USFL Week 4 Power Rankings, DFS & Game Preview | NFL and NCAA betting picks

Week 3 was another great week to be great at the USFL.

Some highlights:

  • Anthony Ratliff-Williams caught a deep pass down the middle and fumbled, but then, by the grace of the football gods, scored a touchdown anyway after one of the luckiest bouncers you will ever see.
  • The Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers faced off in an undefeated collision on Saturday night, with the former team’s ever-devastating pass rush and normal fourth-quarter heroism from J’Mar Smith being enough to bringing home victory.
  • the Fight Jeff Fishers The Michigan Panthers ate their first W of the season with a dominating 24-0 performance over the Pittsburgh Maulers. The Panthers threw for *72* yards all game.
  • Panthers RB Reggie Corbin was fantastic, turning 20 carries into 133 yards and a score – while not even being active.
  • Smack was spoken to kickers. Naturally, the USFL’s endless supply of microphones and cameras picked it all up for us. Gotta love this league.

Check out my Week 3 USFL Review for full notes on every touchdown scored, offensive and defensive players in the game, key fantasy football workload metrics and general thoughts. More USFL goodness can be found weekly at The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast.

Nine USFL players who particularly stood out after three weeks of action

RB Mark Thompson, Houston players

One of only two USFL players with a PFF rating of at least 90.0, Thompson (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) worked as this league’s version of Derrick Henry so far. Overall, he leads the league with 310 rushing yards, and his 253 yards after contact is more than Jordan Ellis (244) can attest to in the period. Thompson is the only player with double-digit forced missed tackles on rushing attempts (16) and explosive races (10). His averages of 5.8 yards per carry and 4.8 yards after contact per rush are patently absurd. Add it all together, and Thompson was easily the top running back in the USFL for three weeks.

QB De’Andre Johnson, New Jersey Generals

The former Last Chance U star leads the league in yards per rush (6.4) and is one of three players with over 200 rushing yards. He did it in style, forcing eight missed tackles along the way – three more than the rest of USFL quarterbacks combined. Johnson hasn’t exactly been the finest passer in the league and sports a rather brutal 34.0 PFF passing rating. Still, his dual-threat ability has forced defenses into some coverage issues and as a result is posting a league-best average of 10.8 yards per attempt. Johnson formed an early season squad with Luis Perez but may have taken over for good after playing the entire second half of Week 3.

QB Kyle Sloter, New Orleans Breakers

Sloter looked a lot like the best quarterback in the USFL while having to play through a myriad of injuries. He entered Week 3 with hand and shoulder injuries listed on the injury report, not to mention the “burst” groin he sustained the previous week. He bounced back with the Raiders and Vikings practice squads in 2021 and enjoyed a few serious pre-season success at the time. Let’s hope an even healthier version of the Breakers QB1 keeps coming out and earns another major league shot.

WR Jonathan Adams Jr. and WR Johnnie Dixon, New Orleans Breakers

Adams posted a relatively modest 7-112-0 receiving line throughout the season. However, the 23-year-old talent’s Week 2 performance was the most impressive 60-minute streak by a USFL offensive player this season.

And then there’s Dixon, who leads the league in receiving yards (166) and is tied for first in receiving touchdowns (3). The former Ohio State Buckeye field stretcher has shown more running nuances in the lower and middle areas of the field, although at 27 he’s not quite the same kind of spring chicken as his teammate.

Of course, defense is also very important for the sport of football. The following defensive players posted a PFF rating north of 90.0 for three weeks of action (minimum 100 snaps):

  • EDGE Shareef Miller, New Orleans Breakers (93.2): Miller’s 11 pressures rank fifth in the USFL, and he’s managed to post elite marks in consecutive weeks (90.3 and 91.4). He’s far from a one-trick pony, however, racking up nine defensive saves (tied for third) and posting the league’s fourth-best overall run defense rating.
  • CB will likely be, Houston Gamblers (91.5): No one has a higher PFF coverage score than Likely (91.4). Overall, only five of 12 targets in his coverage have been caught for 34 yards this season. Throw two interceptions and the quarterbacks posted a 9.7 passer rating when targeting the Gamblers’ CB1. Note that a quarterback receives a passer rating of 39.0 if he takes every snap and throws the ball straight into the ground on every play.
  • EDGE Carlo Kemp, Pittsburgh Maulers (90.6): Kemp has 11 pressures and three sacks this season. His pass-rush rating of 90.8 PFF trails only Shareef Miller (91.4), and only Dondrea Tillman (10) has a single game with more pressure than Kemp (8) managed to pull off over the course. of week 2.
  • EDGE Dondrea Tillman, Birmingham Stallions (90.3): Tillman has 24 pressures on the season. No other defender has more than 13. So far, only two of those pressures have been converted to sacks, but he was the star of the USFL’s deadliest pass.

USFL Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Birmingham Stallions (3-0)

The Stallions pressured opposing quarterbacks on 48.7% of their dropbacks. No other USFL defense has posted a pressure rating above 33%. It was their key to taking down the Breakers (last week’s No. 1), as J’Mar Smith came down to earth a bit despite the win. Still, Smith managed to lead the offense to a more than respectable 27.7 ppg, and the Stallions’ pass rush is as dominant as any single position group in the league. Add in a weekly “home court advantage” and the stallions deserve to be ranked #1.

2. New Orleans Breakers (2-1)

A stoned version of Sloter just wasn’t enough to push the Breakers across the finish line last week, but the Breakers still boast the league’s best point differential at +28. Despite last week’s loss, I think the Breakers’ best version has more upside than any USFL team thanks to Sloter and PFF’s top-ranked overall defense.

3. Tampa Bay Bandits (2-1)

The Bandits came out of their six-quarter lul in Week 3 with a week-high 27 points. Jordan Ta’amu’s late-game heroism was a welcome sight after the consensus USFL preseason QB1 had to split snaps with something named Brady White in Week 2. have a stiffer run defense than the Bandits (86.8 PFF rating), which is more important than ever in this predominantly run-first league.

4. New Jersey Generals (2-1)

The Generals have passed the ball on a minimum of 43.6% of their games in non-garbage time situations. The strategy instead produced 19.3 points per game, but the potential for De’Andre Johnson to take over as full-time quarterback could produce a new high for the team.

5. Philadelphia Stars (1-2)

The Stars deserve to be considered the best team in the USFL with just one win. However, the potential for Bryan Scott (knee) to run out of time is certainly not ideal for the league’s happiest offense. Not humming high on offense will be problematic if PFF’s worst overall defense doesn’t improve significantly.

6. Houston players (1-2)

Clayton Thorson has looked better lately, but it’s fair to wonder how long that will last behind the USFL’s No. 8 and No. 7 ranked offensive line in run block and pass block ratings. Houston managed to rank dead last in both yards before contact per carry (0.6) and rushing rate allowed (43.4%). Note that the Gamblers would skip the stars if Scott was forced to miss an extended time.

7. Michigan Panthers (1-2)

Jeff Fisher and company just haven’t gotten anything airborne this season. Overall, they posted league-low ratings in passing yards (388) and passing touchdowns (1) through 12 quarters of play. Week 3 showed that their defensive play and running is able to make up for the shortcomings of Shea Patterson and Paxton Lynch, but it’s hard to see this group hanging on with the league’s best offenses more weeks than not.

8. Pittsburgh Maulers (0-3)

Josh Love was quietly working as one of the best quarterbacks in the USFL through the first two weeks of the season, only to have Kyle Lauletta turn things around in Week 3. The defense struggled to slow down opposing attacks throughout the year, while head coach Kirby Wilson made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Last week’s winless showdown with the Panthers was one of the team’s worst performances of the season.

PFF team ratings in specific categories are listed below:

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