After two weeks of USFL ball, the league has shown 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.
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Houston Gamblers
Bandits -1.5 / 38.5 O/U
The Bandits have been a surprisingly mediocre team despite being a popular bet to take home the title prior to Week 1. Jordan Ta'amu hasn't been the clear QB1 that most billed him to be, leading to the offense underperforming. He is averaging fewer than five yards per attempt and his completion rate has fallen off a cliff since his XFL heyday. He was even pulled for a few snaps in Week 2. Assuming he still draws some popularity because of his name, Ta'amu is an easy fade.
Clayton Thorson isn't much better, but at least he is cheap ($7,600) and won't be popular. His touchdown rate of 6.8 percent leads all starting quarterbacks, though it has come on just 44 total throws to the Gamblers' snail-like pace. Given the middling (at best) quarterback play featured in this game, it looks like another under bet.
B.J. Emmons' 59 percent share of the Bandit's carries plus three catches per week has made him a lock in cash games. I'm even fine loading up on him in tournaments and pivoting to unowned wide receivers. With how volatile receiving depth charts have been compared to their running back counterparts, that's where we want to get different.
Dalyn Dawkins has also dominated his backfield, but the Gamblers' pace has limited him to less than 15 carries per week. He also has zero catches. With no projectable receiving work, Dawkins will need to find the end zone to make a winning lineup.
Jordan Lasley led the Bandits with a 31 percent air yards share through two weeks but was cut because of an injury, opening up Tampa's field-stretching role. That could go to John Franklin, who is second on the team in air yards and has a 12.4 aDOT on the year. Cheyenne O'Grady is top-three in receptions (10) and receiving yards (107) for the entire league. Though he isn't going to pick up any deep shots, O'Grady should be viewed as Tampa Bay's WR1.
With JoJo Ward seemingly still out, Isaiah Zuber is in for another week of WR1 duties for Houston. Zuber saw seven targets and scored his second touchdown of the season last week. Anthony Ratliff-Williams was just behind him with six targets. Tyler Simmons quelty saw 10 targets after missing Week 1. He only caught two of them but did score once. Simmons was a special teams player at Georgia and is only $3,000 on DraftKings.
New Orleans Breakers vs. Birmingham Stallions
Breakers -3.5 / 44.5 O/U
Kyle Sloter is dealing with hand and shoulder issues. His limited status in practice suggests he will play through them. Sloter has been an average quarterback in the USFL, earning 6.3 yards per attempt with a three percent touchdown rate. He also has some rushing chops, posting a 5/31/1 line on the ground so far. Sloter will be a popular option based on being a competent quarterback in a potential shootout this week.
J'mar Smith continued playing well in Week 2, totaling 229 passing yards and two scores on 30 attempts. He also rushed eight times. At $8,600, Smith is easily the most mispriced quarterback of the week. This game will also feature the only two offenses with a positive EPA per play.
The Breakers have been giving Jordan Ellis the majority of their carries. T.J. Logan has taken the field for passing downs while also seeing a healthy workload on the ground. That has made Logan the more valuable option, but he hasn't practiced this week because of a foot issue. No other back on this team has a carry through two weeks. If Logan is out, Ellis becomes a free square at just $5,400.
CJ Marable was the lead back for the Stallions last week, totaling 16 carries to Tony Brooks-James' nine. He also picked up two receptions for the second time this year. Marable was an electric player at Coastal Carolina and plays one of the league's best offenses. His backfield share isn't topping charts but he should be viewed as one of the best fantasy backs.
The Breakers' receiving room has been a mess, though the loss of Chad Williams may clarify things. Jonathan Adams and Johnnie Dixon are the clear top two options for New Orleans, with Adams pacing the team in air yards and Dixon leading the way in targets. Adams dropped a 79/1,111/12 line in his final season at Arkansas State and looks like a man among boys in the USFL.
Osirus Mitchell and Victor Bolden are the two receivers with more than nine targets for the Stallions. Bolden leads the league with a 46 percent target share while Mitchell holds one of the highest shares of his team's air yards. Bolden hasn't converted his massive workload into a breakout game yet, but we should be getting one soon if his volume holds steady.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Michigan Panthers
Panthers -2.5 / 38.5 O/U
Jeff Fisher gave Shea Patterson the whole game last week, but the Michigan quarterback failed to make the most of his opportunity. He averaged 4.3 yards per attempt and didn't find the end zone. The Panthers also leaned toward a balanced approach on offense, passing on just over 50 percent of their plays.
The Maulers installed Josh Love as their full-time quarterback, passed on 56 percent of their plays, and put 23 points on the board last week. They looked like an entirely different football team, even if they were unable to bring home the win. Love was an uninspiring starter at San Jose State, though he did build chemistry with Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker while in school. Love's having repertoire with his receivers and Patterson's struggles combine to make the Maulers a solid bet with the points here.
The Panthers had three backs land between seven and nine carries last week, but Reggie Corbin will be out because of an injury. That leaves Cameron Scarlett and Stevie Scott. Scott opened the year as Michigan's primary runner but last week's split, which fell to 9-7 in favor of Scarlett, makes the latter an interesting tournament option. Scarlett also saw four targets.
We're still waiting on health updates for Joe Walker and Jeff Badet. For now, we will assume both are out this week. Last week, operating as an alpha WR1, Lance Lenoir saw nine targets. He also led the league in air yards in Week 2. Devin Ross was Michigan's WR2 with three targets.
Gaither posted a 7/117/1 receiving line on nine targets while Delvon Hardaway only managed 48 yards on the same workload. Walker wasn't far behind with seven targets, though he did even less with that. All three are in play for tournaments this week and Gaither could appear in some cash games.
New Jersey Generals vs. Philadelphia Stars
Stars -1.5 / 40.5 O/U
The Generals continued rotating their quarterbacks last week, giving Luis Perez the bulk of the passing snaps while bringing in DeAndre Johnson for loads of rushing reps. The split makes both quarterbacks unviable for fantasy purposes.
Philly's entire team will need monitored for injuries on Friday and Saturday. Bryan Scott did not practice early in the week, but his team is running laps around the league in pass rate. Scott will play through the slew of injuries, making him the best pay-up option of the week based on his team's absurd pass rate.
New Jersey has anointed Darius Victor as their RB1 and Trey Williams as their change-of-pace back. Luckily for Williams, that role has landed him a team-high nine receptions. Victor's nonexistent usage in the receiving game makes Williams a far better option for fantasy purposes, even if Victor projects for a few more carries.
The Stars are a mess at running back. Matt Colburn didn't play last week because of a knee issue and Darnell Holland exited the game with a hamstring injury. That left Paul Terry to see eight carries and four targets. Terry has experience in Stars head coach Bart Andrus's offense and is now healthy after missing Week 1. He is worth taking some shots on now that we know Holland will sit and Colburn will be active this week.
Randy Satterfield and Darius Shepherd started for the Generals last week. Shepherd, who made took the field for the Packers as recently as 2020, saw six targets. No other receiver on the team saw more than three looks. Satterfield became the first USFL receiver to post a 100-yard receiving game in Week 1 but disappeared last week. If the Stars can put up points and force the Generals to respond, New Jersey receivers could become solid tournament plays.
Nearly every receiver on the Stars is dealing with some sort of injury. With no idea who is in and who is out, here is how I would rank them if the entire group was healthy:
All five of these players will be active. Suell, Gray, and Overton likely deserve the highest snap projections, though Alexander and Rowland are the two receivers who have spiked for big games on the Stars. Rowland was the oft-used WR4 in Week 1 when everyone was healthy, so I'll be taking plenty of shots on him with some of the rest sprinkled in.