Memphis Express-Orlando Apollos AAF Betting Guide: Is This Our Last Chance to Fade Christian Hackenberg?

Memphis Express-Orlando Apollos AAF Betting Guide: Is This Our Last Chance to Fade Christian Hackenberg? article feature image

Courtesy of @aafexpress/Twitter. Pictured: Christian Hackenberg

Betting Odds: Memphis Express at Orlando Apollos

  • Spread: Orlando -15
  • Over/Under: 45
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET on Saturday
  • TV: NFL Network

Betting market: Surprise! The public is still fully on #TeamFadeHackenberg.

Orlando stands alongside Arizona as the league’s consensus top two teams. The Apollos opened as 14-point favorites before being bet up. The total has fallen to 45 points after opening at 45.5.

Week 2 Takeaways

Memphis’ 20-18 Loss to Arizona

  • Christian Hackenberg was awful aside from several surprisingly-nimble scrambles that resulted in multiple unnecessarily huge hits. Backup Brandon Silvers was warming up on the sideline midway through the third quarter, indicating Hackenberg’s starting position is far from secure.
  • Alton “Pig” Howard led the way in Week 2 with seven targets and is one of eight players in the AAF with 12-plus targets. Still, anyone involved in the league’s least efficient pass offense is probably better off left alone in fantasy.
  • Zac Stacy managed to become the first AAF back to break the century mark on the ground by converting 19 carries into 101 yards and a touchdown. Terrence Magee (six carries) and Rajion Neal (five) were involved, although both were released this week in favor of free agent Sherman Badie. Every backfield outside of Birmingham is basically a committee, but these recent roster moves and Week 2 usage suggest it might be #StacySzn.

Orlando’s 37-29 Win Over San Antonio

  • The Apollos trailed San Antonio by 17 points entering the fourth quarter before rallying to take home the victory. Their league-worst pass rush in pressure rate per dropback didn’t make things easy, but Keith Reaser (PFF’s No. 1 cornerback) sealed the deal with a late-game pick six.
  • Orlando and San Diego are tied for the league’s highest pass play rate (58.7%). The run game’s production has accordingly been volatile, but wide receivers Charles Johnson, Jalin Marshall, Chris Thompson and Ishmael Hyman have emerged as pass-game weapons and each have top-10 marks in yards per route run (PFF).
  • Garrett Gilbert has easily been the best quarterback in the AAF through two weeks. His numbers are even more extraordinary after considering he’s attempted a league-high 30.2% of his passes downfield. No NFL quarterback has reached even a 20% rate over the past five seasons.

Which team is healthier? Orlando

Memphis opened the week without too many injuries to worry about. Backup quarterbacks Brandon Silvers (flank) and Zach Mettenberger (illness) joined offensive tackle Toby Weathersby (knee) and defensive end Corey Vereen (knee) on the sideline, while defensive end Anthony Johnson (hip) and wide receiver Kayaune Ross (thigh) were each limited.

Check back later in the week for updated injury information as it becomes available to the public for Orlando.

Key matchup: Memphis secondary vs. Orlando WRs

Steve Spurrier’s downfield-heavy approach has resulted in a plethora of fantasy-friendly opportunities for the offense’s pass-game weapons.

  • Chris Thompson: 6.67 yards per route run (first among 41 qualified receivers)
  • Charles Johnson: 5.6 (second)
  • Ishmael Hyman: 4.09 (third)
  • Jalin Marshall: 2.65 (ninth)

Memphis has largely played well on defense this season during the first three quarters, but the offense’s inability to control the ball has assisted in its defense wilting during the fourth quarter. Overall, the Express have only been out-scored by their opponents 15-12 during the first three quarters compared to 31-6 during the fourth quarter alone.

The Express have faced a league-high 71 rush attempts, but have allowed just 4.15 yards per carry — the fourth-lowest mark in the league. They also managed to consistently pressure Wolford and Luis Perez to open up the season, as the Memphis pressure rate (48%) ranks fourth in the league.

Memphis will again need to be sturdy against the run while also getting consistent pressure to have any hopes of slowing down Orlando’s high-octane offense.

DFS edge: Zac Stacy

Richardson is easily in the best spot of any back this week thanks to his plus matchup against Atlanta and massive workload. Still, Stacy has been the more efficient back all season and appears poised to gain a similar workload moving forward after the Express’ aforementioned roster moves.

Stacy was already one of the only backs to rival Richardson in snap share before the moves.

It’s probably wise to jam both Richardson and Stacy into cash lineups. Perez ($5,700) and Woodrum ($5,200) both offer reduced price tags at the quarterback position to help provide salary relief.

Bet to watch: Orlando -15

We actually made money by backing Hackenberg last week. That was fun, but let’s not get carried away, people.

Orlando is better in every facet of the game, and the Apollos’ offense is explosive enough to make Memphis pay in a big way if their defense again wilts toward the end of the game.