2022 USFL Week 9 Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL Playoffs

The 2022 USFL Week 9 Primer will probably be the last week of a primer with a playoff spot up for grabs.

All the USFL teams will still play in week 10, but the only suspense will likely be actual playoff seeding, not who the teams are. Well, there might also be the "suspense" as to whether or not the Stallions go undefeated. But the only reason I see that happening is that they begin to rest their starters.

That brings us to the question of resting players. Are certain playoff-bound teams going to begin resting their players? I honestly don't know and I don't know to what extent it will happen. However, we need to at least consider the possibility when making our bets and DFS decisions.

Simply something to keep in mind.

And here is what I have in mind for this week in my 2022 USFL Week 9 primer.

2022 USFL Week 9 Primer

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Week 9 Betting Thoughts

This might be your last chance to get any team to win it all at decent odds. You can still get the undefeated Stallions for example at +150. I promise you that if an NFL was undefeated going into the second to last week of the regular season, you would not be able to get them at +150 odds.

Meanwhile, I am going to be aggressive again this week. I'm making one big 4-game parlay, and I will give it a higher floor with a 3-leg round robin.

My four-pick parlay pays +1230 and looks like this:

  • Pittsburgh Maulers/Philadelphia Stars OVER 47 (-110)
  • New Orleans Breakers -3 (-115)
  • Michigan Panthers +7.5 (-105)
  • Houston Gamblers/Birmingham Stallions OVER 43.5 (-110)

Let's look at each game.

Pittsburgh Maulers/Philadelphia Stars OVER 47

This one is real simple. Until a team stops the Philadelphia offense or the Stars prove they can stop someone, I'm taking the OVER every time. This one is a little shakier than most weeks as I'd rather see an over/under on this game closer to 43, but I'm still taking the OVER. If nothing else, I think Pittsburgh can put up a few FGs with likely the best kicker in the league:

New Orleans Breakers -3 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits

I was able to jump on this line before it shifted a half-point to -3.5. Thankfully. Because I don't see New Orleans "breaking" open (see what I did there? I know, I'm hysterical) this game until the fourth quarter. This will be a hard-fought game with major playoff implications on the line. But Tampa Bay's offense is so inconsistent and New Orleans' defense is one of the best. I foresee a key defensive stop in the 4th quarter leading to the difference in this game.

Michigan Panthers +7.5 vs. New Jersey Generals

With the Generals up late in the game, they will begin resting their starters and then watch as Michigan gets the back door cover.

Houston Gamblers/Birmingham Stallions OVER 43.5

The Stallions' defense is good.

And with Mark Thompson on the inactive list, Houston might have trouble scoring. But the Houston defense is so bad (the only team in the USFL allowing more than 200 passing yards per game), that Birmingham could put up 43+ points all by themselves. Furthermore, as good as the Birmingham defense is, they are still allowing 16 points per game. Let's assume they only allow half that. Do I think Birmingham can score 35+ points? Yes. It might be because of a defensive or special teams TD (they do lead the league in punt return yards by more than 50 yards!), but I think they can. I'm taking the Over.

Moving onto the DFS slate this week...

2022 USFL Week 9 DFS Picks

Quarterback: Case Cookus, Philadelphia Stars ($9,800)

Yes, Luiz Perez has been looking pretty good lately. Vlad Lee and Roland Rivers have been huge upgrades at QB versus what Pittsburgh saw earlier in the year. But plain and simple, I'm not dipping down there this week. Give me one of the top four quarterbacks and the high floor that comes with each of those. Some of the lower options make for potential leverage plays, but I'll skimp on salary elsewhere.

The TB/NO game has the potential to be a shoot-out. So yes, Jordan Ta'amu and Kyle Sloter have high upside potential this week but their floor is too low for the $11k range, especially for cash games. Not saying I won't have any shares in GPPs, but the risk/cost ratio is not optimum. The same is true for J'Mar Smith. He will produce, but with the Stallions already clinched, I'm not sure how long he plays on Saturday. Not worth the risk.

And that brings us to Case Cookus, who I correctly called as the best option last week. And it wasn't simply the best quarterback performance of the week, but he put up the best quarterback line of the season!

If one accounts for five total TDs in a USFL game, you should be the top option. The fact that he's cheaper than some others makes him an obvious pick again this week.

Running Back: Anthony Jones, New Orleans Breakers ($5,000)

Yikes. That's the best word to describe the RB options this week. There are about 14 backs this week whom I can see having an absolutely huge week. However, as there are 14 of them, that obviously tells you that there are a lot of timeshares that could really kill the production of most of them. Your best bet this week might be to take two RBs from the same team and assume they both produce with no third option taking points from them. With such high risks everywhere, I'm going to save some salary.

What I like about Jones is he has at least two targets each of the last four weeks, which gives him at least a positive floor with the odds of goose egg extremely low. He also has 44 carries over the last three weeks combined, giving him a decent ceiling. His low of 3.6 DKFP in week 5 and high of 23.3 in week 6 is pretty indicative of the range I expect him to fall into. The issue with Jones is that I still think Jordan Ellis is the lead back in this offense, even if it is a timeshare. However, I foresee this game having a lot more passing than most Breakers games, and therefore Jones should be highly utilized.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: Sal Canella, New Orleans Breakers ($4,700)

Like RB, there are a ton of options at WR as well. I wouldn't fault anyone for going with Stallions, Breakers, or Stars WRs. The question of course is which team and which one WR from that team, I really can't give you a confident answer. But as I've said, I think this game is a shoot-out. Canella might be the third receiving option at best, but he is clearly an option. He has had five or more targets in five of the last six weeks. And the one exception was against the Maulers, who allowed the Breakers to go with a more run-heavy attack than usual.

Breakers QB Kyle Sloter clearly likes Canella; you should too.

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

With all the salary we are saving, you might as well spend up on DST this week. I like all four of the top options, but the Stallions are an easy play this week after looking at the injury reports. The Gamblers' "ace-in-the-hole" RB Mark Thompson is out again this week. Not only is Thompson out but Kenji Bahar will once again start in place of the injured Clayton Thorson. Bahar was, (insert tongue into cheek) a standout at Monmouth, but has done very little at the professional level. He has all of 260 passing yards over the last two weeks, averaging just barely over five yards per attempt. Every other starting QB and even some of the backup QBs have a better average.

And it's not like the Stallions'' defense is bad.  Eight INTs, seven DFR, and 21 sacks are plenty impressive, not to mention not allowing a team to score more than 17 points against them in the last six weeks.

The Stallions DST might be the easiest call this week.

Flex Options

With the salary I've saved, I am likely to stack my Flex options. In my J'Mar Smith entry, I'm stacking Osirius Mitchell, Marlon Williams, and Bo Scarborough. I wouldn't count out CJ Marable either. But if you want an interesting runback or sneaky option from this game, I'd go with Houston WR Teo Redding. Like most Gambler players he seems to have an aversion to the endzone, but as DraftKings itself said, "Redding paced the Gamblers in receptions, receiving yards and targets, extending his streak of productive performances to three games." At just $5K, it could be a good way to get a bunch of Stallions into your lineup.

I have more shares of Johnnie Dixon ($8,600) this week than any other skill position player. He is one of the USFL's best WRs, with 33 catches for 335 yards and four TDs. Just be prepared for Shawn Poindexter and Adams to get their share of passes as well.

If you have the salary to spend, hard to go wrong on RB Darius Victor ($9,200), who leads the league with nine TDs and 523 yards. Victor's teammate Kavontae Turpin is also expensive at over $10K, but his high cost could reduce his ownership. But he has five combined TDs and 574 combined yards on the season already. Fade him at your own risk. If you are looking for a much cheaper part of the New Jersey offense, consider my favorite bargain bin player of the week, J'Mon Moore ($3,300). Moore injured his hamstring in week 1 and didn't play again until week 7. But he had seven targets last week, which the former Green Bay Packer turned into four catches for over 11.3 YPC. The Generals might rest Turpin if/when the game gets out of hand, making Moore a potentially high leverage play.

Finally, looking for a contrarian play? Going up against New Orleans's top defense, Rashard Davis ($5,700) seems to have Jordan Ta'amu's eye of late. He is someone I liked before the season began and makes for a great GPP play.

I'll likely post some more DFS options before the games start on Saturday, so follow me on Twitter (@MarkStrausberg). But that will do it for the 2022 USFL Week 9 Primer. Good luck!

Check out the rest of our 2022 Fantasy Football Team Previews!

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