signal callers who do you take out of the South? I'm going with Joe Hills of Tampa and Chris Dixon. Hills has performed well regardless of who is under center in Tampa Bay.
Dixon is going to be a surprise to say the least since he has flown under the radar. It looks like he will be under center the rest of the way and I still like his chances despite a tough matchup. Arizona has been able to be picked apart in the passing game, especially over the middle. Arizona should put up a ton of points and it means New Orleans will have plenty of chances with the ball. Dixon can also get it done with his feet as well so I like him to carry my team's fate this week.
This is an easier division to call and it should be Nick Davila of Arizona and Erik Meyer of Spokane for this week. Davila was amazing against Orlando last week with nine touchdown passes and should have another solid outing against the VooDoo. Meyer and Spokane have a tough game at Jacksonville but with so much to play for, they should put up a bunch of points.
Here's the lineup for Week 17 for the Unemployed Punters. Good luck to everyone.
1 Derrick Ross FB PHI
2 Tiger Jones WR PHI
1 Reggie Gray WR-DB CHI
2 Jose Martinez K CHI
1 Joe Hills WR TB
2 Chris Dixon QB NO
1 Nick Davila QB ARI
2 Erik Meyer QB SPO