DraftKings Week 9 UFL DFS Tournament Plays


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DraftKings Week 9 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 understand the offenses Vegas thinks will put the most points on the board.

Team Totals

St. Louis Battlehawks (24.75) @ Arlington Renegades (21.25)

Birmingham Stallions (26.25) @ San Antonio Brahmas (17.75)

DC Defenders (25.5) @ Memphis Showboats (20.5)

Michigan Panthers (21.5) @ Houston Roughnecks (18.5)


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.


In the TL;DR, I’ll list 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, Manny Wilkins, Jordan Ta’amu, Luis Perez, Nolan Henderson, Quinten Dormady

RB: Jacob Saylors, Anthony McFarland, Darius Hagans, De’Veon Smith, Darius Victor, Matthew Colburn, Ricky Person, CJ Marable, Mark Thompson, Nate McCrary

WR/TE: Ty Scott, Sal Cannella, Vinny Papale, Brandon Smith, Daewood Davis, JP Payton, Keke Chism, Tyler Vaughns, Deon Cain, Cody Latimer, Jontre Kirklin, Justin Smith, Deontay Burnett


Adrian Martinez ($11,500): Martinez is once again the best QB play of the slate and remains in glorified air with his current fantasy production…

Martinez is still about $2,500 too cheap – even after a recent price increase to $11,500. He hasn’t scored fewer than 28.2 DraftKings points in an individual start and has hit a 3.0-point bonus in 60% of his starts. Despite just five starts, Martinez has more passing TDs (13) than five teams.

Martinez will be the most popular QB on the slate, but that’s because he remains the most mispriced, is a cash game lock, and is putting up fantasy points at a rate we’ve never seen before.

Manny Wilkins ($9,000): Wilkins’ first start (Week 8) resulted in 14.9 fantasy points on the back of 12 rush attempts for 79 yards. Wilkins only attempted 18 passes in that contest, largely because he turned 25% of his total dropbacks into scrambles. Outside of a few quick first-read throws, Wilkins was a runner first and a passer second on the vast majority of his dropbacks.

That is pretty great for Wilkins’ own fantasy prospects – his 12 carries in Week 8 were by far the most of any QB this season. But it also kills the passing upside of this offense. Darrius Shepherd (93%) and Steven Mitchell (97%) both posted zeroes despite full-time route shares last week. Wilkins himself managed just 126 passing yards.

Wilkins projects well this week, and I do like him as a play. But he’s best played either naked or with (at most) one stacking partner, as his passing upside is almost non-existent, given his style of play.


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

Weighted opportunity over the last 2 and last 4 weeks:

Anthony McFarland ($8,900): McFarland couldn’t have looked better after returning from injury in Week 8 – he finished with 31.6 DraftKings points and became the first RB this season to hit the 100-yard receiving bonus.

The 15.0 weighted opportunities and 51% snap share McFarland earned were certainly encouraging, and that workload has nowhere to go but up now that we know RB John Lovett has been ruled out.

Lovett’s workload will be split in some capacity by McFarland and Morgan Ellison ($5,300). The worst-case scenario (for McFarland) is that Ellison handles the majority of Lovett’s rushing work while McFarland claims what is left of the backfield receiving role. But what’s most likely – especially in a game that is crucial to San Antonio’s chances at home field in the XFL conference championship – is that McFarland becomes a true bell cow, mirroring the 21.9 WO/G that Lovett averaged in McFarland’s month-long absence.

Anything resembling that workload would put McFarland right there as the best RB play of the slate. And, of course, if you think Lovett’s rushing work largely goes to Ellison, that would make him a contrarian salary-saving option (but I won’t be going that route).

Matthew Colburn ($8,000): Wes Hills is lost for the season, which leaves Colburn as the presumptive bell cow in Michigan. Despite playing just 55% of snaps in his games with Hills, Colburn is the RB4 by DraftKings FPG (12.5), and is one of just three RBs to exceed their usage-based expectation (weighted opportunity) by over 1.0 fantasy points (+1.4 PAR).

Among RBs with at least 25 attempts (16 qualifiers), Colburn is 1st in YPC (4.7), 2nd in PFF rushing grades (81.8), 4th in yards after contact per attempt (3.17), and 2nd in runs of 10 or more yards (10). He’s clearly a top-5 RB – by both raw efficiency and overall talent – in the UFL.

The matchup certainly isn’t ideal, as Houston has allowed the lowest YPC (3.0) in the UFL. But the much bigger problem is the massive rotational risk Colburn faces. He’s the last starting caliber RB on this roster, and HC Mike Nolan has already made it clear that Michigan starters risk limited playing time to keep them healthy for the playoffs…

“Couple reasons why you don’t want to rest a player: No. 1: They don’t get paid. So you don’t want to penalize them by resting. We could play them less and activate them, but we need numbers for the game to make it through the game. So, that’s the issue with it. You can’t sit somebody down completely, but you can you can monitor them. That’s probably what most teams will do. That’s what we are trying to do, kinda… We are able to [rest players], so that is what our intentions are. Some guys play a little less, and some guys play a little more. So, it may be more of a 50/50 split rather than a 2-1 split. But nobody will [be inactive] because of [our playoff positioning]. That won’t sit well [with the players].”

Keeping Colburn healthy will be a top priority for Michigan these next two weeks, which makes a bell cow workload pretty unlikely. He could still see top-5 RB usage, but the downside risk is high enough that when combined with outsized ownership, Colburn profiles as a rather compelling fade. And for those making multiple teams, fully punting the RB position with backup Nate McCrary ($4,000) is viable, albeit risky, with this rotation largely unknown.

De’Veon Smith ($7,600): Smith moved into a pretty incredible role over the last two weeks, posting an 86% snap share (1st), 79% route share (1st), and 13.3 WO/G (5th).

He’s a bell cow, but he will still struggle to see bell cow-esque usage when Arlington plays from behind. In Week 8, we saw the Renegades run 32 plays while trailing by 8 points or more, and that led to a 76% pass rate and Smith’s worst usage (by weighted opportunity) of the last month.

All that said, Arlington is merely a 3.5-point underdog against a St. Louis team absent AJ McCarron. An early lead is all it may take for Smith to wind up at the top of Week 9 weighted opportunity, and that makes him a solid tournament play – especially when paired with the Arlington defense.

Darius Hagans ($5,800): Hagans earned his first start of the season in Week 8, and commanded 74% of backfield weighted opportunity (8 carries, 3 targets). It only amounted to 4.3 DraftKings points, but Hagans taking control of RB1 duties is worth a lot in a great matchup.

Since Week 4, Memphis has allowed 125.6 rushing YPG (2nd-softest) and 4.4 YPC (2nd-softest). Combine that with the Defenders being favored by 5.0-points, and Hagans should have the gamescript and matchup needed to post a competitive score in this game. Of course, DC falling behind or the generally haphazard RB rotations that the Defenders have deployed are realy risks here – but Hagans is one of the only viable ways to save salary at the position this week.

WR/TE (Quick Hits)

The St. Louis passing offense is basically complete dust with Manny Wilkins under center. Last week, Wilkins scrambled in 25% of his dropbacks, and only 27% of his attempts traveled more than 10 air yards. I’m likely not touching Darrius Shepherd ($6,500) or Marcell Ateman ($7,200), as I don’t see enough schemed/designed throws for either player to overcome the current passing woes. But Hakeem Butler ($10,500) is always viable after earning a target share of at least 32% in four of his last six games. And while Jahcour Pearson ($9,000) is clearly overpriced, he’s the clear WR2 in this offense in terms of first-reads and schemed throws, which keeps him in play for those looking to get a bit creative with their Wilkins teams.

I have similar fears for the Houston passing attack now that we know Nolan Henderson ($8,400) will likely start. Henderson is much closer to Manny Wilkins than he is to the pocket-passing Reid Sinnett ($8,200), which could massively negate this offense's aerial upside. I’m not totally avoiding Justin Hall ($8,500) and Keke Chism ($6,200), but I will be relatively cautious here.

Note: Reid Sinnett is the listed starter – but I’m not sure this means much as Houston has been relatively lazy with their depth charts this year. I still want to be cautious with these WRs, but Sinnett starting does help their upside case.

Nobody wants to play Deontay Burnett ($5,800) after he’s fallen below double-digit DraftKings points in four straight games. And that’s probably correct against a St. Louis pass defense that is clearly the best in the UFL (168.6 passing YPG allowed), but I’m still willing to take some shots here after a notable price decrease. $5,800 is the cheapest Burnett has been all year, and he ran a route on every dropback last week. Again, it’s probably thin in this matchup, but I’ll buy low on Burnett over the next two weeks.

Kevin Austin ($5,100) isn’t much of a target earner (7.9% target share this season), and he doesn’t project well as a result. I’m not particularly eager to take shots on Austin this week, but his rising route share makes him an interesting way to save on ownership if you want to stack Adrian Martinez.

Chris Rowland ($4,800) and Keke Coutee ($5,500) are some of my favorite plays to stack with the likely-chalky Jordan Ta’amu ($9,300), largely because the matchup couldn’t be much better. Memphis is PFF’s lowest-graded coverage unit (39.6 team coverage grade) and has allowed an absurd 9.4 YPA over the last month. Michigan QB Brian Lewerke noted post-game in Week 7 that Memphis left the middle of the field wide open with the way they were playing defense. And Rowland (18) and Coutee (19) easily lead the Defenders in targets over the middle of the field this season.

Vyncint Smith ($3,100) is an extremely interesting way to punt WR. In Week 8, Brandon Smith ($4,400) posted a team-leading route share (83%) and target share (20%), while Vyncint Smith managed a meager 33% route share. But Brandon Smith was the listed starter in Week 8. For Week 9, Vyncint Smith is now your starting WR3 on the outside. I’m always hesitant to trust UFL depth charts – but DC has generally been honest, and there is little separating these players in terms of raw talent. Both players are viable, but Vyncint Smith is my clear preference.

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.