2022 USFL Week 7 Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL Playoffs

As I was reviewing the slate for the 2022 USFL Week 7 Primer, it struck me that I will be going one of two ways this week. I am either going to eat the chalk and go with the undefeated Stallions or completely pivot off them to some of the less popular teams.

Anyone following the USFL knows about the Stallions but is likely aware that the Breakers are also very strong. The more casual fan might not be aware of how good the New Jersey Generals are. But take five minutes to absorb any kind of USFL media coverage in the last week and you can bet you won't hear about the Generals without the phrase "coming on strong" soon following it.

But after that, things get a little murky. The next two teams have .500 records, followed by three teams who are all 1-5. One of those .500 teams, the Bandits, is maddeningly inconsistent and has yet to win in consecutive weeks. The other .500 team, the Stars, have been riddled with injuries, and have allowed the second-most points in the league.

And let's be kind by simply saying the 1-5 teams are not much better than their record indicates. However, at least one of them is going to pick up more wins as the teams begin to play one another.

That is not happening this week, but this is the last week where teams are playing one another for the first time. Starting next week, teams will begin facing their division rivals a second time. That means...something. Perhaps those teams that prepare better will do better as there is no game tape of their opponent playing against them previously. I honestly don't know. But something about this week feels like a plain, unmarked box before you open it. Could be good, could be bad.

Let's hope it is positive as we dive into the 2022 USFL Week 7 primer.

2022 USFL Week 7 Primer

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Week 7 Betting Thoughts

Last week should have been better. I want to blame the injuries, but that's part of the game. You can never predict them, but that is why the books love for you to make multi-game bets. There is a very high chance that one out of four games trends a different way due to injury. No excuses, but it's why I am going to break this week up into separate bets: one for Saturday's action and one for Sunday's.

So instead of one four-leg parlay, I am going to do two two-leg parlays.

Here is what they look like:

Saturday Parlay: (+206)
  • New Jersey Generals ML (-165)
  • Michigan Panthers/New Orleans Breakers UNDER 41.5 (-110)
Sunday Parlay: (+264)
  • Pittsburgh Maulers +12.5 (-110)
  • Philadelphia Stars/Houston Gamblers OVER 43.5 (-110)

If you want to combine all four into one big parlay, which I am considering doing, it pays +1017. But for now, I'm going to bet separately as I will likely live-bet during the games, but we'll get to that in a moment. Let's look at each game

New Jersey Generals ML over Tampa Bay Bandits

The first game of the weekend might have one of the more intriguing QB match-ups. On one side is former Ole Miss quarterback and XFL standout Jordan Ta'amu, who has looked very good at times:

On the other side, the Generals just signed Kyle Lauletta which is an indicator that their stud QB, De'Andre Johnson, is certainly out for this weekend's game. And possibly more. In Johnson's stead will be Luis Perez, who has proven he can be a weapon with his legs. However, Perez has far more surrounding talent, including Darius Victor who leads the league in rushing TDs and Kavonte Turpin, who is the current receiving yards leader. Furthermore, the Generals have a better defense than the Bandits, who are allowing more than sixty yards per game than New Jersey is.

The Generals should win this game by a touchdown and therefore will win this game.

UNDER 41.5 Michigan Panthers New Orleans Breakers

Both these teams have pretty good defenses. I could just leave it at that. But I suspect we will sweat this one out a little bit. The New Orleans offense has looked extremely sharp at times. However, the Michigan defense is stout enough to keep New Orleans under three TDs, especially given that Breakers QB Kyle Slotter is tied for most interceptions in the league. Furthermore, I still have so little respect for the Michigan offense. I love their receivers, but they are such a mess at QB, it doesn't matter how fast or great their hands are.

Take the Under.

Pittsburgh Maulers +12.5 over Birmingham Stallions

Let me be very clear on this: I think the Stallions win this game. But the money line value is a joke, while the oddsmakers made this spread way too big.

First off, don't be surprised if the Stallions look past the Maulers on their way to the top seed and find themselves in a little bit of battle before eeking out a victory. Secondly, even if the Stallions cruise to victory, I'm very concerned about the Maulers covering the spread with a late garbage time TD. The Stallions are allowing just 17.2 PPG while the Maulers are allowing 20.5 PPG.

The Maulers are a better team than they were to start the season and should be able to score at least double digits. Do I think the Maulers' defense can keep it under a 2-TD game? Yes, I do.

OVER 43.5 Philadelphia Stars/Houston Gamblers

Both teams have horrible defenses. The Stars have allowed a league-worst 153 points against them. The Gamblers are second-worst in the league with 142. Divide those each by six and add them together we have a combined average of over 46 points. But we're not done yet.

The Stars are likely to come close to hitting this number on their own. They are second in the league in points scored per game. Philadelphia also leads the league in rushing average. They have a powerful one-two punch in their backfield with Darnell Holland and Matt Colburn II. (Unfortunately, they have cannibalized one another's fantasy value).

And Bryan Scott was one of my favorite USFL quarterbacks to watch. The Stars quarterback looked like a star. Unfortunately, he is out once again due to ankle and knee issues. However, Case Cookus has filled in for Scott admirably as the Philadelphia passing attack continues to, pardon the pun, "cook".

The issue that Cookus has is holding onto the ball when he runs, having fumbled three times already. But I suspect Philadelphia gets that corrected and the Stars' offense rolls.  And given how bad the Philadelphia defense is, I wouldn't be surprised if this game is closer to 60 points than 43.

Moving onto the DFS slate this week...

2022 USFL Week 7 DFS Picks

Quarterback: J'Mar Smith, Birmingham Stallions ($10,300)

He's played in five of six games this season. In those five games, the least amount of DKFP he's registered is over 14 points. He might not have the upside of some of the other options, but his floor is the highest of any QB on the slate. Smith is going up against the 1-5 Maulers. I'll pivot elsewhere. If you insist on pivoting, maybe go with Case Cookus in what could easily be a shoot-out. But Smith is the easy choice for me.

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

My regular readers knew Howard would be the choice this week. I suggest him almost every week and this week he's coming off a 2-TD week. And he's playing the Gamblers whose secondary is absolutely swiss cheese. Easy call.

Running Back: Mark Thompson, Houston Gamblers ($8,000)

And almost as easy a call is Mark Thompson this week. The Philadelphia Stars' defense has suffered more bad runs than discontinued pantyhose. They have allowed over 178 rushing yards per game! Enter Thompson who is second in the league with 422 rushing yards, and doesn't have the luxury that league leader Jordan Ellis has had of his team trying to kill the clock at the end of games.

But he can catch the ball too...

Fade him at your own risk.

Defense/Special Teams (DST): Birmingham Stallions ($5,500)

There's always an argument for pivoting, especially to a cheaper option. But I'm taking the top option on the board. Not only have the Stallions allowed the third-fewest points in the league, but they also have more sacks than anyone. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is a model of offensive inefficiency, having scored just 76 points in six games. Don't overthink this--grab Birmingham and find elsewhere to save salary.

Flex Options

If you are looking to stack Stallions, and yes I am, Victor Bolden ($10,700) is the easy and obvious play. He is coming off his fourth week of double-digit targets. I'd like to see more TDs from him, but he's a great bet to see double-digit targets again. I also like his teammate Bo Scarborough ($6,000) with CJ Marable out this week. I still have trouble believing Scarborough didn't make it in the NFL.....

Another high-end option that I like this week is Isaiah Zuber ($10,300), in a game that should see a ton of scoring. He does have TDs in four of six weeks so far this season.

Looking for some cheaper options? Two pivots that I like are Michigan Panthers Devin Ross ($3,800) and Ryan O'Malley ($3,000). Both scored TDs last week and should they do so again, will easily pay off at those salary costs.

That will do it for the 2022 USFL Week 7 Primer. Good luck!

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