Arizona Hotshots (2-0) at Salt Lake Stallions (0-2)
Where to Watch: B/R Live
This week three matchup between the Stallions and Hotshots is actually a rematch from the league opener. Arizona beat Salt Lake 38-22 while totaling 416 yards of offense and allowing only 240 yards defensively. Stallions starting QB Josh Woodrum was injured in the first half of the game but is expected to make his return in his team’s home opener on Saturday. The Stallions are sitting at 0-2 and desperate for a win against a team led by quarterback John Wolford; the former four-year starting QB out of Wake Forest is currently leading the AAF in passing TD’s with six. Salt Lake’s defense showed up big against the Birmingham Iron last week; they’ll certainly need another strong performance facing the league’s number one ranked offense. With Arizona averaging 400 yards per game and Salt Lake lacking any momentum offensively, this could easily be a repeat of week one. But, this is the AAF and nobody is an expert just yet! Who knows? Maybe home field advantage and a taste for revenge mixed with the desperation of an 0-3 start is the Stallions recipe for success.
Players to watch
Both WR Rashad Ross and QB John Wolford lead the league in scoring at their respected positions and can be considered the AAF’s most potent quarterback-wide receiver duo in the league. On the opposite side of the ball, the Hotshots defense has held opponents in check in large part to linebacker Steven Johnson. The Arizona LB is second in the league with 13 solo tackles and also intercepted Salt Lake’s Matt Linehan in week one.
Last week’s AAF Defensive Player of the Week (voted on by Blitzalytics staff) defensive end Karter Schult is coming off a 6 tackle, 2 sack performance against the Iron. He’s proven to be one of the league’s best D-lineman through the first two weeks of the season. The backfield of Joel Bouagnon and Brandon Oliver have been the only bright spot of the Stallions offense so far, the team severely needs a spark from Josh Woodrum through the air.
Keys to the game
Continue to dominate on the ground
Exploit their secondary with play action
Limit the Stallions’ success in the run game
Salt Lake Stallions
Get Woodrum in a rhythm early with quick single read throws
Shift coverage towards or double team Rashad Ross
Don’t give Wolford a clean pocket to throw
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Rashad Ross, WR (AZ)
John Wolford, QB (AZ)
Joel Bouagnon, RB (SL)
Brandon Oliver, RB (SL)
Jhurell Pressley, RB (AZ)
The Stallions would need a complete turnaround offensively in order to pull off the upset against the Hotshots Saturday. Salt Lake’s season is relying on the play of Josh Woodrum and unless he lights it up against the #2 ranked defense, they will continue to search for their first win in franchise history. All signs point to Arizona remaining undefeated and widening the gap on the AAF’s Western Conference.
Final Score: Hotshots 32, Stallions 20
Written by: Jack Bourgeois
Memphis Express (0-2) at Orlando Apollos (2-0)
Where to Watch: NFL Network
The Memphis Express come limping in Spectrum Stadium to face another undefeated team in the Orlando Apollos in the nightcap of Saturday’s AAF action. The Express have flashed a dominant defense at times with high-end players at all three levels, but their offense has never seemed to gain any traction with Christian Hackenberg under center and his apprehension to push the ball down the field. Meanwhile, the Apollos have been flying high with an aggressive and efficient offense and a defense that has a ton of athletic playmakers flying to the ball.
Players to watch
Zac Stacy comes off a standout performance where he was the first player in AAF history to put up more than 100 yards rushing, and he will look to keep running hard in this matchup. With a reshuffling in the roster at the RB position, he will be the no-doubt bell-cow back and receive a ton of work. Christian Hackenberg has put up two less than stellar performances, and his temperament with the coaching staff could lead to him losing his job, but it most likely will not be this week with Mettenberger and Silvers missing practice with different ailments, and even seeing them add another QB to the roster. Since he should not have to look behind his back to see if he is getting the hook it is time to unleash some deep passes and take some chances. The defense will need to lean on its standout playmakers on all three levels: Anthony Johnson(DE), DeMarquis Gates(LB), and Channing Stribling(CB) to even stand a chance at keeping this game close.
Garrett Gilbert comes into this matchup leading the AAF in completion percentage, passing yards, and is second in passing TD’s. He also has yet to throw an interception, which shows how great of a start he has had to his season one in which he has shown great poise and ability to push the ball downfield with regularity. With the Express’s quality secondary, this will be a great matchup to see if he can keep up the quality stats this week. Charles Johnson is poetry in motion when he needs to adjust to the ball and has proven he has the speed to win vertically, which has made him the league leader in receptions, yards, and second in average yards with 22.9. The defense has as many sacks (4) as they do interceptions (4) on the season which shows that they need to finish their opportunities when they get close to the QB, but they also are very opportunistic defense that will create turnovers, especially their shutdown CB, Keith Reaser that effectively swung the momentum last week with a pick 6 to stifle the Commanders.
Keys to the game
Be aggressive throwing the ball downfield.
Let your defense pin their ears back and get after Hackenberg.
Feature D’Ernest Johnson in the running game.
Feed Zac Stacy!
Make Christian Hackenberg throw the ball more than 15 yards downfield.
Channing Stribling needs to limit Charles Johnson’s impact.
Top 5 Fantasy Players
Garrett Gilbert, QB (ORL)
Zac Stacy, RB (MEM)
Charles Johnson, WR (ORL)
Jalin Marshall, WR (ORL)
Reece Horn, WR (MEM)
I see the Apollos jumping out to an early lead in this matchup and not take their foot off the gas throughout. Christian Hackenberg will be forced to push the ball downfield by being behind, and we will get a glimpse at what this offense could look like if he stays aggressive. Zac Stacy will break off some big gains off of draw plays, but he will be held under a 100 yards.
Final Score: Orlando Apollos 38, Memphis Express 26
Written by: Roy Countryman