AFL Quickplay Week 16—And Down the Stretch We Come
The Arena Football League is ready for the stretch run to the end of the season. Everyone had last week off over the Fourth of July holiday so all twelve teams should be rested and ready to rock over the final five weeks in the season.
Since nobody scored any points this past week, we’ll jump right to the overall standings. The Phantom Furballs are in the top spot with 2,763 points this season. Legnbaz is right behind with 2746. There’s a bit of separation back to the third-place Soup Nazis at 2677 but they are fighting off stiff challenges from The Commish (2675) and the South Phoenix Bombers (2671) for the third position.
Our team, the Unemployed Punters, sits sixth with 2644 points while Rattler1 (2643), the Washington Commandos (2618), Thunder Dragons (2613) and Nebraska Predators (2595) round out the top ten.
Let’s take a look at this week’s full slate of games and use that to start picking our lineup. All times are Eastern
Friday: New Orleans at San Jose 11 p.m. ***Roster Deadline 10 p.m.***
Saturday: Cleveland at Philadelphia 1 p.m.
Orlando at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Las Vegas at Arizona 9:00 p.m.
Jacksonville at Portland 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: Spokane at Los Angeles 6:00 p.m.
The first key thing this week is to watch the transactions that roll in. Every team had the same amount of time to heal up and get healthy bodies into their lineup. Use that as a key in making your decisions this week. Also, don’t get zapped by the late Friday night game and miss out on the roster deadline.
Let’s take a look at what the teams have been doing lately.
We know San Jose will be ready for New Orleans at home. They were embarrassed once at home this season by the then-winless Los Angeles KISS and they won’t have the same happen against New Orleans. The VooDoo have little to play for besides the spoiler role.
Jacksonville has figured it out and is putting up points by the bunch in their last couple of games. In their last three games, the Sharks have posted totals of 66, 56 and 74 points. Even though they lost one of those games, it’s still very encouraging to see them put it all together.
Philadelphia could pile up the points against Cleveland this week. The Soul has put up more than 56 points in three of its last four games and the Gladiators were on the receiving end of the 74-point bomb Jacksonville dropped before the bye. Cleveland also gave up 70 to San Jose this season so the opportunity is there for the Soul to light up the scoreboard.
The Sharks are in Portland and taking on the team that gets stuck around 42 points quite often this season. If the Sharks are still in a fantasy feeding frenzy, they can be a great play for this week.
Arizona should be able to handle Las Vegas this week. They will need the win to either stay within striking distance of San Jose or become nearly tied in a battle for the top spot.
Spokane and Los Angeles are both battling for a playoff spot but it’s very difficult to predict what could happen in that game. It could be a 35-34 game almost as easily as it could be a 70-69 game. These are two teams that are historically weak on defense so the chance is there for both teams to be relevant in fantasy this week.
Taking that into account, who are we going to take this week? Isn’t that always the question? Here goes our attempt to fill out this week’s roster and hopefully it works well.
We’re going to have to take the standard bearer at quarterback with Dan Raudabaugh again this week. The matchup is too good to pass up and Cleveland is vulnerable on defense to the big game. I don’t see Shane Austin of the Gladiators having a good game and he should be benched.
Erik Meyer of the Sabercats is another strong start this week. He’s at home against a VooDoo squad that is playing out the schedule. San Jose added top-tier wide receiver Maurice Purify last week so he and Reggie Gray make a dynamite 1-2 punch. I’d favor Gray over Purify given this would be Purify’s first game of the season and his timing could be off. Adron Tennell is out injured as is DJ Stephens for San Jose but it leaves the Sabercats with two excellent options. The other motivating factor is that San Jose goes back on bye in two weeks. They need to be full-speed ahead now so they can launch into the playoffs firing on all cylinders. Their first game after the bye is a Week 19 tilt at home against Arizona which will likely decide the top two seeds in the conference.
Tommy Grady of the Sharks has been tearing it up lately. He has at least six passing touchdowns in five of his last six games. His touchdown to interception ratio of 71 to 8 is sparkling and he merits consideration for a starting spot on your roster this week.
Nick Davila is a questionable start this week against Las Vegas. While the Rattlers are winning games, they’re not putting up the jaw-dropping numbers we’ve come to expect from them year over year. Davila has 15 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games. Those numbers are good but he had 32 touchdowns and three interceptions in his four starts prior. There’s no doubt he’s a good quarterback but if the numbers don’t pan out, you sit him in fantasy.
In Spokane, Carson Coffman is now on injured reserve and Warren Smith is active for this week if you want to take a swing against the unpredictable Los Angeles KISS defense. We don’t recommend it since everyone is available and there are at least four better options.
Our picks this week: Raudabaugh, Meyer and Grady
We’re paging Derrick Ross to pick up a white courtesy football on the concourse. If for some reason Grady falters in Portland, Ross should be able to go bananas in the ground game and pile up the points. Also, the Sharks are among the best in the league with a +19 turnover ratio and Portland is down in the dumps with a -15 margin. Look for the Thunder to cough it up a couple times and give Ross and the Sharks a couple of easy scores from in close.
Odie Armstrong and Mykel Benson merit consideration but you can’t pass on Ross. That pick also fills out the South Division for the week. We still need an East, two West and a Pacific to fill out the roster and we need three wide receivers and a kicker to make it happen.
The East receiver will be Marco Thomas of the Soul. He’s been solid all season and really shined the last couple of weeks. I don’t see Cleveland slowing the Soul down and am looking for 95 yards and three touchdowns out of him this week. Austin’s inconsistency shies me away from the Cleveland wide receivers and New Orleans has little fantasy value this week. (They will have a lot in two weeks when both Cleveland and Philadelphia are off on the same week.)
In the Pacific, we’ll take San Jose’s Reggie Gray. He’s been the most consistent threat in the division this season. As we mentioned earlier, his rapport with Meyer is there and this should be one of the final weeks you can use a San Jose wide receiver. It’s going to be very tough to pick between Purify and Gray if you roll with Meyer each week. Jared Perry of Portland cooled off last week but he could heat up again in garbage time if Jacksonville runs up the score. (Then again, the last time I thought Jacksonville would wipe the turf with a team they got up 21-0 at Los Angeles and barely escaped with a win.)
Out in the West Division, we’ll take Donovan Morgan of the KISS. Spokane is still a team with a weak defense and doesn’t show signs of improvement. Spokane has allowed at least 50 points in seven of its last eight games. The lone exception was the 46 points that Los Angeles hung on them and that’s encouraging given how crummy the KISS was in the first half of the season. The game is in LA and the few KISS faithful should be there to support Morgan and the team as they chase for a playoff spot. Morgan has no real competition for targets on his team and should see plenty of passes on Sunday.
We need a kicker to round things out and it has to come from Arizona, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. It’s back to Fabrizio Scaccia doing the kicking for Arizona. He kicked for them before and should be good enough to put up a few points this week.
Unemployed Punters Week 16 Lineup
Dan Raudabaugh QB PHI
Marco Thomas WR PHI
Tommy Grady QB JAX
Derrick Ross FB JAXfs
Erik Meyer QB SJS
Reggie Gray WR/DB SJS
Donovan Morgan WR LAK
Fabrizio Scaccia K ARI