DraftKings Week 5 UFL DFS Tournament Plays


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DraftKings Week 5 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

Birmingham Stallions (24.75) @ Houston Roughnecks (17.25)

San Antonio Brahmas (21.25) @ Arlington Renegades (18.75)

St. Louis Battlehawks (24.75) @ DC Defenders (21.75)

Michigan Panthers (19.25) @ Memphis Showboats (20.75)


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.


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: Adrian Martinez, AJ McCarron, Quinten Dormady, Danny Etling, Troy Williams, Jordan Ta’amu, Luis Perez, Reid Sinnett

RB: Ricky Person, Jacob Saylors, Mark Thompson, John Lovett, Darius Victor, Matthew Colburn, Leddie Brown, ZaQuandre White, Wes Hills, De’Veon Smith

WR/TE: Jontre Kirklin, Tyler Vaughns, Vyncint Smith, Keke Chism, Marcus Simms, Siaosi Mariner, Marquez Stevenson, Jahcour Pearson, Kelvin Harmon, Trey Quinn, Deon Cain, Justin Hall, Justin Smith, Hakeem Butler


Adrian Martinez ($9,300): Martinez is the listed starter for Birmingham in Week 5, which means he’s probably right there as the best QB play of the slate. I anticipate a full game here, but it’s worth noting even HC Skip Holtz didn’t have a set plan for QB rotations after Week 4, as he noted post-game.

Holtz: “I don’t know what I’ll do going forward; I only had a plan for these QBs up until [today’s game]. I’ve got two quality QBs that are really good football players. I tried to [rotate] the first 2 games… The QBs want [to play full games]. They don’t want to feel like they will be benched after 3 incompletions. One of their complaints is that they want [to play full games]. Adrian [Martinez] had the best week of practice [in Week 3], so I gave Adrian the nod. This week, I said I gave Adrian the nod last week so I’ll give Matt [Corral] the nod this week… I have no idea what I’m going to do going forward [with QB rotations].”

This quote feels vague, but we need to remember that Holtz is the ultimate player's coach. If his QBs are clamoring for full games, it’s relatively safe to assume the listed starter is a heavy favorite to play 100% of snaps after we saw exactly that in Weeks 3 and 4. Again, there is the risk this changes – but Martinez has been nothing short of the best fantasy QB in the UFL in his limited snaps – leading all QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.77, +43% better than the next-best starting QB). He will be right there as my highest-owned QB this week.

Danny Etling ($7,800): EJ Perry is on IR, which makes Etling the Panthers’ starter for Week 5. From a projection standpoint, there is very little difference between Perry and Etling. Both players are erratic passers who are prone to scrambling – a bit like the spring football versions of early-career Josh Allen. The major difference for Week 5 is that Etling is cheaper than Perry ever was, and Etling’s benching risk is (probably) substantially lower than Perry’s was in the first four games of the season.

And the matchup here is certainly encouraging; Memphis has allowed the most passing YPG (245.5), the 2nd-most passing YPA (7.3), and logged the lowest pressure rate of any defense (23%). High-risk QBs like Etling tend to be perfect for tournaments, and I’m a bit more willing to take chances on him in an above-average matchup.


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

Mark Thompson ($8,700): Roughnecks HC Curtis Johnson noted in Houston’s Week 4 post-game press conference that RB Mark Thompson was on a “pitch count” in his first game back from a training camp knee sprain. But we have little doubt about a full workload in Week 5…

Thompson managed 20-25 touches in four games last year, averaging 18.2 FPG in those contests (18.2 FPG would lead all flex-eligible players this season). You can read what I wrote on Thompson last week if you want an idea of how incredible his usage can be on a full workload, but we also need to acknowledge the brutal matchup.

Birmingham is favored by 7.5 points and has allowed the fewest YPC (2.5) and the fewest rushing YPG (54.0) this season. So, not only does Thompson risk getting scripted out of this game, but he could also have quite poor efficiency if he does exceed 20 touches.

But 20-touch games – especially from a RB as efficient as Thompson has historically been – are worth a lot in UFL DFS. Houston probably needs to exceed expectations here for Thompson to post a slate-breaking score at his price, which makes him a strong pairing with the Houston D/ST.

Jacob Saylors ($7,300): Saylors has been nothing short of the league’s most efficient RB – leading all RBs in YPC (6.1), yards after contact per attempt (4.7), and PFF elusive rating (124.8). And Saylors seems to have stumbled his way into a true bell cow workload. Mataeo Durant started Week 4, played just 4 snaps, and immediately took himself out of the game after his first touch. Now Durant is on IR, and the Week 5 workload for Saylors could be the best in the UFL.

In Week 4, Saylors led all RBs in weighted opportunity (19.6), total opportunities (20), and targets (5). He commanded 80% of backfield red zone opportunities and 73% of non-Durant snaps. This is – inarguably – a top-3 workload in the UFL for as long as Saylors can maintain at least ~75% of backfield weighted opportunity. That’s what we anticipate this week, so Saylors is right there with Ricky Person ($7,100) as the RB1 in our projections – but expect heavy ownership to follow.

Matthew Colburn ($6,000): Colburn earned a 70% snap share (3rd-best among Week 4 RBs), 66% route share (best), and 66% of backfield weighted opportunity (4th-best) against San Antonio on Saturday. Some would suggest this signals a changing of the guard and that Colburn is the new lead RB in Michigan, but I’m not sure this situation is much different from what my priors suggested.

66% of the Panthers' Week 4 offensive plays came when the team was trailing by at least 8 points, suggesting Colburn’s abnormally high share of backfield usage this weekend was somewhat the result of extreme negative gamescript. And Colburn’s raw usage still wasn’t that great – his Week 4 workload was worth merely 9.4 fantasy points according to weighted opportunity.

Don’t forget that Michigan is merely a 1.5-point underdog this week, and Wes Hills ($8,000) earned the 2nd-best workload of the season (20.1 WO) in Week 3 – when Michigan only trailed by 8 or more points for 7% of their offensive plays.

I’m quite skeptical of Colburn’s ceiling (Hills and Etling are likely to steal TDs, and positive gamescript will limit his playing time) – but his median and floor are solid relative to his RB15 DraftKings salary.

RB Quick Hits:

Darius Victor ($7,400) has seen excellent usage in his healthy games – commanding 15.5 WO/G in his three starts. For perspective, 15.5 WO/G would be the best workload for any RB this season and the 3rd-best workload across both spring leagues in 2023. Even more impressive is that Victor’s 81% snap share in healthy games is 17% better than the No. 2 RB by snap share (TJ Pledger). The workload is amazing, but Victor is still only averaging 2.9 YPC and is facing a Michigan front that’s only allowed 2.6 YPC (3rd-toughest) this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if he only managed 35 YFS on 15 touches, but Victor’s workload is too good to ignore – especially at moderate ownership.

Ricky Person ($7,100): CJ Marable is out (personal), leaving Person as the bell cow in this offense. I’ve spoken at length about how Person is the most talented RB in the UFL, but his only obstacle to dominating in fantasy was Marable. With Marable out of the picture in Week 5, Person is looking at ~70% (or more) of backfield usage in the league’s most valuable backfield by weighted opportunity (31% more valuable than the 2nd-most valuable backfield). He’s a smash play in every sense, although you could argue he won’t be as efficient as he normally is against a Houston defense that’s allowed just 2.5 YPC (toughest) this season.

ZaQuandre White ($5,500) was cut by DC during training camp, picked up again on April 16th (10 days ago), and immediately led the backfield in snap share (57%), route share (54%), and red zone opportunities (3) in his first game. This backfield is extremely difficult to project moving forward. But we know DC would prefer a featured runner, and it’s clear they aren’t satisfied with Cam’Ron Harris ($6,900) – who ranks bottom-5 among 13 qualifying RBs in missed tackles forced per rush attempt (0.08), YPC (3.1), and PFF rushing grade (59.4). Even if White is merely a spell back and the preferred RB on passing downs, that’s probably worth a bit more this week with DC listed as a 3.5-point underdog against a poor St. Louis rushing defense (league-high 4.2 YPC allowed).


Jahcour Pearson ($8,200): I warned against Darrius Shepherd ($8,000) last week after Pearson was back in the lineup for the first time since his March 6th knee injury. But I didn’t expect Pearson to absolutely dominate WR usage on a 58% route share. Despite just three full practices in the last six weeks, Pearson led all Week 4 WRs in targets (10), red zone targets (2), and receiving fantasy points (23.0).

It’s hard not to love Pearson when he may have the most secure target floor in the league; nearly half his targets (4) were screens, while many of the others were obvious first-reads. He’s clearly a focal point of the offense, and I’d argue his limited route share was only a side effect of his massive number of missed practices over the last six weeks.

But we can’t completely ignore Pearson’s competition in the slot. Blake Jackson ($5,500) logged his highest route share of the season (71%) in Pearson’s debut, and Shepherd has led the team in target share in two games this year. There is some real risk slot snaps are destined to be a timeshare in St. Louis.

That’s probably true to an extent, but I can’t get over this offense's obvious effort to get the ball in Pearson’s hands in Week 4. He’s a top play this week – even with the sub-optimal route share and the notable increase in price.

WR Quick Hits:

Deon Cain ($7,400) went from a 95% route share in Week 3 to a 76% route share in Week 4. I was optimistic he was a permanent fixture on the outside, but it looks like there are still some rotational risks here. He’s still the best target earner on the team and can still post tournament-winning scores on a ~70% route share. But this development does hurt his Week 5 projection a bit.

Daewood Davis ($7,000) is still an alpha WR1, but he’s been hampered by bad offense and QB injury. Case Cookus ($9,200) has missed over two quarters due to injury (or injury prevention) in the last two weeks, and the offense has only managed 202.5 YPG over that stretch (worst by 58.0 YPG). But he’s the only Memphis WR who is consistently involved in every area of the field, and there is a mountain of evidence (in terms of quotes from the team) suggesting he is their top pass-catching option. The health of Cookus (elbow, shoulder) is pretty important here – but I do find myself fairly excited to play Davis if his ownership is sub-20%.

Keke Chism ($4,000) led Houston in target share (22%) last week and – unlike Anthony Ratliff-Williams ($3,600) – doesn’t appear to be losing routes to emerging outside WRs Emmanuel Butler ($3,900) and Cyril Grayson ($4,400). I view Chism as the best value here, but I also don’t mind taking some showdown shots on Grayson; QB Reid Sinnett ($8,900) noted in Houston’s Week 4 post-game press conference that he’s a WR the team wants to rely on for explosive plays.

Vyncint Smith ($3,500) was injured for part of camp and then missed the season's first two games before being activated for Week 3. His first game back only saw him earn a 29% route share and 5% target share, but in Week 4, Smith finished 2nd on the team in both route share (83%) and target share (23%). It’s clear he’s a major fixture in this offense after a slow start due to injury, so he represents one of the strongest sub-$4k options on a slate loaded with cheap WR value.

I wrote up Siaosi Mariner ($3,400) as a potential emerging starter for Michigan last week, and Week 4 mostly validated that. Mariner’s route share jumped from 28% in Week 3 to 68% in Week 3. It only resulted in a 10% target share (5th-highest on the team), but the team clearly has faith in Mariner after cutting veteran Jordan Suell (74% route share this year). He’s one of the best sub-$4k options this week – although you could easily argue against him as the WR3 in a passing offense that’s had plenty of struggles.

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.