DraftKings Week 9 USFL DFS Tournament Plays


We hope you enjoy this FREE article preview! In order to access our other articles and content, including livestreams, projections and rankings, stat analysis and more, be sure to sign up today. We are here to help you #ScoreMore Fantasy Points!

DraftKings Week 9 USFL DFS Tournament Plays

A lack of NFL football, or football in general, is a terrible thing. But football is still hanging around, thanks to the USFL! And since DraftKings is offering DFS fantasy tournaments, it’s time to discuss the top plays and contrarian options so we can bink some USFL tournaments.

I’ll be going position by position, highlighting my favorite plays for tournaments, with a TL;DR included for those who don’t want to read my reasoning and just want the top-value plays. I’ll also include teams’ implied totals directly below, to help readers get a sense of the offenses Vegas thinks will put the most points on the board.

Team Totals

Michigan Panthers (21.25) @ Pittsburgh Maulers (20.25)

New Orleans Breakers (20.75) @ Memphis Showboats (21.75)

Birmingham Stallions (24.5) @ Houston Gamblers (21.0)

Philadelphia Stars (23.25) @ New Jersey Generals (20.75)


In the TL;DR, I’ll list out the top plays in order of value (according to me). This isn’t super strict, it does not factor in ownership, and in some cases, it’s sort of arbitrary. It also doesn’t matter nearly as much as my readers think it does. What does matter is maximizing the correlations within your lineups, and making sure you include at least a few players on each tournament team who should be on the lower end of ownership (I highlight a few in my write-ups). Get creative!

Plays ranked in order, with tier 1 in bold, and assumes notable questionable players suit up…

QB: Cole Kelley, Alex McGough, Case Cookus, Troy Williams, Josh Love, McLeod Bethel-Thompson

RB: Dexter Williams, Kerrith Whyte, Wes Hills, Mark Thompson, CJ Marable, Darius Victor, Reggie Corbin, Garrett Groshek

WR/TE: Tre Walker, Isaiah Zuber, Adrian Hardy, Johnnie Dixon, Diondre Overton, Josh Simmons, Corey Coleman, Isiah Hennie, Trey Quinn, Joe Walker, Davion Davis, Devin Gray, Sage Surratt, Alonzo Moore, Braedon Bowman, Deon Cain


Alex McGough ($12,500): McGough remains the most consistent QB in the USFL, scoring at least 17.2 DraftKings points in every game this year while averaging 25.0 DraftKings points since Week 5. And he seems to have made some steps forward as a passer, throwing for 333 yards last week – the best passing performance by a QB this season.

And you couldn’t drum up a better matchup for McGough than Houston. The Gamblers allow a league-worst 219.2 passing YPG and 9.6 yards per scramble. Remember, no QB has more willing to run than McGough, who averages 6.8 carries per game. He should be the most popular QB of the week and can be regarded as the obvious choice for those concerned about floor or safety.

Case Cookus ($9,600): The Stars' offense seems to have finally turned itself around…

Assuming functional offense continues for Philadelphia, Case Cookus profiles as one of the top QB tournament options on the slate. He’s averaged 21.4 DraftKings FPG over the last two weeks (QB2 over the full season), and I think the tough matchup (New Jersey is allowing a league-low 188.5 passing YPG) could keep his ownership near ~15%. I’m a big fan of Cookus stacks – especially double-stacks – in the main, $12 tournament.


Weighted Opportunity through 8 weeks:

Wes Hills ($13,200): Hills has averaged 14.5 DraftKings FPG over the last four weeks, failing to exceed 16.3 DraftKings points in a single outing during that stretch. But Hills’ workload remains one of the best we’ve seen in professional football over the last decade. He’s averaged 21.9 weighted opportunity points per game since Week 5, meaning he’s fallen 7.4 FPG under his expectation. It’s still unreasonable to regard Hills as anything other than the best RB in the USFL by raw workload.

Remember, the 24.8 WO/G that Hills is averaging ranks just behind 2016 Le’Veon Bell for the 4th-best mark by a professional football RB since 2011. Among modern spring football RBs, Hills' workload is 45% better than the next-closest RB (2023 Mark Thompson). There really is no 2nd best when you are comparing spring football rushers to Hills.

But Hills’ ownership won’t be nearly as high as his usage suggests, given he’s fallen so far below his expectation over the last month. And I think that’s a mistake against a Memphis defense that ranks bottom-4 in all the rush defense metrics that matter to me. Hills is the guy I want when spending up at RB this week.

Mark Thompson ($12,800): Thompson has averaged a respectable 17.1 WO/G over the last four weeks, but he’s run far hotter, averaging 21.6 DraftKings FPG and never falling below 19.0 DraftKings points.

Thompson has been luckier than Wes Hills in converting his usage into fantasy points, but he’s difficult to justify if we assume similar ownership at near-identical prices. And that feels like a fair assumption, given the recent results.

While I prefer Hills, Thompson is still in play given his efficiency (5.2 YPC) and matchup (Birmingham allows the 2nd-most rushing YPG and 2nd-most YPC). That said, Thompson is far more vulnerable to a substandard outing given his lack of receiving role (3.0 targets per game, 7th among RBs) and the fact he plays on a worse offense.

Kerrith Whyte ($6,700): Whyte costs just 52% of Thompson’s salary, despite earning 97% of Thompson’s raw usage (by weighted opportunity). Sure, Whyte lost 10 carries and 5 red-zone touches to Juwan Washington last week, but earning 70% of weighted opportunity in the USFL’s 2nd-most valuable backfield still makes Whyte a top-2 value at the position as we head into Week 9.

The matchup is largely a neutral one, and the spread (Memphis -1.0) indicates Whyte could be faced with positive gamescript. He’s an easy click on this slate, but expect that to be reflected in ownership.

Dexter Williams ($4,500): Williams appears to be one of the league’s premier bell cows after this piece of injury news dropped…

Given Williams is the only active Stars’ RB with a touch on the roster, it’s reasonable to assume he will dominate work this week in the league’s 4th-most valuable backfield by weighted opportunity (19.8 WO/G). If Williams can claim just 80% of backfield usage, he’s the most mispriced RB of the season. And barring a late signing, that seems like a near-lock.

The New Jersey defense has been tough against the run (3.3 YPC allowed, 2nd-toughest), but that doesn’t matter much if Williams controls this backfield at a rock-bottom salary. He’s the top value of the slate at any position and a near-lock-button play in all formats.


Corey Coleman ($9,300): Coleman has been balling lately, averaging 86.0 YPG, 7.3 targets per game, and 18.3 DraftKings FPG over the last three weeks – marks that would all rank top-3 across the full season.

Pretty much everything about Coleman’s role is elite, but his knack for deep targets is second to none. Coleman’s 21 deep targets are 4 more than the next-closest player (Johnnie Dixon), and more than double the player in 10th place (Jonathan Adams). No player in the USFL has a better chance at a long TD than Coleman.

It’s hard not to love Coleman’s upside, even in a tough matchup. He’s my favorite target when paying up at WR, but I’d expect significant ownership. Thankfully, the pivot is obvious for those worried about staying unique, as Stars’ WR Devin Gray ($8,500) has scored at least 14.0 DraftKings points in 38% of his games this season.

Johnnie Dixon ($8,000): Dixon was egregiously underpriced these last three weeks, and he’s still too cheap as we head into Week 9. Dixon leads the league in targets per game (8.8), meaning he’s likely the safest expensive WR on the slate. And he ranks behind only Corey Coleman in deep targets (17), while leading the league in red zone targets per game (1.5).

Dixon’s great volume has led to him leading the position in DraftKings FPG (15.9), and it feels relatively safe to call him the most valuable fantasy WR in the league. And that’s despite a WR12 salary. Dixon is a cash game lock and should be one of the most popular WRs of the slate, but he is fadable in the largest tournaments as he’s fallen under 7.5 DraftKings points in 33% of his games this year.

Derrick Dillon ($5,100): Dillon scored just 6.3 DraftKings points last week as a popular salary-relief option, and it’s hard not to love him this week as a lower-owned ‘flop lag’ candidate. His target volume is middling (4.8 targets per game since Week 5), but Dillon ranks 5th in deep targets (7) over that stretch, presenting better upside than his raw volume lets on.

The matchup is fairly neutral, but industry-wide sentiment makes me think that many will fade Dillon in favor of some of the cheaper WR options that present as better values. He’s an enticing low-owned option at WR this week.

Diondre Overton ($5,000): Overton still hasn’t had a breakout performance this season, but the 14 targets he’s earned over the last two weeks (5th-best) suggests the breakout is likely on the horizon.

Overton has the advantage of playing in the league’s most prolific passing attack (69% pass rate), and the while the matchup with New Jersey is on the tougher end, his price absolutely makes up for it. Mid-priced WR value is tough to come by this week, so I’ll have decent Overton exposure as a result.

Adrian Hardy ($4,100): Hardy hasn’t scored more than 8.0 DraftKings points in a game this year, but he’s averaged a respectable 4.0 targets per game since Week 5. That’s not an eye-popping workload, but 31% of Hardy’s targets over this stretch have come in the red zone or deep down the field, so his usage is a bit more valuable than meets the eye. Crucially, Hardy is extremely affordable in a matchup with a Houston defense that’s allowed the most passing YPG (219.3) and allowed the 2nd-highest pass rate (64%) this season.

Birmingham is expected to put points on the board with a 24.5 implied team total, and Hardy’s underlying metrics suggest his price should be at least $800 higher. He’s a top-6 value at the position and a great way to relieve salary in Alex McGough lineups.

Tre Walker ($3,000): Bailey Gaither was just placed on the inactive roster…

Which means Tre Walker is a full-time starter. If we assign Gaither’s workload of 6.3 targets per game and 10.3 DraftKings FPG to Walker, he immediately jumps out as the top play of the slate at any position. But that may not be entirely fair to Walker, who was one of the league’s most talented players in the 2022 season.

He’s a lock-button play in all formats, similar to Johnnie Dixon in the weeks he was priced under $4,000.

Isaiah Zuber ($3,000): Zuber was a non-factor when he initially joined the team, playing more corner than wide receiver. But last week, he broke through as a full-time starter at WR in this offense, leading the team with 6 targets and 5 receptions. If we assume Zuber’s full-time role holds, he’s easily a top-2 value at WR this week, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Birmingham is allowing the 2nd-most passing YPG (212.8) this season.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.