2022 USFL Week 3 Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL Week 3 Primer

We start the 2022 USFL Week 3 Primer with a look at the magic that is Week 3. Or as I call it, "truth week".

What exactly does that mean? Well, it takes three data points to create a trend. So if we see something three weeks in a row, it begins to show us certain "truths".

Don't get carried away. And as always, be aware of confirmation bias. But after this week, we will have certain "truths" that either will continue to be proven true or quickly dispelled. For example, right now the Breakers look like the best team in the league and the Michigan Panthers look like the worst. I tend to believe the former is still to be determined, but a win this week might have me believing. I already believe in the latter, but should Michigan pull out a win this week, I will begin to question that belief.

And with that perhaps we will get a little more "truth" on who the Tampa Bay Bandits really are. I thought they were the cream of the crop after Week 1. But they got absolutely obliterated in Week 2. Week 3 might shed a little more light on whom that team actually is.

So perhaps we should believe in the power of three? Because of that, I'm making a three-pick parlay, part of our initial Week 3 primer.

2022 USFL Week 3 Primer

Week 3 Betting Thoughts

So my weekly bet is this: A three pick parlay (+847) with the following three legs:

  • Tampa Bandits -1 (-110)
  • Birmingham Stallions ML (+160)
  • Philadelphia Stars -1 (-110).

Let's break it down piece by piece.

Tampa Bay Bandits -1 (-110)

This is one of the more interesting matchups of Week 3. Both teams are trending downward, mainly due to poor quarterback play. And that includes the Bandits who let me down and made me look foolish for my belief in them.

The Gamblers meanwhile are at the bottom of the league in passing yards per game (111 yards). They have completed a league-low 47.1 percent of their passes while being tied for the league lead with four total interceptions. That's not good. The biggest problem seems to be their quarterback Clayton Thorson, who threw three devastating interceptions. He has been a difference-maker. And not in a good way.

On the flip side, the Bandits have underachieved significantly compared to expectations. However, I see this as a great buy-low opportunity with them being only 1-point favorites against an inferior team. Give me the better QB in Ta’amu and the better team to win convincingly in Week 3.

Birmingham Stallions ML (+160)

This is an extremely bold pick as nearly every tout is picking the Breakers to win this game. And that alone might be a reason to pick the Stallions.

But lets imagine you and seven of your friends each have the same resources to design and build a car for a race. However, before you all compete in this automobile race, one of you is allowed to use the highest octane gasoline they want, while all others are limited to let's say 87 octane. Maybe one of the 87 octane cars win. But if you had to pick one car, wouldn't you pick the one that might have just a little extra boost?

Such is the case with the USFL. The Birmingham Stallions are the only true "home field" team in the USFL. I got a feeling they can upset New Orleans. On a "neutral" field I would give the Breakers the slight edge. But this is not a neutral field. They are playing this game, like all the others, in Birmingham. I feel like it's worth taking the chance.

Philadelphia Stars -1 (-110)

Philly lost to the New Orleans Breaker, the best team in the league, by six points in Week 1. They got back on track with a win over Pittsburgh in Week 2. As for New Jersey, the Generals lost to the Stallions in Week 1, and then barely held on for a win against the Panthers last Friday.

The difference here to me is the quarterback play. Luis Perez and De'Andre Johnson have been capable, but not "good." As for Bryan Scott, he leads the league in passing yards (474) and passing touchdowns (4). He hasn't been perfect, but he may be the best quarterback in the league.

I think the Stars win this game easily if they limit their turnovers. Add to that the fact that favorites have opened the year 6-2 straight-up, and I’m expecting this game to continue that trend.

2022 USFL Week 3 DFS Picks

Quarterback: Bryan Scott, Philadelphia Stars ($10,100)

Kyle Slotter is so tempting. It's not even like he's very expensive, as he is only the fourth-most expensive QB option. But as I said, that's going to make him very popular, especially in cash games. I will instead pivot to the QB who actually had the best game last week, Bryan Scott.

I love the ceiling, but it is Scott's floor that's really appealing. He is the only quarterback this young USFL season to have passed for at least 200 yards in each of his starts. Furthermore, Scott leads the league in total passing yards, supported by his league-high 272 last Saturday.

However, if he's still questionable before game time, I would either a) grab Slotter or b) Pivot to J'Mar Smith. As mentioned, I think that game will be extremely high-scoring. There are worse plays than grabbing the less obvious quarterback in this match-up.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: Jordan Suell, Philadelphia Stars ($7,200) / Bug Howard, Philadelphia Stars ($4,100)

I am still going to stack and therefore go with a pair of Philadelphia pass catchers: Jordan Suell and one of my favorites, Bug Howard.

Suell's Week 1 was pretty forgettable, but this past weekend he hauled in six of 10 targets for 72 yards. Any player seeing double-digit targets needs to be on your radar. But he's not just on my radar, he's part of my lineup too.

Howard meanwhile did not score last week like he did in Week 1. Yet he was targeted more and caught more of them, with those catches going for more than triple the yards (44) from the previous week (14). The bottom line is that he continues to be an integral part of this offense and is a steal at his current price.

Running Back: BJ Emmons, Tampa Bay Bandits ($9,300)

I know the Bandits burned me last week, but I can't quit them completely. So I'm going to return to the well with BJ Emmons whose salary continues to rise. This price is uncomfortably high given how inefficient Emmons has been. But he's that price because DraftKings is fully aware that volume is king and Emmons' 33 carries are third in the league after two weeks. I'm giving Emmons at least one more game, I suggest you do the same.

Defense/Special Teams (DST): Tampa Bay Bandits ($4,300)

And since I'm riding with Emmons, I'm going to stack the Tampa Bay Bandits DST with him. The truth is that this is less of an endorsement of the Bandits' defense than it is skepticism of the Houston Gamblers' offense. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (three). He's averaging less than 110 passing yards a game. And he's only completing half of his passes. This type of performance is benchable in the NFL and it's not much better in the USFL. I'll give the Bandits DST one more chance too.

Flex Options

Birmingham Stallions wide receiver Osirus Mitchell ($8,200) has been targeted seven times each of the last two weeks. I'm going to agree with Royal Retros on this one:

Well, at least the Mitchell part. If Birmingham is going to try to keep up with the Breakers' explosive offense, they are going to need to rely on their usual weapons. That's Mitchell.

I am expecting a pretty high-scoring game between Birmingham and New Orleans. And the sportsbooks agree, putting this game at an over/under of 44.5 points. That's 10 percent higher than any other game. So I know I was trying to resist it, but I want some piece of the New Orleans offense. Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon ($6,700) scored last weekend and I'm willing to bet on him having another nice game on Saturday night.

Good luck!

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