Despite a constantly changing metagame, Aerodactyl has retained his position as a popular lead; this is largely because of his access to Taunt and the fastest Stealth Rock in OU outside of Choice Scarf users. Aerodactyl, for better or worse, will continue to be an influential lead with his simple but effective playstyle, easily preventing other leads from setting up entry hazards while setting up his own.
Alternatively, Aerodactyl can venture from the lead position by making use of his great Speed not only offensively but, surprisingly, defensively as well. Though the Life Orb set has some shortcomings, it has the potential to rip through unprepared or weakened teams as Aerodactyl can outrun a major portion of the metagame, including the ever-popular Choice Scarf Tyranitar. With the correct support, Life Orb Aerodactyl can also jeopardize stall teams, a skill that few Pokemon possess. Defensively, Aerodactyl can use the SubRoost strategy effectively to be a complete annoyance against any team, provided he has the correct support.
Against the perpetually changing OU metagame, Aerodactyl has constantly filled his niche as one of the best suicide leads. The game plan is straightforward: Aerodactyl should prevent the opposing lead from setting up in any way by using Taunt while laying down Stealth Rock when possible. Aerodactyl can then batter the opponent with EdgeQuake before fainting, or switch to another team member. Should Aerodactyl be up against certain leads that require prediction, such as Roserade and opposing Aerodactyl, the game plan can be modified.
The choice between Rock Slide and Stone Edge is entirely up to the user. Rock Slide is the primary option thanks to its higher accuracy and good flinch chance; the combination of these two factors in tandem with Aerodactyl's high Speed might prove useful against leads holding Focus Sash. On the other hand, Stone Edge is a stronger option, trading lower accuracy for higher power. It should be noted that Stone Edge will always OHKO lead Dragonite after Life Orb recoil, as well as other Flying-type leads, such as Crobat and Zapdos.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With great coverage in only two attacking moves, blistering Speed, and access to Roost and Taunt to beat stall teams, Aerodactyl fills a great niche on offensive teams outside the lead spot. This Aerodactyl can find a niche on stall teams as well. Despite his horrible defenses, Aerodactyl checks many common threats to stall teams, such as Infernape, Gliscor, Taunt Heatran, Lucario, Choice Scarf Tyranitar, and mixed Dragonite.
Stone Edge is Aerodactyl's primary STAB move and deals a lot of damage to Pokemon who do not resist it, while Earthquake completes the EdgeQuake combo, which provides fantastic type coverage. Roost alleviates the weaknesses given by Aerodactyl's Flying typing, and lets him heal against weak special attacks such as Blissey's Ice Beam.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Aerodactyl's Speed, resistances, and Pressure ability give him all the right tools to run a successful SubRoost set. The idea behind this set is to set up sandstorm and bring in Aerodactyl on an attack he resists or is immune to, such as Fire Blast, Return, or Earthquake. From there, Aerodactyl can usually set up Substitute with his base 130 Speed stat and attempt to stall out the opponent's PP with Pressure. To ensure that Aerodactyl can continue making Substitutes, Roost is a necessity on the set. With sandstorm boosting Aerodactyl's Special Defense to a respectable level, Aerodactyl can usually feel free to use Roost even when not protected by a Substitute.
The other two attacks on the set are almost as important as Substitute and Roost. Taunt prevents foes from using any phazing or healing moves, which can be a major asset if Aerodactyl is used in conjunction with entry hazards. With a sandstorm brewing, Aerodactyl will quickly eat up an opponent's health. Rock Slide helps damage Flying-type or Levitating Pokemon that are immune to Toxic Spikes; as a small side bonus, it can also flinch opponents. Whirlwind can be used over either move as Aerodactyl outspeeds and can drive away other phazers, such as Skarmory and Swampert. Taunt does this as well, but Whirlwind has the advantage of forcing opponents to take damage from entry hazards.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Despite having a decent movepool for a Rock-type, Aerodactyl generally does not have many alternative options. A Choice Band set consisting of Stone Edge, Earthquake, and two filler moves is viable thanks to Aerodactyl's blistering Speed, more-than-decent Attack, and powerful offensive options. However, unlike Choice item users such as Jolteon, Starmie, and Scizor, Aerodactyl's primary moves have too little utility. While this Choice Band set employs the EdgeQuake combo, Aerodactyl will find himself switching repeatedly due to the many Pokemon who resist Earthquake and Stone Edge individually, which opens him to Pursuit and Bullet Punch from the common Scizor. A set focused on Curse and White Herb could have some success, especially in sandstorm, where both of Aerodactyl's defenses would be raised. Unfortunately, Kingdra and Gyarados can both use Dragon Dance to be both stronger and faster than Aerodactyl, and while Aerodactyl would have increased bulk from Curse, weaknesses to Steel-, Ice-, and Water-type attacks severely hinder him.
Checks and Counters
Aerodactyl's top counters include Pokemon that can attack before him despite his blazing Speed. Unsurprisingly, Scizor, Metagross, and Jirachi are the most notable opponents that all Aerodactyl users should be prepared for. Scizor and Metagross can redress Aerodactyl's Speed and eliminate him using a simple Bullet Punch, or, should Aerodactyl have taken some prior damage, a smart Pursuit. Jirachi can play mind games with Aerodactyl using its choice of Iron Head and Thunder Wave; Choice Scarf sets are particularly dangerous. Other users of priority moves, such as Mamoswine and Weavile, are also great checks, as Aerodactyl is weak to Ice Shard. Aerodactyl can also be countered using defensively oriented Pokemon. Swampert and Breloom make great counters as they take little from Aerodactyl's attacks. Breloom in particular resists Aerodactyl's main options, only fears Life Orb Fire Blast, and can play mind games using Spore, Focus Punch, and Seed Bomb. Forretress and Bronzong can both use Gyro Ball to eliminate Aerodactyl, but the former has to be wary of Fire Blast.
The specific leads that limit lead Aerodactyl to only setting up Stealth Rock are Machamp, Infernape, Metagross, Empoleon, and Mamoswine, all of whom use a priority move to nullify his Focus Sash. Pokemon who resist the EdgeQuake combination, such as Breloom, Flygon, and Bronzong, make great counters to Life Orb Aerodactyl. Faster Choice Scarf users, such as Rotom-A, cannot switch in without losing a large chunk of health, but can easily revenge kill Life Orb variants. It should be noted that with sandstorm support and Roost, Aerodactyl can actually outlast Choice Scarf users such as Heatran and Rotom-A, so one should be wary when taking this route. Choice Scarf Flygon, as with Breloom, resists Aerodactyl's main options and can either use U-turn to scout the switch-in or use Outrage.