The USFL held their expansion draft last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning / afternoon. The league’s draft format was unique. Each draft round featured a specific position each team had to draft. You can see a round-by-round breakdown of what positions were selected at NBC Sports Bay Area. Now, let’s look at the wide receiver rooms for the final four teams that picked wideouts.
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Teams and Wide Receivers
Tampa Bay Bandits
Preseason statistics, including Yards per Route Run (Y / RR), are from Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay’s head coach Todd Haley double-dipped on receivers he’s familiar with out of the chute. Haley was Eli Rogers’ offensive coordinator with the Steelers in 2016-2017, and he served in the same position for the first eight games for the Browns and Derrick Willies in 2018 (all five games Willies played in 2018 were before Haley was fired). The duo is the only two on the team with experience in the regular season in the NFL, and they have the draft capital to support being the top two wideouts on the team.
Nevertheless, Rogers is merely a good but not great option in fantasy that’s significantly more appealing in half-point and full-point point-per-reception (PPR) formats. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 88.3% of his NFL snaps in the slot, and 86.6% of his XFL snaps in the slot. Unfortunately, he’s a reliable chain-mover instead of a dynamic weapon from the slot.
As a result, I’m more interested in Willies’ ceiling as a big-bodied perimeter wideout with jaw-dropping percentile ranks in burst score, agility score, and catch radius. In addition, Willies is more likely than Rogers to benefit from quarterback Jordan Ta’amu’s mobility creating improvisational and second-reaction plays.
Extending the theme of stressing opposing defenses deep, Derrick Dillon has the wheels to do so. Dillon was lightly used at LSU, sharing the receiving room with future NFL wideouts such as Russell Gage, DJ Chark, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Terrace Marshall Jr. So, I’ll give him a partial pass for his lackluster numbers . Moreover, you can’t teach the elite speed he has, as Dillon reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds on his pro day. So, obviously, it isn’t ideal he failed to command targets in LSU’s crowded receiving room, but Rogers, Willies, et al. aren’t in the same stratosphere as his former teammates. Thus, I’m intrigued by his upside of him in the USFL.
Jordan Lasley is another receiver I’m intrigued by on the Bandits. He was outstanding in his junior year, his last season in college, at UCLA, hauling in 69 receptions for 1,264 and nine touchdowns in nine games, per Sports-Reference. Lasley’s played earned stellar scouting reports from NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein and The Rookie Scouting Portfolio’s Matt Waldman. Unfortunately, mentions of Lasley’s immature and questionable behavior were equally prevalent in the scouting reports. As a result, Lasley lasted until the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft, getting popped by the Ravens. He never played a snap in the regular season for the Ravens. He got cut the following summer one day after more immature behavior bubbled to the surface in a team practice. If Lasley can avoid sabotaging himself, he might be a fantasy-relevant option.
The Panthers are the second of two teams featured in this series with only four wideouts. As I noted in Houstons’ four-man receiver room, that’s ideal for consolidating targets. However, that’s all the more important for the Jeff Fisher-coached Panthers, as his offenses play slow and lean heavily on running the ball.
Unfortunately, the offense’s likely run-centric and slow approach is suboptimal for all four receivers. Regardless, Quincy Adeboyejo fits the archetype prospect analysts call a height-weight-and-speed guy, standing 6-foot-3 and running a blistering 4.42-second 40-yard dash. According to Player Profiler, he had an 85th percentile catch radius, 86th percentile speed score, 88th percentile agility score, and 40-yard dash time. Despite Adeboyejo’s college numbers at Ole Miss leaving a lot to be desired, his standing di lui as the top receiver picked by Michigan and dazzling measurables make him my favorite fantasy option in this receiving room.
At the other end of the spectrum, Lance Lenoir is a lackluster athlete who has overcome his shortcomings on the gridiron. He was very productive in college at Western Illinois, and his preseason numbers are not only better than many of the other receivers in the USFL, but they also earned him a roster spot for eight games on the Cowboys – albeit almost exclusively playing special teams . Even though I’m a sucker for traits and measurables, Lenoir is nipping at Adeboyejo’s heels as my favorite receiver on the Panthers.
Beyond the top-two receivers, I’m largely disinterested in Jeff Badet and Ray Bolden. Usually, Badet’s 4.27-second 40-yard dash at his pro day would excite me. However, his elite speed di lui hasn’t resulted in better than modest numbers in college, the NFL preseason, or the XFL. According to Pro Football Focus, out of 34 receivers in the XFL that were targeted at least 10 times, Badet was sixth in targets (31) but only tied for 13th in receptions (16), 23rd in receiving yards (108), 32nd in Pro Football Focus’s receiving grade, and dead last in Yards per Route Run (0.63 Y / RR). Yikes, Badet’s efficiency of him in the XFL was dreadful. Therefore, I’ll need to see him turn his speed into results before buying into his USFL fantasy football utility.
New Jersey Generals
KaVontae Turpin’s talent is likely not the reason he’s not in the NFL. Instead, he was dismissed from TCU with two domestic violence charges, and he pleaded guilty to assault, causing bodily injury for assaulting his longtime girlfriend di lui. The diminutive receiver reportedly measured 5-foot-7 and 158.1 pounds at his makeshift pro day, electrifying in multiple drills, including reportedly running his 40-yard dash in the mid-4.3-second and 4.4-second range, varying with when he was running with and against the wind. Perhaps if he ran a sub-4.30-second 40-yard dash, an NFL team would have been willing to look past his assault incidents di lui, but he was only in the mid-4.3 to the 4.4-second range. Nonetheless, he’s getting a second chance in the USFL.
Turpin’s other professional experience includes playing in The Spring League and signing in the European League of Football. Unfortunately, TSL stats are spotty, so I’m not 100% sure he played in all six of his team’s games. However, his team of him played six games. So, that was the estimate I used on the table. Turpin was moderately productive in college and had his most successful offensive season from a per-game perspective in his senior year before his dismissal from TCU. In addition, he demonstrated his explosiveness of him as an elite kickoff and punt returner. Looking at only his on-field exploits by him, he’s likely one of the top fantasy wideouts in the USFL. Further, he has the edge over many of his peers with ready-made chemistry with New Jersey’s quarterbacks Ben Holmes and De’Andre Jones, two of his quarterback di lui in TSL.
Piggybacking on the quarterbacks, there is a possibly alarming scenario where erratic run-first Johnson overtakes pocket-passer Holmes since the former played more than the latter as teammates in the TSL. Johnson jumping to the top of the depth chart would be unfavorable for the receivers. Regardless, Holmes was picked first, seemingly giving him a leg up to start.
The other receivers for New Jersey I’m intrigued by are J’Mon Moore and Darrius Shepherd. Interestingly, Moore and Shepherd were teammates in the preseason on the Packers in 2019. However, the former was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and the latter was an undrafted free agent from the 2019 NFL Draft. Apparently, the Packers understand sunk costs, dumping Moore before the 2019 regular season and keeping Shepherd, despite the difference in draft capital.
Could a similar situation play out in the USFL with Shepherd getting picked after Moore? Maybe. He already pushed ahead of him on another depth chart. Neither Moore nor Shepherd had dazzling workout metrics, but Moore has a height advantage over Shepherd at 6-foot-3 versus 5-foot-11. Finally, Moore had a college production advantage at FBS Missouri over Shepherd’s numbers at FCS North Dakota State. Frankly, I give Moore the slightest edge over Shepherd, handicapping their fantasy value. Still, it’s a borderline coinflip.
Finally, Randy Satterfield is a hometown player from New Jersey who has had a fascinating journey to professional football that included playing well enough in his only season at the NAIA level to sign in the CFL in January of 2020. Unfortunately, the CFL season was canceled that year because of the pandemic. Still, Satterfield’s tools being significant enough to net him a contract in the CFL puts him on my radar to track. Unfortunately, though, he’s not a player to pursue in season-long fantasy leagues presently.
Devin Gray was the first receiver picked by his former 2021 TSL coach Bart Andrus. Thus, he should be familiar with Andrus’ offense, and he’s evidently a receiver his head coach has a high opinion of. In addition, Gray’s spent significant time on NFL practice squads, and he’s been more efficient than most of the receivers in the USFL with preseason experience. Further, Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, Bryon Scott, is also reunited with Andrus, but he wasn’t on Andrus’ 2021 TSL team. Nonetheless, Philly’s quarterback’s and top receiver’s familiarity with Andrus could help the offense get up to speed quickly. Additionally, Gray is fast. He’s not a household name as an undrafted free agent in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he’s still one of my top fantasy picks among the receivers.
Jordan Suell is also reunited with Andrus. He was on TSL’s Generals in 2020 and 2021. I have six games listed on his table for 2021 stats above, but I can’t confirm he played in all six games from his stats on The Football Database – or anywhere else for that matter . Sadly, I can’t locate his 2020 stats about him, either. However, the TSL Wikipedia page lists him among the players who received an NFL opportunity. So, he’s familiar with Andrus’ offense and has experience playing with Scott at quarterback.
As for his NFL opportunity, the Patriots worked him out. The link to Pats Pulpit noted he ran a 4.49 and 4.52-second 40-yard dash at his filmed pro day after a four-year college career in the NAIA at Southern Oregon. Suell’s speed is all the more impressive since he’s 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds. At worst, he should be a field-stretching and red-zone weapon.
The big-bodied Brennan Eagles is the final receiver I’m fascinated by entering the season. He went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft after declaring following his junior year at Texas. Eagles is 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, using his big frame to average 168 yards per reception on 61 grabs in 22 games for the Longhorns. Eagles’ pro-day adjusted and size-adjusted 40-yard dash resulted in an 86th percentile speed score. Zierlein’s scouting report included strengths for Eagles that should translate to shot plays. He played in only one preseason game for the Cowboys before getting jettisoned off the club. Eagles appears to be the prototypical boom-or-bust, low volume, deep-ball option. If that’s the case, he’s a better option in standard-scoring leagues and a name to file away as a GPP option if USFL DFS is available this year.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @ BChad50.