The 2022 USFL season is just about upon us. We are a mere week away from watching spring football. I am sure that you, like myself, cannot wait for the USFL to grace our television screens on Sunday. With the return of football comes the return of fantasy football. If you have not visited AtlFantasySports to set up a 2022 USFL fantasy football league, make sure to get on it! You also do not want to miss the chance to win $1,000 by electing to join the free SGPN USFL fantasy football contest on altfantasysports.com. We’re here to help you win with the help of these 2022 USFL Fantasy Football Sleepers.
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2022 USFL Fantasy Football Sleepers
The USFL Studs
If you are a USFL fan, chances are you have a good idea who some the players are each roster are. You also have a pretty good idea who some of the bigger names are and the current betting favorites for MVP. Everyone knows Jordan Ta’amu, the quarterback of the Todd Haley-led Bandits who is likely to put up big numbers. You are probably also familiar with Bryan Scott, who is a former TSL MVP and league championship MVP. There may even have been some talk in your fantasy football circles about Kyle Sloter and his high upside in that Breaker’s offense.
Who is Going to Help You Win a Championship?
These are the type of guys you will be targeting at the top of your draft and rightfully so. Although, fantasy leagues are going to be won in the middle rounds and by finding diamonds in the rough at the tail end of your USFL fantasy draft. Let’s take a look at a few sleepers at each position that may not be getting a lot of fanfare but by the end of the season could be near the top of the statistical leaderboards and leading your fantasy team to a championship.
A Quarterback Sleeper: Kyle Lauletta
If you are a football fan then you have probably heard of Kyle Lauletta. I have chosen him as a sleeper here because he has not really received much hype going into the 2022 USFL season. This may be justified. There is nothing flashy about Kyle’s game and he landed with the Pittsburgh Maulers. The Maulers aren’t projected to have a bad team or offense. The problem here is that the Maulers are projected to be a run first offense that will occasionally use the play action to move the chains. The Maulers are led by Kirby Wilson who was a long time running backs coach in the NFL and most recently spent two years in that same position with the LAS Vegas Raiders.
What Type of Offense Will the Maulers Run?
Those offenses were not high flying vertical passing schemes and rather utilized a strong running game early and often. In addition, tight ends were often the leading receivers of these offenses and wide receivers were more of an afterthought All of these factors have combined to make Kyle Lauletta a bit of an afterthought in fantasy football circles and can likely be had for a discount in your USFL fantasy football draft. Firstly, Kyle Lauletta has live action experience in NFL games and that is invaluable.
Lauletta was once a promising QB2 for the New York Giants after being selected in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL draft. He never saw extensive playing time in the NFL and eventually flamed out. Though he couldn’t quite hang on in the NFL, he was a was a stud as the starting quarterback for Richmond in college. He started for three years and set school records while throwing for 10,465 yards and 73 touchdowns. He was named the Senior Bowl MVP in 2018 when he threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Police: FREEZE DON'T MOVE!
Kyle Lauletta: pic.twitter.com/5FXbm4t41m
— 0.6% Playoff Chances (@EthanGSN) October 30, 2018
Kyle Lauletta: Safe but Not Sorry
Lauletta is familiar with a pro style NFL offense and after spending many years in the league, Kirby Wilson is sure to have a sophisticated NFL-style plan of attack in mind. The Maulers may end up having one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Lauletta may not end up putting up eye-popping numbers but will likely be able to limit turnovers and negative plays. He may win you your matchup every week but he surely will not lose it.
Honorable Mention: Another Quarterback Sleeper
Paxton Lynch is currently the QB2 of the Michigan Panthers so this may be a surprising choice here. Lynch may not be lining up under center to start the season I think there is a very good chance he sees playing time during the 2022 USFL season. He is a former first round quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Lynch played for three years at Memphis where he threw for 8,863 yards and 59 touchdowns to 23 interceptions. He even managed to rush for 687 yards and rush for 17 touchdowns.. Of all the quarterbacks not currently slated to start, Lynch is the most likely to see playing time first. Rumors are swirling that both Patterson and Lynch could see playing time for the Panthers. In addition, Lynch has NFL experience so if Patterson struggles early, he could get a quick hook.
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2019
Only two teams in the USFL are going into the 2022 USFL season with only 2 running backs on their roster; the Tampa Bay Bandits and the Pittsburgh Maulers. The Bandits will be carrying BJ Emmons and Juwan Washington. BJ Emmons will likely get most of the fanfare and get snapped up in the first round of fantasy football drafts, and rightfully so.
BJ Emmons sits near the top of SGPN’s expert consensus running back rankings for numerous reasons. Former Alabama running back BJ Emmons was the first running back chosen in the 2022 USFL draft. He is known as an exceptional pass blocker. He will likely be on the field early and often in an electric vertical passing offense. His workload alone puts him near the top of many fantasy draft boards.
Juwan Washington with the touchdown run! pic.twitter.com/Cr21361dII
— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) October 20, 2019
Washington Brings PPR and Special Teams Value
It was only one round later that Todd Haley selected Juwan Washington to add to his backfield. He played four years at San Diego State and is a shift, agile, speedster who also returns kicks but is known for having good hands and being a good receiver out of the backfield. Juwan Washington could challenge for third down work and eating into some of Emmons targets in the passing game. He’ll add a lot of value to the backfield and special teams making him an valuable piece to the Bandits. Emmons is an excellent pass blocker but Washington is known for having good hands and being a good receiver out of the backfield.
Even with Emmons on the team, Washington will likely see a lot of work on all downs, be an integral part of the passing game, is one only 1 of 2 running backs on the roster, and has added value on special teams. He is definitely a high upside target in mid to late rounds of your draft.
Remember how I mentioned that only two USFL teams were only carrying two running backs? Well the Pittsburgh Maulers are one of them. It should come as no surprise that I chose Madre London as my other running back sleeper. He might be catching enough steam that he will not be considered a sleeper by the time the season starts but I think he is worth noting here.
The Maulers have Limited Options
There are only two options in the Maulers backfield after they released De’Veon Smith. Garret Groshek and Madre London are set to share the Pittsburgh backfield. Garret Groshek has been with the team since the initial draft and looks to get the early down and goal line work early in the season. He is a bruising running back that has been near the top of SGPN’s consensus ranking in recent weeks. Groshek will likely be going high in draft as the presumed RB1 of the Maulers. Kirby Wilson is a former long time running backs coach that has been a part of several successful run-heavy offenses. Most recently he was the running backs coach of the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 and 2020 where Josh Jacobs alone rushed for a combined 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns in 28 games.
Plenty of Work to Go Around
Even if all of this is true you have to imagine the Maulers will be utilizing both of their talented running backs given how often everyone expects them to be running the ball. Madre London is no slouch. In four years of college football at Michigan State and Tennessee, London racked up 1,130 rushing yards on 272 attempts with 11 rushing touchdowns. He went undrafted in the NFL draft and spent time in The Spring League where he mustered 61 yards on 16 carries in a 2020 week two victory for the TSL Alphas before Covid cut that season short.
October 7, 2017: Madre London catches a screen pass for a gain of 16 yards and a touchdown on a great play call by Dave Warner. pic.twitter.com/DuAbM4SGLE
— Sparty Moments (@SpartyMoments) October 9, 2017
London really began to shine when we latched on with the Cologne Centurions of the European Football League in 2021. He was one of four American players named to the all-star team, was named the league’s MVP and won the weekly MVP award numerous times. He was named to the All-Europe first team as Europe’s top running back. In nine regular season games he had 269 carries, 2,009 yards and 22 touchdowns (leading the league in each category).
Added Last but Definitely Not Least
London makes for an intriguing sleeper candidate in USFL fantasy football leagues given how late he was added to the Mauler’s roster. Even though Garret Groshek is a formidable running back stable mate, there is going to be plenty of work to go around in this team’s rushing attack. London is so talented he is also capable of taking over this backfield altogether. He is definitely worth a dart throw in your draft.
John Franklin III
Guys like John Franklin III of the Tampa Bay Bandits are great guys to jump on late in the draft. He may not be a household names but has huge gadget play potential. This is extra intriguing with the USFL’s adoption of the double pass rule. Look for a few plays for be scripted to get Franklin (a former QB and gadget player in college) in space and chuck the ball down the field for a second time.
— Ben Bolton (@BBoltonMedia) April 9, 2016
Franklin III Could Line up All over the Field
Franklin played numerous roles in his numerous stop in college including quarterback, wide receiver, and all around gadget player. John Franklin III appears to be in line to the go to gadget player for the Bandits as the receiver is a converted QB who last spent time in the NFL on the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His last year of college was spent playing for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic University. At FAU, he put up 16 rushes for 229 yards with an average of 14.3 yards per carry while rushing for 2 touchdowns, 7 catches for 95 yards and 1 touchdown, and completing one pass for 49 yards. Haley will find ways to utilize his skill set and get him in space.
— Paxton Boyd (@paxton) August 18, 2017
If JoJo Ward falls to the mid-late rounds of your USFL fantasy draft, you may want to give him a look. In a league full of uncertainty there is one thing that is likely to set players apart from their peers. Speed kills and with the USFL player pool, I have a need for speed. The Gamblers have an intriguing wide receiver core on paper that is loaded with speed. There is a chance that Isaiah Zuber and JoJo Ward open up the field for each other and Clayton Thorson finds them each a few times a game on a deep ball for six.
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) December 1, 2019
Those big plays could be super valuable in a league that may have a hard time generating fantasy points, especially in the early weeks. Ward is going to get an opportunity to stretch the field and defensive backs will not be able to key in on him with Zuber sprinting down the other side of the field. The guy throwing the ball to Ward is no slouch either, Clayton Thorson has shown a propensity for racking up passing yards previously in his a career.
Clayton Thorson started 53 consecutive games as the quarterback at Northwestern and also happens to be tied with Coly McCoy for the most ever in all of the Power Five conferences. In four years as the starter Thorson racked up 35 wins, over 10,000 passing yards, 991 completions, and 61 passing touchdowns (all Northwestern records). Thorson could end up throwing the ball, A LOT, and his targets, like JoJo Ward could be on the receiving end of some big plays and big days. Keep an eye on Ward, especially if you miss out on Isiah Zuber.
Matt Seybert, TE
I have been touting Matt Seybert so long as this point I feel like he hardly qualifies as sleeper. But given he is not a household name and numerous other tight ends are getting much more attention leading up to the season, I feel I am justified in discussing him here. For a small spring league the tight end class is extremely deep so Seybert may be flying under the radar a bit.
Tight Ends Are Going to Get A Lot of Work for the Maulers
He is raw and does not have a lot of production on his resume so you may have not heard Matt Seybert’s name until recently. Matt Seybert’s was a walk on tight end at Michigan state and did not even start until his senior season. He was not invited to the NFL combine and had to hold is own “pro day” on twitter. The Maulers are going to be led by Kirby Wilson who believes in a run first approach.
Wilson is likely to often employ formations that include more than one tight end. This bodes well for Seybert, who is likely to see a lot of playing time and run a lot of routes. The Maulers are going to be led by Kirby Wilson who believes in a run first approach and often employs formations that included more than one tight end. This bodes well for Seybert who is like to see a lot of playing time and run a lot of routes.
Expect to See Seybert On the Field, A Lot
Even though Seybert may be asked to block often, he is going to see a lot of time on the field. Kirby Wilson was part of an offensive staff for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 and 2020 that saw TE Darren Waller have multiple breakout campaigns with 115+ targets and 90+ receptions in both campaign. If Seybert is still available in mid to late rounds of your draft, I highly suggest snapping him up. He has TE1 type potential.
Bonus Sleeper: Who is Going to Fill the Void Left by Rogers?
Derrick Willies, WR
Derrick Willies was the second receiver drafted by the Tampa Bay Bandits. Up until recently, Eli Rogers was universally considered the number one receiver and positional/flex player overall heading into the season. He had four years of NFL experience and produced exceptionally well. In addition, he played for Todd Haley while spending four years as the backup slot receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and brought special teams value to the table. There was a lot to love about Rogers until their wasn’t. He did not report to Bandits camp and it looks like he will not be a part of the time. That leaves a major void the Bandits need to fill. I think this is where Derrick Willies may come into play.
The @Browns add to their lead.
David Blough finds Derrick Willies for the TD!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 17, 2019
Willies Looks the Part
Rogers was more known as a shifty slot receiver that stands at 5’ 10” and would catch a lot of short passes ad move the chains often Willies is more of a traditional big bodied WR1 coming in at 6’ 4” 207 pounds. Willies, who played his college ball at Texas Tech, spent time with the Cleveland browns for parts of three seasons but played on a limited basis due to injury. Willies also has NFL experience, even if it was not extensive. He had three catches for 61 yards in parts of two years spent with the Cleveland Browns.
I am valuing any NFL experience heading into the 2022 USFL season and that applies here. In two years with Texas Tech he caught 36 passes for 592 yards and 5 touchdowns. Willies could be a worthy mid round flier that has WR1 potential in what could be the best offense in the league.
Bonus Sleeper: An Emerging Threat in the Bandit’s Offense?
Vince Papale, WR
Papale is the son of the former Eagles’ receiver whose career and life was the basis of the 2006 film, “Invincible.” Papale played his college ball at the University of Delaware and his senior produced a line of 36 catches for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns in 12 games.
Vinny Papale the son of former Eagle Vince Papale, was drafted into the USFL by the Tampa Bay Bandits coached by Todd Haley pic.twitter.com/DcdTrjgrzh
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 23, 2022
Rumors are he has looked great in practice and could be a sleeper to crack the starting lineup and see a lot of targets from Jordan Ta’amu. He is a name to keep an eye on.
Check Back Often
Make sure you check SGPN regularly for updates to our 2022 USFL positional rankings and for all things USFL.