The USFL season is in full swing and there are still beatable lines plus big prize pools on DraftKings. With half of the season in the books, things have stabilized as much as they are ever going to. It's time to get back in the streets with a comprehensive breakdown of the Week 6 slate. You can get a broader view of all of the teams in my USFL Team by Team Preview.
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Philadelphia Stars
Bandits -2.5 / 40 O/U
After a gruesome start to the year, Jordan Ta'amu has turned things around as of late. He has four touchdowns and one interception over the past three weeks. He also has 91 rushing yards in that span. If Ta'amu throws for two scores and rushes for another, he'll likely lead the slate in scoring.
The Stars have been forced to start Case Cookus since losing Bryan Scott. In three appearances, Scott has averaged 6.3 yards per attempt while completing 63.5 percent of his passes. Cookus doesn't do much as a runner, so his only path to upside is incredible passing volume, which head coach Bart Andrus wouldn't be opposed to. The Stars' pass rate on early downs is 18 percent higher than any other team. Though they are slightly lacking in top talent, the Stars play offense in a +EV style. That levels the playing field in the USFL making them a solid spread and money line bet this week.
With B.J. Emmons ruled out on short notice, Juwan Washington played every snap for the Bandits in Week 5. He logged 14 carries and scored twice. Emmons is expected to be active this week, so the backfield may devolve into a split again. However, the Stars have been crushed on the ground, so I don't mind taking shots on either Tampa Bay back.
Paul Terry is rumored to be out this week, leaving Matt Colburn and Darnell Holland to handle the workload. Holland returned to action for a single snap last week and was listed as a full participant in practice this week. He was also given a monstrous workload when healthy earlier in the season. This is another backfield that is murky but worth taking shots on.
John Franklin ran a route on every Ta'amu dropback last week. He also led the Bandits with nine targets and 77 air yards. LSU's Derrick Dillon was the only other Tampa Bay wideout to play more than 50 percent of the team's snaps. Dillon is a big-play threat and will likely be overlooked in tournaments.
Diondre Overton is expected to be inactive, freeing up WR3 duties for the Stars. Chris Rowland and Maurice Alexander both had blowup games early in the year and have since disappeared. Overton's absence will put one of them on the field often, though I have no clue who that will be. I'll be firing on both in tournaments. Jordan Suell and Devin Gray are both every-down receivers for a pass-heavy squad. Both are solid options this week.
With Philly fighting injuries and the Bandits currently ranking seventh in points scored, I find it shocking to see such a high total in this game.
Birmingham Stallions vs. Michigan Panthers
Stallions -6.5 / 37.5 O/U
J'mar Smith was back under center for the bulk of the snaps last week. As the league's best quarterback so far, it's baffling that he doesn't play every snap. We could be inching toward that is he makes his way back from the illness that kept him off the field two weeks ago. Smith is pacing the league with 18.9 fantasy points per game.
With Paxton Lynch sidelined, Shea Patterson has become a force on the ground, rushing for 125 yards on 17 carries over the past three weeks. He also threw for 300 yards in the Panthers' Week 5 loss. Patterson is an average USFL passer, but his rushing output makes him a solid tournament option.
C.J. Marable is not expected to play, leaving a massive void in the Birmingham backfield. Tony Brooks-James ran behind the newly signed Bo Scarbrough last week, pushing me slightly toward Bo for who I think gets the start in Week 6. Scarbrough has NFL experience as recent as 2020 putting him in the upper echelon of talent for this league.
The Panthers run a three-headed committee that I will be fading for the foreseeable future.
Victor Bolden is pacing the league with 51 targets and the No. 2 receiver is seven looks behind him. Bolden is still the league's WR1 and should top 20 DraftKings points for the first time soon. Marlon Williams and Osirus Mitchell saw seven and eight targets respectively last week. Both run a healthy amount of routes and are great stacking options with Smith in tournaments.
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Lance Lenoir put together his best performance by yardage last week via an 86-yard outing. He has been swimming in air yards throughout the year, though a 100-yard game has eluded him. That streak will end one day, though his team's sketchy quarterback play makes it impossible to know when the drought will end. As the team's clear WR2, Devin Ross has earned 19 targets over the past three weeks.
New Orleans Breakers vs. Pittsburgh Maulers
Stallions -7.5 / 35.5 O/U
Kyle Sloter leads the league in passing yards. There are almost 400 yards between him and the second-leading passer. The Breakers play with pace, have a solid quarterback, and are big favorites this week.
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The Maulers switched to Vad Lee, who was signed just five days prior to starting, for Week 5. Lee led the team to their first win in the USFL, cementing himself as the starter in the process. Kyle Lauletta still got some run, which is more than a bit concerning for a team that has struggled so mightily this year. Lee rushed for over 1,600 yards in two seasons at James Madison. He also brings a capable arm to the table.
Jordan Ellis and Anthony Jones formed a running-back-by-committee last week. Ellis had been one of the few three-down backs with T.J. Logan out, but those days seem to be long gone. As a massive favorite, Ellis is still a cash-viable play.
Outside of last week, when Garrett Groshek saw seven targets, the Maulers' have generally shied away from throwing to their running backs. Neither of their top backs is averaging four yards per carry either. Continue fading this backfield until something changes.
Shawn Poindexter was shuffled to the back of the rotation last week, creating a three-wide set of Taywan Taylor, Johnnie Dixon, and Jonathan Adams. Dixon was targeted 13 times while Adams saw seven looks. All three are viable plays. In tournaments, I'll be betting on a bounceback from Taylor, who only saw one target last week but topped 100 yards two games ago. Sal Cannella, the team's tight end, plays almost every snap and consistently draws targets. He isn't a great bet to hit triple digits, but the volume he gets is more than enough to make up for that.
The mounting losses have forced Pittsburgh to pass far more than they'd like, creating plenty of value on their receivers. Tre Walker has an astounding 30 targets and 200 receiving over the past two weeks. Having completely given up on pricing players correctly, DraftKings left him at $4,400. Once again, leaving thousands of cap dollars on the table will be an edge and possibly optimal. Bailey Gaither has a 25 percent target share and saw 10 looks last week, putting him in play as well. Even Delvon Hardaway has two games with a target share north of 20 percent, keeping him on the table as a dart-throw.
New Jersey Generals vs. Houston Gamblers
Stallions -7 / 38.5 O/U
The Generals finally gave the people what they wanted and kept Luis Perez on the sidelines for an entire game. De'Andre Johnson rewarded them with two rushing scores and an easy win over the Breakers. Would it surprise me to see Perez start this week? Of course not, this is the USFL. However, even a chance at all of the snaps for Johnson is worth betting on. He has at least 10 carries in every game despite playing 100 percent of his team's snaps just once.
Clayton Thorson has yet to throw 30 times in a game. Fade.
Darius Victor, a bowling ball on skates, now leads the USFL with five rushing touchdowns. He is also fourth in carries and yards. As the banger on a team heavily favored this week, Victor has some appeal. His backfield comrade, Trey Williams, is averaging 3.8 targets per game and still sees plenty of carries.
Mark Thompson rebounded from his Week 4 dud with 17 carries for 80 yards last week. He has topped 70 yards in all but one contest so far. Still, he doesn't get receiving work and is a massive underdog (but he does have that dog in him). I tend to fade player with his profile, though he can certainly punish me for that position.
No matter what league you're watching, it was one of the best catches you'll find in the wild. Still, Isaiah Zuber remains the clear top option for Houston after pacing the team with nine targets in Week 5. Redding and Ratliff-Williams have some deep (read: very deep) tournament appeal.
KaVontae Turpin registered his first 100-yard game in Week 5 but still ran fewer routes than Alonzo Moore and Darrius Shepherd. Moore is a downfield burner who has yet to see more than three targets in a game. I will only have exposure to him and Shepherd in lineups with Johnson.