With the announcement of the final San Diego Fleet 52-man roster, comes excitement.
It is now officially less than a week until the first “Flip-off” of the AAF season. Whether you are going to be playing season-long, daily, or any other version of fantasy, you need to know what guys to pick. The AAF doesn’t have the history of star performers like the NFL, so many fantasy players are coming in not knowing who to pick. For fans new and old, here are some of the players I would pick up, or stay away from, on the San Diego Fleet.
If I were to pick any player from the San Diego Fleet for my fantasy team, it would be Dontez Ford. He was a star in his one and only preseason game, catching all of his 11 targets for 131 yards and one touchdown. At a little over six feet tall and 215 pounds, Ford is a big-bodied receiver who has excellent hands, making him a dangerous red zone threat and someone who can catch anything thrown his way. Those traits will make him excellent in PPR leagues, as it looks like Mike Bercovici plans to throw it his way often. It also helps that Mike Martz loves to throw the football, allowing for his receivers to rack up the catches and yardage. I expect Dontez Ford to be a prime beneficiary of this and end up as one of the top fantasy receivers this season.
Another player to watch is safety-turned-receiver Kameron Kelly, who surprised many people in camp with his ability to line up at the outside receiver position and make plays. He is similar to Ford, except that he may be a little bit faster. That extra step may allow him to be a guy that can stretch the field a little bit and make big plays. He was targeted seven times (caught four for 44 yards) during the preseason game, and could see a considerable amount of targets throughout the season due to Martz’s offense. Kelly could turn into a consistent WR2 or Flex player throughout the season.
Moving away from the wide receiver position, Jaquan Gardner is another guy who could surprise the fantasy world once the season starts. A shorter back who excels as a pass catcher and runner, he put on a show during training camp and seems to have made himself the lead back with Bishop Sankey out for the first four to five weeks of the season. He is the perfect fit in Mike Martz’s offense, which has often utilized pass-catching tailbacks (Marshall Faulk) and given them premier roles. While he didn’t have a stellar preseason game performance (six carries for 26 yards and one catch for 19 yards) and Terrell Watson seemed to have gotten more carries (15 carries for 66 yards) than him, I’d still expect him to be more featured in the offense once the season begins. He will probably end up as a good RB2 and Flex option until Sankey comes back, which would lower him to a Flex-only player.
Tight end will be a tough position to gauge in this league, and especially for the Fleet. Mike Martz has been pretty well-known to underutilize the tight end position, and his days with the Rams were filled with tight ends who nobody remembers. But I don’t think he has had a tight end like Gavin Escobar. If his targets stay around five to seven per game (he had five in the preseason game), his production could be pretty high. Escobar’s size (6-foot-6) allows him to be a dangerous red-zone target and he could become Bercovici’s safety blanket on third downs. But if Martz uses tight ends sparingly, then Gavin Escobar’s value drops dramatically. A high risk/high reward type of pickup, Escobar could be a TE1 at best.
A lot of Fleet fans might think it would be smart to pick up quarterback Mike Bercovici. Mike Martz’s history of high-flying offenses should be good for a gunslinging quarterback like Bercovici. While his ability to throw the football isn’t the problem, the Fleet’s offensive line could turn into one for anyone who picks up Bercovici. The offensive line gave up seven sacks and Bercovici fumbled the ball four times (losing two) and threw two interceptions during the preseason game due to the constant pressure. He also threw around 235 yards and one touchdown, but the turnovers worry me. If the Fleet offensive line can keep Bercovici clean, he can be a very successful fantasy quarterback. But without a good offensive line, I’d expect a lot of turnovers from any of the Fleet quarterbacks.
Along with the Fleet quarterbacks, I would stay away from the Fleet defense. While it was the team’s first game playing against live competition together, they still gave up 25 points and were carved apart by the Orlando Apollos’ quarterbacks. They also only had one sack and didn’t force a single turnover during the entire game. I was never very high on the Fleet’s defensive back group, and giving up a couple long passing plays didn’t help. Struggling to get pressure on the quarterback is another problem that could plague them throughout the season. This could all change after one more game together, but I would be careful with selecting the San Diego defense in your fantasy leagues.
AAF fantasy football is coming, and you must be prepared. Some players will surprise and others will disappoint, so be ready to use the waiver wire consistently in a season-long league and expect to never have the same lineup in daily fantasy. We are officially less than a week away from the start of the AAF and AAF fantasy football.