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USFL Week 6 power rankings, DFS and betting preview

Birmingham, AL, USA; Tampa Bay Bandits quarterback Jordan Ta'amu (10) throws against the Birmingham Stallions during the first half at Protective Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 was another great week in the USFL. Check out my Week 5 USFL review for full notes on every touchdown scored, offensive and defensive players of the game, key fantasy football workload metrics, and overall thoughts. More USFL goodness can be found weekly on The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast.

What follows is a breakdown of the league’s power rankings, favorite DFS plays, and best bets. Keep your head on a swivel; let’s get after it.

USFL Week 6 Power Rankings

1. Birmingham Stallions (5-0)

Undefeated after 20 quarters of football, Birmingham remains the clear-cut top-ranked team in the league. J’Mar Smith should be the quarterback down the stretch after replacing Alex McGough in the second quarter of last week’s comeback victory over the Philadelphia Stars. The Stallions’ league-best pass-rush continues to give them a good chance of coming away with a victory week in and week out. They’ll be in a tier of their own if the league’s top-ranked scoring offense operates with a bit more consistency during the second half of the season.

2. New Jersey Generals (4-1)

Last week’s matchup against the New Orleans Breakers decided which team would claim this spot, but I still believe this is a tier of three teams at the top. This is reflected by the fact that the Stallions (+37), Generals (+26) and Breakers (+25) easily boast the league’s top-three best point differentials. Luckily for New Jersey, they might just be peaking at the right time after seemingly turning over the offense fully to De’Andre Johnson in Week 5. Being forced to play from behind for a large portion of the game could be the potential Kryptonite for the Generals’ run-heavy — yet diverse — offense, but then again, maybe the USFL’s No. 1 offense in EPA per play is just built different.

3. New Orleans Breakers (3-2)

The Breakers rank third and second in EPA per play on offense and defense, respectively. Arguably the USFL’s most-complete team, Kyle Sloter and his merry group of talented wide receivers give New Orleans a gaudy offensive ceiling that will be tough to match in a shootout. I maintain that WR Jonathan Adams Jr. is the single-best player in the USFL through five weeks. All three losses from my top-three teams in the USFL have come against each other so don’t be surprised if the championship game winds up featuring two of these squads. 

4. Tampa Bay Bandits (3-2)

It was good to see Jordan Ta’amu turn in, arguably, his best performance of the season in Week 5 after struggling mightily with Birmingham’s pass rush in Week 4. Still, the Todd Haley experience hasn’t exactly taken the league by storm as many expected, and the Bandits are ultimately lucky to be sitting at 3-2 despite a -15 point differential. Two of their three victories have featured a game-winning drive with under five minutes remaining, so don’t confuse Tampa Bay as a true threat to any of the top-three teams unless Ta’amu is able to go “Super Saiyan” down the stretch.

5. Michigan Panthers (1-4)

The Panthers lost their individual matchup with the Stars because their kicker missed a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the game. That’s the only difference between Michigan and Philadelphia. I’m a fan of Bart Andrus’ pass-happy attack as much as the next loser millennial, but the difference between the Panthers (-0.111 EPA per play) and Stars (-0.101) on offense is negligible when accounting for Michigan’s league-best defense (-0.167) compared to Philadelphia’s league-worst group (+0.006).

6. Philadelphia Stars (2-3)

Andrus and the pass-happy Stars have managed to go 1-1 in Bryan Scott’s absence. Case Kookus has posted PFF’s third-highest passing grade since taking over and deserves credit for putting up 43 combined points against two of the league’s top-three defenses in Michigan and Birmingham. The good news for the Stars is that they still have time to fix their defense, as they’re currently projected to be the North Division’s second playoff team ahead of Michigan and Pittsburgh.

7. Houston Gamblers (1-4)

The Gamblers were knocked off by the Maulers on a walk-off touchdown last week. While Clayton Thorson and the offense haven’t shown off the world’s best ceiling, their -9 point differential actually ranks ahead of the 3-2 Bandits (-15) as well as the 2-3 Stars (-19). This team hasn’t had a game decided by more than seven points all season so credit to the USFL for boasting so much early-season parity. Through five weeks, a whopping 15 of 20 games have been decided by just one score. 

8. Pittsburgh Maulers (1-4)

A certain someone predicted the Maulers would find their way into the victory column this time last week. It wasn’t easy and required a switch to recently-signed QB Vad Lee, but a win is a win, and at least Pittsburgh has shown the ability to put up points on occasion thanks to its pair of stud receivers in Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker. Of course, Week 5’s last-second heroics don’t change the fact that the Maulers boast an absolutely atrocious -52 point differential on the season and haven’t even been competitive in two of their four losses. A bottom-three offense and defense alike in EPA per play: Pittsburgh still looks a lot like the USFL’s worst team.

Point differential, EPA per play, and PFF team grades in specific categories are listed below:

DFS DraftKings Preview

One thing to keep in mind ahead of Saturday and the rest of the weekend is the potential for injured players to return to action. This USFL Twitter list includes all eight teams, who tweet out their injury reports and roster moves throughout the week. Key situations to keep an eye on will be listed in each section about the best positional targets.

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