By Toph Kopchak Director of AFL Coverage
I've been a little busy this week, but still wanted to post something, so using a few databases and a system i've worked on for years, here are my “metic sims” Arena Football style.
BAL -9 80.7% to win
PHI -2 53.5% to win
WAS -6 70.7% to win
Using just Vegas Power Rankings alone, Baltimore is an eight point favorite, but no team has changed more than Columbus, plus they have the top metric defense. Washington gets in extra point in my mind because of their banner for last seasons title going up, plus they are playing solid ball. Vegas likes the 0-2 Valor and so do my sims.
By Toph Kopchak Director of AFL Coverage
Well, now we have some stats to use! No major surprises in Week 1 as far as how the games went, but we do have new names to study up on.
PHI (-1.5) @ BAL 7 ET ESPN 3, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Philly Plus
The Brigade had an extra day of rest and home field along with a strong performance from their team going into this week. Defensive Back Joe Powell made things look easy, and when you see defense controlling the arena game look out! I get that Joe Hills ($8,800) was probable last week, but there are 5 guys more expensive than him going into this week! Steal! With the style BAL plays you gotta figure FB Rory Nixon ($4,600) can always repeat last week's 14.5 FP's, but in AFL teams almost never run. Shane Boyd ($9,600) still does not wow me so I'm not stacking with Hills yet. I will say the money was right last week with Dan Raudabaugh ($9,000) having only 151 yards in the air and 2 touchdowns. Things got worse with Darius Reynolds being placed on IR. Darius Prince ($7,600) should have real solid numbers and Aaron Wascha, ($3,000), who appears to be a go this week, definitely seems to have great value. Adrian Ferns ($8,200) has been added on DK for the Soul, and with “Money” on IR it's tempting to roll with the running game.
COL @ AC (-4.5) 3:30 ET ESPN 3, NBC Sports Philly Plus, CW Columbus
This match-up of expansion teams is hard to pick. We now know Columbus has switched to local product Grant Russell ($7,400). He looked great, like really great on his first throw, but looked really hesitant and had trouble getting the snap. No “Kaptin” Morgan ($2,600) at the last second really hurt the team and he's pretty iffy for this week. WR Anthony Amos ($5,200) has good value even though he should lose some touches, even if Morgan is out, with a new signing at WR and better health at the position.
Randy Hippeard ($9,200) leads a new, but talented Blackjacks team to AC for their first home game in team history. The league has done a solid job building this team up, so it should be a fun environment in one of the most old school sports buildings there is. LaMark Brown ($8,000) and Quentin Sims ($5,400) are the men to watch here. Both had at least 50 yards and a TD with at least 5 catches as well. This is a semi must-win for Columbus given how rough their first game went and the pressure for the youngins to step up, so look for lots of passing to someone.
WAS @ ALB (-9.5) 7:30 ET ESPN 3, My 4 Albany, NBC Sports Washington
Arvell Nelson ($10,200) saw his price jump after an outstanding game, but in the air, not the ground. The guy not known for his arm threw for 391 yards and 8 touchdowns, mostly to Dezmon Epps ($9,800), literally in his first AFL action. Epps is not worth his price, but WR Josh Reese ($6,200) being so much lower suggests Vegas does not like him, and they were right about Raudabaugh last week. With this game featuring the 4th (Valor) and 5th (Empire) metric defenses (Massey Ratings), expect quick scores all around giving everyone extra time to pad their stats.
Tommy Grady's ($8,600) price just shows that the system is overreacting to the game flow of Week 1. The Empire has two guys that could handle their own in the NFL in Grady and Malachi Jones ($6,600). The best all-around offense facing a defense slow out of the gate makes for a great stack play. Mykel Benson ($4,600) has decent value as well.
Extra Advice: Kickers have no value in this format and consider using a “Dead Spot” on your roster playing a guy that probably won't play, so he's cheap and you can use the money elsewhere. And if he does play, its extra points!
By Toph Kopchak Director of AFL Coverage.
We survived the offseason! With a new world of gaming, I thought I would list a “Who To Watch For” in Week 1.
WAS @ BAL Friday 7 ET NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports
“Superman” Joe Hills ($9,600) will get to show off his skills right away to his new Baltimore fans on opening night. The highest priced player on Draft Kings is a favorite to watch, but this week's steal could be on the other team. Valor Quarterback Arvell Nelson ($9,400) has the best legs among AFL QB's and scored over 6 more FPPG (fantasy points per game) than Hills last season, and also earned Arena Bowl MVP last season.
AC @ PHI Saturday 3:30 ET NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus and Monumental Sports
Dan Raudabaugh ($8,200) is not even priced with the top half of the QB's, something that will not bug this vet too much, but still how? I see good value here, especially if you pair him with one of the league's best rising receivers Darius Prince ($8,400). Aaron Wascha ($7,400) being banged up gives Prince more value.
COL @ ALB Saturday 7 ET WNYA My4 Albany, WSYX 6.2 Columbus and Monumental Sports
Tommy Grady ($9,200) has lots of value, but the Destroyers did load up on defense and with Hills no longer there it may take a couple drives to figure out a “Brigade” type defense first style, but it's sure tempting to double up with Malachi Jones ($8,800) who took AFL Rookie of The Year last season. Jones also had a look by former Destroyers QB and current Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy and also in Atlanta in the AAF. Cheaper than former Empire wideout Joe Hills, plus he scored more than him last season, plus having a quality FB in Mykel Benson ($4,400) will still free him up inside the 5 this season. However, his price and recent history makes him iffy for Saturday night.
By: Toph Kopchak Head of AFL Coverage
One of the final pieces was just set as the Columbus Destroyers get ready to head to Albany NY this Saturday to kickoff the new season. Columbus just added one of the most accurate legs in all of football in Craig Peterson, but we will let him tell you the rest:
My name is Craig Peterson. I was born and raised in Albany, New York and went to Burnt Hills Ballston Lake high school. Last year I played for the Carolina Cobras and our team won the National Arena League championship. After winning the championship, I received special teams player of the year and first team ALL NAL. I also had a team high of 154 points which was good for 3rd in the league. This year, I had an opportunity to compete against 4 other kickers for the job in Columbus. Drew Basil and Tyler Durbin were among the kickers I was competing against. Both had gone to and played football at Ohio State University. Here I was the only kicker there who had never played high school or college football. I was eager and excited to compete for the job against such a talented group of kickers. After 4 long, consecutive days of competition, I came out on top! Every day I went in, I just focused on hitting my ball and being consistent. I was statistically at the top of every category consisting of extra points, field goals, kickoff accuracy and onside kicks. After meeting with the coaching staff afterwards and being awarded the job, I was ecstatic!
How you feel about being in Columbus?
Now that I’ve been here in Columbus for a few weeks I’ve had a chance to go out and explore the city a little bit. I like it here and the fact that Ohio State is right around the corner makes it even more of a football city which I love. Last week I was able to attend a class at Schoenbaum hall at Ohio State with Fred Whitfield, chief operating officer of the Charlotte Hornets, and Eddie George, 9 year NFL vet and former Ohio State running back, speaking to the class about their stories of how they got to where they are today. That’s why I feel as though there is so much to do in Columbus so I’m excited for the upcoming season. It would be ideal if we could bring an arena championship here to this city as the Columbus Destroyers are finally back in the AFL. So I’m blessed to be able to be a part of this great organization and will do everything I can to help this team win football games! #TheReturn.
In 2015 you made 85 XP 11 tackles and a forced fumble…sure you're a Kicker??
Playing in Tampa Bay for the Storm in 2015 was my first year playing football. I had been with the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL only in training camp during 2014 but prior to that I had no football experience. For never playing in a game before, my first season with the Storm went very well. I feel as though I’m not an ordinary kicker standing at 6 foot 3 weighing 225 pounds, but I also like to make big plays like hitting game winning field goals, making tackles, forcing fumbles and hitting bar balls. Everyone always counts the kicker out on the kickoff returns but when I’m on the field it’s always 8v8. Making a big tackle on special teams is exhilarating and forcing a fumble can change the momentum of a game.
Difference from NAL to AFL?
Being in the NAL was a bit different last year compared to playing in the AFL. That league had the deuce rule on kickoffs which meant that if you kicked the ball through the uprights your team was awarded 2 points. Essentially it’s a 58 yard field goal off a 1 inch tee. This made the kickers in the league that much more important as you could score a touchdowns worth of points just by hitting deuces throughout a game. I had shattered the previous record of 21 deuces in a single season when I recorded my 30th deuce in the NAL championship game. The only other difference in the kicking game is the NAL doesn’t have the bars and nets along the back of the end zones. I missed the bars because getting a bar ball off of a kickoff can be crucial in turning the game around for your team, so I’m excited to have them back. I can’t wait to get this season started!