AAF Week 3: Five players to watch who could generate NFL buzz, plus one for the road

Even though there isn't a lot of name recognition amongst players in the Alliance of American Football, the league promotes itself as extremely player-friendly. It's here to develop these guys in the hopes -- for most of them, anyway -- that they'll get another crack at the NFL down the road. So it only makes sense as we start to get into the meat of the AAF season that we share some of the biggest names to watch each weekend (here's how you can watch all four games in Week 3). 

Moving forward, we'll lay out five names you should know for the upcoming games. These are names who are usually coming off of big performances, or could be key matchup players for their games head -- especially if there are any fantasy football implications. For this first piece, you'll find a lot of players who have come up big in the first two weeks and/or were names to know coming out of training camp. We'll also try to give you a heads up on players who are generating some NFL buzz; that list will fill out a bit more as we get further into the season. 

With that said, here are five names to watch for Week 3 in the AAF, plus one for the road ... 

Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert

We'll start with the no-brainer. If there's a shortage of top-end quarterbacks in the NFL, then the AAF is at an even greater disadvantage at that position. Yet, in the search to find a quarterback capable of performing at a high level, the Apollos have found a bona fide star in Garrett Gilbert. The AAF's leading passer (620 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) has been a journeyman for the past decade -- basically ever since leaving Lake Travis High School outside of Austin, Texas, as a blue-chip prospect in 2009. But he's found the right situation with coach Steve Spurrier, who calls plays and coaches the quarterbacks. The Apollos host the Express in Week 3, and Memphis is one of the AAF's worst pass defenses, allowing 7.0 yards per attempt. 

Week 3 stats: 14-of-28, 207 yards passing, 43 yards rushing, 2 TDs

Salt Lake Stallions defensive end Karter Schult

There have been plenty of strong defensive line performances through the first couple of weeks. (Related: the fact that some offenses have yet to completely form plays a role in this.) However, Schult has been a standout performer from the get-go. Like so many others in the AAF, he was a small-school guy (shout out to Northern Iowa). Schult was most recently waived by the Panthers. Instead of continuing to try his luck in the NFL, Schult opted to go the AAF route and has been a terror in the backfield with a team-best 10 tackles and three sacks. Going against one of the top offenses in the AAF, Schult will need to be an impact player again vs. the Hotshots. 

Week 3 stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack

Arizona Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross

Ross has been the go-to guy for the Hotshots' passing attack with nine catches for 170 yards, second-best in the AAF, and three touchdowns already. He's a true threat to stretch the field because, at nearly 19 yards per reception, he can take the top off of a defense. Going against Salt Lake's defense in Week 3, Ross will be needed for big plays. The Stallions' secondary was gashed the first time these two teams met in Week 1. Ross could be a huge fantasy player as well. 

Week 3 stats: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 51 yards, TD

Memphis Express running back Zac Stacy

Suffice it to say there haven't been many breakout stars at running back -- yet. Stacy could be one of them, though. He's tied for the league-wide lead with 159 yards rushing at 5.1 yards per attempt and a touchdown. His production -- or volume, at least -- could increase beginning in Week 3. Earlier this week, the Express waived fellow running back Rajion Neal, paving the way for even more touches for Stacy moving forward. Given that Memphis doesn't have much in the way of a passing attack, it'll probably lean on Stacy to slow things down against Orlando. Stacy's fantasy value could skyrocket as a result. 

Week 3 stats: 14 carries, 29 yards

Atlanta Legends linebacker Jeff Luc

Luc's name came up frequently during training camp. He's establishing himself as a centerpiece of the defense, and against Birmingham's possession passing attack over the middle, he'll be important in a lot of facets. Luc's career arc has been interesting, to say the least. He began at Florida State before transferring to Cincinnati and then bounced around amongst a bunch of teams in the NFL for a few years. But he's settled in nicely into Atlanta's defense with eight tackles so far. If this is going to be the low-scoring rock fight many expect, Luc needs to have a big game. 

One for the road ... 

More on Birmingham Iron quarterback Luis Perez: After his solid debut against Memphis, CBS Sports was informed that as many as eight NFL scouts were intrigued by Perez. Since then, he's been a name that has come up on multiple occasions from people around the Alliance. Perez, whose story is as rare as any in the professional football, is the kind of player who fits perfectly into what this league strives to develop: coachable, talented guys who haven't quite gotten the looks they've needed to take their careers to the next level. Perez started his collegiate career as a walk-on at a San Diego area JUCO and made his way to Division II Texas A&M-Commerce before spending an offseason with the Rams. In two games, he's shown nice ball placement and touch down the field, plus the patience and awareness to make plays happen. If he keeps it up, he'll be back in the NFL. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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