2022 USFL Week 5 Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL Playoffs

If you are reading this, chances are you agree with me. If you don't, forgive me. But I have to start the 2022 USFL Week 5 Primer with a complaint. Or perhaps just a request.

My complaint/request is simple. And it's directed at one of my favorite targets - FanDuel and DraftKings.  Those two sites really need to start expanding their USFL betting options! I hate not being able to bet player props. Or at the very least, allow me to bet alternate spreads or totals. These top-line bets of just the posted ML, spread, and over/under are not enough! I want more dadgummit!

I know, their response is probably that they need the volume to make it worth their while. Okay, I understand that. Then push it out there! FanDuel for example has no problem pushing the fact that they offer cashouts. In that exact same space, you could promote the USFL. The big boys just aren't giving the USFL a chance and it's ticking me off!

Because the USFL product is getting better and better every week. If you haven't watched it yet, give it a go. You might be surprised how good it is.

Speaking of good, I hit 100% of my USFL bets last week. And I'm making similar bets this week, which is as good a place as any for us to begin the discussion of bets and DFS picks for the 2022 USFL Week 5 primer.

2022 USFL Week 5 Primer

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Week 5 Betting Thoughts

So, I correctly picked a three-leg parlay last week with my USFL bets. Not going to do a victory lap, but it has emboldened me to make another big parlay this week. I am doing to do a parlay of all four games, but bet a RR triplet with it in order to give me a higher floor. If you need an explanation of that, please reach out to me and I can explain it to you. Meanwhile, here is what the bet looks like:

A four pick parlay (+1228) with the following four legs:

  • Tampa Bandits -2 (-110)
  • New Orleans Breakers -3 (-110)
  • Stars/Stallions OVER 35.5 (-110)
  • Houston Gamblers -5.5 (-110).

and the triplet RR piece which requires just three legs to hit pays up to +595

Let's break it down piece by piece.

Tampa Bay Bandits -2 vs Michigan Panthers (-110)

A lot of the so-called experts out there are taking the Michigan Panthers in this one, but I'm happy to go against the grain as I've had success doing so. If nothing else, my "if in doubt, bet against Jeff Fisher" rule applies here. I have more faith in Todd Haley getting the Bandits offense going than I do Jeff Fisher to game manage a game correctly. And this game will likely be a low-scoring close affair as neither team is allowing more than twenty points a game.

But we also have at least four data points now, which shows us a trend and the trends are not in the Michigan Panthers favor. Fisher's team has covered the spread just once this season, and that was against the winless Maulers.  Furthermore, after failing to beat a second-string quarterback and convert on a 21-yard field goal, I have zero confidence in that team. Meanwhile, the Bandits suffer from inconsisency. They got completely drowned by the New Orleans Breakers a few weeks ago and then lost to the undefeated Stallions this past weekend. Still, they actually held a halftime lead over "hometown" Birmingham.

Tampa Bay is at least a solid team, which is more than we can say about Michigan. Give me the Bandits.

New Orleans Breakers -3  at New Jersey Generals (-110)

New Orleans owns the league's best offense. They are first in passing yards, and have the league's top passer and top rusher. The NJ Generals meanwhile have allowed the second-most passing yards per game in the league. They also have the fewest sacks and interceptions combined. The Breakers meanwhile are allowing the second-fewest points per game.

No need to overcomplicate this--take the Breakers giving just a FG.

Philadelphia Stars / Birmingham Stallions OVER 35.5 (-110)

The Stallions are an absolutely overinflated -270 to stay undefeated. Yes, I like the Stallions to win, but there is zero value in that bet and I think this game might be pretty close. And close enough that a fluky play could give the Stars the victory. No way am I betting close to three units to just win one.

Yes, the Stallions look strong, but Philadelphia’s offense in particular is a fresh NCAA/pro hybrid that will keep drives going.

The Stars and Stallions both have strong offenses while their defenses are about average. These two teams are averaging the two highest passing yards per game. But these two teams are likely to attempt to run the ball as well given that both these teams are porous against the run, having allowed a combined 328+ rushing yards per game.

I would be shocked if this game doesn't have at least 37 points combined. I'll happily take the over.

Houston Gamblers -5.5 vs Pittsburgh Maulers (-110)

The books obviously think the hapless Maulers can keep this game under a TD.

I don't.

First off, I am not seeing any reason as to why the Maulers will be better than they have show. Meanwhile, the Gamblers have looked better in defeat than any other team in the USFL without a winning record. They are just a couple of plays away from standing at 3-1, and could easily be a TD-sized point spread.

Now that you know the context of my bets, it might help explain some of my DFS picks below.

2022 USFL Week 5 DFS Picks

Quarterback: Kyle Sloter, New Orleans Breakers ($10,800)

I am not going to pretend that Sloter did not throw three interceptions last week. And if you rode him as I did, it definitely killed any chance of a big win. But he still passed for nearly 400 yards last week, and most importantly, his team won. And dare I say he looked like a QB brimming with confidence during that final TD drive?

He has nearly 500 more passing yards than the next closest quarterback.

I'm going to give Sloter a pass (pun intended) for the three picks and roll with him again this week against New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: Shawn Poindexter, New Orleans Breakers ($8,200) / Johnnie Dixon, New Orleans Breakers ($8,100)

And I will roll with a Breakers stack again this week. Shawn Poindexter ($8,200) is a little cheaper than last week and Johnnie Dixon ($8,100) is a little more expensive. But Dixon is well worth it. He is tied with two others for the league lead with three touchdown catches, is tied for second in receptions (18), and is third in targets (30). Meanwhile, New Jersey, the Breakers' opponent this weekend, is allowing the second-most passing yards in the league and is tied for the fewest interceptions. Something tells me Poindexter will see plenty of points this weekend as well.

Running Back: Mark Thompson, Houston Gamblers ($7,100)

New Orleans RB Jordan Ellis is so tempting. He's a relatively affordable $8,100 and is the league's leading rusher in both yards and attempts. However, for both of those reasons, I suspect he will be a low-leverage play with high ownership.

Furthermore, the Generals are a pass-funnel team as they are allowing just 67 rushing yards per game, the lowest in the league. No thank you. I'll make the easy pivot to the man right behind Ellis in yards and attempts, Mark Thompson ($7,100) of the Houston Gamblers.

Defense/Special Teams (DST): Houston Gamblers ($3,900)

Thompson will help the Gamblers keep the Pittsburgh offense on the sidelines. But even when on the field, Houston has been a fantasy monster. They have scored more fantasy points per game than any other DST in the league. I'll be honest, I'm not totally convinced Houston is the top defense in the league.

However, I am convinced that the Maulers are one of the most underwhelming teams, including their offense, in the league. The Gamblers should win this one easily as they continue to rack up the defensive fantasy points.

Flex Options

Surprise, surprise, I'm going with Philadelphia's Bug Howard ($4,100) again. For the third week in a row, he's snagged four passes. He has a solid floor with a nice ceiling at a relatively low price. That's always an easy play.

The other Flex spot took a little more deliberation. But since I have a Breakers stack, I decided I want a Generals "runback" — a player who can rack up the fantasy points in order to keep up with my Breakers stack. And KaVontae Turpin ($7,100) piques my interest.

Turpin scored double-digit fantasy points for the second week in a row and a whopping 19 points at that. What I like about Turpin is he seems to be a weapon whether catching the ball or rushing it. He caught six of seven targets, but also managed four rushing attempts, one of which he punched into the end zone.

Flex option pivots?

Don't like my Bug Howard play and looking for another pivot? I'd give a long look at Breakers TE Sal Canella. He's only $5300 but a) has 19 targets over the last two weeks and b) leads the league in receiving yards. That screams value to me.

Or do you want a piece of the undefeated Stallions that I currently have avoided this week? He's a little pricier, but consider Stallions RB CJ Marable ($7,000). Philadelphia might be a decent pass defense, but the Stars are downright subterranean when it comes to defending the run.  Philadelphia has allowed both the most rushing TDs (seven) and rushing yards (813). Marable meanwhile ranks fourth in carries, eighth in rushing yards, and second in rushing touchdowns. As I begin to put more lineups in, I suspect I will have a few shares of Marable.

That will do it for the 2022 USFL Week 5 primer. Good luck!

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