USFL DraftKings DFS Introduction – Things to Know Before Week 1

USFL DraftKings DFS Introduction – Things to Know Before Week 1

With DraftKings adding the newly resurrected USFL (United States Football League) we hope this article acts as a preview of what to expect when it comes to scoring, rules, teams, and general DFS formats.

The USFL first debuted back in 1983 with just a few season run through 1985. The league’s idea is simple: It is an alternative football league to the NFL, to be played when the NFL is inactive. We have seen this song and dance a few times with the AFL and XFL, and now we are seeing it again with the USFL. I personally believe that this is a platform that can succeed if properly marketed, managed, and offered at a consumable level. The XFL arguably was going to succeed until Covid-19 ended the season; in fact the XFL viewership numbers on Fox and Fox Sports weren’t horrible by any means. With gambling markets helping push any sports product, DraftKings offering USFL is a step in the correct direction to at least acquire eyes to the sport.

Teams and Schedules

First, let us acknowledge the number of teams: eight. While these eight teams span multiple large market cities, the actual games themselves will all be played inside a host city – the city of Birmingham Alabama. All in all, this is 43 total regular-season games. The 43 games break down into a 10-week season with four games a week. Looking at the schedule we likely will have DFS slates spanning multiple days, as some of these weeks are Saturday-Sunday, and some are Friday-Saturday-Sunday. After the 10-game regular season, there will be four playoff teams and then a Championship game on Sunday, July 3rd. The teams making up the league are the: Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, New Orleans Breakers, Philadelphia Stars, Pittsburgh Maulers, and Tampa Bay Bandits. Again, while these teams have home cities, all games are played in Alabama – congrats Birmingham Stallions.


In terms of rules, we get a similar product to traditional NFL, but we do have some caveats to talk about. Some will impact the scoring of the DFS contests, some will not.

The 3-point attempt: After an offense scores a touchdown, they can either kick the extra point for one point, attempt a two-point conversion from the 2-yard line, or attempt a 3-point conversion from the 10-yard line. While I do not forsee this being a regular occurrence, a pass, run or catch of a 3-point conversion does equate to three fantasy points on DraftKings.

Onside Kicks: If a team wants to attempt to keep the ball after scoring, they have two options. They can attempt a traditional onside kick from their kicker, or they can run a 4th and 12 play from their own 33-yard line. If the team makes a first down, they keep the ball. If they fail, the defense gets the ball from the 33.

Forward Passes: Teams are allowed to throw two forward passes in one play, as long as both happen behind the line of scrimmage.

Overtime: If a game goes to overtime, a shootout format will take place. Each team will alternate 1-play possessions from the 2-yard line. Each score is worth 2-points. Each team gets up to 3 plays to run and the team who scores the most points wins. For example here, if Team A scores on their attempt, they go up 2-0. If Team B does not score, Team A goes again. If Team A scores again to go up 4-0 then the game would be over, as the best team B could do is get the game to 4-2 on their third possession. If the game remains tied after each team runs three plays, play continues until there is a winner.

Timing: Inside the final two minutes of quarter two and quarter four, the clock will automatically stop on first downs inside of two minutes.

Roster Construction

Roster requirements for the USFL consist of: 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR/TE, 2 FLEX, and 1 DST.

Breaking this down this means if you wanted to you could play 3 total RB, or 4 total WR. While in the end, the roster construction is going to come down to personal preference or personal philosophy, in past we have seen the running back position be a little bit weaker in leagues like the AFL or the XFL. This isn’t to say weak in terms of talent, it just comes down to usage. In the XFL we did not see the traditional heavy-workload back and in some stances, the lead back was still only seeing around 40-50% of the team’s carries. I personally think there is a reason there is only one RB requirement in the roster, as it should be a position of a little higher variance in terms of usage.

With this being a new league, the usage of wide receivers and tight ends in an offense is just not going to be one we can predict off the bat. The fact that the user will have the ability to only roster wide receivers if they want to is an interesting and positive change on DraftKings as you will no longer be forced to pick and choose the tight end. That being said, it should come as no surprise that wide receivers are higher priced than tight ends and maybe rostering one is the salary relief needed.

In terms of identifying a defense to pick we again have to deal with a lot of variance and things that aren’t easily predictable. With this also being the opening week, most games Vegas spreads and totals are pretty tight and relatively in the same ballfield. Truth be told, there is a lot of mystery still surrounding this league, with teams’ depth charts even being pretty difficult to find.

DraftKings is also offering Showdown formats for the USFL, but if you have played NFL DFS then this format is going to be exactly the same with a CPTN spot and then five-flex players spanning all positions, including kickers.

In the end, this is a new product and a new league for all of us, but FantasyCruncher has you covered with Optimizer access for the USFL that is also FREE for this first week. 

About James Smizek

James is a Daily Fantasy Sports vet dating all the way back to his days of writing content on for contest tickets. James specializes in College Football - qualifying for the CFB World Championship in 2018, though you can find his content for NFL, NBA, MLB, Tennis, and NASCAR on FantasyCruncher. James also picked up some new tricks during the Covid/sports shutdown, carving out a niche in League of Legends, Rocket League, and Call of Duty eSports. A winner of multiple large field GPP's, James hopes his knowledge can help you take down the next one. James currently resides in Wisconsin and is a huge Wisconsin sports fan. If you have any questions you can reach out to him @iKezims on Twitter.

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