2022 USFL DFS Week 1 Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL DFS Week 1

Welcome to Fantasy Six Pack's 2022 USFL DFS Week 1 Primer!

For those unaware, USFL stands for United States Football League. It has always been a spring league and it will try to be one again this time around.

Full disclosure: I always loved the USFL. I was a kid when the first iteration arrived and I always felt like it could have been more. So perhaps it is with a bit of nostalgia that I asked F6P to allow me to write about the league.

I got the go-ahead but was reminded to be sure to include the Fantasy impact of it.

You can find some of my initial USFL DFS Week 1 thoughts at the bottom, but let's kick off our 2022 USFL Primer with some questions and answers first.

2022 F6P Draft Cheat Sheet

2022 USFL DFS Week 1 Primer

Remind me, what happened in the first go-around?

Well, I strongly recommend the 30 for 30 "Who Killed the USFL". Here's the teaser for it:

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But to skip to the end of the story, the USFL sued the NFL and was awarded damages that eventually totaled $3.76. That's not a misprint. Even at that time, that was not enough money to feed a family of four at Mcdonald's. Probably not even enough to feed two kids.

Unfortunately, the USFL staked its future financial success on a successful verdict. Four days later, the USFL owners suspended the 1986 season and then officially dissolved in 1990.

So will this one succeed?

I'm going to say yes, with moderation.

For one, there is far more economic backing and network support than some of the other failed start-up football leagues.

FOX Sports owns the league along with co-founder Brian Woods. FOX Sports reportedly already committed $150-$200 million over three years to help finance the USFL's operations. That is not something the AFL or XFL could say.

Also, unlike Vince McMahon, Woods brings an established base of football league start-up knowledge. You probably don't recall, but Woods launched the Fall Experimental Football League. The FEFL was a minor league that focused on development that played two seasons (2004, 2005). Undeterred, he also started The Spring League. It was a developmental and scouting event for aspiring professional players that began play in 2017. He served as the league's CEO until 2021. FOX Sports also owns an equity stake in that as well as the broadcasting rights to The Spring League. A little incestuous? Perhaps, but the shared vested interests are likely to produce stability and longevity, something no recent football league has had.

Along with Woods, Daryl Johnston is also the new USFL's Executive Vice President. You probably know Johnston as either the three-time Super Bowl champion fullback or the longtime color commentator. Or both! Johnston is an established footballer who "gets it". One thing about Johnston that was hard to dispute whether on the field or in the booth, was his intelligence.

But Johnston isn't the only member of the brain trust that came from the NFL. Mike Pereira is the head of officiating and you probably recognize him as the current Fox Sports rules analyst. He of course is also a veteran NFL referee. Joining them is Edward Hartman, EVP of business operations. That is important because Hartman is currently SVP of digital partnerships and wagering at FOX Sports. Why is that key? Because you know that Hartman realizes that gambling and fantasy football helps drive the train. Wanna bet we have DFS and well-publicized wagering opportunities on the new USFL?

Awesome! So what players and coaches will I be betting on?

Let's start with the coaches. The two most recognizable names for NFL fans are probably former NFL coaches Todd Haley (Tampa Bay Bandits) and Jeff Fisher (Michigan Panthers).


Skip Holtz is probably another familiar name as yes, he is famed college football coach Lou Holtz's son. But before taking the Birmingham Stallions position he had coached at four different Division I schools. The three of them will be joined by Bart Andrus (Philadelphia Stars), Larry Fedora (New Orleans Breakers), Mike Riley (New Jersey Generals), Kevin Sumlin (Houston Gamblers), and Kirby Wilson (Pittsburgh Maulers).

The players are not quite the cream of the crop, having been selected from a 35-round draft of a pool of 450-500 players that have already signed contracts to play in the league. There was also a 10-round supplemental draft held on March 10 to select an additional 80 players. While complete details regarding salaries have not been disclosed, the players will receive base compensation and be eligible for victory bonuses, according to the USFL's Web site.

Some of the better-known signal-callers that might reflect the level of the player currently in the USFL are former NY Giants and Pittsburgh Maulers QB Kyle Lauletta, XFL QB standout Jordan Ta'amu who will play for the Tampa Bay Bandits and former NFL first-rounder Paxton Lynch who started four games for the Broncos but will suit up for the Michigan Panthers.

Some other USFL players I expect to see on my fantasy teams/entries include: Michigan Panther Jeff Badet who ran a 4.27 40-yard dash and was drafted by the Vikings in 2018; New Orleans Breakers WR Taywan Taylor who scored an NFL touchdown as a member of the Titans; and New Jersey General J'Mon Moore who has been with three NFL teams and is a YAC monster:


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So, what does the season look like?

The first game will pit the New Jersey Generals versus the Birmingham Stallions at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 16. They will play at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.

All of the games will be played in Birmingham, either at Protective Stadium or at historic Legion Field. Teams will play on Saturdays and Sundays, with some special broadcasts on Fridays and Mondays. Games will be broadcasted on both FOX and NBC. That is quite unique given that it's the first scheduled sporting event to air on competing broadcast networks since Super Bowl I in 1967 (shown on both NBC and CBS).

The USFL will feature two playoff rounds following a 10-week long regular season. Teams in the same division will play each other twice and teams in the other division once.

Want to follow your DFS entries? You will be able to on any of the USFL's broadcast partners of FOX, NBC, USA Network, and FS1.  FOX Sports will carry 22 of the 43 games, and will be split between FOX (12) and FS1 (10). NBC Sports will share its 21 games between NBC (8), USA Network (9), and Peacock (4).

And that brings us to DFS...

2022 USFL DFS Week 1

As of late Wednesday, it appears that only DraftKings will be having USFL contests. My guess is that if it is popular enough on DraftKings, FanDuel will quickly join the game. We know those are the two biggies, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the smaller sites start to feature USFL DFS contests as well. So for now, we will use DraftKings to help build our DFS lineups.

So what should that lineup look like?

Great question. First off, be aware that DraftKings USFL lineups are a little different than their regular NFL lineup. A USFL lineup includes 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR/TE, 2 FLEX, and a DST. Let's go through each position and break it down.

Quarterback

Luis Perez interests me as a potential sleeper, but for now, he seems to be the back-up to De'Andre Johnson. I'm not taking either this week. I'll confine my lineups for now to those whose professional body of work I've witnessed. That leaves us with Paxton Lynch, Kyle Lauletta, and Jordan Ta'amu ($10,400). My guess (and hope?) is that the first two are the more popular choices given their NFL experience/big college program experience. But I'm going with Ta'amu. Jordan Ta' amu has a strong arm and doees enough with his legs to provide highlight reel production:

I like what I saw with him with St. Louis in the XFL. With so much uncertainty in Week 1, I'll take the guy with the high enough floor.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Just like the usual DFS, there is value to stacking in the USFL DFS. So therefore I will be taking Ta'amu's top receiver, Rashard Davis. Davis constantly seems to be just on the outside of the NFL roster bubbles, but I got a feeling he will be featured regularly with the Tampa Bay Bandits. He was one of the best kicker returners during his time at James Madison. He was a burner, who was able to use his speed to return four punts for TDs.

For my other spot, I will likely go with the aforementioned J'Mon Moore. But don't hesitate to hit me up on Twitter (@MarkStrausberg) to see who I end up selecting.

Running Back

Far more uncertainty in the USFL backfields than in some of the other skill positions.

But I think Pittsburgh Mauler Head Coach Kirby Wilson will try to slow down Ta'amu and the easiest way to do so will be with a strong running game. He might easily be on the wrong side of an RBBC with Garrett Groshek. But I'm going to roll the dice with Madre London ($5700). All London did in 2021 was lead the European League of Football with 2,177 yards and 23 TDs.

Works for me!

D/ST

From the tweet above you can tell I'm not a Jeff Fisher fan. But his teams always had strong defenses despite some of his poor coaching decisions, usually on the offensive side of the ball. Houston's slated starter is Clayton Thorson. I'll admit, I have never heard of him. And he sounds like someone who should be hosting the Governor's Annual Croquet Match and Bull Roast than lining up under center for a professional football team.

The Michigan Panthers also feature LB Taiwan Jones, who was a casualty of the talent-rich Buffalo Bill defense. Jones is a hard-nosed football player who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time:


Finally, DraftKings has the Michigan Panthers ($4700) as the highest salaried defense. DraftKings is not always right, but given the lack of certainty around the USFL, I'm willing to ride with their top option.


Therefore, Just like the usual DFS, there is value to stacking in the USFL DFS. So therefore I will be taking Ta'amu's top receiver, Rashard Davis. Davis constantly seems to be just on the outside of the NFL roster bubbles, but I got a feeling he will be featured regularly with the Tampa Bay Bandits. He was one of the best kicker returners

That's it for me for this week. Looking forward to Week 1 of the USFL season!

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