USFL Week 2 DFS Breakdown

·10 min read

After one week of USFL ball, the league showed a lot of promise with innovative camera angles, big plays, and another sport to watch instead of baseball. DraftKings still gave is solid prize pools this week and there are edges left to be explored from a betting perspective. I'll be going game by game with notes on each offense's tendencies and their player usage. Thanks to Ian Hartitz and the PFF team for tracking USFL data. You can get a broader view of all of the team in my USFL Team by Team Preview.

Michigan Panthers vs. New Jersey Generals

Generals -1 (-115) / 41 O/U

Quarterbacks

The Panthers clearly want to establish the run as they had a 58 percent run rate despite playing from behind for every snap they ran after about eight minutes of play. The rate was slightly skewed by quarterback rush attempts, of which the Panthers had 11, but they still look like a weak passing attack to target. Shea Patterson took on the bulk of the work under center, only ceding five attempts and two carries to Paxton Lynch. Patterson made some hilarious blunders but ultimately completed his passes at a 68 percent clip and averaged 7.7 yards per attempt. He also showed some rushing chops, hitting 31 yards on eight carries. He rushed for 660 yards and seven scores in his final two seasons of college ball, so this lines up well with his profile.

Patterson could throw for one touchdown and rush in another, though Lynch's presence reduces the chance of that upside hitting. He's a worthwhile tournament dart but nothing more.

The Generals also took an L in Week 1 but gave us the only shootout of the opening weekend via a 52-point affair with the Birmingham Stallions. They ran a true quarterback rotation, giving Luis Perez 18 attempts with no rushes and DeAndre Johnson eight attempts plus 12 carries. Johnson nearly became the first 100-yard runner in the USFL with a 12/98/1 line in on the ground. The constant shuffling at quarterback seemingly worked as the offense wasn't an issue for the Generals. Johnson is only $7,900 on DraftKings but it's hard to bet on him repeating his outlandish rushing line as a backup quarterback.

Running Backs

The Panthers split their numerous carries between Stevie Scott and Cameron Scarlett. Scott finished Week 1 third in rushing and tied for first in attempts, so I imagine he'll be a popular play in Week 2. Given his lack of receiving work and the toothless nature of the Panthers' offense as a whole, he looks like a fade. The team also added Reggie Corbin to their active roster, muddying the backfield split slightly.

The Generals gave Trey Williams the start last week but quickly began mixing in Darius Victor. Williams was ultimately out-carried by Victor 15-13 but Williams was targeted five times. He's only $5,300 on DraftKings, the first of many egregious prices we'll see today.

Wide Receivers

Randy Satterfield was the star of Week 1, kicking off the league with this gem.

He finished the day with a 5/100/1 line and the second most air yards of the opening week. Alonzo Moore, who has followed head coach Mike Riley throughout their shared spring football careers, topped 100 air yards on just three targets. Both players logged snap rates over 80 percent. This isn't a team I'm looking to stack but the deep-shot tendencies of the passing attack make the receivers very appealing in tournaments.

The Panthers had two players clear five targets. Joe Walker, who spent most of his time at Delaware as a quarterback, caught five balls for 51 yards on six targets. Lance Lenoir's 30 percent target share was good for nine targets. He caught six balls, scored once, and proved to be the only receiver on this team we can trust. Jeff Badet was replaced by Ray Bolden on the active roster.

Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Philadelphia Stars

Stars -7 (-110) / 35 O/U

Quarterbacks

The Maulers ran on nearly two-thirds of their plays despite giving up a touchdown on their first possession and never tying the game back up. They also split their pass attempts 16-10 between supposed backup Josh Love and Kyle Lauletta. Love posted a well above average, 7.6 yards per attempt, but the atrocious scheme and QB rotation make this a clear stay-away.

The Stars were pass-happy in their loss to the Breakers last week, but not particularly effective. They threw at a 67 percent rate with Bryan Scott averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. He was also sacked six times. The high pass rate is ideal for fantasy purposes, but Scott may be a bit out of his depth, having never made even an NFL practice squad.

Running Backs

The Maulers gave Garrett Groshek the second-highest share of team carries in the USFL in Week 1. Despite how disgusting and predictable their game-plan was, he still turned his 16 carries into 55 yards. That's not an ideal average, but it's far better than Madre London's 1.6 yards per carry. The Maulers' offense will be faded completely by many DFS players and that's understandable. However, Groshek's volume makes him worth some dart throws.

Philly split their backfield between Matt Colburn and Darnell Holland. Both backs saw nine carries and split the red zone attempts evenly. However, Scott peppered Colburn with seven targets. Holland may get some love in Week 2 because of his 42-yard scamper for a touchdown, but Colburn's role is far more valuable.

Wide Receivers

Jeff Thomas led the Maulers with eight targets but was moved to their inactive roster and will miss Week 2. Pittsburgh's tight ends absorbed plenty of snaps but couldn't earn targets. Bailey Gaither picked up seven targets on a healthy amount of routes, though I'd be fine playing zero wide receivers from this team.

The Stars receiver room was battered by injuries in Week 1. Devin Gray and Chris Rowland were both made inactive for Week 2, leaving Jordan Suell, Diondre Overton, and Maurice Alexander on the roster. Philly ran plenty of four-receiver sets in their opener, so we may see Bug Howard play the role of de facto WR4 for them. Rowland stole the show in Week 1, posting a 7/74 line on nine targets. Suell and Overton each saw three targets last week and should be in line for larger roles. Alexander converted from quarterback to receiver in college but made plays after the switch. He should be the least popular of the trio making him an intriguing tournament option.

Birmingham Stallions vs. Houston Gamblers

Stallions -3 (-110) / 41 O/U

Quarterbacks

Stallions quarterback Alex McGough got hurt in the first half last week and did not return, allowing head coach Skip Holtz to reunite with J'mar Smith, who he coached in college. Smith threw 51 scores to 21 interceptions at Lousiana Tech while adding 856 rushing yards and 15 scores (including yardage lost on sacks, which the NCAA does to spite me personally). Smith averaged over seven yards per attempt in Week 1, tossed one score, and punched another in on the ground. As long as Smith starts, he is viable for cash games at $8,000.

The Gamblers' offense sat back and watched their defense put in work in Week 1. They passed on 42 percent of their plays while running fewer plays than any other offense in the league. Clayton Thorson averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Being dogs to the Stallions this week should boost their play volume, but this looks like a QB room to fade. With Thorson on one end and the Stallions possibly running more with Smith on the other, this game, like most USFL contests, looks like an under.

Running Backs

The Stallions' back-and-forth Week 1 kept them from running the ball much. They had 15 running back carries in total, eight of which went to Tony Brooks-James. TBJ also saw three targets, making him the more interesting half of the Birmingham backfield.

Mark Thompson led the Gamblers with a 13/71 rushing line while Dalyn Dawkins only saw 10 carries, though he did run a few more routes than Thompson. Neither back was targeted in the passing game. Thompson is the preferred option by a small margin.

Wide Receivers

After playing the same three receivers on every passing snap with no fourth option entering the picture, no team has my heart like the Stallions do. Victor Bolden led them with nine targets while Osirus Mitchell saw seven looks. Three of Marlon Williams' five targets came with McGough under center.

Houston only had two receivers of note. JoJo Ward, an impressive producer for two years at Hawaii, ran laps around his team with nine targets. He turned his 50 percent target share into seven catches for 48 yards. He was then placed on the inactive list because of an injury. Isaiah Zuber saved his three-target day with a toe-tapping touchdown reception. He also ran a route on every Houston dropback. Zuber got on the field for the Patriots during the 2020 regular season, a feat few receivers in this league can say. Anthony Ratliff-Williams should take on a larger role with Ward out.


New Orleans Breakers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits

Bandits -2.5 (-110) / O/U 41

Quarterbacks

The Breakers led for the bulk of their Week 1 win over the Stars. However, it was a close game throughout, making their pass rate of 48 percent a bit jarring. Larry Fedora runs a spread offense that is generally pass-heavy and fast, so we can still have some optimism around this team going forward. NFL preseason phenom Kyle Sloter chose to check down for most of his debut, targeting his tight ends and running backs on 13-of-27 dropbacks.

Jordan Ta'amu, who many presumed to be the league's best quarterback, had a lackluster Week 1. He was intercepted twice and averaged 5.8 yards per throw. Because the Bandits were facing an inept Maulers offense, they had the luxury of playing slow and balanced. I don't expect that to be the case in Week 2, so we should get more volume and a better performance from Ta'amu. Still, with Ta'amu looking no better than Sloter in Week 1, it's hard to buy them being favored by 2.5 points.

Running Backs

New Orleans split their backfield between C.J. Ellis and T.J. Logan. Ellis posted an 18/89/1 line on the ground but was not targeted. Logan, who has played under Holtz in the past, earned 15 carries and four catches.

The Bandits gave us our first bell-cow back in B.J. Emmons. A former four-star recruit for Alabama, Emmons handled 19 carries and three targets. He should be a staple of cash games in Week 2.

Wide Receiver

Johnnie Dixon and Chad Williams led the Breakers' receivers in routes with Jonathan Adams not far behind. The initial favorite to lead them in targets, Shawn Pointdexter, was clearly their WR4. Tight end Sal Cannella led the entire squad with seven targets. He turned in a 6/58 day. Cannella is one of the few tight ends that can be used in fantasy lineups.

Cheyenne O'Grady, a tight end, led the Bandits with a whopping 11 targets. He caught eight of those balls for 86 yards. O'Grady went for 772 yards and seven scores in his final two seasons at Arkansas. With how light tight end production can be in college, those are impressive numbers. Tampa Bay rotated six different receivers consistently, with none of their wideouts reaching a 70 percent route rate. Jordan Lasley paced the crew with five targets. O'Grady never left the field and may turn out to be this team's de facto WR1.