AFL Quickplay Week 18
Last week in the league we saw blowout after blowout with most games being decided by 30 or more points. No, that is not a typo. Iowa and Orlando played the closest game with a 14-point margin. On the other end of the spectrum, San Jose demolished Pittsburgh 78-20.
From a fantasy perspective, this makes for a difficult week especially at the quarterback position. Think about how many teams changed quarterbacks when the scores got out of hand. Quite a few of them, to be exact.
And it’s only going to get worse as we head down the home stretch and the final two weeks of the season. There’s always a chance of blowouts but there’s the additional factor of teams that have nothing to play for on both ends of the standings.
Let’s look back and see who was able to navigate the minefield of the blowouts to find fantasy success and see how it impacted the overall standings.
Fat Nuts was the fat cat of the week with a game-high 214 points. They used most of the recommended lineup in last week’s column except they didn’t play Tiger Jones at wide receiver and chose to roll with Dan Radabaugh of the Soul as one of their three quarterbacks.
Right behind the first-place Nuts, we found a five-way tie for second place and 212 points. Polster, arenabowlbound, Soup Nazis, Phantom Furballs and the Commish all had strong weeks and they each used Aaron Garcia as their third quarterback.
The Nebraska Predators came in seventh with a strong 206-point week. The rest of the top 10 was Legnbaz and skillet each with 204 points while the Short Bus Kids rolled into the 10-spot with a score of 204.
Overall, here’s where we stand with just two weeks left.
Arenabowlbound is starting to pull away with 3,656 points for the season and looks to be a strong candidate to finish in one of the top three spots. The South Phoenix Bombers sit solidly in second with 3,579 points. And then we have a melee for the third spot between eight teams.
The Nebraska Predators currently hold the third spot with 3,516 points. Right behind them are the Unemployed Punters with 3,505 points and the Short Bus Kids are just one point behind in fifth place.
Sixth through tenth are separated by 21 points. Skillet (3,492), RochRush (3,487), Phantom Furballs (3,482), The Voice Says…(3,474) and Legnbaz (3,471) round out the top 10. Overall, the difference between third and tenth is 45 points so any of those teams could wind up in the last spot that pays out in AF Points at the end of the season.
With all the points being scored and a lot of potential uncertainty, this week’s schedule is rather important. The games are: San Antonio at Spokane, Jacksonville at New Orleans, Orlando at Cleveland, Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, Utah at Iowa, Chicago at Arizona and Philadelphia at San Jose.
This week’s roster selections are about who has the most to play for and which teams are the most likely to have their quarterbacks play the whole game. San Antonio-Spokane (Friday night), Chicago-Arizona and Philadelphia-San Jose are the most likely games to have quarterbacks play the entire games and all of them will have playoff implications. Of those three, Spokane has the most to play for. If they win it will give the Talons a loss and lock the Shock into the #3 seed. You might be thinking it’s not a big deal but it might be one of the best seeds to have. First, can avoid a trip to Arizona in the first round. Second, they might wind up hosting a playoff game due to the flux around the Chicago arena situation, assuming the Rush win the Central Division.
San Jose wants to win to try and avoid getting locked into the #4 seed while their opponent, Philadelphia, is trying to wrestle the #1 seed away from Jacksonville. The Sharks will try to deal the VooDoo’s faint playoff hopes a potentially fatal blow and Orlando is trying to wrap up a berth of its own with a little help.
Lost? Confused? Yeah, it can be like that from a playoff standpoint and a fantasy one too. Let’s start building the lineup for this week and see what shakes out.
Out in the west, this division will give the usual suspects of QB Erik Meyer and QB Nick Davila. Meyer and Spokane have a ton to play for as mentioned above so he’s a safe pick. Davila comes with some risk as the game is essentially meaningless to the Rattlers. The early word out of Phoenix is that the Rattlers don’t intend to let off the gas pedal so we expect Davila to play as long as the game is reasonable. Chicago has the shot for a divisional title on the line so look for this game to be hard-fought and close. Besides, how do you say no to two guys each with at least 100 touchdown passes this season?
QB Russ Michna of San Jose makes an interesting proposition this week. The SaberCats have a lot on the line and Michna has been playing well as of late. Add in the return of WR James Roe and Michna’s value could go up even higher. The downside is that Philadelphia is a tough cookie to crumble defensively (allowed 65 points in their last two games—combined) and there might be some issues with how he distributes the ball when you add Roe back into the mix.
The Talons have been a difficult team from a fantasy standpoint. They have two straight weeks scoring in the 30s and QB Rohan Davey becomes a recommendation to leave on the bench. So what does Davey do but throw for 313 yards and eight touchdowns. With their matchup at Spokane in Deaf Valley, this looks like a tough one for the Talons.
We still like the performance of WR Reggie Gray of Chicago so he’ll get one of the two spots in this division. For now, we’ll leave the other spot open until the end of the column.
This is also a difficult division to pick as well. Orlando takes on Cleveland and the Gladiators are out of the picture. Cleveland also has a weak defense so the matchup looks ripe. Tampa Bay takes on a Pittsburgh team that was embarrassed by San Jose last week and Jacksonville takes on a New Orleans team that gave up 79 to Arizona last week.
So many options but we can only take two. Last time Orlando took on Cleveland, QB Aaron Garcia threw for 336 yards and six touchdowns in a 62-55 win. Garcia and the Predators can wrap up a playoff spot with a win and a VooDoo loss so we’re going to roll with him this week.
The other spot is going to be a wide receiver and Jeron Harvey of Jacksonville is an option (137-1478-32) and Jeff Hughley is in his second game back for the Sharks as well. Prechae Rodriguez and TT Toliver of Orlando are also both strong options as well for this slot.
Instead, our choice will be WR Joe Hills of Tampa Bay. Hills should have the undivided attention of quarterback Randy Hippeard. The other wide receivers above have competition within their own team for who is going to get the ball. Hills doesn’t have that and that’s how he’s able to average just under 120 yards a game with 39 touchdowns this season. Add to that a matchup with Pittsburgh and it should be a solid play to roll with Hills this week.
One of these should be very obvious as we’ll take the Soul’s Derrick Ross to be the fullback yet again. If anyone can give a good reason why not to use him at the position speak now or forever hold your peace.
We’ll review the other slot below since there are a few different ways we can go here.
So that leaves a kicker and a wide receiver spot still open for this week and a spot in each of the Eastern and Central Divisions.
Carlos Martinez has been a solid kicker for Philadelphia while Jose Martinez has been consistent for Chicago. It’s a question of which Martinez to take. Stefan Demos of San Antonio is another good option as well and we’ll pick him this week. San Antonio should have plenty of chances to put points on the board against a Shock team that has given up as many as 83 points in a game. Carlos and Stefan both have tough matchups but we find the game against Spokane to be a better one than Arizona.
The last spot is going to go back to WR Anthony Jones of the Soul. Yes, he laid a colossal egg from a fantasy standpoint last week by scoring one point. Hopefully it was just an aberration with a three-catch, 26-yard game and he’ll play closer to his regular form against San Jose this week.
Keep in mind that all eight of the playoff spots in the league could be finalized this week. If they are, or a majority are, next week sets up to be a chaotic frenzy for the end of the season and the game.
Unemployed Punters Week 18 Lineup
1 Anthony Jones WR PHI
2 Derrick Ross FB PHI
1 Reggie Gray WR CHI
2 Stefan Demos K SA
1 Aaron Garcia QB ORL
2 Joe Hills WR TB
1 Nick Davila QB AZ
2 Erik Meyer QB SPO