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USFL Week 2 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023 Fantasy Football)

USFL Week 2 DraftKings DFS Primer (2023 Fantasy Football)

Week 1 of the second season of the modern USFL is in the books. Some of last week’s top performers may fade into obscurity. However, it’s a significant data point for this week’s DFS analysis. Namely, two pass-happy teams are fantasy treasure troves and are well-represented below. Further, the opponent of one of the pass-heavy teams is featured prominently in this space since the game has significant shootout potential. Still, there are a few standalone options from the other clubs.

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Bart Andrus, Case Cookus and the Stars were the USFL's best offense in 2022 and slung the pigskin all over the yard. They maintained their previous tendencies in Week 1 but were joined by another club as an outlier. As Cody Main from Establish The Run showcased, John DeFillipo, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and the Breakers took to the air early and often in Week 1.

Cookus spun it for 212 passing yards and three touchdowns in the opener. He also showed he's fully recovered from his leg/ankle injury by leading the Stars in rushing at 31 yards.

Bethel-Thompson was inaccurate early but finished with 302 passing yards and a touchdown. He also scampered for 16 yards. The Breakers left a ton of meat on the bone by failing to convert red zone trips into touchdowns. So, their 22-point effort undersells how well the offense moved the ball. The upside is immense for Bethel-Thompson, putting him nearly neck and neck with Cookus for the top quarterback honors. However, Cookus's advantage of playing with Andus and his pass catchers for longer than Bethel-Thompson has played with his new head coach and teammates, and the former's rushing advantage narrowly earn Cookus the top quarterback honors.

Alex McGough is an eye-catching pivot at a bargain salary. Unfortunately, J'Mar Smith is on the Injured Reserve List. The Stallions signed Kyle Sloter, but he's on the inactive roster. So, McGough should have the quarterback reigns for himself this week. McGough's athletic and adds value with his legs. In fact, McGough's athleticism earned him snaps at wide receiver last year. Further, he could have more on his plate as a rusher since Bo Scarbrough is on the Injured Reserved List.

Finally, with many critical absences for the Stallions this week, they could be in a more competitive game script than the betting line suggests. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Stallions are -7.0 points. But I expect the Showboats to push the Stallions to their limit. As a result, McGough might be active as a passer and a rusher.

Running Backs

The Generals are -5.5 points, and the new Maulers look the same as the old Maulers this year. They were the league's laughingstock last year and scored only one offensive touchdown last week. When the line opened, New Jersey was a 2.5-point favorite, and bettors were hammering the Generals. They're a run-first team, and Darius Victor is their bruising and effective runner. He led the league in rushing last week with 89 yards. Additionally, he averaged 57.7 rushing yards per game in the regular season and led the USFL in rushing touchdowns (nine) in 2022. Victor is a candidate to splash paydirt and benefit from a positive game script this week.

Anthony Jones had a dreamy role last week. He handled all of the backfield's carries, rushing 19 times for 46 yards. Jones also hauled in six receptions for 29 receiving yards and a touchdown.  It was a bell-cow role and everything DFS gamers dream of from their running back. And the Breakers are 6.0-point favorites, enhancing the possibility of a good game script against a defense that ceded 90 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions and 32 receiving yards to Michigan's running backs last week. All arrows are pointing upward for Jones this week.

Alex Collins also had a workhorse role last week. The former Seahawk and Raven handled 14 of 16 running-back carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. Fortunately, Collins was also heavily involved in the passing attack, securing five receptions for 25 yards on a team-high nine targets. Collins' every-down usage should make him game-script-proof. Yet, as I noted when discussing McGough, I expect the Showboats to keep it close against Birmingham this week.

Reggie Corbin had nine rushes for 29 scoreless yards last week. Sadly, Stevie Scott had more rushes (12) and rushing yards (61). Corbin's burly running mate also scored the backfield's only rushing touchdown.

Nevertheless, Corbin had four targets, four receptions and 19 yards versus only one target, one reception and 13 receiving yards for Scott. Thus, Corbin's role is likely less threatened by a negative game script. He's also the more explosive player. Corbin led the USFL in rushing yards per game (64.9) in the regular season last year and averaged a blistering 5.5 yards per carry. He'll face the Stars, and they just struggled to contain Collins, as his statistical line discussed above suggested. The upside makes Corbin an appealing tournament pick this week.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Philadelphia's and New Orleans's passing attacks should be treasure troves for pass-catchers. Hence, they are all over the table above. Johnnie Dixon led the USFL in targets last week with 11. Unfortunately, he had just three receptions for 44 yards. Still, the high target volume is ideal for a blow-up performance in the future.

Sage Surratt was tied for second in Week 1 in targets (nine) and had five receptions for 85 yards. The former wide receiver who's converted to tight end would have had a bigger line if he didn't drop a walk-in touchdown. Still, he's a lineup-lock option in cash games and the biggest value at any position on this week's DFS slate.

Jonathan Adams efficiently caught five of his six targets for 70 yards. He's a big-play weapon and had instant chemistry with Bethel-Thompson.

Devin Gray was Philadelphia's most productive pass-catcher last week. He was a meaningful contributor in 2022 and resumed his rapport with Cookus. Gray had seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown on nine targets.

Corey Coleman stretched the field for the Stars and had four receptions on four targets for 65 yards. Cookus trusted his new athletically-gifted wideout to make a play on the following pass from last week's contest.

Coleman's line in Week 1 was a promising start to his USFL tenure. Still, it might be the tip of the iceberg as he and Cookus develop more in-game chemistry.

Chris Rowland was a Swiss Army knife for the Stars last week. He was a weapon from the slot and the backfield. Rowland had three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown on four targets. However, Rowland also lined up in the backfield and had three rushes for 22 yards. Rowland flashed potential last season but didn't consistently string together fantasy-relevant performances. So, there is a risk he'll disappoint gamers who use him this week. However, his showing last week could indicate a more prominent role in the offense this year, making him a steal at under $4,000.

Joe Walker and Trey Quinn are excellent game-stacking options with Cookus and the Stars' pass-catching weapons. First, the game's total (46.5 points) is two points more than the second-highest total. Second, that line is up from where it opened.

Unfortunately, Walker lost a fumble on a punt. Yet, he didn't dwell on the error. Instead, he had six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Further, the USFL all-drip team's all-pro had jaw-dropping underlying data.

Quinn wasn't as busy as Walker. Yet, he had three receptions for 32 yards and splashed paydirt.

The former SMU Mustang could be busier this weekend if the favored Stars force the Panthers to match them blow for blow in a shootout. So, Quinn is an appealing bargain in a probable shootout.

Jace Sternberger is the top stacking option with McGough or a stellar one-off pick. The pass-catching tight end led the Stallions in targets (five), receptions (five) and receiving yards (62) in Week 1. He also caught a touchdown from McGough.

Sternberger caught both targets from Smith for 40 yards and all three from McGough for 22 yards and a touchdown last week. McGough threw just 11 passes. So, Sternberger had a robust 27.3% Target Share on McGough's pass attempts in the opener.

Defense and Special Teams

The Breakers and Generals are both favorites this week. They should have good game scripts against lousy offenses. The Gamblers had only 194 total yards, averaged 3.7 yards per play, scored just 13 points, allowed four sacks and had four turnovers in Week 1. The Breakers can have their way with Houston's pathetic offense.

Meanwhile, the Generals can have their way with Pittsburgh's laughably bad offense. The Maulers had 156 total yards, averaged 3.3 yards per play, scored only nine points (they had a defensive touchdown) and took one sack last week.

The Showboats are underdogs. Additionally, they didn't force any turnovers in Week 1. They did have five sacks, though. And the Stallions may stumble on offense without Smith, Scarbrough and Marlon Mitchell. As a result, the Showboats are a worthy punt on defense.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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