Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)
Whew, the second week of games is officially wrapped up and we got 4…interesting games to say the least from this week’s schedule. This week showcased above all else the biggest margin of victories we’ve seen across both season 1 and 2, not a single game was really close just glancing at box scores. That’s not to say 4 teams this week were completely out of games, but by the end there were very obvious winners and even more obvious losers. The positives that come from bigger wins really includes scrolling down to the bottom of the depth chart and seeing guys who don’t see the field as much getting some live game snaps, for better or for worse. We’ll hit the bigger points later on but you may notice a common trend, backup QB strength is looking spotty, we most definitely seem to lack a Francois or Crouch lurking as QB2’s. Keep in mind this could be less impactful because the QB rules have changed from last year, and not every QB has to play now, unlike last season’s 2 drive to 1 drive ratio rule. Enough general banter though, it’s time to dissect this week’s 4 games, to see just what went so right for some yet so wrong for others.
Game 1 – Bored Ape Football Club (32) v 8oki (14)
Gatorade Player of the Game: Deondre Francois
In a game that felt like a marquee matchup regardless of the fact that it was week 2…it lived up better than the other games today. The box score is a bit wide, but there was an absolute chance for 8oki to stay in the game or climb back into it at multiple points.
From the Ape’s side, the bright sides got brighter as Francois looked much better this week posting a 5 for 11 week with 2 TDs and 91 yards in the air, with 5 carries on the ground for 36 yards and another score. His presence in the pocket looked much better as he was standing in more and letting plays develop, he had a few throws that missed the mark but it happens, his form is coming. Jakobie Baker had a decent day on the ground, adding 8 carries for 33 yards and a score. (Interesting to note, taking Jakobie’s chunk run play of 18 yards and away and doing the numbers over again, he had about 2.1 YPC, the Shutdown Squad had a very nice day containing his run.) Maurice Thomas also contributed 45 receiving yards and a score, but overall the Ape passing attack was scarily balanced. The complete effort was overwhelming and continually chugged along as the team cruised to a win.
8oki’s gameday was less smooth, Mitch “The Magician” Kidd had moments of brilliance, most notably his 2 unbelievable pass rush avoiding scrambles. Yet, his day was plagued by missed throws, and timing that just failed to sync with his receivers down the field. He had great moments, and opened the game with a rushing touchdown in 2 and a half minutes of clock, yet once again it was on and off the rest of the game. He finished with a 7 for 16, 116 yard, 1 TD, 1 INT game, it could have been worse, but—the what if’s say it could have been so much better. Joseph Boykin continues to climb WR rankings with a 4 catch (on 4 targets) 75 yard effort, he failed to haul in a score but it was hardly his fault. The 8oki choice, to wait on drafting a running back, and then not getting one at all hurt, slot man turned running back. Tracy Gaston, finished with 3 carries for 2 yards, not much to expect there, and not much came from it.
There were indeed times when 8oki could have climbed back in, the team had a chance with 1 second on the clock at the half to keep the Ape’s from being able to push the game to a 2 possession gap. (Ape’s deferred and would start the half with the ball) Yet, Francois made magic happen, and rifled a ball 13 yards through 2 defenders and a clutch score. Even then, as the clock winded below 5 minutes with, 8oki sat just 2 scores out of it, and the comeback rules could let them scratch and claw back in. Kidd, motioned for his receiver to come to him, asking him post game, he said the call came in wrong and he was looking to fix his audible. The left end took the motion as a go sign and signaled for the play, the center snapped the ball…right over Kidd’s head, the Ape’s recovered and would take it into the endzone. 8oki put up 14 points in the first half and liked the number so much they elected to not score again after that. Between throws that could have been big scores, a big time miscommunication, and a botched goal line stop, the Ape’s fully demoralized and took a big time win to the house.
Game 2 – Knights of Degen (28) v Kingpins (8)
Gatorade Player of the Game: Ed Crouch
In the second game of the morning session, it felt like a bit of deja vu from the first game. The Kingpins looked absolutely disoriented and for good reason, their O-Line provided absolutely no support for their QBs. The hot mics were in full effect this week, and notably caught Danny Southwick reminding them that their job was indeed to block. The KP play calling was interesting, but when your QBs have negative time in the pocket there really isn’t much you can do. The offense never got going, and the Knights methodically used Crouch’s bounceback game to navigate.
The Knights stifling defensive performance was led by a 4 of 5, 84 yard, 1 TD effort from Crouch, who also added 2 scores on the ground. He looked like he was regaining his MVP form as he dashed across the field and tossed the ball with limits yet with command. The Knights running game outside of Crouch and even Laquan Horton’s scrambles was less than stellar (6 rushes, 9 yards) but it wouldn’t matter because the opposing team managed to not score at all in the first half, lead off the second half with a fumble, etc. The Knights looked dominant as they bounced back from a tough loss, the Pins however, did not.
Tirri Jones had a decent outing considering what he worked with, 100 yards and a score on 5 for 11 passing is doable but the holes outside of that just refused to close up. Virgies putting up only 7 yards on 5 rushes simply isn’t enough for a franchise running back, and it hurt the team. Danny Southwick got a drive this game and was swarmed by the pass rush every single play, he simply is NOT mobile enough to maneuver from heavy pressure like we saw today. The week two emergence of Nick WIlliams has been unprecedented, but we’ll get to him later. The Pins turned in a 1 for 5 effort from both 3rd and 4th down, drives stalled out too early, and nothing ever picked up. This team is talented but they need a line to let their plays develop and keep their QBs safer than what we saw this week, they drop to 0-2 after this backbreaking loss.
Game 3 – Glacier Boyz (44) v Zappers (6)
Gatorade Player of the Game: Devlin Isadore
The Zappers season so far has been zapped of any excitement the team had going into it. The QB situation is still as puzzling as ever, and TO is very obviously not quite the man he was a few decades ago, the reliance on him is simply too much. When you franchise James Harden you probably expect some production, but the Zappers refused to run him at all, and he recorded not one, not two, not three, but zero catches. Manziel played football this week!! He also did not start, instead Brian Allen got the nod and we’ll talk about his play in a moment. For the Boyz, this game was a suffocating response to one of the worst performances of last week, Izzy looks quite good, Alleyne is very obviously high end running talent, and they seemed to find a nice receiver in Vance Leonard. (They cannot keep both Izzy and Vance, as the tags will be back to 1 per team this week.) Jamiel had a quieter game than usual but still recorded a score and remains dominant.
We’ll start with the winners, wow, Glacier Nation showed up and showed out because this was a complete and utter smackdown. Devlin Isadore showed exactly why they took the chance on him with the #1 pick, throwing a 4 for 7, 68 yard, 3 TD masterclass, he was slightly inefficient on the ground but it obviously did not matter. He threw a crazy shoulder pass in the endzone to Jamiel to open and never looked back, Vance Leonard became the new primary target and would catch 2 more TDs for them. The only real blemish is Dentarrius Yon having a rough drive as he got his opportunity late in the game with 2 attempts in the air and an INT, but added 22 yards on the ground. The play calling was elite as they looked to carve up the Zappers and it was relentless. Towards the end of the game they even pulled off and ran the ball, complete domination, congrats again to the Glacier Nation.
I started off the Zapper draft evaluation this week with a “What?” and I’ll do it again here, what? In a game with a heisman trophy winner and hall of fame WR, they scored a wild 6 points in 40 minutes. The craziest part? Manziel, who had projected with low hopes from fans, was a high point, throwing 5 for 11 that added up to 74 yards, as well as adding a rushing score. The TO and Johnny connection looked great at times, as TO had a big time bounceback game with 4 catches for 62 yards, but it produced nothing. Brian Allen would start and immediately fumble the ball to the other side, then the next drive fumble again and recover…and then take a drive ending sack. When the defense forces the Boyz into ONE fourth down attempt all game, there’s a problem, and they stretch deep here. There were positives however, Johnny looked serviceable at worst and TO had a much better outing, the question is if they can really beat out the clock here and draft well enough this week to figure out every problem they have in one swoop. Chris Barrett finally got some run today and it was less than stellar however his line sort of stopped playing and some guys stopped running routes, not much stock in that one. Johnny’s hot mic may end up being the controversial moment of the season as he was livid after an intentional grounding call, and lit it up for all to hear. Good luck Zappers fans, one more chance to right the ship.
Game 4 – Shoulda Been Stars (24) v Beasts (6)
Gatorade Player of the Game: Ladarius Galloway
In back to back games, one team would only score 6 points, truly a puzzling night for offenses all around the league as some guys simply could not make a play. For the Beasts, it seemed imperative that they hit on their QB pick, and simply continue to dominate the ball. They didn’t. For the Stars, it was all about getting season 1 MVP Ladarius Galloway going at a high level to take pressure off of Slade Jarman. They did. Outside of some choice backyard football plays, this game was solid from start to finish and the Beasts could have very easily made it closer if they connected on a few more plays.
The Beasts struggled to move the chains, and when they did get them to move, they would just turn the ball over out of kindness. They drafted Jason Stewart quite high this week, and his performance was a little flat, throwing just 5 for 15 that totalled to 79 yards and an interception, his ball placement was off. There were times he would have a man wide and he would either look them off surveying deeper down the field or he would throw the ball low in the turf. Quinn Porter, did not necessarily have a GREAT game, but would be the only scorer for the beasts as he punched in a rushing touchdown, yet he’d play twins with Stew and throw a pick of his own on an improv play. Nick Williams gave their QBs problems from minute 1 to minute 40 as he wrestled and forced Stew to panic a bit. Alphonso Howard would get a drive, rush twice for 25 yards and then fumble the ball right over to the other team. Jordus Smith tried his best to carry any load, and caught 3 passes for 67 yards but it just was so far from enough.
Get Gway going they said, find MVP Gway they begged, where is Gway they asked, he’s here. Gway had 10 carries, 62 yards, 3 rushing TDs, and a passing 20 yard touchdown on another improv play. The way the stars played was just a brutal bruising performance that drained the clock and kept beasts fans from doing too much. Travalle Calvin had a nice night as well with 4 catches, 59 yards, and 1 TD, just a really great overall performance from both fans and players from the defending champs.
MVP Ladder 2.0
1 – Ladarius Galloway (SBS, RB)
From unrated to #1, and you should not be surprised. Gway does things with the ball that few can do, he hurdles over defenders for scores, he throws bombs, he rushes for 3 TDs. In a game where one team completely offensively stagnated? Without Gway there’s a chance the Stars do the same thing. Slade is an average QB who makes good decisions (4 for 6, 49 yards, no score this week), Gway elevates him and the team around him to just unreal levels of play. He struggled last week, yet we know who he is. When he starts catching passes this could be a runaway award for the defending MVP already, but we have a lot of football to play to determine that.
2 – Andrew Jamiel (Glacier Boyz, WR)
He’s here again, now let me explain why. Quiet week? Sure. AJ reminds me of the Steph Curry argument, he can go cold and still be the biggest impact player on the field. Ignore that a day with a TD and no drops is still great, the gravity he commands on defense is unreal. Teams respect him to the point of consistent double teams, he’s scary and he makes the field so much wider for his fellow receivers. He doesn’t need 100 yards in the air to be productive, he just needs to run routes and look alive. He’s back at #2.
3 – Slick Nick Williams (Defense, DE)
Someone put it perfectly, the Aaron Donald of the FCF is scary. For the second week in a row, a defender makes the top 3 in MVP, and for good reason. Nick is never a non-factor on a play, and across 2 games today we saw him collapse pockets and hit QBs in a way no one else can. He moves with grace and at his size? It’s unreal, his speed and work he throws behind each hit overpowers every lineman he faces, he’s a problem every second he’s on the field and it does NOT look to change anytime soon.
HM – Mitch Kidd (8oki, QB)
The magician drops not due to insane regression but there is simply so much high end talent this season that a down week pushes him out. He missed throws, yet in the pocket, had 2 disgusting evasions where he sent d linemen searching for something, anything. He throws the ball with confidence in himself and his special arm talent and he’ll look to bounce back from his down week (at Kidd standards) to climb this ladder again.
Please keep in mind the ladder above is my personal list, not a committee of voters or anything more official than anyone but myself.