DraftKings Week 3 UFL DFS Tournament Plays


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DraftKings Week 3 UFL 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 UFL! And since DraftKings is offering DFS tournaments, it’s time to discuss the top plays and contrarian options so we can bink some UFL tournaments.

I’ll go position by position, highlighting my favorite plays for tournaments. I'll include a TL;DR 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

DC Defenders (21.0) @ Arlington Renegades (22.0)

Memphis Showboats (16.75) @ Birmingham Stallions (23.75)

Houston Gamblers (18.0) @ Michigan Panthers (20.0)

St. Louis Battlehawks (21.5) @ San Antonio Brahmas (20.5)


Injury reporting can be a mess in these spring leagues. Thankfully, Justin Freeman and the great team at RunTheSims have a public document where injuries and injury reports are being tracked. Be sure to check this document each week, along with the updates I post in this article and in our Discord to get a full sense of available injury information on a given slate.

This article is a free preview. Get access to all of our UFL DFS content, including our projections, optimizer, and Discord access, with a Fantasy Points Spring Football or All-In subscription. Use code UFL2024 for an exclusive discount!


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 matters is maximizing the correlations within your lineups, and ensuring 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: Chase Garbers, AJ McCarron, Case Cookus, Jordan Ta’amu, Reid Sinnett, Luis Perez, EJ Perry, Adrian Martinez

RB: TJ Pledger, Mataeo Durant, Darius Hagans, John Lovett, Ricky Person, CJ Marable, Wes Hills, Darius Victor

WR/TE: Darrius Shepherd, Marquez Stevenson, Daewood Davis, Tyler Vaughns, Marcus Simms, Keke Chism, Cody Latimer, Marcell Ateman, Justin Hall, JaVonta Payton, Chris Rowland, Jontre Kirklin, Justin Smith, Hakeem Butler, Sage Surratt


AJ McCarron ($10,600) and Chase Garbers ($10,400): I’ve never written up a pair of opposing QBs in the same blurb, but this week absolutely calls for it.

The final game, featuring St. Louis and San Antonio, is set to dominate the main slate in terms of tournament ownership and raw projections.

The 42.5 total here may not spark massive confidence, but these are two high-volume, highly condensed passing attacks. They also are the offenses with (inarguably) the most upside for scoring fantasy points. Needless to say, this is going to be one of the most popular games to stack in spring football history.

And those stacks all start with Garbers and McCarron. In terms of fantasy upside, these two are equal. But Garbers does have a clear edge over McCarron when it comes to rushing work – the San Antonio QB has been praised by coaches for his athleticism and he leads the Brahmas in rushing FPG (4.3). That’s not earth-shattering QB rushing production, but I did note in my Week 1 UFL preview that there is great potential rushing upside for QBs in this offense.

That rushing gives Garbers a slight edge in terms of floor and median projection, but let’s not forget what McCarron is capable of. He averaged 19.6 passing FPG last season – more than Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow – and has scored over 40 passing fantasy points in an individual game (Week 10, 2023).

While I still prefer Garbers overall (his rushing baseline makes him an incredible spring QB for fantasy), the field will likely share that sentiment, which opens the door for McCarron stacks to (slightly) save on ownership. Tournament ownership really is the only major concern for anybody (everybody?) who plans on stacking this game. But, again, both quarterbacks are great plays no matter how you view this slate.

Case Cookus ($9,600): If you want to avoid the massive ownership that comes with San Antonio and St. Louis, look no further than Case Cookus.

Memphis easily leads all teams in plays per game (63.5), and red zone plays (18) – while posting the league’s 3rd-highest neutral-situation pass rate (71%). While it hasn’t translated to any breakout fantasy performances, the Showboats have the bones of (what should be) the league’s 3rd-best fantasy offense after St. Louis and San Antonio.

Not only does Cookus play in an offense with a drool-inducing pass rate and pace, but he can also run. Sure – Cookus isn’t a special athlete by any means – but there isn’t another UFL QB who is more willing to lower his shoulder. And that willingness to run and fight for extra yards does make up for the lack of athleticism; Cookus leads all QBs in carries (13) and scrambles (10), and ranks 2nd among QBs (and 5th among all players) in rushing yards (74). The 3.7 rushing FPG Cookus has managed through two weeks actually beats the season-long marks of TJ Pledger (3.1), Darius Victor (2.9), and Cam’Ron Harris (2.8) – all of whom have earned borderline bell cow workloads at RB.

It’s hard not to love Cookus as a semi-contrarian option on a slate that a single game will dominate in terms of ownership. We’ve seen Memphis flounder in the red zone over and over again, but breaking that slump will push Cookus toward a winning score.

Note: Memphis RB Darius Victor is questionable. Victor's absence from this game is actually bad news for Cookus (even if only slightly), as backup Titus Swen would project to be far more efficient on his touches – especially in the red zone. Regardless, Cookus's tournament appeal would be largely unchanged (to me).

EJ Perry ($9,300): Perry is dealing with an ankle injury. He was also benched for a drive in the first half – and the only reason the benching didn’t last longer was because backup QB Danny Etling ($6,700) lost a fumble on his third snap. Perry is incredibly high-risk this week, but I do still stand by my Week 1 argument that he has good theoretical upside (if he can avoid a benching and is close to 100% healthy). Granted, I’m not sure I want to indulge that much in Week 3.

Luis Perez ($8,500): Backup QB Lindsay Scott earned an 11% snap share this weekend (up from 4% in Week 1) and stole 3 red zone carries, scoring on one of them. Scott – whose FCS stats are truly insane – will only become a larger part of the offense as the season moves forward.

Don’t take my word for it, HC Bob Stoops recently said, “Lindsay gives us a different dimension; we have a lot of different plays for Lindsay. We will only continue to give him more as the time goes. His ability to run in the red zone makes a big difference.”

This is a devastating hit to the fantasy value and upside of the Arlington RBs (especially De’Veon Smith) and (to a lesser extent) Perez. I think Perez is still in play for the Week 3 flagship $15 GPP, but only barely. And likely only for another few weeks as Scott continues to play himself into more snaps. Of course, Scott is going to be a very fun showdown flier – despite not being a strong projected value.

Reid Sinnett ($7,900): Sinnett is one of five QBs we can count on to play every snap for their respective offenses this week. Jarrett Guarantano suffered a Week 2 rib injury that will keep him out for around a month, and Sinnett finally unlocked this Houston offense. In three quarters of play, Sinnett threw for 221 yards and a score (12.8 fantasy points).

Double stacking Sinnett costs you almost nothing and nobody will do it, so it’s probably great for the biggest tournaments on the slate and that’s about it. It’s worth noting that star WR Justin Hall ($6,500) looks questionable (concussion) and the WR rotation behind him could be a bit murky – but I will discuss that in detail in the WR/TE section.


Weighted opportunity, snap/route shares, and raw opportunities since Week 1:

Mataeo Durant ($7,300): Durant was the biggest fantasy surprise of Week 2, starting the game for St. Louis at RB and earning 92% of backfield-weighted opportunities (the highest mark this season).

Earning ~90% of backfield usage on a top-3 offense in spring football is incredibly rare. Dating back to the 2022 USFL season (and excluding Week 10, when teams often rest starters), there have only been 12 instances of a spring football RB earning more than 90% of backfield usage. Given HC Anthony Becht noted post-game that this backfield competition was wide open, it’s (relatively) safe to call Durant the team’s bell cow until further notice after he posted the first 100-yard rushing game (7.4 YPC) in UFL history.

Of course, that makes Durant a very strong value and one of the top RB plays in our projections. But he’s far from a perfect play – Durant could still lose red zone work to whoever ends up active as the Battlehawks RB2 (likely Wayne Gallman), or he could fall victim to the Battlehawks’ league-high red zone pass rate. But despite those obvious routes of failure – Durant still represents one of the best RB options on the slate.

TJ Pledger ($6,500): We can finally make an upside case for Pledger. Reid Sinnett taking over QB duties means this offense has been catapulted from ‘borderline unwatchable’ to somewhere around league average. Tack on a season-ending wrist injury to RB Kirk Merritt (who has earned 49% of backfield weighted opportunity) – and we can loosely project Pledger for a ~75% share of backfield fantasy production.

That makes Pledger one of the strongest RB plays of the Week 3 slate. We can – of course – note that general offensive incompetency is still a massive risk here, but his projected bell cow role feels just as, if not more, secure as Mataeo Durant’s. Pledger is a top play across all formats this week.

Darius Hagans ($5,300): Hagans projects as a decent value this week, but his projection needs context.

In Week 2, Cam’Ron Harris ($7,500) drew the start and played virtually every backfield snap until the ~4-minute mark of the 1st quarter. Harris didn’t appear hobbled, but he did signal to trainers that he needed to come out of the game (and was seen on the sideline sitting down and talking to trainers), and proceeded to miss every backfield snap until the start of the 2nd half. Harris then started the 2nd half, played two drives, and then missed another full quarter before returning at the ~11-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Upon returning, Harris ripped a 20-plus-yard run and looked fine. Now Harris is on the injury report with a right knee injury, granted he did practice in full the last two days and will be active this week.

This is strange. The median outcome for Week 3 resembles a 50/50 committee, but I think Hagans (probably) has upside we can’t quite capture in median projections. If Harris is more hurt than practice reports indicate, or if the team has simply soured on him – then Hagans could push for ~80% of backfield usage. That makes for a rather speculative bull case for Hagans, and you probably don’t need to get that cute with your lineups, given the other potential RB values. You could also just inverse that argument and play Harris – there is still a chance he’s the guy when healthy.

Really, we don’t have a great idea of what to expect – but I can still see a valid argument for taking shots on these guys in large-field GPPs.

RB Quick Hits:

CJ Marable ($9,500): Marable feels like a massive afterthought on this slate, given how desperate everyone is to jam in the pass-catching options from the San Antonio vs. St. Louis game. He’s earned the 2nd-best workload (by weighted opportunity) in spring football and easily leads all players with 5.0 red zone opportunities per game. While I do view Marable as a solid contrarian option (playing him forces you into unique builds on this slate), I can’t help but feel like he’s the UFL version of D’Andre Swift – consistently losing goal line TDs to the most effective one-yard play (the T-formation in Marable’s case) in their respective professional football leagues.

Darius Victor ($7,700): Victor didn’t practice until Thursday, but will be active in Week 3 with a ‘questionable’ designation. He’s played poorly this season (2.1 YPC), and the health questions heighten the risk of a dud performance. The bull case to Victor just boils down to his usage – he’s clearly the league’s RB1 by weighted opportunity but merely the RB9 by DraftKings FPG (8.1). And the bear case is that he’s terrible, injured, and backup RB Titus Swen ($4,000) actually looks good on a limited sample of touches. I’ll lean into Swen on the showdown slate barring new information about this injury, but Victor feels like a much tougher sell on the main slate – despite a decent projection.

John Lovett ($5,200): This backfield has been bottom-3 in the UFL by both production and usage (weighted opportunity), but I still have quite a bit of tournament interest in Lovett. He’s earned 100% of backfield red zone opportunities (just 1.5 per game) and has played every offensive snap thus far inside 10. He’s clearly the team’s goal-line RB, and while that doesn’t mean as much in an offense where the QB will steal goal-line reps, it’s absolutely worth considering in tournaments at a sub-$6k price tag. I think the best way to play Lovett is on teams that fade QB Chase Garbers, as a multi-TD day from Lovett would massively lower Garbers’ chances of being the optimal QB.


Hakeem Butler ($8,900): If any of the high-end pass catchers in the Brahmas vs. Battlehawks game feel like a bit of an afterthought in tournaments – it’s Butler.

Butler doesn’t project as a strong value – in large part because of Ateman's recent dominance – but he does make up for it (in tournaments) with nuclear upside. Butler scored at least 1 receiving TD in 70% of his games last season, and was one of just five spring WRs in 2023 with multiple 100-yard receiving games. My general plan is to be overweight the field on Butler in tournaments – but I will make sure to leave some extra salary on the table on non-Butler teams. That way, if my lineups fall behind and need to make up ground by saving on ownership, I can swap off the other hyper-popular options in the San Antonio vs. St. Louis game for Butler.

Marcell Ateman ($7,200): Ateman is the UFL’s WR1 through two weeks – averaging +5.5 more DraftKings FPG than the next-closest WR (Jontre Kirklin). It’s worth noting that Ateman looks significantly better than he did in the 2023 XFL season – and he apparently told the broadcast crew of his Week 2 game that he just wasn’t healthy during that 2023 offseason (and he dealt with in-season injuries). Well, a fully healthy offseason has worked wonders for the former Raiders’ draft pick – Ateman leads the UFL in PFF receiving grade (76.3), receiving yards (174), and TDs (3).

While Ateman looks like the second-best fantasy pass catcher in St. Louis (behind Darrius Shepherd but ahead of Hakeem Butler), he can still completely disappear. When the Battlehawks scored 53 points against Orlando in Week 10 of last season, Ateman played a full-time role and scored zero fantasy points, while Shepherd and Butler combined for 15 catches, 260 yards, and 3 TDs. I still think Ateman is a strong play this week, but don’t let two weeks of games make you forget about these other great fantasy receivers in St. Louis.

Justin Hall ($6,500): Hall is concussed, and I would be mildly surprised if he plays this weekend. If he can suit up, he’s finally a great play in this Reid Sinnett offense. Remember that in the 2023 season, Hall posted the 4th-best PFF receiving grade (77.4) and 6th-best YPRR (2.07) of any spring football pass catcher. That was despite playing with QB Kenji Bahar, who just isn’t as talented of a passer as Sinnett.

Assuming he’s healthy and the team won’t mess around with his usage (a real risk given the ineptitude of this coaching staff), I feel relatively safe calling Hall spring football’s version of Antonio Brown – who he reminded me of on film during the 2023 season. I’ll be treating him as a high-risk, high-reward flier this week.

Update: Hall got a full Thursday practice in and is active this week. Notably, outside WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams is OUT, which makes Keke Chism one of the stronger values of the slate at any position.

WR/TE Quick Hits:

Jonathan Adams ($8,200): Adams is a bit like the WR version of CJ Marable – he’s about $1,000 too expensive to project as a strong value on this slate. Adam’s 2 red zone targets this season don’t exactly scream “great TD equity,” but the film suggests he’s right behind Daewood Davis as the no. 2 end zone threat for this team – at least in terms of first-reads. While I will be trotting out Adams as a part of some Cookus stacks in large-field tournaments, I do think he’s gotten far more public credit for being an elite spring WR than he’s ever actually shown. Across 22 regular season spring games, Adams has exceeded 15.0 fantasy points three times. For perspective, Marcell Ateman has crossed the 15.0-point mark three times in just nine career spring games.

Darrius Shepherd ($7,500): Shepherd is coming off a 12-target outing in Week 2 – just the 7th time a spring football player has hit that target threshold since the 2023 season. A massive percentage of those targets were either screens or clear first-reads, which further cements Shepherd’s floor and median on this slate. He’s a fantastic value – but he will also be mega-chalk and could still fail if Ateman and Butler end up stealing the TD equity this week.

Marquez Stevenson ($7,100): Stevenson (143) trails only Marcell Ateman (174) in receiving yards and paces the new league in the best fantasy stat we have for WRs (1D/RR)…

Stevenson is a mortal lock to be about ~$2,000 more expensive on DraftKings in six weeks, and he’s right there as my favorite WR play on this slate.

Daewood Davis ($7,000): There hasn’t been a spring football analyst higher on Davis through two weeks than myself, and his workload last week was as awesome as I implied it could be in my Week 2 article. That workload led to only 17.8 DraftKings points – and I frame it that way because Davis suffered a first-half leg injury that seemed to limit his ability to get open for a large chunk of the game. And despite that handicap, Davis still finished Week 2 with the 3rd-highest target share (29%) of any player. He’s once again a strong value, and the only WRs I’d consider likely to finish with more DraftKings FPG than Davis this year are Jontre Kirklin and Darrius Shepherd.

Sage Surratt ($6,000): Surratt leads all players in red zone targets (6) – which is double that of Jontre Kirklin and Darrius Shepherd – our highest projected WRs. While the film suggests to me the team is still more willing to give Adams and Daewood Davis first-read end zone targets, Surratt does offer very strong TD equity for his price. Let’s not forget Surratt ended the 2023 USFL regular season priced at $8,800 on DraftKings. You could argue against his raw upside (especially with so many other talented WRs on this team), but I’m willing to take shots here at just $6k.

Marcus Simms ($4,600): Simms hasn’t practiced, and neither has fellow outside WR John Hightower ($3,000). Plus, slot WR Devin Ross (hamstring) is now on IR. So, these Michigan WR rotations could be a giant toss-up if Simms (and, to a lesser extent, Hightower) end up missing here. Our best guess is that Trey Quinn ($6,600) would be the team’s leading WR (from the slot), Jordan Suell ($4,300) would play basically every snap on the outside, and Devin Gray ($4,800) would earn some slot reps but would be primarily used on the outside. I’m not sure that’s worth much for fantasy – but Simms and Hightower missing this game would lift the floors and medians of the remaining projected starters.

Update: Simms is active and a listed starter. I wouldn’t expect any role change here – but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to play this more cautiously due to his lack of practice. Hightower is OUT, but that has a rather minor impact that is already captured by our projections.

Chris Rowland ($3,700): Rowland is poised for a much bigger role this week now that starting slot WR Keke Coutee has been ruled out. Rowland isn’t as good as Coutee, so we can’t just ascribe him Coutee’s usage and call it a day – but this role is still worth something like the 4.9 targets per game and 7.3 FPG WR Josh Hammond averaged as DC’s slot last year. I wouldn’t get carried away here (this slate is deep with value), but Rowland is a solid play.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.