This article is part of our DraftKings USFL series.
After an exciting Week 1 slate that saw three of the league's first four games go down to the final possession, the USFL is back for a three-day Week 2 ledger. Football fans and DFS afficionados won't have to wait until Saturday this week to get their sweat going, as the Panthers and Generals kick things off Friday night.
While it's naturally still a tiny sample, we have a good bit more information from a DFS perspective about each team and how it might approach its offensive attack than we did a week ago at this time. Consequently, we'll put some faith in a lot of what we saw in terms of individual usage and performance, although given the circumstances, there's no question player roles and offensive philosophies will continue to evolve over the course of the inaugural season.
USFL DK contests will require players to roster one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers or tight ends, two FLEX spots with either a running back, receiver or tight end and a team defense.
Jordan Ta'Amu, TB vs. NO ($10,700): Ta'amu put together a solid Week 1 performance, completing 62.5 percent of his passes on his way to 185 yards and a touchdown against the Maulers. The talented signal-caller did throw a pair of interceptions, but Tampa Bay still controlled the game start to finish and it's likely Ta'Amu could have compiled much better numbers through the air had the circumstances called for more passing. The Bandits' pass-catching corps is still a work in progress, but Ta'Amu already has clear rapport with tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, who was on the receiving end of a team-high 11 targets. Given the Breakers allowed nearly a 70.0 percent completion rate to former Division III quarterback Bryan Scott in Week 1 and also bring a more aggressive offensive mindset than Pittsburgh, Ta'Amu could be forced to do more in the passing game in Week 2.
Shea Patterson, MICH at NJ ($10,400): The Panthers were expected to be very run-centric given head coach Jeff Fisher's track record, and while they did feature the ground attack to the tune of 46 attempts in the Week 1 loss to the Gamblers, Patterson also put the ball up 25 times. Patterson was briefly replaced by Paxton Lynch, but the latter seemingly did nothing to threaten the former's standing as the team's top quarterback. Patterson finished with a 68.0 percent completion rate, 192 passing yards and a touchdown, adding 31 yards on the ground on eight carries. The Generals allowed 205 passing yards, 6.6 yards per attempt and a pair of touchdowns through the air to the Stallions in Week 1, and Michigan's solid backfield duo of Stevie Scott and Cameron Scarlett should help keep New Jersey's defense from keying too much on the passing game.
J'mar Davis-Smith, BHAM at HOU ($8,200): The quarterback that did a lot of the damage against the Generals in Week 1 was Davis-Smith, who stepped in for an injured Alex McGough and finished with 156 passing yards, 13 rushing yards and one touchdown through the air and on the ground apiece. That led to a solid 17.5 DK points in less than three full quarters of play, and the assumption is Davis-Smith is going to be under center Week 2 unless news comes out stating otherwise. The Gamblers defense gave up 363 total yards to the Panthers in Week 1, including the aforementioned solid game to Patterson, and their offense was inefficient enough that Michigan was able to rack up 79 total plays. If the Stallions can see the ball anywhere near as frequently, Davis-Smith could pay off nicely as a value option.
ALSO CONSIDER: Luis Perez, NJ vs. MICH ($8,100)
Stevie Scott, MICH at NJ ($7,900): Scott led that Panthers ground attack in Week 1 with 18 rushes and a 51% snap share per PFF. The Indiana University product netted 15 DK points on the afternoon, and although he only saw one target, he logged a 47% route share during his time on the field. The Generals did a solid job against the Stallions' running backs in Week 1, but Scott should have locked-in volume given Fisher's coaching tendencies and was a solid receiver in college, supporting the notion he could be more involved in the passing game in Week 2.
Garrett Groshek, PIT at PHI ($7,000): Groshek plays for another coach that is willing to rely heavily on the ground attack in Kirby Wilson, and he was already fed 16 carries in the Week 1 loss to the Bandits. With Tampa Bay keying on the run, the former Wisconsin Badger averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, but he could encounter more success against a Stars defense that proved vulnerable Week 1. Philadelphia surrendered 171 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per attempt to the Breakers, potentially setting Groshek up for a much more fruitful day than in the opener.
Jordan Ellis, NO at TB ($5,400): Ellis was one of two New Orleans backs to thrive against the Stars' defense, as he gained 89 yards and scored a touchdown on 18 carries, leading to 14.9 DK points. The Virginia product also broke four tackles and gained 58 of his yards after first contact per PFF, affording him even more appeal at his salary. The Bandits were generally effective against the run in Week 1 versus the Maulers, but Pittsburgh essentially telegraphed how heavily they'd utilize the ground attack. The Breakers seemingly have the ability to carry out a much more balanced offense, which could lead to some nice running lanes for Ellis to exploit.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Victor Bolden, BHAM at HOU ($9,300): Bolden saw teammate Osirus Mitchell steal the headlines with a pretty 35-yard touchdown reception in Week 1, but he was solid in his own right with a 4-45 line on a team-leading eight targets. The former 49ers wideout could be set for another busy day in Week 2 against a Gamblers defense that was on the field an inordinate amount in Week 1 versus the Panthers, as noted earlier in Smith-Davis' entry. The fact Bolden logged 100% of the snaps against the Generals in the opener and saw the second-most air yards (98) on the team per PFF also gives him plenty of appeal.
Lance Lenoir, MICH at NJ ($7,600): Lenoir is certainly the Panthers receiver whose Week 1 performance Bolden will be looking to emulate, as the former Dallas Cowboys wideout posted a 6-71-1 line on nine targets that netted 19.8 DK points. Lenoir's target share and air yards (94) led Michigan in the opener, and there's no reason to think he won't be looked for frequently by Patterson again when he drops back against the Generals in Week 2.
Jojo Ward, HOU vs. BHAM ($6,100): The Gamblers weren't very productive on offense in Week 1 despite their 17-12 win, but Ward's play and seemingly set role as a short-area, high-volume target make him stand out at his salary heading into Week 2. The Hawaii alum was a productive wideout over his two years with the Rainbows (116-1,999-20 line through the air in 28 games), and he got his USFL career started with seven receptions on nine targets for 48 yards, leading to 12 DK points. Ward also has plenty of speed – he averaged at least 17.0 yards per grab in his two college seasons – so he's a threat to also expand his route tree as he builds more rapport with quarterback Clayton Thorson. In Week 2, he'll face a Stallions defense that allowed a 16-202-2 line on 25 targets to the Generals pass catchers in the opener.
Cheyenne O'Grady, TB vs. NO ($5,000): O'Grady was Ta'Amu's favorite target in Week 1 as pointed out in the quarterback's entry earlier, with the Arkansas product exploding for 16.6 DK points courtesy of an 8-86 line. O'Grady showed similar signs of pass-catching prowess during his college years, finishing his Razorbacks tenure with 84 receptions for 904 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final three seasons. The Breakers gave up a touchdown to Stars tight end Bug Howard in Week 1, and a collective 25-202 line along with that TD on 36 targets to Philadelphia's pass catchers overall.
Birmingham Stallions ($4,400) at Houston Gamblers: The Stallions gave up yards and points to the Generals in Week 1, but per PFF's rankings, their 68% pressure rate and 32% contested catch rates were both tops in the league for the opening week. The Gamblers' offense was largely inefficient overall, averaging a meager 3.9 yards per play against the Panthers and scoring on just one of three red-zone trips. With Houston's passing game primarily limited to short-area throws (4.1 yards per attempt) and Birmingham capable of bringing the heat with its pass rush, there could certainly be turnovers to be had against Thorson, who tossed 45 interceptions in his college career at Northwestern and one in Week 1 while completing just 52.9 percent of his throws.
ALSO CONSIDER: Philadelphia Stars ($3,500) vs. Pittsburgh Maulers