Written by Rusty Miller
What a whirlwind it has been! We are almost halfway through the Alliance fantasy season. Now that we have a better picture of which players can be counted on to produce, let’s took a look at which players you should watch out for in week 5 and beyond.
Garrett Gilbert (ORL)
The first QB to surpass 1,000 passing yards, Gilbert has only turned the ball over once and has a touchdown to interception ratio of 6:0 to go with 8 total touchdowns. He is the key that makes coach Steve Spurrier’s offense run and it has shown with their sterling 4-0 record.
John Wolford (ARI)
It was a tough loss this week for Wolford and the Hotshots, as he has been consistent through the first four games of the season with 781 passing yards and 8 touchdowns. He does have 3 interceptions, but that doesn’t seem to be something that will be a recurring issue with him. He also is mobile, ranked second in quarterback rushing yards (69).
Josh Woodrum (SL)
Only having completed two games, Woodrum has been steady at the helm of the Salt Lake offense. His 7th place ranking in passing yards is not an accurate description of how he has played due to 1.5 missed games. He has the highest completion rate (64%) among quarterbacks that have played in at least three games and has spread the ball around efficiently.
Zach Mettenberger (MEM)
The #MettShow is officially here. Mettenberger was spectacular coming into the week 3 game in Orlando and nearly completed the comeback. This week, he did complete the comeback after being down by 8 with 7:40 left in the game. He orchestrated two short drives, set up by fumbles inside San Diego’s territory, and scored 11 points to take a 3 point lead which the defense would hold during the Fleet’s last drive.
Kenneth Farrow II (SA)
Farrow was THE offense for San Antonio this week, recording the most carries (30) and rushing yards (142) by anyone in Alliance history. He has been a workhorse all season ranking second in carries and yards while averaging an adequate 4.2 yards per carry.
Jhurell Pressley (ARI)
During an ugly offensive outing, Pressley produced his first 100-yard game of the season. Ranking third in yards, he has ten or more carries in each game this season. He can also catch the football as his targets have increased every week.
Ja’Quan Gardner (SD)
The leading rusher of the Alliance, Gardner had an abhorrent day against Memphis rushing for only 6 yards on 9 carries. It is concerning for Gardner owners that Terrell Watson has siphoned carries each of the past three weeks by running the ball ten or more times per game. The workload is about 50/50 but Watson has had the more productive numbers and is quickly climbing the rushing leaderboards. Gardner should continue to get a good amount of carries and I believe he’ll get back closer to his previous two games of back-to-back 100 yard games.
Trent Richardson (BIR)
The touchdown machine did it once again. Richardson hit paydirt for his seventh rushing touchdown which leads all players. His yards per carry is atrocious (2.4), but he makes up for it with great receiving stats (23 targets, 15 receptions, 105 yards). He is the only running back to be over 100 receiving yards and is in an offense that is committed to him running the ball.
Branden Oliver (SL)
Oliver had another solid day on the ground in a loss to the Apollos this week. Although he only ranks 5th in rushing, he has had 8+ carries and at least 40 yards in every game this season. I believe Oliver is the better player in the Salt Lake backfield, and while he does not have the red zone usage that Bouagnon has, he will produce enough between the twenties and the receiving game to make him a better option.
Charles Johnson (ORL)
The leader in targets (32), receptions (23) and yards (410) is by-and-far the best receiving option in the Alliance. He has over 100 more yards than the next player and hasn’t gone below 53 yards in four games. Johnson also has two 100-yard games and the highest single-game total (192) in the Alliance’s history.
Rashad Ross (ARI)
Arizona had a pitiful offensive performance until late in the fourth quarter, and that coincided with Ross’s stats. Until the final two drives, Ross had just two catches for 28 yards. He ended up with a solid line: 4 receptions, 74 yards, and a touchdown. He is still one of the best receivers in the Alliance and has not scored below 16 fantasy points this season, and will look to continue that streak as the season wears on. Plus, he has the most touchdown receptions by far at 5.
Quinton Patton (BIR)
A down performance this week, Patton has been the best receiver on an offense that has seen its quarterback decline significantly without throwing any touchdowns. He still has the target share to be an effective fantasy option but will need help in the touchdown department if his targets suddenly decline.
Josh Huff (ARI)
Although Jalin Marshall could be slotted here, I think Josh Huff has produced more effectively over the past two weeks. Aside from his three-yard week one line, Huff has produced more than 33 yards in each of the three weeks since. The only thing he is missing is a touchdown, but those mostly gone to Ross.
Gavin Escobar (SD)
The only viable tight end in the Alliance, Escobar has by far been the best at his position. He has over 60 yards more than the next best tight end and has averaged 4 targets per game. There is no question as to who the San Diego quarterbacks look for when they need a security blanket.
Wes Saxton Jr. (BIR)
This guy has come on in the past two weeks. Birmingham’s tight end position has seen so many changes throughout the season with seven different players being on the roster through week 4. His meteoric rise up the positional yardage ranks is in part due to the lack of production within the position, but quarterback Luis Perez has also built a lot of chemistry with Saxton as well leading to an average of 4 targets per game.
Gerald Christian (ARI)
Christian is second in receiving yards by tight ends. His usage has been up-and-down though. Weeks 1 and 2 saw him average 4 targets per game, but those numbers have slipped to 1 and 2 in the last two weeks. He does remain a top tight end based on the offense he plays in, he just needs to produce a better relationship with quarterback John Wolford.
Keith Towbridge (ATL)
Just like Saxton, Keith Towbridge has come on in recent weeks. With 9 targets over the last two games, he has been productive with both Matt Simms and Aaron Murray under center. He needs to improve on his yardage totals to move up in the positional rankings, but I think Murray is the starter going forward will improve his chances.
Marcus Baugh (SD)
Another recent producer at the position, Baugh has come through especially this past week. The San Diego offense focused on tight end targets in week 4 and Baugh benefited with a 5 target, 4 catch, 54-yard performance. The news that quarterback Philip Nelson has fractured his collarbone is blown, so he will have to see if he can still carve out a role behind Escobar with Mike Bercovici taking over under center.
Younghoe Koo (ATL)
Koo doesn’t have huge numbers, but he is consistent. He has made all eight of his kicks and averages two field goals per game. His only issue is he hasn’t made any from beyond 39 yards.
Austin MacGinnis (MEM)
What a way for MacGinnis to start his Alliance career! He hit all four field goals, including three from beyond 40 yards to help the Express win their first game in franchise history. I am very high on him and think he will continue his success while Mettenberger runs the offense.
Nick Rose (SA)
Another kicker without a missed kick, Rose has made all nine of his field goals with only one coming outside of 40 yards. He also has not produced less than 6 points in three of his four games.
Elliot Fry (ORL)
Fry is the last kicker in the top 4 and he also hasn’t missed a kick. He, unlike his competition, however, has made three field goals over 40 yards. His point totals have wavered but had 8+ points in two of the four opening weeks
With only 33 points against on the season, the Iron Curtain defense has stopped every offense it has faced. They forced 6 turnovers in the first three games but had a relatively down day in week 4 with only 7 fantasy points and zero turnovers. Their red zone defense is where they excel, as seen during their 6 play field-goal-forcing series from their own one yard line.
The Commanders, like Birmingham, have only had one outing in which they scored single-digit fantasy points. This defense has recorded 14 sacks over four games including 6 in week 1 alone. Their 9 turnovers have also contributed to their stellar fantasy scores.
Orlando started the season on an astronomical note, allowing 6 points, forcing 4 turnovers, recording 3 sacks and scoring a defensive touchdown. They added another defensive score in week 2 but have not done much since. They are lucky enough to not have to hold offenses to low point totals because of how good their own offense is.
This defense doesn’t necessarily have the stats, but they have allowed less than 16 points in all but one game this season. They also have two scores, one defensive and the first special teams' touchdown in Alliance history by Ron Brooks. Other than those scores, they have 5 interceptions and 12 sacks. The uncertainty of the quarterback situation means this unit must step up and provide extra possessions to the offense in order to win games.