AAF Stat Leaders
The Eastern Conference remains the Orlando Apollos’ conference to lose, though they only lead by one game after their first loss of the season (to the Arizona Hotshots) and the Birmingham Iron’s win against the San Diego Fleet. Nevertheless, a win for the Apollos (or a loss by the Memphis Express) this weekend would clinch a playoff berth for Steve Spurrier’s club.
The Western Conference still remains muddled, though the San Antonio Commanders return home for the first time in a month in sole possession of first place. They’ll play a Salt Lake Stallions team nursing long-shot playoff odds, while the other two conference teams will be fighting it out for second place.
Overall, the league remains a passing league, with last week’s offensive yardage split of 72% passing and 28% rushing. For the season, the split is about 65%/35%, so expect it to remain a passing league for the rest of the season, with a breakout rushing game every once in a while.
Let’s take a look at the individual categories:
Garrett Gilbert finally saw his interception-free streak snapped, finally throwing his first pick of the season on his 170th pass. Nevertheless, he continues to be the dominant quarterback in the league, leading in nearly every passing category, though John Wolford has passed him for the lead in touchdowns. His 1,625 yards passing on the season places him 436 yards ahead of the Commanders’ Logan Woodside, and the Apollos gunslinger remains my early choice for offensive MVP for this inaugural season.
As it was in previous weeks, to qualify for this leaderboard, a quarterback needs to have at least 14 attempts per team game scheduled, even if they haven’t necessarily played every game. So, the only qualifying quarterbacks (at least 84 pass attempts) features to quarterbacks from the Legends and no quarterback from the Express:
As mentioned previously, the Alliance continues to be a passing league, and the leading rusher this past weekend was Tim Cook of the Hotshots, who had 11 rushes for 71 yards in their victory over the Apollos. All told, the top ten rushing performances totaled 419 yards on 104 carries and three touchdowns.
Trent Richardson of the Iron added another rushing touchdown this week, pushing his league-leading total to nine on the season (he also added a receiving touchdown this week, making him far and away the leader in scoring). He also leads in carries, but his 2.49 yards per carry leave a little to be desired.
Here’s the top ten in total yards, using 35 yards per game as the minimum to qualify:
For the first time this season, a wide receiver pulled down Offensive Player of the Week honors. L’Damian Washington of the Iron nabbed the honor after he caught four passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown of the day is now the longest reception in league history, with Washington using his speed to turn a quick slant into an 83-yard catch-and-run.
Washington’s big day moved him onto the receiving leaderboard, which is still led by Charles Johnson of the Apollos. Rashad Ross of the Hotshots also continues to lead in touchdown receptions. De’Mornay Pierson-El leads all qualifiers with a 77.8% catch rate.
Here are the current leaders (minimum 240 yards receiving (40 yards per game):
Defense & Special Teams
Karter Schult of the Salt Lake Stallions has led the league in sacks for most of the season, and added two more on Saturday to push his league-leading total to 7.0 on the season. He also added another four quarterback hits – including the one that forced Zach Mettenberger from the game on the Express’ first offensive play – and was named as the Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
DeMarquis Gates of the Express leads the league in tackles with 39 (35 solo) through six games. Elsewhere on defense, three Commanders defenders lead the league in interceptions, with De’Vante Bausby leading the league with four interceptions, and teammates Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith tied for second (with four others) with three of their own.
The Special Teams Player of the Week was another Commanders’ player, with Greg Ward, Jr. taking home the honor this week. The former University of Houston quarterback now holds the record for longest punt return in Alliance history after his 79-yarder in the second quarter Sunday helped stake the Commanders to an unsurmountable lead against the Legends.
AAF League Attendance
For the second consecutive week, total attendance increased from the previous week, though it was only a 7% increase from last week and still 24% lower than Week 1. Total attendance for the week was 58,113, an average of just over 14,500 across the four games. Not terrible, but not exactly something to get super excited about.
Here’s a look at average attendance and the number of home games each team has hosted thus far. All teams have now hosted at least two games, but the Commanders, who lead the league in average attendance, will finally be back at home this week after four straight on the road:
- San Antonio Commanders – 28,517 (2 games)
- Orlando Apollos – 19,648 (3 games)
- San Diego Fleet – 19,154 (4 games)
- Birmingham Iron – 13,552 (4 games)
- Memphis Express – 12,801 (2 games)
- Atlanta Legends – 10,722 (3 games)
- Arizona Hotshots – 9,989 (3 games)
- Salt Lake Stallions – 9,288 (3 games)
Overall league average: 15,100 (24 games)
Week 6 Power Rankings
Despite their first loss of the season, it’s hard to move the Apollos from the top spot, as they remain the most dominant team on both sides of the ball through six games. The same can be said for Memphis at the bottom of the rankings – where they’ve been for all but one week this season.
All that said, here’s how we envision the league at the moment:
- Orlando Apollos (5-1)
- San Antonio Commanders (4-2)
- Birmingham Iron (4-2)
- Arizona Hotshots (3-3)
- San Diego Fleet (3-3)
- Salt Lake Stallions (2-4)
- Atlanta Legends (2-4)
- Memphis Express (1-5)
We have four weeks left, and we could have a team claim a spot in the inaugural playoffs this weekend, so check back in on Friday to read our preview for the weekend’s games.
Until next time…