AFL Quickplay Week 11
The upcoming week of the Arena Football League season is going to be a tough one to navigate our way through as we try to find points. Each of the last three weeks my team, the Unemployed Punters has somehow managed to record a zero at a quarterback spot. Yet we’re still in the top five overall on the game right now. It’s been an odd season to say the least and I don’t want to know how bad this one will get.
First, let’s check out the overall standings in the game to this point.
Legnbaz has jumped into the top spot with 1913 points. The South Phoenix Bombers sit second with 1881 while the Phantom Furballs are third 1869. Our team, the Unemployed Punters, are at fourth with 1845 and Rattler 1 is right on our tail at 1842. The rest of the top 10 is separated by 20 points and with the way the league has been in flux in the first half anyone can still win.
Let’s also take a moment and see what this week’s schedule Is and how that plays a role. Everyone is in this week since there are no byes.
Week 11 Schedule (all times Eastern)
Spokane at San Jose 10:30 p.m. Eastern Tonight! (Roster deadline is an hour before this)
New Orleans at Philadelphia 6:00 p.m. Saturday
Orlando at Jacksonville 7:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Arizona 9:00 p.m.
Cleveland at Las Vegas 5:00 p.m. Sunday
Portland at Los Angeles 6:00 p.m.
Okay, there look to be a couple of good games on the slate so I have some idea where to take this team for the week. Let’s also look at the key piece of injury news that will effect the lineups across the game. Arizona quarterback Nick Davila has been reactivated from injured reserve. It’s presumed he will get the start at home against Tampa Bay. He will be without wide receiver Markee White who broke his back in Spokane and is out for the season. Adron Tennell of the Sabercats has been placed on inactive reserve which shifts the San Jose passing game.
Let’s start building the lineup.
We’re taking Erik Meyer and Reggie Gray of the San Jose SaberCats here. This seems like a pair of slam-dunk picks given how hot these two have been in the last two weeks. There’s no reason to overthink this or be cute about it so take them both.
The last time San Jose took on Spokane, they hung 83 points on the Shock and that was with Nathan Stanley at quarterback. How many points could San Jose score with Meyer calling the shots? I would put them down for at least 60 this week and they should have a comfortable win. All Meyer has done since coming back is complete 61-of-82 passes for 670 yards with 16 touchdowns and one interception in two games. Coincidentally, Gray has gone off for 29 catches,338 yards and 10 touchdowns. With Tennell out of the picture, there are going to be many shades of Gray in the end zone this week and the hottest receiver in the league will have another big game.
Dan Raudabaugh continues to be a must-start and is no different this week. With a home game against New Orleans, the matchup is very positive. If you take out the win over Tampa Bay a couple weeks ago, he is averaging seven passing touchdowns a game right now in his last four games. Couple it with the VooDoo still struggling on offense and he will get his chances to light up the scoreboard.
Shane Austin is going to be the other pick in this division. No doubt he’s been lighting up scoreboards this season for the Gladiators. The Outlaws have dropped four in a row and allowed at least 51 points in each of those games so the opportunity is there for Austin to put up big numbers again. Last week’s four touchdown game broke a streak of five games with at least six passing touchdowns. I look for him to get back on track this week and throw at least seven touchdowns.
This has quickly passed the West Division for the award of Most Disappointing Division of the season. The problems in the West are injury-related. In the South, they are poor performances and inconsistency.
We tried to be cute last week and take a pair of Jacksonville wide receivers in the game against Los Angeles. On paper it seemed like a great idea and Jacksonville was up 21-0 after the first quarter. Each of the two receivers, Anthony Jones and Joe Hills, had a touchdown catch and I was on my way to looking pretty savvy. Then the problems started for the Sharks. They missed two field goals and gave the ball back on two turnovers. The Los Angeles KISS turned it over five times and the Sharks couldn’t really capitalize on much of them in the passing attack. Thankfully, Derrick Ross bailed the Sharks out with a three-touchdown performance on the ground.
We’ll go back to Ross again this week since he seems to be the most consistent threat to score on that team.
Jacksonville hosts Orlando and Tampa travels to Arizona this week as we try to seek out a kicker and two wide receivers between this division and the West.
Orlando at least has its questions at quarterback answered with Bernard Morris running the show while Randy Hippeard is laid up on injured reserve. That used to be one of the bigger conflicts each week when trying to set a lineup. The Predators wide receivers are a rather inconsistent lot from week to week and have been without Greg Carr for five weeks now. In that span, there have only been four games where a wide receiver has scored at least three touchdowns and two of them happened in the same game (against Tampa Bay).
It’s difficult to trust them given the fact they don’t put up huge numbers consistently. How does Brandon Thompkins go from back-to-back three touchdown games to a 4/27/1 stat line last week against Cleveland? It doesn’t make sense and I’m not trusting the Orlando much offense these days until someone really steps up for more than two games in a row. And don’t even get me started on how Michael Simons winds up with a four-touchdown game on the ground last week to completely blow up the Predators in fantasy value. Mark Lewis, the kicker, might be a viable play this week and could be the best option on that team.
Tampa Bay has been on the way down in the last couple games. They only put up 27 against Philadelphia and were rolled by the Soul in a 44-point loss. Last week, they struggled to put up 35 points and barely escaped with a win over New Orleans. Will the real Tampa Bay Storm please stand up?
TT Tolliver has 21 touchdowns this season but just one in his last two games. His stats in that span are 9/123/1 in the last two weeks. Kendrick Ings is the second option and his last two weeks are 6/83/1. Then you have Julius Gregory who has 14/152/5 in the last two weeks. How is it that Gregory is outperforming the combined efforts of Tolliver and Ings? Are the defenses clamping down on Tolliver and Ings that badly or did Jason Boltus forget who he has to throw passes to? I need to see the Storm play some good football before I can take any of them in fantasy again.
They visit Arizona this week, which is a tough place to play. The Rattlers should be fired up with three straight wins and allowing fewer than 50 points in each of them. Seeing the way this shapes up, the second player from this division will be Lewis and we have to find two receivers in the West, which is a very easy task.
This is where things are easier than they have been because the South is a mess right now. Arizona will get Nick Davila back this week but I want to see how he does in game action first. Keep in mind it was a leg injury that knocked Davila out for a few weeks. I want to see how comfortable he looks in the pocket and how well he moves before I go all-in on him again. There’s no doubt he’s one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league over the last few years but let’s give him one game to see how he does.We will, however take Rod Windsor of the Rattlers as one of our two wide receivers. He’s been the big threat for Arizona this season and has been the lone healthy receiver. With Kerry Reed coming back into the lineup, Reed becomes somewhat of a sleeper pick this week if you need a wide receiver. Davila and Windsor go together like peanut butter and jelly and I expect Windsor to be the primary target this week—and every week going forward.
The other pick is going to be Donovan Morgan of the winless LA KISS. Don’t let the 0-9 record fool you as he has been the lone consistent productive player for the KISS this season. He’s one of eight players in the league with at least 20 receiving touchdowns (he has 21) and one of three receivers with more than 1,000 yards at the midpoint of the season.
The other thing these two wide receivers have going for them is very little competition on their own roster. Reed will take a few looks from Windsor but there’s nobody on the KISS who will suddenly start taking targets away. Morgan has 71 catches this season and the next two receivers have a combined 73 catches. It looks like an easy decision to pick him. This may only be a two-touchdown week for Morgan given the matchup with a miserable Portland team.
As we go into the second half of the season, keep the records of the individual teams in mind. San Jose (10-0) and Arizona (7-2) seem like easy locks to make the playoffs. Spokane, Portland and Las Vegas are all 3-6 and two of those teams will make it in. Los Angeles, despite being 0-9 is still three games out of a playoff spot.
Philadelphia should make it at 9-1 but the rest of the American Conference is a toss-up at the halfway point. Orlando (6-4), Jacksonville (5-5), and Tampa (4-5) are all close in the standings while Cleveland (5-5) is going to be in the wild card hunt. The VooDoo at 2-8 are down but not out yet.
Keep those things in mind since you have to think about who has what to play for as the year goes on. How much more Morgan do you get from Los Angeles if the KISS gets to, say, 0-13? How much more Meyer and Gray will you get if San Jose gets to 14-0 and wraps up the #1 seed in its conference? Things to think about for sure.
Unemployed Punters Week 11 Lineup
Shane Austin QB CLE
Dan Raudabaugh QB PHI
Derrick Ross FB JAX
Mark Lewis K ORL
Reggie Gray WR SJ
Erik Meyer QB SJ
Donovan Morgan WR LA
Rod Windsor WR ARI