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USFL DFS Picks: Playoff Semifinal USFL DraftKings Strategy

Matt Gajewski

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Stokastic's USFL DraftKings DFS picks and daily fantasy football strategy. Free UFSL DFS projections & expert DraftKings lineup advice this week.

After an action-packed regular season, the USFL has finally reached the playoffs. This Philadelphia Stars, New Jersey Generals, Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers will represent the league this weekend with the hopes of taking down the inaugural USFL title. Now 10 weeks into the year, the USFL has improved its injury reporting. Still, playing time often varies on a weekly basis, creating an environment suited to GPPs. This piece will dig into the particulars of each game, pointing towards the best Week Playoff Semi-Final DraftKings USFL DFS picks.

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Playoff Semi-Final DraftKings USFL DFS Picks

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey USFL DFS Picks

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Philadelphia Stars

In a rematch of Week 10, the Stars will hope to bounce back against the New Jersey Generals after a 3-point loss. These teams also met in Week 3 with the Generals prevailing 24-16. However, the Stars have won four of their last five games and easily could have won last week with some better in-game coaching. The Stars finished the regular season with a 6-4 record, outscoring opponents 262-243. The Stars pass the ball at the highest rate in the USFL (60%) while running the second-fewest plays per game. After briefly reducing their pass rate during their four-game winning streak, the Stars jumped back to a 66% pass rate against the Generals last week. The Stars are 4.5-point underdogs to the Generals in a game with a 47.5-point total, giving them the third highest implied team total (21.5 points). The Stars were only 2.5-point underdogs last week in a game with a 41-point total.

The Stars are the only team without a quarterback controversy or platoon in the playoffs. By default, Case Cookus ($11,000) should be the safest quarterback, but also the highest owned. On the year, Cookus has completed 62.5% of his passes for 6.4 yards per attempt. He isn’t the most mobile quarterback, but he isn’t a pocket statue either. Cookus also benefits from an extraordinary pass rate when Philadelphia trails or is in competitive game scripts. The only concern here is New Jersey’s third-ranked pass defense on the other side. The Generals allow just 6.14 yards per pass attempt on the year. However, Cookus still threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns against this unit last week.

At running back, Philadelphia also has the safest running back in Matt Colburn ($10,800). Colburn has out-carried his running back counterparts 22-7 over the last two weeks, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on the year. He has also averaged five targets per game over Philadelphia’s last four contests, making him game script-proof. Behind him, Darnell Holland ($6,900) was activated last week at the expense of Paul Terry ($5,300). Holland has been efficient when given opportunities, but injuries have limited him all season. He even averages over five yards per carry, despite the injuries. However, he looks slated for a change of pace role behind Colburn in the near future. New Jersey possesses the top run defense in the league, but Colburn still produced last week. Colburn is one of the safer backs on the board and Holland presents an interesting GPP dart throw.

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At receiver, Philadelphia will typically run four wide receiver sets, led by Jordan Suell ($9,100). Suell’s 19% target share equates to 5.7 targets per game. However, this number has jumped to 6.3 targets per game in Philadelphia’s last four contests. Behind him, Devin Gray ($7,000) has operated as the WR2 for most of the season. He only averages 3.9 targets per game and finished sixth on the team in targets in the Stars’ regular season finale. Still, he participates in a majority of dropbacks and can be used in GPPs. Maurice Alexander ($3,600) has now out-targeted and out-gained Gray in two straight weeks. Alexander only averages 3.1 targets per game, but he has at least four targets in three straight games. Coming at a much cheaper price, Alexander looks like the superior cost-adjusted option here. At “tight end”, Bug Howard ($4,300) essentially operates as a fourth receiver. Howard averages five targets per game, which trails only Suell on this team. His 371 yards receiving barely trail Suell as well (379). Howard generally comes in lower owned due to his tight end status and his price tag makes him a solid play. From there, Philadelphia will use Chris Rowland ($3,300) and Diondre Overton ($5,000) as rotational pieces. Overton has been limited by injuries for the latter part of the season. Rowland has played a somewhat meaningful role with five combined targets over the last two weeks. While Alexander and Howard are superior options in this price range, Rowland offers GPP viability on the USFL playoff DFS slate.

New Jersey Generals

The New Jersey Generals enter this game with a 9-1 record while outscoring their opponents 232-183 this season. A unique offense even by USFL standards, the Generals run the third-most plays per game while passing at the lowest rate in the USFL (42.1%). This week, they’re 4.5-point favorites over the Philadelphia Stars in a game with a 47.5-point total. The Generals have the highest implied team total on the slate (26.0 points) with the luxury of facing the USFL’s worst remaining defense.

The Generals are one of the teams using a quarterback platoon. Luis Perez ($9,400) will operate more like a traditional pocket passer, while De’Andre Johnson ($8,000) provides elite dual threat ability. Last week, Perez completed 14-of-18 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns against this Stars’ defense. He won’t rush at all, but those passing numbers provide at least some upside for DFS. Similarly, Johnson completed 8-of-10 passes for 112 scoreless yards. However, he rushed four times for 33 yards as well. The Stars are the worst defense in the league, which provides GPP viability for both of these players. Johnson looks like the superior DFS play based on his rushing, but this should be close to a 50/50 split in terms of real-life playing time.

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At running back, the Generals also use a near 50/50 split between Trey Williams ($9,000) and Darius Victor ($9,800). The backfield has ebbed and flowed at various points throughout the year, but Williams has recently worked slightly ahead of Victor. Over the last two weeks, Williams has out-carried Victor 22-14. However, the two weeks prior, Victor held a 31-20 carry edge. The split should be close with a potential edge to the more efficient Williams. From there, Williams also has an edge in the passing game. Typically running more routes, Williams has out-targeted Victor 26-16 this year, giving him viability in negative game scripts. Despite all of the positives for Williams, Victor has the goal line role. On the year, Victor has nine rushing touchdowns to Williams’ two. As the cheaper player, Williams is the slightly superior play in a vacuum. However, both backs are certainly viable against the porous Philadelphia defense.

At receiver, New Jersey seems to have settled on a three wide receiver set. USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin ($10,600) leads the way with a 22.2% target share, equating to 5.4 targets per game. Also active on the ground, Turpin averages 2.3 carries per game. Turpin won’t participate in every route and his targets have dropped to 4.5 per game over New Jersey’s last four. These underlying usage metrics are somewhat concerning, but Turpin has continually overcome them. Behind Turpin, New Jersey has condensed a majority of the wide receiver snaps to Darrius Shepherd ($5,400) and Alonzo Moore ($5,100). Last week, Shepherd caught six of nine targets for 79 scoreless yards. He now has 20 combined targets over New Jersey’s last two games. Similarly, Moore reeled in seven of eight targets for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Moore only has 10 combined targets over the last two weeks, but he has consistently run as a full-time player all season. Behind them, Randy Satterfield ($3,800) will play a complementary role and occasionally pop up for a big game. He has only seen more than two targets once the entire year. The Generals will split tight end snaps between Braedon Bowman ($2,500) and Woody Brandom ($2,500), but Bowman has out-targeted Brandom 10-3 over the last four games. The tight end position doesn’t play an integral role in this offense. All this to say, the top three options in Turpin, Shepherd and Moore all look like attractive DFS options in that order this weekend.

New Orleans vs. Birmingham USFL DFS Picks

New Orleans Breakers

The New Orleans Breakers finished with a 6-4 record while outscoring their opponents 196-164. The Breakers dropped both of their previous games against the Stallions by a score of 22-13 and 10-9. As a team, the Breakers run more plays than any other team, while passing at the fourth-highest rate (52.1%). Now entering their third game against the Stallions, the Breakers are 5-point underdogs in a game with a 45.5-point total. This gives the Breakers the lowest implied team total on the slate (20.25 points).

The New Orleans Breakers have three quarterback options, depending on the health status of Kyle Sloter ($10,300). Sloter missed last week due to injury, but he has operated as the starter for a majority of the season. Sloter was finally benched for his turnovers in Week 9, but an injury to Zach Smith ($6,600) forced him back into the game. When healthy, Sloter still looks like the best option to lead the team. While non-mobile, he completes 57.6% of his passes for 6.1 yards per attempt on the year. In last week’s game without Sloter, the Breakers split quarterback reps between Smith and Shea Patterson ($7,100). Both were horrific, totaling 64 scoreless yards and a pair of interceptions. Smith is still probably a better option between the two behind his 66.7% completion percentage and 5.6 yards per attempt. Patterson completes 59.4% of his passes for 5.6 yards per attempt, making this poor choice either way for New Orleans. For DFS, Sloter would be a significant upgrade over these two and provide DFS viability. Otherwise, Smith and Patterson are GPP options in only the largest of fields.

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At running back, New Orleans runs a near 50/50 committee with Anthony Jones ($6,400) and Jordan Ellis ($9,600). Over the last four weeks, Ellis has out-carried Jones 42-41. Ellis has also remained slightly more efficient with a 4.0 yards per carry average, compared to 3.8 for Jones. In the passing game, New Orleans uses a similar split with Ellis out-targeting Jones 9-8 over the last three weeks. Like other backfields, the New Orleans backs will ebb and flow a little bit on a weekly basis. They draw a tough matchup this week against the USFL’s second-best run defense, but still deserve consideration on a short slate. While Ellis may have a slight edge overall, Jones is the superior DFS play as the significantly cheaper player.

At receiver, New Orleans has used a fairly consistent rotation all season. Johnnie Dixon ($9,400) leads the way with a 20.8% target share, equating to 6.8 targets per game. Dixon works more as an underneath receiver and ranks third on the team with 359 yards receiving. The second-most targeted player is tight end Sal Cannella ($5,200). The Auburn product averages 6.0 targets per game and ranks second on the team with 368 yards receiving. Also extremely involved, Jonathan Adams ($8,400) averages 5.7 targets per game and leads the team with 395 yards receiving. These three players have been solid options on a weekly basis, limited only by spotty quarterback play. The actual WR3 in this offense has fluctuated between Shawn Poindexter ($5,200) and Taywan Taylor ($4,800). Poindexter missed last week’s game with an injury, and he has battled many injuries throughout the year. Taylor wasn’t targeted in Week 10, but he averages 2.9 targets per game and ranks fourth on the team with 315 yards receiving. It was Lee Morris ($3,000) who popped up for two targets as the ancillary WR3 last week. Morris only has five targets all year and failed to catch either of his targets in Week 10. Ultimately, focusing on the top three options here makes the most sense, with Poindexter and Taylor offering GPP viability depending on who is active.

Birmingham Stallions

Another 9-1 team, the Birmingham Stallions have outscored their opponents 234-169 this season. The Stallions rank fourth in pace of play and pass the ball at the sixth-highest rate (50.7%). Now favored by five points in a game with a 45.5-point total, the Stallions’ 25.25 implied team total ranks second on the slate.

Another team with an unsettled quarterback situation, the Stallions have been forced to rotate J’Mar Smith ($10,200) and Alex McGough ($9,000) all season. When McGough initially went down with an injury, Smith played reasonably well. However, his play has steadily declined and he now completes just 54.6% of his passes for 6.6 yards per attempt on the season. McGough recently returned to full strength and seems to have created an edge in the most recent weeks. In Week 10, McGough completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Meanwhile, Smith completed just three-of-eight passes for 72 yards and an interception. As for the run game, Birmingham does like to use their quarterbacks on the ground. All season, they’ve shown a preference for McGough in this capacity. He carried 11 times last week, while Smith failed to log a rushing attempt. McGough has averaged 7.3 rushing attempts in games where he didn’t leave with an injury. As for matchup, New Orleans possesses the best pass defense in the league, but McGough’s price is attractive for a player with upside to play every offensive snap.

Despite efficient play all season, the Stallions have basically benched Tony Brooks-James ($3,400). In his place, they’ve used a near 50/50 committee, consisting of CJ Marable ($7,700) and Bo Scarbrough ($8,200). Over the last two weeks, Scarbrough has out-carried Marable 20-17. However, Marable has been more efficient with 73 yards rushing to Scarbrough’s 69. In the passing game, the Stallions have shown a preference for Marable. In the last two weeks, Marable has eight targets, while Scarbrough logged four. Ultimately, this timeshare is fairly even, and the Stallions face a top-three run defense in New Orleans on the other side. As the cheaper option in a near 50/50 committee, Marable deserves a slight DFS edge here.

At receiver, Birmingham is an interesting team to evaluate. Victor Bolden ($10,400) leads the team with a 24.8% target share, equating to 7.9 targets per game. However, he missed a stretch of time due to a hamstring injury. In games he played and didn’t leave injured, Bolden averages 9.5 targets per game. However, since the initial injury, Marlon Williams ($7,600) has taken a massive step forward. Only averaging 5.9 targets per game on the year, Williams has 31 targets over Birmingham’s last three games. He has also out-targeted Bolden 19-15 in their two most recent contests. While a small sample, Williams is one of the better price-adjusted receivers on the slate. Behind these two, Osirus Mitchell ($9,000) has operated as the WR3 for most of the year. Mitchell averages 4.5 targets per game, but he hasn’t seen more than four targets in any of Birmingham’s last three games. At tight end, the Stallions moved Cary Angeline ($5,100) to the inactive roster midway through the year in favor of former receiver Sage Surratt ($2,900). Surratt now plays on almost every snap and has six and five targets in Birmingham’s last two games. Birmingham will occasionally mix in a WR4 and WR5. Those players will be Adrian Hardy ($3,700) and Peyton Ramzy ($3,200). Hardy caught all three of his targets last week for 46 yards, potentially earning more playing time moving forward. Ramzy looks likely to stay in his rotational role after snagging one-of-two targets for 32 yards. All in all, Williams and Surratt look like the top price-adjusted plays, with Bolden also offering some safety. Mitchell, Hardy and Ramzy should be left for the largest of GPPs.

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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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