Any suggestions are welcomed.
Simply leaving the homepage as a featured articles menu-item with 0 articles, giving the menu-item a class and hiding the title with CSS is better imo.
I always hated having empty articles and wondering why they are like that... only to recognize they are placeholders.
Component is simple and gives what it promises!
Given my current level of expertise with Joomla and CSS, I would attribute this to the template, not the component itself.