Orlando Apollos-Memphis Express AAF Betting Guide: Will Johnny Manziel Start?

Orlando Apollos-Memphis Express AAF Betting Guide: Will Johnny Manziel Start? article feature image

Courtesy of @AAFExpress/Twitter. Pictured: Johnny Manziel

Betting Odds: Orlando Apollos at Memphis Express

  • Spread: Apollos -10
  • Over/Under: 42
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET on Saturday
  • TV: TNT

Betting market: The Apollos have remained steady as 10-point favorites, although the game total has dropped to 41 points since opening at 42.

Week 7 Takeaways

Orlando’s 36-6 Win Over Atlanta

Garrett Gilbert tore up the Legends in Week 7, completing 19-of-23 (83%) passes for 217 yards (9.4 yards per attempt) and a touchdown.

Gilbert did a good job getting everyone involved: Charles Johnson (4 receptions-31 yards-1 TD) and Jalin Marshall (4-26-0) were the only receivers who saw more than two targets.

Orlando utilized D’Ernest Johnson (40% snaps in Week 7) as its de facto starter and No. 1 pass-down back, De’Veon Smith (34%), as the goal-line and short-yardage specialist to the tune of three touchdowns. Akeem Hunt (26%) seems to be close to 100% and worked as the group’s jack-of-all-trades.

Memphis’ 31-25 Win Over Birmingham

It remains unclear exactly when the Johnny Manziel era will start in Memphis.

The former Heisman winner displayed a live arm and quick feet during his Week 7 debut, but incumbent backup Brandon Silvers has continued to play well enough to start instead of Manziel. Of course, the AAF is a business as well as a football league, so it would make sense for the Express (6% chance to make the playoffs) to turn to Johnny Football sooner rather than later in an attempt to cash in on the league’s most famous and marketable players.

For now, both quarterbacks are best approached with extreme caution in all fantasy formats. Here’s what head coach Mike Singletary said on the quarterback situation this week: “Right now, Brandon is our quarterback … I’m very excited about what Johnny does and what he brings to the team, but Brandon is our starting quarterback.”

Which team is healthier? Orlando

Both teams are fairly healthy, but the Apollos are set up particularly well.

Only backup field-stretcher Chris Thompson was limited in practice to start the week, but Thompson returned to a full practice on Thursday and is expected to suit up on Sunday.

Starting Express receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard hasn’t practiced all week, while No. 1 receiver Reece Horn was downgraded to a DNP on Thursday after getting in a limited session on Wednesday. Defensive back Justin Martin as well as three offensive linemen have also been limited in practice, but none are thought to be dealing with serious injuries.

Memphis also re-signed trendy AAF fantasy first-round pick Fabian Guerra after placing receiver Devin Lucien on the injured reserve list.

Key matchup: Orlando’s Offense vs. Memphis’ Defense

The Express boast the AAF’s third-worst defense in both yards per carry and yards per attempt allowed and will square off with the Apollos’ league-best offense in virtually every efficiency metric that matters:

  • Points per game: 28.9 (1st)
  • Yards per pass attempt: 8.35 (1st)
  • Yards per rush: 5.29 (1st)

Memphis’ aforementioned three-headed backfield has proven to be lethal in both the pass and run game, while Charles Johnson and Jalin Marshall form arguably the league’s premier tandem at receiver.

DFS edge: Stack Orlando in cash games

There’s enough value at wide receiver this week to get plenty of exposure to Orlando’s league-best offense in FanBall daily fantasy contests.

Iron running back Trent Richardson and Apollos wide receiver Charles Johnson remain cash-game staples as the consensus highest-scoring and most consistent options at running back and wide receiver.

You  can save salary by rostering Commanders receiver Gred Ward Jr. after his team-high snap count in Week 7. He hasn’t caught a touchdown yet, but could be due for positive regression considering he’s tied for third in red-zone targets.

This core of Richardson-Johnson-Ward leaves us with enough salary to pay up at quarterback and lock in Gilbert. Adding Marshall isn’t a bad idea considering he’s locked in as Orlando’s No. 2 receiver, but I’d rather save an extra $1,000 and get D’Ernest Johnson considering there are more fantasy-viable options in the upper-$4,000 range than the upper-$3,000 range to complete the lineup.

Bet to watch: Apollos -10

Lost in the hoopla of Johnny Football and the Express’ overtime victory last week is the fact that their defense has still largely struggled to stop anybody and everybody. Their run game has also had a tough time getting started in recent weeks, so Manziel and Silvers could be forced to throw at the AAF’s best secondary a bit more than they might want to.

I’m riding with Steve Spurrier and Co. in what appears to be the week’s largest mismatch between an offense and a defense.

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