With five weeks now in the books, the USFL continues to sharpen its product on a weekly basis. After a few struggles with the injury reports, the league appears to have a consistent system in place. With Week 6 on deck, DraftKings has again provided a slew of DFS contests to take advantage of. This piece will dig into the particulars of each game, pointing towards the best DraftKings USFL DFS picks this week.
Week 6 DraftKings USFL DFS Picks
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Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia USFL DFS Picks
Tampa Bay Bandits
Now 3-2 to start the season, the Tampa Bay Bandits have actually been outscored by opponents 99-84. The Bandits rank sixth in tempo and fourth in pass rate (50.7%). Tampa Bay enters Week 6 as a three-point favorite over Philadelphia in a game with a slate-leading 39.5 point total. Despite the healthy total, the Bandits still rank fourth in implied team total due to the tight spread.
At quarterback, the Tampa Bay Bandits will rely on Jordan Ta’amu ($10,800). On the year, Ta’amu has completed 48.3% of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt. Ta’amu’s output as a passer has been nothing special, but his rushing numbers have increased. Last week, Ta’amu rushed nine times for 27 yards. Over the last three games, Ta’amu has averaged seven rushing attempts per game. While he has only thrown the ball 46 total times since the USFL changed its play clock rules, his output on the ground makes up for it. Ta’amu also draws a solid matchup against the league-worst Philadelphia Stars defense. No team allows more yards per attempt on the ground (5.2), but they also allow the third most yards per attempt through the air (6.55). For DFS purposes, matchup and rushing ability keep Ta’amu squarely in play.
At running back, the Bandits played Juwan Washington ($4,500) 100% of the snaps after ruling out B.J. Emmons ($9,400) with a quad injury. Washington carried 14 times for an inefficient 48 yards and a pair of scores. He also saw one target in the passing game, despite running a route on 81% of dropbacks. In the week prior, Emmons played 66% of the snaps, carried 11 times and saw four targets. In comparison, Washington played 36% of the snaps, carried three times and received two targets. With a healthy Emmons, Washington should return to his role as a change of pace back. However, if either misses time, the other becomes an excellent DFS play, which would certainly be the case against the USFL’s worst run defense in Philadelphia.
Last week, the Bandits transferred Derrick Willies ($3,000) to the inactive roster, somewhat solidifying their top passing game options. In his place, John Franklin ($4,000) operated as the clear WR1. He participated in 100% of the routes, while turning nine targets into five catches, 81 yards and a score. Franklin continues to handle the occasional carry or two, making him the safest receiver in this offense. Behind him, Derrick Dillon ($4,700) operated as the WR2. However, Dillon only played on 69% of the routes and received three targets. This came with Vinny Papale ($3,300), Keith Mumphery ($3,000) and Rashard Davis ($6,400) rotating in for 42%, 31% and 27% of the routes. Tampa Bay has played a wide receiver rotation for most of the season, making this a volatile situation to target. The Bandits even rotate the tight end position with Cheyenne O’Grady ($4,800) and De’Quan Hampton ($2,500) participating in 42% and 54% of the routes. Even worse, no one saw more than two targets other than Franklin and Dillon. For those stacking the Bandits, Franklin and Dillon remain the two top options.
On the other side, the Philadelphia Stars fell to 2-3 after their most recent loss. They have also been outscored by opponents 125-106, behind the worst defenses in the USFL. As a team, they throw at the highest rate (68.3%), but they also run the fewest plays per game. The Stars still project fairly well with an 18.25-point implied team total. This number ranks fifth on the slate and well ahead of the bottom three teams.
With Bryan Scott still out, the Philadelphia Stars continue to trot out Case Cookus ($8,600). Cookus has completed 63.5% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt in the Stars’ dink and dunk offense. He does not offer much mobility, carrying the ball just six times total over the last two weeks. Still, Cookus brings a decent floor from pure passing volume alone. He has averaged 32.5 pass attempts per game over the last two. Tampa Bay allows the second-most yards per pass attempt (7.1), giving Cookus a more favorable matchup here. Still very cheap by USFL standards, stacking Cookus makes sense for those punting the position in tournaments. For what it is worth, certain content creators love the Stars’ offense and they generally come in over owned.
After previously using Paul Terry ($5,300) as their lead back, the Stars decided to involve Matt Colburn ($4,600) in an equal timeshare. Despite being significantly more efficient, Terry only played on 49% of the snaps and participated in 49% of the routes. Conversely, Colburn played on 47% of the snaps and participated in 36% of the routes. In the end, Terry outgained Colburn 52-10 on the ground, despite only carrying the ball twice. Terry also displayed excellent pass-catching ability, reeling in five of his six targets for another 43 yards. Interestingly, the Stars also activated Darnell Holland ($6,900), but he only played two snaps. Holland previously functioned as the team’s lead back before going down with a hamstring injury. If this backfield devolves into a three-man committee, none will be very useful. However, Terry’s efficiency and modest price keep him playable. Tampa Bay ranks as the USFL’s second-best run defense, allowing 3.7 yards per rush attempt.
While the Stars’ passing volume looks nice on paper, their overall inefficiencies have not contributed to much DFS success in recent weeks. The Stars have also begun to rotate receivers, complicating matters. Leading the group, Jordan Suell ($7,900) and tight end Bug Howard ($4,400) participated in 85% and 87% of the routes last week. Suell led the team with nine targets, catching four for 36 scoreless yards. Even worse, Howard only caught one of six targets for 30 yards. Devin Gray ($7,800) and Diondre Overton ($5,700) operated as the WR3 and WR4 in an offense that exclusively uses four wide sets. Gray participated in 79% of the routes, while Overton saw 69%. Both saw exactly three targets and found little efficiency overall. With reduced routes, both will be harder to trust moving forward. Rotational pieces Chris Rowland ($3,500) and Maurice Alexander ($3,700) participated in 44% and 38% of the routes as well. Rowland actually caught four-of-five targets for 39 yards, but he simply did not play enough to trust moving forward. Ultimately, Rowland’s and Alexander’s playing time hurts the viability of Overton and Gray more than anything else. Overall, Suell and Howard remain the safest plays here.
Michigan vs. Birmingham USFL DFS Picks
Despite a brutal 1-4 start to the season, the Michigan Panthers have outscored their opponents 87-80 this season. The Panthers have struggled through brutal quarterback play, but their offense still possesses strong attributes. Overall, the Panthers run the second-most plays per game but pass the ball at the third-lowest rate (48.4%). This week, they sit as 6.5-point underdogs to the undefeated Birmingham Stallions in a game with a 37.5-point total. With a 15.5-point team total, the Panthers project only ahead of the Pittsburgh Maulers.
With Paxton Lynch on the shelf, Shea Patterson ($9,500) has received full run as the Michigan Panthers’ starting signal caller. On the year, Patterson boasts a 56.8% completion percentage for 5.9 yards per attempt. However, Patterson put up his first big performance of the year last week. He completed 23-of-37 passes for 304 yards while rushing eight times for another 46 yards. While the Panthers will occasionally focus on a run-heavy approach, Patterson’s rushing volume has been no joke. The former Michigan Wolverine now has 17 rushing attempts over the last two weeks and 125 rushing yards. Birmingham possesses a top-three pass defense, but Patterson can at least be targeted in GPPs with this newfound rushing upside.
The Michigan Panthers continue to whimsically deploy their three backs in Reggie Corbin ($5,700), Cameron Scarlett ($4,800) and Stevie Scott ($7,100). Corbin has taken a lead in this backfield after rushing for 100-plus yards in two consecutive games. Unfortunately, Corbin only turned his 12 carries into 28 scoreless yards in Week 5, while ceding almost all of the work in the passing game to Scarlett. After playing just 41% of the snaps, Corbin’s presence in a timeshare will create volatility on a week-to-week basis. As mentioned above, Scarlett functioned as the pass catcher. He played 39% of the snaps and participated in 40% of the routes. This allowed him to catch three-of-six targets for an inefficient 18 yards. Scott played a change of pace role, playing 20% of the snaps and seeing five carries. Birmingham ranks as the second-worst run defense in the USFL, but predicting this backfield remains tricky. At a middling price, Corbin still provides the best projection in a volatile backfield.
The Michigan Panthers continue to use Lance Lenoir ($8,700) as their alpha with little consistency behind him. Overall, Lenoir ranks fourth in the USFL with 40 targets (29% target share). However, he has struggled to convert these targets into on-field production. To this point, Lenoir has 20 catches for 221 receiving yards. Still, he has been the most consistent option to this point and runs a route on almost every dropback. Behind him, Devin Ross ($3,600) participated in 66% of the routes last week but saw six targets. He turned those targets into five catches for 68 yards. Ross also has at least five targets in four-of-five games this year. He does not provide the same consistency as Lenoir, but he should be considered the second option here. Behind these two, Michigan is a complete mess. Joe Walker ($3,800) participated in 49% of the routes, while Ray Bolden ($3,000) checked in at 53%. Michigan uses multiple tight ends as its base package as well, limiting wide receiver snaps. Unfortunately, that is also a rotation. Connor Davis ($2,500), Ryan O’Malley ($3,000) and La’Michael Pettway ($2,800) participated in 38%, 36% and 49% of the routes, respectively. Marcus Baugh ($2,500) has also been injured. His potential return could further complicate matters. While one or two of these options could pop up for big weeks on occasion, predicting when that will occur remains a different story entirely.
The undefeated Birmingham Stallions have outscored opponents 129-92 to start the season. As a team, they run the fourth-most plays and pass at the fifth-highest rate (50.5%). The only team with home field advantage, the Stallions remain a sizeable favorite against the Panthers. At this point, the Stallions remain tied with the New Orleans Breakers for the second-highest implied team total on the slate (22).
The Stallions nearly tried to lose their undefeated record by sending out Alex McGough ($8,000) as their starter at quarterback. However, after completing four-of-11 passes for 50 yards, a score and an interception, the Stallions rightfully decided to return to J’Mar Smith ($10,000). Playing every snap after McGough’s benching, Smith completed 17-of-22 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. On the year, Smith has been vastly better than McGough, completing 57% of his passes for 7.1 yards per attempt. Smith also has solid mobility, rushing for 5.2 yards per attempt this season. The former Tulsa signal caller had 19 rushing attempts through the first three games before the coaching staff inexplicably forced McGough onto the field. Overall, Michigan plays above-average pass defense, but Smith still has multiple paths to paying off his $10,000 salary. He makes sense across formats here.
After using just two backs to start the season, the Birmingham Stallions signed former Alabama back Bo Scarbrough ($4,000) to the roster. Scarbrough immediately stepped in to play 22% of the snaps, carrying seven times for 25 yards. Fortunately, this did not really affect lead back C.J. Marable ($8,200), who carried 23 times for 114 yards and a score, while reeling in two-of-four targets for an additional 17 yards. Tony Brooks-James ($6,000) has become an afterthought in the backfield. He only played on 13% of the snaps and received one carry. The potential for a three-back committee raises concerns here, but Marable continues to dominate work. He played on 78% of the snaps and participated in 71% of the routes. Michigan ranks as a middle-of-the-pack run defense, but Marable should still receive enough of the work to pay off his DFS salary.
Another positive to Birmingham is their insistence on using just three wide receivers. Leading this group, Victor Bolden ($10,600) leads all USFL receivers with 51 targets (32.2% target share). He also ranks fourth in receiving yards with 260. Last week, he participated in 97% of routes and caught six-of-eight targets for 45 scoreless yards. Behind him, Marlon Williams ($5,100) and Osirus Mitchell ($9,200) participated in 95% and 82% of routes. Williams racked up five catches, 75 yards and a score on eight targets. Mitchell has been less involved of late, but he also caught four-of-seven targets for 58 yards. Even Michael Dereus ($3,600) popped up for three catches, 32 yards and a score on four targets even though he only participated in 24% of the routes. At tight end, Cary Angeline ($5,600) returned from injury and participated in 92% of routes. He only saw two targets, but Sage Surratt ($2,5o0) was not even active for the game. Angeline had 17 targets over three games prior to his absence. He is a solid bet to return to those numbers in the upcoming weeks.
Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans USFL DFS Picks
Picking up their first win of the season against the Houston Gamblers last week, the Pittsburgh Maulers sit at 1-4. While they have been outscored 112-60 this year, the Maulers have shown improvement in recent weeks. Overall, the Maulers rank fifth in tempo and second in pass rate (57.1%). At first, the Maulers attempted a run-first approach, but game script and inefficiency on the ground have caused them to rely on an aerial attack. Unfortunately, the New Orleans Breakers possess a top-two defense, making this a difficult matchup for the Maulers. The Maulers sit as an eight-point underdog to the Breakers in a game with a 36-point total. This gives them the lowest implied team total on the slate at 14 points.
After inexplicably waiving Josh Love ($6,600), the Pittsburgh Maulers attempted to force Kyle Lauletta ($7,600) onto the field. However, after sustained horrific play, the Maulers turned to Vad Lee ($6,400) after signing him earlier in the week. Lee played an erratic style of ball but ultimately led the Maulers to a win. Overall, he completed 19-of-32 passes for 170 yards, a pair of scores and an interception. Truthfully, he was lucky to walk away with just one interception. However, Lee appears to possess at least some mobility. He rushed five times for 20 yards in relief of Lauletta last week. Unfortunately, Lee has a much tougher test this week against a New Orleans defense allowing the second-fewest yards per pass attempt (5.6). There is a chance the Maulers continue to rotate quarterbacks, making Lee risky. However, he can still be used as a salary saver in large-field tournaments due to his elite stacking options.
One of the least efficient run games in the USFL, Garrett Groshek ($6,400) and Madre London ($6,100) continue to split the backfield. On the year, Groshek has averaged 3.4 yards per carry, compared to London’s four yards per carry. However, it is Groshek that continues to lead the backfield. Last week, Groshek played on 61% of the snaps and participated in 51% of the routes. Meanwhile, London played on 33% of the snaps and participated in 15% of the routes. London actually out carried Groshek 11-7, but Groshek received five targets to London’s one. New Orleans ranks third in run defense, creating a tough environment for either runner. Tentatively, Groshek looks like the superior play based on his work in the passing game, but both remain volatile in a tough matchup.
At receiver, the Maulers actually have two legitimate threats in the former San Jose State teammates, Bailey Gaither ($8,300) and Tre Walker ($4,400). Walker currently leads the USFL with 287 receiving yards, while Gaither ranks third with 267. More impressively, Gaither already missed two games. Emerging in recent weeks, Walker has 17 and 13 targets over the Maulers’ last two games. Gaither just returned from injury in Week 5, but he immediately caught eight-of-10 targets for 108 yards and a pair of scores. Both remain excellent DFS plays based on individual talent, but Walker brings a favorable price tag. However, this should come with elevated ownership. Outside of the top two, Delvon Hardaway ($3,700) actually participated in 89% of the team’s routes and saw nine targets himself. He only managed two catches for five receiving yards on nine targets and should function well behind Gaither and Walker in most weeks. The tight end position remained a rotation between Artayvious Lynn ($2,500) and Hunter Thedford ($2,500). With Gaither and Walker drawing such enormous target shares, they also remain the top two DFS plays in the entire Maulers’ offense.
New Orleans Breakers
On the other side, the New Orleans Breakers suffered their second loss of the year in Week 5, putting their overall record at 3-2. Still, the Breakers look like one of the better teams in this league. So far, they’ve outscored opponents 110-85 and only the Stallions have scored more points overall. The Breakers boast the USFL’s fastest offense, while ranking third in pass rate (54.9%). As eight-point favorites, the Breakers remain tied with the Stallions for second-highest implied team total at 22 points.
After a hot start to the season, Kyle Sloter ($11,000) somewhat regressed against a stout New Jersey defense last week. Sloter only completed 15-of-36 passes for 155 yards, two scores, and two interceptions. On the year, Sloter has completed 57% of his passes for a serviceable 6.3 yards per attempt. However, Sloter benefits from the fastest offense in the USFL. He averages just two rushing attempts per game, so the pass attempts need to be elevated for Sloter. Fortunately, Sloter has at least 36 pass attempts in each of the Breakers’ last four games. Pittsburgh ranks middle of the pack in pass defense, making this a solid bounce-back spot for one of the league’s better signal callers.
Set on using two backs, the New Orleans Breakers gave former FIU back Anthony Jones ($3,000) his first opportunities in Week 5. Jones only played 25% of the snaps, but he carries eight times for a pathetic 21 yards, while catching one of two targets. Meanwhile, feature back Jordan Ellis ($8,500) continued to work as the lead in this offense. Ellis played on 75% of the snaps and participated in 72% of the routes. Curiously, this only led to 42 rushing yards on 12 carries and one target in the pass game for Ellis. The Virginia product touched the ball at least 20 times in each of the three prior games, raising committee concerns moving forward. However, snaps and routes put Ellis in the buy-low category for now. Pittsburgh ranks middle of the pack in run defense, keeping Ellis squarely in play as one of the top backs on the slate.
At receiver, the Breakers have consistently used Jonathan Adams ($6,100) and Johnnie Dixon ($8,500) as their two top receivers. Adams has played excellent football this year and ranks second with 273 receiving yards. Dixon has out targeted Adams 43-34, but his 237 receiving yards reflect inferior efficiency. Either way, both are solid options and will participate in nearly every snap. Tight end Sal Cannella ($5,500) also remains heavily involved. Cannella already has 36 targets and 230 receiving yards this year, putting him on par with Adams and Dixon. He also participates in 95% or more of the routes on a weekly basis. From there, New Orleans moved Shawn Poindexter ($6,600) to a rotational role in favor of former NFL veteran Taywan Taylor ($5,400). Taylor participated in 79% of the Breakers’ routes, compared to 44% for Poindexter. Interestingly, Poindexter out targeted Taylor 4-1. However, Taylor’s increased playing time remains a multiweek trend. Overall, Adams is by far the best price-adjusted play in the offense, followed by Dixon and Cannella. Taylor and Poindexter remain dicey GPP plays at this point.
Houston vs. New Jersey USFL DFS Picks
Struggling of late, the Houston Gamblers handed the Pittsburgh Maulers their first win of the season last week. Now sitting at 1-4, the Gamblers have been outscored by opponents 116-107. As a team, they are the second-slowest squad in the USFL, with the sixth-highest pass rate (48.4%). Making matters worse, the Generals boast the USFL’s top defense through five weeks. Houston’s 15.75 implied team total ranks sixth on this slate. Currently, the Gamblers remain seven-point underdogs to the Generals in a game with a 38.5-point total.
Towards the bottom of the quarterback talents, Clayton Thorson ($8,200) continues to lead the Houston Gamblers. Thorson has completed 52.5% of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt this year. The former Northwestern signal caller does not offer much as a rusher, averaging 2.4 yards per rushing attempt. Making matters worse, Thorson also faces a league-leading New Jersey pass defense. As a team, the Generals have only allowed 5.5 yards per pass attempt this year. With other quarterbacks in much better spots with superior talent, Thorson remains an easy fade outside of the largest of tournaments.
At running back, the Houston Gamblers continue to feature Mark Thompson ($7,600). Thompson now has at least 14 touches in four straight games, carrying 17 times for 80 yards in the Gamblers’ most recent contest. Importantly, Thompson continued to dominate playing time, participating in 75% of the snaps and 61% of the routes for the Gamblers. The Gamblers throw to the running back position at the lowest rate in the USFL, but Thompson would benefit if it ever occurs. Behind Thompson, the Gamblers moved back to Dalyn Dawkins ($3,900) as their change of pace. He played on 22% of the snaps, carrying seven times for an inefficient 24 yards. New Jersey possesses the best run defense in the USFL, but Thompson still has one of the best workloads in football, keeping him in play for DFS lineups.
Houston’s top receiver, Isaiah Zuber ($10,200), put together a solid game with three catches, 72 yards and a score on eight targets last week. As his 37.5% catch rate indicates, Zuber’s efficiency problems stem from his shaky quarterback. At $10,200, there are simply much better price-adjusted receivers. Behind Zuber, Houston is a complete mess. After popping up for a solid Week 4, Houston moved JoJo Ward ($6,000) to the inactive list, despite failing to disclose any injury status. This is the second time Ward’s status has not been disclosed and Houston does not look likely to change its reporting any time soon. When active, he is been the clear WR2. Without Ward in the picture, Teo Redding ($3,100) participated in 91% of the routes, while Anthony Ratliff-Williams ($4,500) came in at 82%. Ratliff-Williams out targeted Redding 4-2, but this has not been a consistent rotation behind Zuber. Even Tyler Palka ($3,200) participated in 64% of the routes, seeing four targets himself. Tight ends Julian Allen ($2,500) and Brandon Barnes ($2,500) each participated in 32% and 36% of the routes and look like nonfactors moving forward. Ultimately, Zuber remains the only safe play here with Redding, Ratliff-Williams and Ward (if active) functioning as GPP plays.
New Jersey Generals
In one of Week 5’s largest upsets, the New Jersey Generals knocked off the New Orleans Breakers to get to 4-1. While unconventional at times, the Generals have outscored opponents 106-80 behind their elite run game and defense. Overall, the Generals rank third in tempo and last in pass rate (38.5%). However, the Generals have the highest implied team total on the slate (22.75 points) as seven-point favorites over the Houston Gamblers in a game with a 38.5-point total overall. Only the Philadelphia Stars have a worse defense than the Houston Gamblers this year.
For the first time all season, the New Jersey Generals fully committed to De’Andre Johnson ($8,400) under center. Johnson played every snap, completing 14-of-21 passes for 213 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 39 yards and a pair of scores. On the year, Johnson has completed 70% of his passes for 10.3 yards per attempt. He even averages five yards per carry as a rusher, giving him the best floor of any signal caller in this league. On the other side, Houston possesses one of the worst defenses in the USFL. This includes a league-worst pass defense, allowing 7.2 yards per pass attempt. While Luis Perez ($7,000) could continue to siphon off a few snaps here and there, Johnson has become the best price-adjusted quarterback play ahead of Week 6.
The New Jersey three-pronged rushing attack features Darius Victor ($5,900) and Trey Williams ($9,000), alongside its quarterback. While Johnson will account for about a third of the rushing attempts, Victor appears to have moved slightly ahead of Williams on the ground. Last week, Victor played 57% of the snaps and participated in 40% of the routes. He also carried the ball 17 times for 95 yards and a score, while securing his only target in the passing game. Conversely, Williams played on 43% of the snaps and participated in 48% of the routes. He carried 13 times for 44 yards while snagging all three of his targets for an additional 12 yards. Interestingly, the Generals will also use KaVontae Turpin ($7,400) in the run game. Turpin has at least two carries in every game this year. Houston possesses a bottom-three run defense, making this an elite matchup for all of the participants in the run game. Victor remains a significantly better price-adjusted play, but both are options here.
Already mentioned above, Tuprin will function as the Generals’ top pass-catcher. Turpin only participated on 72% of the routes, but he led the team in targets for the second consecutive week with six. Hyper productive on those targets, Turpin caught five of them for 106 scoreless yards. Behind him, Darrius Shepherd ($4,200) participated in 96% of the routes and received four targets. Alonzo Moore ($4,600) participated in 84% of the routes himself and saw just one target. This has been the three-wide-receiver configuration used for multiple weeks now and should continue moving forward. At tight end, Woody Brandom ($2,500) participated in 80% of routes. The team did not have Braedon Bowman ($2,500), who previously split time with Brandom. Neither has been particularly involved, to begin with, but this is a situation to monitor.Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media!