USFL DFS Guide: How To Play, Tips, and 2022 Team Previews

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The 2022 USFL season has arrived. The latest spring football league is the most promising yet after seeing the XFL temporarily disappear, The Spring League fold, and the Alliance of American Football vanish. There’s a ton of demand for more football, and previous iterations drew favorable reviews even if the end result was bad.

Boasting fresh rosters, rules, and experienced coaching staffs, the eight-team USFL set up looks promising. Bettors and DFS players will have the opportunity to continue banking profit on football throughout the year now, thanks to DraftKings and PrizePicks. Things may look different with the USFL than both college football and the NFL but the concept of scoring is still the same as the DFS rooms you’re used to.

How to Start Playing USFL Daily Fantasy Football

Whether you’ve been playing for years or you’re looking into joining a fantastic community of players, this is the best guide for you to start with. Playing DFS in the new USFL is still foreign to everyone due to new faces and rules. Check out our tips and strategies below.

Getting Started

The first thing we have to look at with USFL DFS is the difference in lineup requirements and scoring, which you can find with our USFL Roster Construction and Scoring Overview.

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Where to Play USFL DFS

The evolution of the USFL DFS market will continue to grow as the season progresses. For now, we know that our friends at DraftKings and PrizePicks will be involved from Week 1 on. The latest intel has FanDuel considering the option to not pick up USFL DFS right away. It’s worth keeping an eye on other DFS sites like Underdog and ThriveFantasy as the season progresses.

What Contests Should I Play?

DraftKings offers contests of all different sizes and entry fees. You can find free contests or play high stakes, and there’s a good variety of cash games and GPPs for the Week 1 slate. In fact, DraftKings’ USFL $300K Kickoff Special boasts a $100K top prize and it only costs $12 to enter. This is all about your comfort, what’s fun, and of course profitable.

Sometimes it’s a matter of intuition or you’re not getting the information you need to make the right picks. Take time to do your research and practice. Just like any craft, there’s an element of dedication needed to be successful.

USFL Props at PrizePicks

If you don’t want to swim with the sharks at DraftKings, or don’t have the time to put in the research for a full lineup, you can still get in on the action by picking USFL props at PrizePicks.

Forget the salary cap structure and positional limitations. Prop pick’ems are straight to the point. You select the players and their respective statistical categories (e.g., Pass Yards, Rush Yards, Receiving Yards, or Fantasy Score) and pick over or under their pope line. This allows you to seamlessly familiarize yourself with names and teams instead of searching the bargain bin to make your roster fit the allotted salary total in other contests.

PrizePicks is a quick and simple way to sweat this weekend’s USFL games while give your chance at real cash prizes. For more information about PrizePick and payouts, check out our PrizePicks review.

USFL DFS Fantasy Team and Player Projections

You’ll absolutely need to know the team profiles and player projections for the USFL DFS season. It’s tough at first to know what to expect since many of the participants aren’t household names. But we’ve dug deep to learn what we can, and our DFS analysts will continue to study how the games unfold each week so you have the upper-hand.

Philadelphia Stars

Head coach Bart Andrus has bounced around spring leagues and other lower levels of competition since his quarterbacking days at Montana in 1980. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Ottawa Gee-Gee’s. The Gee-Gee’s were a balanced but up-tempo offense.

If Andrus brings this same approach to the Stars, this team could be one of the better high-volume attacks if the quarterback play is there. The good news is Andrus hand-picked a quarterback he’s found success with previously. He selected former Spring League and Canadian League passer Bryan Scott with their first pick.

Scott is fascinating considering he’s made it this far as a pocket-passer coming out of Occidental College. The 6’2”, 220-pounder is a virtual unknown, and taking him ahead of former NFL backups is a bold choice. The Stars will sink or swim with this pairing, and it’s notable that Case Cookus is the backup here in case Scott struggles. Cookus was an accomplished quarterback at Northern Arizona, leading the program all-time in passing stats.

The backfield is filled with speedy, part-time players. Darnell Holland and Matt Colbun ran a 4.38 and 4.47 40 yard dash at their respective pro days. Neither was the main focus in their collegiate offense, though, meaning you’re gambling a bit early on if you insert either into your lineup. Expect this to be a committee where the hot hand may change weekly.

The most promising part of the Stars are the pass-catchers. Andrus opted for size and speed at receiver, and I expect a low-efficiency, high-variance attack with this unit. The trio of Devin Gray (6-feet, 192 pounds, 4.41 40), Jordan Suell (6-foot-6, 205 pounds, 4.49 40), and Brennan Eagles (6-foot-4, 229 pounds) headline the group. Don’t sleep on former receiver and current tight end Bug Howard from emerging as a massive headache for defenses.

Howard should be the star of the unit based on his past success at North Carolina and continued interest from spring leagues. Gray has the build and resume to be successful but it’s also been six years since he had his best season at Cincinnati. Each of these top playmakers had high yards per-catch averages previously and figure to be vertical threats once again in this offense.

Houston Gamblers

Led by former Texas A&M, Arizona, and Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, we know exactly what offense to expect. The Air Raid produces a ton of plays and is generally balanced between pass and run attempts. His best offenses come with capable downfield passers with mobility.
It’s strange that Sumlin selected former Northwestern and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Clayton Thorson for that reason. Thorson is not accurate beyond short passes and is far from a creative force outside of the pocket.

Keep an eye on backup Kenji Bahar. The former Monmouth star quarterback is more agile and willing to run. Thorson may quickly be replaced if the offense stagnates, and Bahar has a high DFS ceiling. I’d expect this offense to prioritize quick passes and swinging passes to the running backs with Thorson but it could open with Bahar.

Another reason to buy into the Gamblers’ backs is the actual talent in the room. The duo of Dalyn Dawkins and Mark Thompson fits the thunder and lightning theme. Thompson is a traditional goal-line, short-yardage back. Expect to see him in the game on two-point conversions and any other moment where size can help. He may become a touchdown vulture.
However, it’s Dawkins with elite potential. He’s a speedy back who can catch out of the backfield and dart upfield when given a decent running lane. Dawkins is a near-clone to J.J. Taylor, whom Sumlin helped produce impressive numbers with at Arizona.

The receiving room is interesting but brings risk due to the rotating nature of the Air Raid. Receivers JoJo Ward and Anthony Ratliff-Williams were selected behind Isaiah Zuber despite being faster and more productive prospects. I’d expect Ward to emerge in the valuable slot role due to his 5-foot-9 stature, and for Ratliff-Williams to be the Y receiver for downfield plays. That leaves Zuber to be the possession target who gets volume but not chunk gains.

It’s possible that one of Tyler Simmons, Teo Reddick, and Tyler Palka earns targets as well if you’re in a deeper league and want some late value.

Tight end Brandon Barnes is one of the more talented guys in the USFL but his role will be determined once games begin. Sumlin rarely ever used tight ends in previous stops, but Barnes should be an exemption to that history. He finished second in the XFL in yards.

Tampa Bay Bandits

Remember Todd Haley, former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator? The vertical play-caller is back after a short stint with the Cleveland Browns on Hue Jackson’s staff and a run in high school. It’s surprising Haley fell off the map considering the success of his units and the fact his profile fits what modern teams do in the league.

This roster is well built for Haley’s pass-heavy, high-tempo offense. He wisely picked Jordan Ta’amu with the second overall pick, a player perfectly made for his system. Ta’amu is a creative, mobile playmaker with solid deep passing ability. He is a priority whale in DFS lineups if you can afford him.

The running back position is a traditional platoon setup. 6-foot, 220-pounder B.J. Emmons fits the mold you think of as a former Alabama back. He wasn’t able to stay healthy after transferring from Alabama to FAU, but he is in line to be near the endzone often. Backup Juwan Washington is a diminutive pass-catch threat on third downs, standing just 5-foot-7 and 190 pounds.

There are a few high-potential receivers on the depth chart in Tampa Bay. First is Rashard Davis. Davis was signed recently after the Bandits’ first receiver drafted, Eli Rogers, declined to play for the team. Davis was the first overall pick in the XFL and has bounced around the NFL in recent years. He’s going to make plays but he’ll have to fight off some impressive competition.
Former Cleveland Browns receiver Derrick Willies made the active roster twice as a possession threat. He should be a favorite as a big-bodied target. He may have the easiest path to a role since his skill set is different from his peers.

The duo of mid-round picks Derrick Dillon (5-foot-11, 186 pounds, 4.29 40) and Jordan Lasley (former Baltimore Ravens fifth-round pick) will bring the heat as well. Expect fierce competition out of this group considering the pedigrees of each. There’s a ton of athleticism, speed, and production in these individuals’ past. Even former “Last Chance U” star quarterback John Franklin is on the roster as he tries to catch on as a receiver.

Tight ends Cheyenne O’Grady and De’Quan Hampton likely won’t have huge roles with these receivers, but O’Grady has more of a pedigree as a traditional positional player. Hampton is a former receiver who was too slow to stay there at a higher level than college. Neither feels too fantasy relevant at this time.

New Jersey Generals

There’s little doubt that the one team’s passing game worth betting against is the New Jersey Generals. Not only has head coach Mike Riley consistently run the ball at a much higher rate than his peers going back to his Nebraska days, but he has the personnel to encourage pounding the ball a ton. That’s good for those wanting a high-upside rusher, though.
One reason for the pessimism around the passing game is how the quarterback position has played out. Third overall pick Ben Holmes broke his foot shortly after the draft, leaving dual-threat De’Andre Johnson and former AAF standout Luis Perez as the options to start. Perez had some quality moments and if Riley wants a more traditional dropback thrower, he is a better option than Johnson.

The star of the team will be tailback Mike Weber. Riley’s Seattle Dragons XFL squad averaged the fourth-most rushing yards and his AAF San Antonio Commanders team was second overall in rushing attempts. Weber, a talented back from Ohio State and Dallas Cowboys, is an NFL talent who will dominate his peers. Grabbing one of his backups, Trey Williams or Darius Victor, also makes sense considering the sheer volume that will be fed to the position.

The fascinating part of this offense is the speed accumulated at receiver. If Riley opens this offense with Perez at quarterback, the Generals do have some potential to create big plays downfield. J’Mon Moore and KaVontae Turpin both have 4.4 and under speed, and Darrius Shepherd was able to make the Green Bay Packers’ roster.

Don’t expect many opportunities to be handed to these receivers or tight ends but there’s upside that one of their speedy threats can make the most out of their handful of targets each week.

Pittsburgh Maulers

The Pittsburgh Maulers look like another run-heavy team based on head coach Kirby Wilson and offensive coordinator John Tomlinson’s recent stops. Wilson has previously served as a running back coach for three NFL teams, and Tomlinson’s Juniata College offense ran the ball on 53% of plays last year. The roster is geared towards dominating the ground game.

Quarterback Kyle Lauletta is one of the more established in the league, so hopefully Wilson allows him to thrive in a short passing game. Lauletta has a fast release but relatively weak arm, so there needs to be some creativity from this staff to help open an interesting receiving corps. There’s potential for this offense to be much more productive than on the surface but Wilson can’t rely on his usual tendencies and hope for Lauletta to win in a traditional I-formation, play-action offense.

Rusher Garrett Groshek is a premium option each week. The former Raider and Wisconsin tailback was quite accomplished in his previous stops and figures to be the workhorse here. It’ll help the Maulers have the only fullback in the league in Mikey Daniel.

Their receiver room lacks pop, to say the least. 5-foot-8 Jeff Thomas is speedy but the former Miami product was never particularly effective. Teammates Bailey Gaither (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) and Branden Mack (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) have better size and collegiate production but it’s questionable whether these two will get open consistently.

One of the best tight end investments in the league will be Matt Seybert. The mobile tight end was a nice blocker and impressive athlete for Michigan State but must be targeted more for him to show his true talent. A run-heavy offense could lead to specific plays for him.

Birmingham Stallions

Look no further for what can be an explosive and friendly fantasy offense for DFS players. Head coach Skip Holtz appears to be calling the plays without an offensive coordinator. His past at Louisiana Tech featured passing rates above 52.5% in his last two years and a ton of four-receiver sets.

The Stallions may end up having the best quarterback of any in the league. Former Seattle Seahawks draft pick and FIU star Alex McGough has some wheels to go with a solid arm. He has decent velocity on short and intermediate routes and actually appeared to be a developmental backup in the NFL.

McGough will thrive in the fast-paced, spread system that has been equipped with playmakers that fit. The running backs, Tony Brooks-James and C.J. Marable are far from workhorses. Both of these backs can catch the ball and help but don’t expect a ton of carries to go their way.

The receiving room lacks proven speed after Emanuel Hall was cut but that’s okay for the spread. Targets will come in droves to slot receivers Victor Bolden and Peyton Ramzy. Outside receivers Osirus Mitchell, Manasseh Bailey, and Marlon Williams are interesting red zone threats along who are slower and must prove they can win against man coverage.
Tight ends Cary Angeline and Sage Surratt are potential difference-makers. Surratt was a fantastic deep receiving threat at Wake Forest but ran a shockingly bad 4.69 40, ruining any NFL dreams he had. Angeline is also an athletic mismatch thanks to his 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame.

New Orleans Breakers

No team has more NFL pedigree on offense than Larry Fedora’s New Orleans Breakers. That can go both ways when you’re talking about flameouts, since their pedigree means little during the game. But it’s also a good thing to bank on guys who dominated similar competition in college to even earn the right to play on Sundays.

Fedora runs a pass-heavy offense that has produced several NFL-caliber playmakers at North Carolina. He wisely nabbed former NFL backup Kyle Sloter, who has a ton of fans after his fun collegiate tape and preseason highlights featured numerous highlights. He’s not consistently accurate but the pocket passer is creative enough to find big plays. Sloter should star here.

The backfield is uniquely built for a fast offense. Look for former Tar Heel speedster T.J. Logan to carve out a big role despite being the third back taken. Larry Rose has bounced around spring leagues to little success, and Logan has more explosiveness to work with. Former Virginia back Jordan Ellis will be the red zone, short yardage vulture that we either love or hate, depending on how much we play him and he converts touchdown opportunities.

The receiving room has a ton of size and collegiate accolades amongst them. Former Ohio State receiver Johnnie Dixon is the safest of the bunch to bet on thanks to a clear spot in the slot for him in a great scheme. Big-bodied targets Shawn Poindexter (6-foot-5, 218 pounds), Jonathan Adams (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), and Chad Williams (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) must fight for snaps as outside threats. This unit needs speed desperately, so watch for former Tennessee Titans third rounder Taywan Taylor to emerge as a deep threat.

It’s tough to see a real receiving threat out of the tight end group. E.J. Bibbs had some intrigue out of college but failed to make an impact in the XFL. Neither Sal Cannella or Justin Johnson have produced much either. Fedora may be looking to find a bargain here but it’s likely the receivers pick up the slack.

Michigan Panthers

While we could say there are a million jokes about Jeff Fisher’s ability to finish with a mediocre record, it’d be more fitting to say there are about .500. Fisher was a longtime NFL coach before losing his job with the Rams in 2016. He’s an old school coach who wants to run the ball, and he hired an offensive coordinator in Eric Marty who ran it a ton at Grambling State.
Michigan had the top overall pick and decided to go with former Michigan Wolverine and Ole Miss Rebel Shea Patterson. It’s actually shocking Patterson went ahead of his successor at Ole Miss, Jordan Ta’amu. Patterson has inconsistent mechanics, accuracy, decision-making, and lacks experience in spring leagues.

This wasn’t a great landing spot for him to iron out those issues after he couldn’t adjust at Michigan in similar circumstances. Even backup Paxton Lynch is in a tough spot if he has to play as he also was much more comfortable in a spread system. Hopefully Marty proves to be flexible and craft a more modern offense to their strengths.

The backfield is more impressive and should combine for some productive games. It’s hard to see much of a difference between Stevie Scott and Reggie Corbin though. They’re not explosive backs and prefer to play between the tackles. We may see former Stanford and Carolina Panthers back Cameron Scarlett earn more playing time as the season progresses since he is the only of the three to run under a 4.55 40 and this offense needs the boost.

Michigan snagged just five receivers for the roster, furthering expectations this offense will be a run-first unit. They’re banking on a strange set of talent. Only former XFLer Jeff Badet has speed in the group, and he burned a 4.27 40, but he was ineffective in his previous league. Former Cowboys receiver Lance Lenoir, Ray Bolden, and Devin Ross round out the group but the collective unit is slow and small.

With four tight ends on the roster, it’s also hard to be confident in any one of them being significantly impactful in fantasy. La’Michael Pettway is a hybrid receiver with speed, so maybe he emerges as a pass-catcher. Also watch out for former Ohio State tight end Marcus Baugh, who had good moments in college.

Image Credit: Imagn

About the Author

  • Ian Wharton (Finfan238)

  • Ian has been writing about professional sports and gambling for eight years, providing deep analysis across major sports. He loves putting together DFS lineups and parlays, but his favorite bets are futures.

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