AAF Week 09 Waiver Wire - Playoff Preparation
The weekly Waiver Wire series covers the top waiver wire or free agent additions for your season-long AAF fantasy teams. You can also use this list to find situations to monitor for cheap DFS value plays throughout the week.
Amid a second wave of rumors that the league will fold before the weekend, gamers prepping for the first round of the fantasy playoffs are forced to take a wait-and-see approach. Controlling owner Tom Dundon has again threatened to shutter the AAF if no deal can be reached with the NFL Players Association regarding rights to practice squad players. But for now, the show must go on.
The first seven weeks of the inaugural AAF season saw a high level of player volatility. That volatility was amplified in Week 8 and shows no signs of stopping for the fantasy playoffs, which start this week for most leagues. Twelve different quarterbacks attempted a pass in Week 8 and guys whose jobs once looked secure – Logan Woodside, Luis Perez – were benched. Teams that are out of the running will give backup players a longer look or make a change under center, making it difficult to predict fantasy outcomes.
Orlando and Birmingham locked up their playoff spots in Week 8, but have two regular season games remaining. In that aspect it would make sense for the Apollos – who earned the top spot in the East – and Iron to rest or limit snaps for their starters going forward. In a twist of fate, they face off in Week 10 and then get a rematch in the playoffs the following week. Expect to see backups from both teams get heavy run before the playoffs. With an impressive amount of depth, Orlando’s bench becomes a fantasy gold mine and players like backup QB Austin Appleby and third-string running back Akeem Hunt make intriguing adds. Garrett Gilbert owners should add Appleby unless they have another starting-caliber backup plan.
Elsewhere in the league, Arizona and San Antonio occupy the top two spots in the West, Memphis and Atlanta have been eliminated from playoff contention, and Salt Lake and San Diego cling to slim odds.
Prioritize if still available: Marquise Williams, Brandon Silvers
Austin Appleby, Orlando
A purely speculative add, Appleby remains somewhat of a mystery since Garrett Gilbert has been healthy and productive all season. In limited action he’s completed his only pass for four yards and has two carries for zero yards. He did rush two times for 14 yards and a TD in preseason action. Appleby started seven games in his senior season at Florida after transferring from Purdue, where he failed to secure the starting role. His fantasy appeal comes from the strength and depth of Orlando’s offense. I firmly believe that Orlando could compete in the AAF playing its backups. He would be throwing to guys like Chris Thompson, Donteea Dye Jr. and Willie Quinn. Those guys could probably be starters on a different team. Here is a possible “backup” lineup for Orlando:
QB Austin Appleby
RB Akeem Hunt
RB Ryan Green
WR Chris Thompson
WR Donteea Dye Jr.
WR Willie Quinn
TE Sean Price
Situations to monitor
The Commanders didn’t waste time benching Logan Woodside after he led four scoreless drives and threw an interception for the second straight game. Marquise Williams wasn’t much better, throwing for 130 yards, no TDs and no INTs. He rushed seven times for 26 yards and his legs give him a safe floor should he draw the start this week. No decision on a starter has been announced.
The Iron pulled the rug out from under starter Luis Perez again, this time in the third quarter. It was a bit of strange move with the Iron up 14-9, but Perez didn’t do much two weeks after posting a season-high 34.2 fantasy points. He finished 10 of 24 for 65 yards and a laughable 2.7 YPA. Keith Price came on in relief and managed the game for the win in unimpressive fashion. This dynamic figures to give gamers headaches going forward. Either player could draw the Week 9 start so monitor closely.
Johnny Manziel took a huge hit after throwing a pick with 1:54 left in the first quarter. Visibly shaken up, a wobbly Manziel was helped to the sidelines and did not return after completing 2 of 3 passes for 13 yards and rushing three times for 18 yards. However, Manziel was spotted near the tunnel entrance eating nachos and cheering on the Express, and appears to be fine.
Josh Woodrum fumbled twice – he lost one – and threw two picks in an ugly performance. His 8.6 fantasy points were his second-lowest tally on the season. Following Week 2 when Woodrum sat out with an injury, only one other QB has attempted a pass for the Stallions. Austin Allen completed 1 of 3 passes for six yards in Week 5. Gamers who own Woodrum would be wise to add Allen.
Matt Simms drew the start for Atlanta but it was the same old story. He led several deep drives but was unable to get the ball in the end zone and lasted one half. Aaron Murray took over in the second half and did no better. Each QB threw a pick and finished with a QBR lower than 60. This offense has no identity and is sputtering toward the finish line. Outside of Taurean Folston, no Legends player can be trusted for the fantasy playoffs. At this point it’s fair to wonder if Atlanta will roll out third-string QB Peter Pujals.
Prioritize if still available: Bishop Sankey, Akeem Hunt, Terron Ward
Terrence Magee, Memphis
Bell cow back Zac Stacy injured his ankle in the first quarter and did not return, leaving the backfield to Magee and Kenny Hilliard. But it was Magee who made the most of it, rushing nine times for 39 yards (4.3 YPC) and a TD, and adding three receptions for 18 yards. He was targeted seven times and nearly had a TD catch but was overthrown by Brandon Silvers. His dual-threat playmaking ability makes him a screaming add this week. Hilliard, meanwhile, failed to impress. He rushed four times for six yards and caught both his targets for seven yards. Even if Stacy remains sidelined, Hilliard lacks fantasy relevance.
Situations to monitor
Akeem Hunt figures to see an uptick in his workload with the Apollos a lock for the playoffs. A product of inconsistent usage all season, Hunt shines when given the chance. He’s scored seven-plus fantasy points in each game where he received more than eight touches. Hunt averages 5.0 yards per carry and has caught 5 of 10 targets this season.
Terron Ward saw a season-high 18 carries and entered into a near even timeshare with Joel Bouagnon (15 carries). Each back caught his lone target and neither produced more than 3.0 YPC facing a stout Fleet defense, though incumbent Bouagnon did find the end zone.
Terrell Watson failed to receive a carry for the first time this season. Instead it was Bishop Sankey leading the backfield with 11 carries for 42 yards (3.8 YPC). With Ja’Quan Gardner on injured reserve, re-signed running back Paul James also saw action. He rushed three times for 12 yards and caught his lone target for 11 yards. But he lost a fumble and will be hard to trust going forward.
The Commanders again deployed a four-man backfield with near even touch distribution. “Lead” back Kenneth Farrow was the least efficient of the group with 2.5 YPC. Trey Williams received the most targets (3) among RBs. Touches: Farrow (13); Williams (10); David Cobb (10); Aaron Green (3).
Gerrard Sheppard/Dontez Byrd, Memphis
Both Sheppard and Byrd have bounced back and forth between active and inactive all season, and their usage takes a big hit if Reece Horn returns from injury. But it was hard to ignore what the duo did against Orlando. Sheppard recorded nine receptions for 98 yards and a 2-point conversion (20.8 fantasy points), while Byrd caught 5 of 7 targets for 52 yards, a TD and a 2-point conversion. Sheppard was peppered with a team-high 14 targets; in three prior games he saw a combined seven targets. Byrd saw three red zone targets, his first of the season. These guys are big question marks but both offer upside for the playoffs; more so if Horn is out. Prioritize Byrd, then Sheppard.
Situations to monitor
Donteea Dye Jr. showed off his field-stretching athleticism with an impressive TD grab against Memphis. An uncharacteristically shaky Garrett Gilbert found him wide open streaking down the left sideline and hit him in stride for the 65-yard strike. It was Gilbert’s best throw of the day and Dye’s second TD catch of the season. His play is a testament to the depth of this Orlando squad.
Justin Thomas posted his best outing of the season, catching 4 of 5 targets for 74 yards to lead the Legends in receiving. But he’s far down the pecking order on a horrible offense and gamers shouldn’t chase points. Unless it’s announced he earned a starting role going forward, Thomas should be avoided.
Prioritize if still available: Marcus Baugh, Ben Johnson
Situations to monitor
The position saw a quiet week with no TDs and no breakout performances. Connor Hamlett’s 2-point conversion was the only scoring play at the position this week. Hamlett caught both of his targets for 19 yards but is behind Gerald Christian and Thomas Duarte in the pecking order and doesn’t warrant an add.
The Fleet placed Gavin Escobar on injured reserve Monday, ending his season. Without him in Week 8, Marcus Baugh and Ben Johnson each had three receptions. Baugh saw seven targets, including his third red zone target in the past four games. Johnson caught all three of his targets and has seen four red zone targets in the past three games. Both players offer TD upside in an offense that likes to throw to the position.
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