Updated 2006 AFL Fantasy Draft Guide
In Chicago, head coach Mike Hohensee awarded the starting quarterback job to former Columbus Destroyers QB Matt D’Orazio over Michael Bishop. Based on this outcome either there’s an undisclosed injury or Bishop hasn’t impressed his new team.
Down in Kansas City offensive specialist Steve Smith was noticeably missing, although rookie offensive specialist Jerel Myers had nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the Brigade, which gets him on the draft list, especially with quarterback Andy Kelly getting the ball to him.
Quarterback Clint Dolezel wasted no time getting reacquainted with offensive specialist Terrill Shaw (112 yards and 3 TDs) – both players spent time in Grand Rapids – nor was Dialleo Burks’ (108 yards and 2 TDs) return short of expectations. With WR/LB Jason Shelley going down early in the game, Shaw and Burks will get plenty of scoring opportunities.
Columbus saw what offensive production looks like, which came in the form of offensive specialist Thabiti Davis (131 yards and 3 TDs), while Georgia offensive specialist Chris Jackson picked up where he left off with 117 yards and 3 TDs.
In Las Vegas, offensive specialist Marcus Nash showed no ill effects of the loss of quarterback Clint Dolezel with eight catches for 108 yards and three of quarterback Craig Whelihan’s six touchdowns. Rookie kicker Eric Houle struggled, hitting only four of seven point after tries.
The Rattlers connection paid dividends immediately for Utah, with offensive specialist Siaha Burley grabbing three touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Germaine, while wide receiver/linebacker Tom Pace added a pair of touchdowns in the Blaze upset of San Jose. Speaking of the SaberCats, wide receiver/linebacker James Roe suffered a scary head injury in the week one loss. The good news is that he was released early Sunday after being diagnosed with a mild concussion, but he’s out indefinitely. That void gave wide receiver/defensive back Charles Pauley an opening that he converted into 96 yards and three touchdowns.
In their win over Las Vegas, Austin did most of their damage on the ground, with quarterback John Fitzgerald running for two scores. Fullback/linebacker Henry Bryant and fullback/linebacker Dane Krager scored once apiece, but newcomer fullback/linebacker Josh White didn’t figure in.
Below I’ve broken down most of the top players at each of the major fantasy positions: quarterback; offensive specialist; wide receiver/defensive back; wide receiver/linebacker; fullback/linebacker; kicker. I’ve ranked the players within their peers and have tried to take into account factors such as team dynamics and potential for points. As with the preseason guide, I’ve put all of this info into one guide rather than breaking it out like I did last year.
Since many drafts don’t take place until after the first week has been played out, we’ve now had a glimpse of what may be yet to come.
1. GRAZIANI, TONY – PHILADELPHIA
Graziani remains one of the top QBs in the AFL and should put up big numbers as he gets more comfortable in Philly. Even added some points on the ground against Tampa Bay, which makes him a little more dangerous.
2. STAFFORD, SHANE – TAMPA BAY
Stafford has plenty of targets, including a new weapon in Bobby Sippio WR/DB, and can put up big numbers as he continues to develop into one of the top QBs in the league.
3. DOLEZEL, CLINT – DALLAS
Threw for big numbers despite missing time with a broken finger last season. Gets three good weapons to chose from and should be good for 85-90 touchdowns in Dallas
4. DUTTON, JOHN – COLORADO
Here's hoping the cover of the first EA Sports Arena Football game isn't jinxed. Dutton won't see many changes and won’t be available five or six picks in, especially with this weekend’s performance definitely increased his value.
5. NAGY, MATT – GEORGIA
Takes over permanently for retired Jim Kubiak, and runs high-octane Steve Thonn offense with WR/LB Derek Lee and OS Chris Jackson. He had strong showing in 12 regular season games last year and was able to help get Georgia to their first ArenaBowl.
6. GRIEB, MARK – SAN JOSE
Grieb continues to quietly keep his team moving, although he's lost some support with injuries to James Roe and Barry Wagner.
7. GARCIA, AARON – NEW YORK
Garcia has been able to make his receivers look good and he'll benefit from the return of Mike Horacek, along with Kevin Swayne, Chris Anthony and Will Holder. With 90 or more touchdowns in five of the last six seasons, Garcia is a good choice at QB.
8. FITZGERALD, JOHN – AUSTIN
Fitzgerald has been a steady performer the past few seasons and will have his top two receivers back for more this season. He won't put up huge numbers, but will serve as a reliable backup in the second wave of QBs.
9. STOERNER, CLINT – NASHVILLE
Stoerner made his debut for Nashville after an impressive rookie campaign with Dallas last season and got off to a decent start in the Kats’ win over New York. Should hang onto his job, but you may want to grab Murray for insurance.
10. GERMAINE, JOE – UTAH
Had some good games in when Bonner was out last season, gets opportunity to be the man with a few familiar faces in Burley, Bryant and Pace.
11. KELLY, ANDY – KANSAS CITY
Loses Thabiti Davis and Aaron Bailey and could be in for a down year after the move to KC.
12. BONNER, SHERDRICK – ARIZONA
Missed time in ’05 due to knee injuries, but has the potential for big numbers even with a number of changes to the receiving corps. Shoulder injury that he suffered in the opener against Los Angeles could affect his availability.
13. KALEO, JOHN – COLUMBUS
As part of the retooled Destroyers offense Kaleo's experience will help drive their changes. Gains services of WR/LB Thabiti Davis and promising WR/DB Lincoln Dupree.
14. HAMILTON, JOE – ORLANDO
Loses Cory Fleming to Nashville and looked a little lost when Fleming was out last season. Jimmy Fryzel and Jerrian James are good young targets and he’ll benefit from Clif Dell’s return.
15. D’ORAZIO, MATT – CHICAGO
Beat out Michael Bishop for the starting job and put up respectable numbers against Colorado in the opener. With Bishop waiting in the wings, this job isn’t secure, but D’Orazio has plenty of reasons to be successful and can add points on the ground.
16. WHELIHAN, CRAIG – LAS VEGAS
Is the man with Dolezel gone, but hasn't started a full season since Orlando four years back. Having a target like Marcus Nash helps.
17. MANN, BRIAN – LOS ANGELES
Saw limited action behind Kaleo in '05; begins '06 as the starter. Had a shaky opener, but was good enough to help the Avengers to an opening day win.
18. DAVIS, JOSE – GRAND RAPIDS
Earned starting job over Chad Salisbury, but his chance could be short-lived if he falters, although Raymond Philyaw may no longer be in the equation. Does benefit from addition of OS Aaron Bailey.
19. SALISBURY, CHAD – GRAND RAPIDS
Lost battle to be the starter to Jose Davis, but grab him if you also have Davis at QB.
20. MURRAY, LEON – NASHVILLE
Didn't live up to promise of '04 season and sits behind Stoerner for now.
21. PHILYAW, RAYMOND – GRAND RAPIDS
Philyaw's release is directly related to his slow recovery and unless things fall apart in Grand Rapids he'll likely be relocating.
22. JONES, BRIAN – LAS VEGAS
Rookie will get his shot if Whelihan is not up to the task.
1. HARRELL, DAMIAN – COLORADO
Has averaged 40 TDs per season over the past three years and the offense hasn't changed. Proved on Sunday why he’s the top offensive threat in the league.
2. JACKSON, CHRIS – GEORGIA
Grand Rapids wasn't the right fit, but he moved in nicely with the Force and now holds the OS spot full time with Troy Bergeron moving on.
3. SOLOMON, FREDDIE – TAMPA BAY
Might slide under the radar after missing time due to injury last year, but he's still a top threat when healthy.
4. HORACEK, MIKE – NEW YORK
After a disappointing '04 campaign Horacek was right at home with Aaron Garcia and is primed for big numbers again.
5. DAVIS, THABITI – COLUMBUS
Had a 'down' year (yes, 19 TDs was down) and he’s taken the OS role in Columbus' retooled offense with John Kaleo at the helm, which has already paid dividends.
6. NASH, MARCUS – LAS VEGAS
Played through injury and saw his production drop whenever Dolezel was out of the lineup, which doesn't bode well with Dolezel's permanent departure to Dallas. Will remain the main threat for the Gladiators and week one was a good start.
7. BURLEY, SIAHA – UTAH
Thrived in Rattlers offense last year despite team's woes, but remains with Germaine in Utah along with Danny White. Don't expect 45 TDs this season, but he'll be a scorer, as he showed in the upset win over San Jose.
8. KNIGHT, MARCUS – PHILADELPHIA
Only played in 11 games, and with Steve Smith's departure Knight will be the full-time OS, which is a prime spot in a Graziani run offense. Production was limited in week one, which is a concern.
9. SHELLEY, JASON – DALLAS
It's hard to believe that someone can tally 100 or more catches each of the past two seasons and stay under the radar, but Shelley is a guy that'll produce points, which should get better with Dolezel now pulling the trigger in Dallas. Keep an eye on the injury situation and grab Terrill Shaw if you can.
10. SMITH, STEVE – KANSAS CITY
Put up strong numbers in '05 with Graziani and should have plenty of opportunity with Andy Kelly pulling the trigger, although he didn’t play in Sunday’s contest. Rookie Jerel Myers got the start and played well enough to keep the job.
11. FRYZEL, JIMMY – ORLANDO
Showed his potential in sporadic duty last season and will be one of the few remaining targets for Hamilton -- could hit 25 touchdowns if healthy.
12. DOUGLAS, HENRY – CHICAGO
Missed time due to injury last year and might lose opportunities to Bishop's or D’Orazio’s legs, but makes a solid number two guy. If he's moved to WR/DB permanently, which looks like a big possibility, that'll cost him some touches.
13. NICKERSON, KEVIN – AUSTIN
Nickerson appears to have taken over the OS spot in Austin and has the potential for numbers bigger than his rookie '05 campaign.
14. CULVER, SHANNON – ARIZONA
Won the job over Damien Groce in Arizona (mainly due to salary cap constraints) and makes a good sleeper pick in the Rattlers offense. He won’t be asked to do too much early, but has plenty of potential.
15. BAILEY, AARON – GRAND RAPIDS
Worked well with Andy Kelly in New Orleans, but won't have the same caliber QB throwing his way in Grand Rapids.
16. TOLIVER, T.T. – NASHVILLE
Toliver takes over at offensive specialist for the Kats and will have some opportunities but will need the QB situation to play out.
18. SWAYNE, KEVIN – NEW YORK
Struggled with injuries last season and may be worth a sleeper pick late, although Horacek has the OS spot locked down for now.
19. JOHNSON, CJ – CHICAGO
Johnson appears to be the OS at this point, which puts him in a good position, although he'll be battling for balls with Etu Molden, Henry Douglas and Cornelius White.
20. LOCKE, TONY – LOS ANGELES
Might struggle with QB change, but has plenty of potential. Will miss the first two games of the season, so he's prime for a late draft steal, with Kareem Kelly filling in to start the season.
Wide Receiver/Defensive Backs
1. PETTIS, WILL – DALLAS
Pettis can only benefit from Dolezel's arrival and he can add points on defense and with kick returns.
2. GATEWOOD, RANDY – ARIZONA
Gatewood begins his 11th season and has put solid numbers throughout his career. Had a career year in '03 and has plenty left in the tank for a good run this year.
3. MARSHALL, WILLIS – COLORADO
Marshall has been extremely consistent the past four years and I wouldn't expect much different this season.
4. SIPPIO, BOBBY – TAMPA BAY
Sippio faded a little late last season, but has shown in his first two seasons that he can put up numbers and his move to Tampa Bay won't change that.
5. INGRAM, KEVIN – LOS ANGELES
Has put up great two-way numbers the past two years and remains a big part of the Avengers offense. While the quarterback spot could be an issue, Ingram will still put up good stats.
6. HOLDER, WILL – NEW YORK
Holder missed some last year and lost some of his opportunities with the arrival of Mike Horacek. Expect numbers closer to 2004 when he scored through the air 26 times.
7. DUPREE, LINCOLN – COLUMBUS
After a pretty successful rookie season Dupree sat out in 2005 and returns to the AFL with Columbus where he's penciled in as the starting WR/DB. With the modified Destroyers offense Dupree should at least match his numbers of two years ago.
8. ROBINSON, SEDRICK – AUSTIN
Takes over at WR/DB with Kevin Nickerson's move to OS. Had some big games in Columbus, but should be in a better position with the Wranglers.
9. JAMES, JERRIAN – ORLANDO
James put together a few nice games in his rookie year with the Predators, including a three-touchdown game against Austin. Expect slightly better numbers with a full season of play.
10. BRYANT, ORSHAWANTE – UTAH
Bryant missed the first half of last season but played well in Arizona's 6-2 second half run. He'll be the starter in Utah, which gives him more opportunities.
12. DELL, CLIF – ORLANDO
A knee injury kept Dell out of a preseason scrimmage with Tampa Bay and he'll miss at least the first two weeks, which means you shouldn't take a chance here until the later rounds.
13. BUSH, JOSH – GRAND RAPIDS
Bush has put up decent numbers in his first two seasons, with some big games mixed in. The questions at quarterback will hurt his production, which means he might not provide many more points than the past two seasons.
14. HILLERY, JARRICK – NASHVILLE
Don't expect stellar receiving numbers, but Hillery will supplement his stats with the occasional rushing score.
15. BROWN, MICHAEL – CHICAGO
Keep an eye on the former Predator who had a good opening game for the Soul with 104 yards and a touchdown.
1. LEE, DEREK – GEORGIA
While teammate OS Troy Bergeron got most of the rookie hype last season, it was Lee that really came on at the end of the year during Georgia's stretch run.
2. ROE, JAMES – SAN JOSE
Stock could go up even higher if he moves to OS full time, although he'll still likely end up with a bulk of the opportunities, which means more chances for points. He’s out for now, so even though he’s worth a higher pick in general, you may be able to grab him later.
3. SCOTT, SEAN – PHILADELPHIA
After a strong rookie campaign in '04, Scott improved on those numbers in '05 and should have another solid season with a second year with Graziani.
4. BURKS, DIALLEO – DALLAS
Burks's best AFL season came two years ago when he last played in Dallas (102 catches for 1221 yards and 28 TDs). Now that he's returned his numbers should return to that form and with last year being a down year statistically, you might be able to get him later in the draft.
5. SAMUELS, LAWRENCE – TAMPA BAY
Samuels doesn't get a lot of recognition with OS Freddie Solomon in town, but he'll make a good second or third receiver in your lineup.
6. MOLDEN, ETU – CHICAGO
Molden has hit paydirt 29 times on offense in each of the last two years, but it remains to be seen how Michael Bishop's arrival will impact his receivers.
7. FLEMING, CORY – NASHVILLE
Fleming has already established himself as one of the league's best at the WR/LB spot and while his production could drop in Nashville, he'll still be a solid producer even when ranked with all receivers, including offensive specialists.
8. CHIAVERINI, DARRIN – AUSTIN
The former Cleveland Browns receiver has taken to the AFL well over the past two seasons and should still be a major piece in Austin. He'll get another year with QB John Fitzgerald, which should only improve his opportunities.
9. MCCULLOUGH, ANDY – COLORADO
McCullough was built for the WR/LB spot and has plenty of potential that has yet to be truly realized. With the release of Kevin McKenzie, McCullough figures to see his chances improve, especially if opposing defenses focus too much on OS Damian Harrell.
10. ANTHONY, CHRIS – NEW YORK
Anthony figures to still be the man at WR/LB and has the chance at plenty of points with the venerable Aaron Garcia at quarterback. Will likely fly under the radar.
11. SAUNDERS, DAVID – COLUMBUS
Assuming Thabiti Davis stays at the OS spot, Saunders should get his shot at more playing time in a Columbus offense that should be much better with John Kaleo at quarterback.
12. HINES, ANTHONY – GRAND RAPIDS
Hines is another receiver that won't be at the top of most lists, but there's plenty of upside, assuming Philyaw's debut in Grand Rapids isn't delayed too long.
13. POPE, JEREMIAH – ARIZONA
Pope earned a spot on the Rattlers squad and appears to be penciled in as the starter, which means he'll have a shot a decent numbers, but he won't be a focal point of the offense.
14. HOPKINS, GREG – LOS ANGELES
Hopkins should certainly get consideration as an AFL Hall of Famer when he's done, but his numbers won't match past seasons, especially with a lack of experience at QB in Los Angeles.
15. PACE, TOM – UTAH
With the changes in Arizona in 2005, Pace saw his opportunities and involvement limited, but he'll be back in a Danny White engineered system, which should open up his production.
16. WHITE, CORNELIUS – CHICAGO
White has toiled in virtual anonymity in Columbus and has put up good numbers the past two seasons, although unless things get shuffled around in Chicago he won't get enough opportunities to provide you with points.
17. DOUGLASS, JOE – LAS VEGAS
Douglass made most of limited opportunities after a dip in his numbers in Los Angeles in '04. The quarterback situation in Las Vegas bears watching and will directly impact all of the receivers' numbers.
1. AVERY, CHRIS – GRAND RAPIDS
After losing some rushing touchdown chances to Michael Bishop's legs, Avery now has to potentially share more time with Chris Ryan (a.k.a. "Soul Train"), but he's proven himself to be a solid runner.
2. PETTIJOHN, DUKE – DALLAS
With Ja'Mar Toombs out of the picture, Pettijohn's stock should go up in Dallas.
3. THOMAS, ROBERT – GEORGIA
Injuries hampered Thomas's '05 season and could even double last year's numbers if he stays on the field. If you end up with Thomas, keep an eye on FB/LB Kevin Aldridge as well.
4. THOMPSON, LEROY – COLUMBUS
Thompson put up good numbers in limited action last year and will be the main man in Columbus.
5. CARTER, FRANK – NASHVILLE
Carter made a bigger name for himself last season based on his defensive performances (as he showed with a four-sack game against the Dragons), but he can post good numbers on offense as well, which makes him a more than viable starter.
6. MCMILLEN, BOB – CHICAGO
Destined for the AFL Hall of Fame when he's done, McMillen still seems to have plenty left. The 22-touchdown year in '04 was amazing, but expect something more along the lines of 8-10 touchdowns and 160 yards.
7. PRICE, IDRIS – ORLANDO
Price got off to a great start with two TDs in each of the first two games of 2005, but was inconsistent the remainder of the season. Playing time will be a concern with other options in the Predators' backfield.
8. FORD, LONNIE – LOS ANGELES
Ford flew under the radar and put up good numbers for the Avengers. With inexperience at quarterback, it's a good bet that he'll see the ball around the goal line.
9. CLEMENS, KEVIN – UTAH
Clemens hasn't put up much in the way of numbers so far, but the job in Utah is his to lose. Don't expect much production, but he'll provide some points here and there.
10. FILER, RODNEY – LAS VEGAS
Filer's energy on the field, particularly on defense, has always impressed me, but now he seems to be the main FB/LB in Las Vegas.
11. GLOVER, PHIL – SAN JOSE
Glover heads into a great situation in San Jose, where they scored 40 touchdowns on the ground last year. He also adds a few points on the defensive side of the ball.
12. MOYE-MOORE, MARLON – ORLANDO
Although he's listed third on the chart, Moye-Moore has plenty of potential to add points if he can stay on the field.
13. JACKSON, MARLION – LAS VEGAS
May get his shot at being the starter, which could put him in a good position, particularly if the quarterbacks struggle, but will likely split time with Filer.
14. RYAN, CHRIS – GRAND RAPIDS
The "Soul Train" was popular in Philly with virtually identical rushing numbers each of the past two seasons. His production will be limited with Chris Avery in front of him.
15. BRYANT, HENRY – AUSTIN
Bryant showed plenty of promise last season, but the FB/LB position will be crowded in Texas' capitol city. He'll be best as insurance should something happen to White or Krager.
16. KRAGER, DANE – AUSTIN
With a virtual three-way battle for time in Austin, Krager's numbers won't be stellar, but he may throw in some points on defense.
17. ALEXANDER, DAN – NASHVILLE
While Frank Carter will put up better defensive stats, Alexander should see plenty of rushing attempts, which bodes well for his scoring chances.
18. WHITE, JOSH – AUSTIN
White was a guy I said to keep an eye on last year, and he put up good enough numbers to be one of the top options at FB/LB. That spot appears to be crowded in Austin, and he didn’t see action in week one.
1. HAMILTON, REMY – LOS ANGELES
Has established himself as one of the best kickers and gave the single season field goal record a good run last year. With inexperience at quarterback, he may get as many or more field goal tries this season.
2. MARTINEZ, CARLOS – DALLAS
In his first full season Martinez was second only to Hamilton in scoring. With Dallas turning to Clint Dolezel at QB Martinez might get a few more chances.
3. RUSH, CLAY – COLORADO
Rush's first season in Colorado ended with his game-winning kick that won ArenaBowl XIX and his leg will keep him atop the kicking charts.
4. MARTINEZ, PETER – GRAND RAPIDS
Martinez had plenty of chances in his rookie campaign and could put up more points if he can find his mark in the 30- to 39-yard range.
5. TAYLOR, JAY – ORLANDO
An impressive rookie season in '04 earned Taylor a shot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (apparently there's some link between the teams' head coaches). After a brief stint back in Orlando last year, Taylor is back onboard full time.
6. LEWIS, MARK – COLUMBUS
After a strong rookie season in '04 with Detroit, Lewis saw just over a third of the field goals in '05. Columbus has retooled the offense and Lewis should be in a better position to put up points.
7. GARNER, NELSON – GEORGIA
Garner only had 14 field goal tries (he converted seven), and I don't see many more chances this season.
8. VIDETICH, STEVE – UTAH
The Blaze get their kicking game off to a good start with Videtich, who's hit 50% of his field goal tries over the past four seasons.
9. DODSON, TONY – NASHVILLE
Dodson's struggles in Austin punched his ticket out, but he landed in Nashville. Chances aren't good that he'll provide many points.
10. SIEVERS, TODD – AUSTIN
If Austin can get the pieces working together Sievers may get his fair share of scoring opportunities, which is exactly what he saw in week one.
11. KRAL, GARY – ARIZONA
Kral's struggles in Nashville forced the Kats to cut him loose, but he performed well enough in Arizona and the Rattlers offense will provide opportunities.
12. SCHMITZ, BRIAN – SAN JOSE
The SaberCats haven't attempted many field goals, no more than 15 since 2001, which means Schmitz might not get enough field goal chances.
13. GISPERT, KEITH – CHICAGO
Gispert was very accurate from 29 yards and in (9 for 10) and has been accurate, but won't see as many chances and you’ll have to keep an eye his injury situation.
14. FRANCE, TODD – PHILADELPHIA
France spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles this past season and the Soul hope they've got a better solution than the pair of kickers they fielded last year, particularly on long range field goal tries. The Graziani run offense should give France a shot for plenty of points.
15. GRAMATICA, BILL – TAMPA BAY
Unfortunately, Gramatica may be better known for his post-kick celebration that left him with a knee injury, but now he'll try to avoid Tim Marcum's doghouse that seems to have a room specially reserved for kickers.
16. OBERT, JESSE – NEW YORK
The University of Dayton product has spent time in af2 (Manchester Wolves) and the NIFL (Cincinnati Marshals) so he's had some indoor experience and should benefit from a potent Dragons offense.
17. SEDER, TIM – KANSAS CITY
While he had some success in Philly, Seder's move to Kansas City will likely reduce his scoring opportunities.
18. HOULE, ERIC – LAS VEGAS
Houle spent the past two seasons with the Rio Grande Dorados in af2 and makes his AFL debut this season. Regardless of what Houle brings to the table, the Gladiators won't allow much in the way of kicking opportunities.
Patrick Daly has been an Arena Football League enthusiast since he first stumbled across the late-night ESPN broadcasts and has followed the Arizona Rattlers since their inaugural season in 1992. He graduated from Arizona State University with an engineering degree and is currently a member of a web development team for Direct Alliance in Tempe. Patrick currently resides in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona with his beautiful wife, son and a very large football helmet collection.