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USFL DFS Picks: Week 7 USFL DraftKings Strategy

Matt Gajewski

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Through six weeks of USFL, the league has developed into a unique DFS puzzle. Unlike the NFL, USFL injury reporting remains poor and week to week usage trends continue to be volatile. This creates an environment suited to GPPs, where players can benefit from this uncertainty. However, based on the prior six weeks, this piece will dig into the particulars of each game, pointing towards the best DraftKings USFL DFS picks this week.

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Week 7 DraftKings USFL DFS Picks

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New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay USFL DFS Picks

New Jersey Generals

Now 5-1 to start the season, the New Jersey Generals have outscored their opponents 132-105 this season. A unique offense even by USFL standards, the Generals run the second-most plays per game, while passing at the lowest rate in the USFL (39.2%). Still, this makes the Generals the clear favorite to come out of the North Division. This week, they’re four-point favorites over the Tampa Bay Bandits in a game with a 42.5-point total. Implied for 23.25, the Generals hold the fourth-highest implied team total this week.

Only a week after playing every offensive snap for the first time, De’Andre Johnson ($8,900) appeared to sustain an injury in Week 6. Johnson is the single best dual-threat quarterback in the USFL when healthy, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt on the ground and 10.5 through the air. In his place, Luis Perez ($7,300) played fine. A completely different player, Perez offers no mobility and remains a liability to finish with negative rushing yards. However, he has completed a serviceable 65% of his passes for 6.2 yards per attempt this year. If Johnson misses time, Perez would be a solid, yet unexciting DFS play against a mediocre Tampa Bay pass defense. The Generals did claim the recently cut Kyle Lauletta ($7,000), which doesn’t bode well for Johnson’s status.

While the Generals run a committee between, Trey Williams ($9,400) and Darius Victor ($7,100), their overall run-heavy scheme has led to viability for both rushers. With Johnson’s injury, this backfield could also be reduced to just the two backs. Last week, both backs carried exactly 16 times. Williams notched 76 rushing yards, while Victor managed 57. Victor saw two targets to Williams’ one, but this backfield remains as close to a 50/50 split as possible. Victor has been slightly more efficient as a runner, but Williams has the better passing-game role on the year. However, when adjusting for price, both backs come out as solid plays in Week 7. It should also be noted that wide receiver KaVontae Turpin ($8,300) also plays a minor role in the run game. The gadget player has at least two carries in every game this year.

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At receiver, Turpin clearly leads the group. His 36 targets (25.4% target share) pace the team and he has seen at least five targets in every game except one. Interestingly, Turpin only participated in 53% of the routes in Week 6, but he still dominated the targets with 11. Turpin also leads the USFL with 341 receiving yards, despite seeing only 36 targets. Alonzo Moore ($4,500) remained the only receiver to participate in 100% of the routes, but he only saw three targets. Randy Satterfield ($4,100) actually participated in 59% of the routes, but saw one target. Darrius Shepherd ($4,000) and Cam Echols-Luper ($3,000) each played a rotational role with 32% and 15% of the routes, respectively. The most consistent option behind Turpin has actually been tight end Woody Brandom ($2,500). Brandom ranks third on the team with 19 targets, but he still participated in 88% of the routes last week. For reference, Moore only has 14 targets this year. Either way, Turpin is the clear option to target here, with Brandom and Moore ranking second and third. As a whole, stacks of the Generals may go underowned this week, if Perez is the clear starter.

Tampa Bay Bandits

On the other side, the Tampa Bay Bandits sit at 3-3. They’ve been outscored by opponents 134-112, losing their most recent game. Despite Todd Haley’s pedigree as an NFL play-caller, the Bandits rank sixth in pace, but third in pass rate (52.3%). Even as just four-point underdogs here, the Bandits rank sixth on the slate with their 19.25 implied team total. New Jersey possesses the second-best defense in the USFL, making this a tough matchup overall.

After struggling to start the year, Jordan Ta’amu ($11,000) has recently come alive for the Bandits. Last week, he completed 27-of-40 passes for 333 yards and four scores. More importantly, he ran nine times for an additional 61 yards. Ta’amu has averaged 7.5 carries per game over his last four appearances, making him one of the safer signal-callers in this league. Even at an expensive price tag against the league’s best run defense, Ta’amu remains a solid DFS play here.

After missing one week with a thigh injury, B.J. Emmons ($9,000) returned to his timeshare with Juwan Washington ($4,900) in Week 6. Emmons plays on 42% of the snaps and participated in 27% of the routes. Similarly, Washington participated in 53% of the snaps and 49% of the routes. Both backs had a similar workload with Emmons out-carrying Washington 10-8. However, Washington saw an edge in targets 4-2. Neither back has been efficient, and the Generals play elite run defense. However, Washington’s price and pass game role keep him in play for the largest of GPPs. The team did bring in Tra Minter, who isn’t in the player pool, so just make sure the team doesn’t have three active backs on gameday.

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Tampa Bay continues to use a nasty wide receiver rotation, featuring up to six receivers and two tight ends, depending on the week. John Franklin ($4,200) appears to hold a slight edge here, participating in 88% of the routes. No other pass-catcher had a route participation better than 59% in Week 6. Franklin only saw four targets, but he also received a pair of rushing attempts. Still, his 25 targets equate to a 13.9% target share, reflecting the volatility of the offense. Behind Franklin, Derrick Dillon ($4,800) has emerged as the WR2. He only participated in 59% of the routes, but he received seven targets last week. The former LSU speedster leads the team in targets over their last three games. Behind the top two receivers, none of the ancillary options bring any consistency. Vinny Papale ($3,300) participated in 59% of the routes, but saw one target. Rashard Davis ($6,200) checked in at 31% and three targets. Keith Mumphrey ($3,100) even participated in 39% of the routes and popped up for seven targets. With Derrick Willies ($3,000) also playing a handful of snaps, this situation brings added volatility. The Bandits also insist on using two tight ends with Cheyenne O’Grady ($4,600) and De’Quan Hampton ($2,600) participating in 57% and 43% of the routes respectively. O’Grady leads the team in targets this year and saw five last week. Hampton saw four targets and remains clearly involved himself. Good luck, deciphering this rotation on a weekly basis. If forced to pick, Franklin looks like the best option, followed by Dillon.

New Orleans vs. Michigan USFL DFS Picks

New Orleans Breakers

Currently ranked second in the South Division, the New Orleans Breakers hold a 4-2 record and a positive 136-101 point differential. Overall, the Breakers rank as the USFL’s fastest offense, while passing at the fourth-highest rate (52.1%). This week, the Breakers hold a projected six-point advantage over the Michigan Panthers in a game with a 41.5-point total. This gives the Breakers a 23.75-point implied team total, which is tied for the second-highest team total on the slate.

After a hot start to the season, Kyle Sloter ($11,200) has somewhat disappointed in recent weeks. Largely a non-factor on the ground, Sloter relies on elevated pass game volume to achieve DFS success. However, the Breakers only threw 21 passes last week, while running the ball on over 63% of their plays. Despite what the media will say, Sloter doesn’t actually have great passing numbers this year. So far, he has completed 57.5% of his passes for 6.1 yards per attempt. He also has seven interceptions this year, which is tied for the USFL lead. For what it’s worth, Sloter regularly appears on New Orleans’ injury report and received treatment in the middle of last week’s game. The Breakers even brought in backup Zach Smith ($6,000) once the game was out of hand in order to preserve Sloter. Michigan actually plays solid defense, making his no cakewalk for Sloter. Overall, an up-tempo scheme keeps Sloter in play, but his recent play raises concerns.

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After working as the lead back through most of 2022, Jordan Ellis ($9,200) ceded quite a bit of work to the recently signed Anthony Jones ($4,400). In fact, Jones played on 56% of the snaps, participated in 36% of the routes, and carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Ellis played on 44% of the snaps, participated in 46% of the routes, and carried 13 times for 47 yards and a scores. In fact, even Jones handled three targets to Ellis’ two. Based on the snap and route data, this backfield should function as one of a 50/50 split moving forward as long as Larry Rose ($3,300) remains sidelined. Michigan currently allows the second-most yards per rushing attempt (4.3). Based on price, Jones looks like the slightly better play ahead of Week 7.

The New Orleans Breakers continued to use a tight group of receivers, despite the absence of Shawn Poindexter ($6,600). Jonthan Adams ($6,700) and Taywan Taylor ($5,500) led the group with 82% of the routes each. However, Taylor received six targets, while Adams checked in with just three. Neither receiver played well, combining for 56 yards receiving. Target leader, Johnnie Dixon ($8,900) also participated in 79% of the routes, but only saw three targets himself. On the year, his 46 targets still rank fourth in the entire USFL. Without Poindexter in the equation, Lee Morris ($3,300) and Marquis McClain ($3,000) both participated in 43% and 14% of the routes, seeing one target apiece. At tight end, Sal Cannella ($5,300) continued his every-down involvement with an 89% route share. However, he only saw one target himself in a horrific showing from New Orleans’ pass game altogether. While last week’s performance failed to meet expectations, all of the main New Orleans pass catchers remain affordable here. Dixon, Adams, Cannella and Taylor are the best options in that order.

Michigan Panthers

On the other side, the Michigan Panthers fell to 1-5 last week with their most recent loss. The Panthers have actually only been outscored 113-104 to this point in the season, losing multiple games by single digits. Led by Jeff Fisher, the Panthers rank fifth in plays per game, and seventh in pass rate (46.8%). On top of an unattractive offense, the Panthers also have the second-lowest implied team total on the slate at 17.75 points.

The Michigan Panthers finally moved on from former number one pick Shea Patterson ($9,100). Patterson had a 59.4% completion percentage for 5.9 yards per attempt prior to his release. However, this move suggests that Paxton Lynch ($7,800) could be nearing a return. Lynch appeared sporadically in Weeks 1 and 2, but he only attempted 13 passes. Overall, the Panthers utilized Lynch more for his mobility and he will now be coming off an ankle sprain. The Panthers do utilize the quarterback in the run game and they even gave Patterson 5.5 attempts per game. If Lynch still isn’t healthy, the Panthers also carry former Maulers signal caller Josh Love ($6,200) and recent free agent signing Eric Barriere ($6,000) on the roster. Love actually played reasonably as Pittsburgh’s starter, completeing 54% of his passes for 6.0 yards per attempt, which is better than anything on Pittsburgh’s current roster. Barriere is a USFL newcomer, who played his college ball at Eastern Washington. He provides solid mobility and left Eastern Washington as the program’s all-time leaders in yards of total offense, passing, yards, and passing touchdowns. New Orleans possesses the USFL’s top ranked pass defense, so this is a tough matchup for whoever draws the start.

After using a three back committee all season, Michigan appears to have finally wised up and moved Reggie Corbin ($6,000) to a full workload. In Week 6, Corbin carried 16 times for 71 yards, while securing one of three targets in the pass game. More importantly, he played on 80% of the snaps and handled 76% of the routes. Stevie Scott ($6,100) and Cameron Scarlett ($4,000) played on 15% and 5% of the snaps respectively. Even with three backs active, it appears Corbin will now work as Michigan’s feature back. With DraftKings again failing to shift pricing, Corbin is laughably cheaper than Scott. The only negative here is a tough matchup against the USFL’s second ranked run defense in New Orleans.

Despite limited success, Michigan continues to feed Lance Lenoir ($9,100) the third most targets in the USFL. With 52 to his name, Lenoir has at least nine targets in every game except one. Even with Patterson at the helm, Lenoir has been productive enough to rack up the third most receiving yards in the USFL. Behind Lenoir, Devin Ross ($3,800) and Joe Walker ($3,900) have played increased roles of late. Ross participated in 79% of routes and received eight targets last week. He has now seen at least five targets in every game, except one. Walker participated in 82% of the routes and saw six targets himself. He averages four targets per game, but the recent increase in playing time bodes well for Walker moving forward. Michigan also somewhat condensed their tight end room. La’Michael Pettway ($2,800) participated in 71% of the routes and saw three targets in Week 6. Meanwhile, Marcus Baugh ($2,500) and Connor Davis ($2,500) only participated in 34% and 3% of the routes respectively. At receiver, Ray Bolden ($3,000) was also an afterthought with a 21% route share. There actually appears to be quite a bit of value in their receiver room. Lenoir provides the most consistency, but Ross has actually received sizeable target volume himself at a cheap price.

Birmingham vs. Pittsburgh USFL DFS Picks

Birmingham Stallions

The only undefeated team in the USFL, the Birmingham Stallions have outscored opponents 162-109 this season. The Stallions tie the Generals for second-most plays per game. However, they rank fifth in pass rate (50%) behind their positive game scripts this year. This week, the Stallions are 12.5-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Maulers in a game with a 41 total. Implied for 26.75 points, the Stallions pace the slate again this week.

The Birmingham Stallions again used two quarterbacks in J’Mar Smith ($10,300) and Alex McGough ($8,000) in Week 6. Smith did play all 30 first-half snaps, but he was out-snapped 23-11 by McGough in the second half while the Stallions played from ahead. In the pass game, Smith holds the edge in completion percentage and yards per attempt over McGough. For some reason, the Stallions prefer McGough as a rusher. McGough has out-carried Smith 9-2 over the last two weeks. This makes little sense, considering Smith averages 5.1 yards per attempt on the ground, compared to 4.0 yards per attempt for McGough on the same volume. Even in a solid matchup, it remains difficult to trust Smith based on the actions of the Birmingham coaching staff.

With C.J. Marable ($8,200) injured, the Stallions used a committee between Bo Scarbrough ($6,000) and Tony Brooks-James ($6,200). Scarbrough played on 66% of snaps and participated in 42% of routes. This led to 16 carries for 105 yards and a score, with 15 additional yards coming on two catches. Brooks-James played on 42% of snaps and 27% of routes. He carried seven times for 32 yards, while securing his only catch for six yards and a score. However, Marable’s status must be monitored closely. In Week 5, Marable played on 78% of snaps, 71% of routes, and received 26 touches. While the backfield likely remains a committee either way, Marable looks to have the highest ceiling, followed by Scarbrough when all backs are healthy. This is a smash spot with Birmingham as the largest favorite on the board.

At receiver, Birmingham also uses a tight group of players. In Week 6, Victor Bolden ($10,700) and Osirus Mitchell ($9,500) each participated in 97% of the routes. Marlon Williams ($5,200) wasn’t far behind at 79% himself. Bolden leads the USFL with 61 targets (31% target share), but his 278 yards leave a little to be desired. Mitchell and Williams have actually recorded 271 yards and 262 yards on 33 and 28 targets, respectively. Bolden still remains the safest option based on this absurd target volume, but Williams could be argued as the better cost adjusted option in the offense. The Stallions also used a tight end rotation for the first time all season. A healthy Cary Angeline ($5,400) only participated in 58% of the routes, while Sage Surratt ($2,500) and Bobby Holly ($3,000) mixed in for 27% and 18%. The salary cap on DraftKings has become slightly more efficient, but rostering Bolden still isn’t very difficult. All three of the main pass catchers remain solid plays in DFS.

Pittsburgh Maulers

Widely viewed as the worst team in the USFL, the Pittsburgh Maulers hold a 1-5 record. They’ve also been outscored 138-76 this year. As a team, they rank fourth in pace and second in pass rate 55.9%. However, that comes largely from negative game script. As double-digit underdogs, the Maulers’ 14.25 implied team total ranks dead last on this slate.

After leading Pittsburgh to their first win, Vad Lee ($7,400) predictably struggled in his second outing. Lee completed 17-of-34 passes for 198 yards, one score, and a pair of interceptions. Lee did rush five times for nine yards and a score, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his negative plays. Extremely volatile, Lee has completed 54.5% of his passes for 5.6 yards per attempt. The newcomer does have one of the better receiving corps in the league, and he also appears to have some rushing ability. However, Lee doesn’t appear to have much job security. Even though the team let go of Lauletta, they signed free agent Roland Rivers, who isn’t in the DFS player pool. Rivers played his college ball for Slippery Rock, where he racked up video game stats as a dual threat. For those reasons, Lee remains cheap GPP option against a strong Birmingham pass defense.

Pittsburgh continues to use a committee featuring Garrett Groshek ($6,300) and Madre London ($5,900). Groshek played on 54% of the snaps, compared to 25% for London. However, London carried 10 times for 50 yards, while Groshek stumbled for seven yards on 14 carries. London has been more efficient all year and should see a few additional carries moving forward. However, this backfield looks likely to remain an inefficient timeshare with fullback Mikey Daniel ($3,200) also mixing in for a carry here and there. The Maulers also signed James Gilbert, who remains a name to watch for future weeks.

There’s a real chance that the Pittsburgh Maulers have the best receivers in the USFL, but the worst quarterback. Behind Lee’s putrid play in Week 6, both Bailey Gaither ($8,800) and Tre Walker ($4,700) were held below 35 yards receiving. In Week 6, Walker participated in 87% of the routes. He only caught two of his nine targets for 31 yards, due to Lee. Gaither participated in 79% of the routes. He only caught two of seven targets for 29 yards, due to Lee. The offense’s WR3 Delvon Hardaway ($3,700) even struggled. Hardaway participated in 79% of the routes as well, turning seven targets into four catches for 33 yards as the team’s possession receiver. Interestingly, newcomer Isiah Hennie ($3,000) participated in 42% of the routes and turned six targets into four catches for 71 yards. This came at the expense of the tight ends. Artayvious Lynn ($2,500) and Hunter Thedford ($2,500) participated in 45% and 26% of the routes, respectively. Walker still ranks second in the USFL with 52 targets (27.2% target share) and top three in receiving yards, despite a revolving door at quarterback. He also didn’t play in Week 1, making this feat even more impressive. Walker remains the top price-adjusted play here, but Gaither and Hardaway also deserve consideration in the most volatile passing attack in the USFL.

Philadelphia vs. Houston USFL DFS Picks

Philadelphia Stars

Despite starting the year 3-3, the Philadelphia Stars have been outscored 153-141 this year. The Stars rank seventh in plays per game, but first in pass rate (63.8%) this year. Interestingly, the Stars completely shifted their approach last week. The normally pass-heavy team only threw the ball on 40.8% of its plays. Instead, they rode a surging run game to the win. The Stars now enter this week as four point favorites over the Houston Gamblers in a game with a 43.5-point total. Their 23.75 implied team total ties the Breakers for second-highest on this slate.

Without Bryan Scott, the Philadelphia Stars have received mediocre quarterback play from Case Cookus ($8,500). Cookus has completed 62% of his passes for 5.9 yards per attempt. He does average 4.5 yards per rush attempt, but he only rushes the ball three times per game. With Philadelphia embracing a run-first approach last week, Cookus has become an even bigger liability in DFS contests. Overall, he remains a dicey GPP play against a porous Houston defense on the hope that Philadelphia returns to their pass first tendencies.

With Darnell Holland ($6,700) getting healthier by the week, the Stars moved Paul Terry ($5,000) to the inactive roster. This allowed Holland and Matt Colburn ($5,600) to dominate the backfield in Week 6. In total, Colburn led the way with 66% of the snaps, 57% of the routes, 18 carries for 140 yards, and a pair of targets. Holland mixed in for 30% of the snaps, 35% of the routes, seven carries and one target. With Colburn playing so well and the Stars taking a surprisingly run heavy approach in Week 6, the former Wake Forest back suddenly looks like a solid play. Improving matters further, Houston’s poor defense creates a solid matchup for Colburn as well.

At receiver, the Stars played without their WR3 Diondre Overton ($5,700) last week. However, this didn’t lead to any meaningful increase in workload for anyone else. Devin Gray ($7,400) and Jordan Suell ($7,500) continued their every-down role with an 87% and 96% route share. However, both received just a pair of targets. Maurice Alexander ($3,700) did see his route share climb to 87%, but that only led to three targets as well. “Tight end” Bug Howard ($4,200) remained heavily involved with a 65% route share, but he also led the team with six targets. Racking up two scores on his 36 yards, Howard’s DFS score dwarfed all other Philadelphia pass-catchers. Behind the big four, Chris Rowland ($3,500), Kahlil Lewis ($3,000), and Brennan Eagles ($3,000) participated in 39%, 13%, and 9% of the routes respectively. This dink-and-dunk offense hinders big plays, forcing pass-catchers to earn their value through raw reception numbers. With declining pass volume and miniscule play volume, this offense continues to go over-owned with the hype it receives online from touts on Twitter.

Houston Gamblers

The third 1-5 team in this league, the Houston Gamblers have only been outscored 142-132 by opponents this year. Houston runs the fewest plays in the league and ranks sixth in pass rate (48.6%). Combined with overall inefficiency, this offense has predictably struggled. However, Philadelphia trots out the worst defense in the USFL, giving Houston some DFS appeal. This is also reflected in Houston’s 19.75 implied team total, which ranks fifth on this slate.

Another team struggling with tumultuous quarterback play, the Houston Gamblers continue to trot out Clayton Thorson ($8,600). Thorson has completed 56% of his passes for 6.7 yards per attempt, but the Gamblers seem content taking the ball out of his hands. A statue in the pocket, Thorson also offers very little in terms of mobility. Fortunately, Philadelphia also hemorrhages production to opposing offenses. This give Thorson at least some viability in the largest of tournaments.

At running back, the Houston Gamblers continued to use Mark Thompson ($8,000) as their lead back with Dalyn Dawkins ($3,500) playing a change-of-pace role. Even with Thompson playing 70% of the snaps and participating in 73% of the routes, Houston just isn’t good enough to regularly sustain any sort of timeshare. Thompson struggled his way to 23 yards on the ground on 11 carries. Fortunately, he saw a career high five targets, snagging three of them for 25 yards and two scores. Philadelphia does allow a league worst 5.0 yards per carry, giving Thompson his best matchup in weeks. Volume and matchup alone keep him in play at this price.

At receiver, the Gamblers rely heavily on Isaiah Zuber ($10,300). Zuber runs a route on nearly every drop drop back and leads the team with 30 targets. However, that equates to a mere 21% target share in a run-heavy offense that struggles with passing efficiency. Behind him, Anthony Ratliff-Williams ($4,400), Teo Redding ($4,300), and Tyler Palka ($3,200) all participated in 77% of the routes. Overall, none of the receivers saw more than four targets, making this a dicey situation altogether. Interestingly, the Gamblers activated JoJo Ward ($6,300), but he only participated in 27% of the routes. When healthy in prior games, Ward had functioned as the clear WR2. Ward has battled injury all season, so his role moving forward also remains unclear. It should also be noted that Tyler Simmons ($5,000) has been on the inactive roster. Simmons still ranks third on the team in targets and should have a role when healthy. Now fully committed to four-wide sets, the Gamblers used Brandon Barnes ($2,500) and Julian Allen ($2,500) on just 23% and 18% of their routes. Altogether, Zuber and Ratliff-Williams should be the safest options when Houston fields a fully healthy roster.

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Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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