I wasn’t much of a Thundercats fan when I was a kid. It’s tough to get behind a big furry named Lion-O when you’ve got Optimus Prime to idolize. The Thundercats I’m interested in this week still don’t hold a candle to Optimus, but hopefully their on field production will have a better showing than he did in The Last Knight. Embarassing. The Tiger-Cats have the highest implied team total on the board in the most enticing matchup of the week and all this with some surprisingly affordable pricing in CFL daily fantasy contests on DraftKings. It’s time for tiger, tiger, tiger, Tiger-cats!
Implied Team Totals
Hamilton – 30.25
Calgary – 30
Winnipeg – 28.25
Edmonton – 27.25
Saskatchewan – 24.75
Ottawa – 23.75
Toronto – 22.75
BC – 19.5
At first glance, there are a number of implied team totals here that seem off. It’s about par for the course to expect Hamilton and Calgary to pace the group, but it’s unexpected to see Winnipeg with this high a total versus a solid Riders defence and even more so to see the seemingly broken Eskimos offence with this high a total versus a team that completely shut them down three weeks ago. It’s similarly surprising to see Ottawa with the third lowest implied team total versus an Eskimos defence that has yielded scores of 28, 30, and 48 points in the past month. Ottawa has struggled to score touchdowns at times this season, but it seems an odd place to project them for a floor game.
On the weather front, there are a lot of winter like conditions in the forecast as an early winter has settled into much of western Canada. The Friday night matchup for Hamilton in Toronto looks to be one of the better environments as it’s expected to be cool with only 10-15mph winds. The games out west look significantly worse as Winnipeg is forecast for near freezing temperatures with a chance of rain or snow and 20-30mph winds. Edmonton and Calgary look to be similarly cold but with less breeze at only 10-15mph winds.
Mike Reilly, EDM – $11100
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $11300
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $10800
Mike Reilly still projects as the top passer on the slate, but really, after the past three weeks that he and the Eskimos offence have had it’s hard to imagine many folks, outside of ardent contrarians, will have much interest in spending up on him. Since the Labour Day rematch in Edmonton, Reilly has averaged only 220 yards passing per game and has only one touchdown pass to go along with six interceptions. The offence and coaching staff seem to have no answers for opposing pass rushes. Add to that the matchup with Ottawa that allows a below average yards per pass attempt (7.82) and that has averaged over 2.6 sacks per game in the second half of the season and it seems unlikely this is the week Reilly and the Eskimos figure things out.
Jeremiah Masoli, on the other hand, has completely dismantled the Toronto secondary in their previous two matchups this season passing for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in their home and home series. The Argos haven’t shown any improvements in that regard and still allow a league high 9.57 yards per pass attempt along with the highest rate of passing touchdowns per attempt. It’s a dream matchup for the Hamilton passing game that leads the league in offensive passing yards per attempt.
Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders offense took a similarly appealing matchup last week though and proved there is no sure thing in fantasy football. All the metrics pointed to the Stamps passing attack stomping the Als in Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday, but Mitchell showed up with his worst game of the season, compiling a mere 199 yards passing to go with three picks. With temperatures expected to be near freezing again this week there’s reasons to be anxious about rostering Mitchell for a second week in a row. The matchup with BC’s secondary isn’t that appealing either as they allow a below average 7.95 yards per attempt and are second in the league in sacks with 38. They have given up TDs through the air at an above average clip and Calgary still leads the league in big plays by a wide margin (37), so Mitchell is at least in the conversation.
Andrew Harris, WPG – $8400
William Powell, OTT – $8500
John White, HAM – $6100
Brandon Burks, TOR – $5300
Tyrell Sutton, CGY – $5000
Andrew Harris is the top projected back on the slate and his first 100+ yard rushing effort in over a month didn’t even drive his price up. Harris’s yards per carry (5.6) is among the league leaders and he will need to carry the load in bad weather versus a Riders rush defence that ranks fourth in the league allowing only 5.12 yards per carry along with a league low rate of rushing TDs per attempt. High winds may raise the importance of the short passing game as well which also works in Harris’s favour as he’s had only 11 receptions since the beginning of September. The overall game environment though keeps his total projection down from the lofty heights it’s been at earlier in the year.
William Powell is the highest priced back on the slate and the matchup versus a porous Edmonton rush defence that allows an above average 5.39 yards per carry and the league’s highest rate of rushing TDs per attempt would seem to have him destined for a high projection as well. His low touchdown rate though accompanied with the third lowest implied team total in the Vegas odds keeps his overall projection down. There’s good reason to believe he can outperform this projection by a ways, but the math gives lower expectations so far.
John White looks to get another start in the TiCats backfield with Alex Green still on the six-game injured list and at his discounted salary in a plus matchup he’s about as close to a lock a players can get. Jeremiah Johnson had not cracked 80 yards this season and managed over 60 yards only three times, yet he went for nearly 120 last week versus the Argos. Toronto allows the leagues’ second highest rate of yards per carry (5.54) and Hamilton scores an above average rate of their TDs on the ground so White could be not only a solid value play but also in contention to be the highest scoring back this week.
Toronto running backs had 18 carries for 145 yards along with four receptions for 26 yards versus BC last week. Unfortunately, that workload was split pretty evenly between McCluster and Burks. That’s fine for Marc Trestman but it’s less exciting for fantasy players. Unfortunately for Toronto, but thankfully for fantasy players, it appears Burks has the backfield to himself this week in a matchup with Hamilton that allows the most yards per carry (5.79) in the CFL. He only needs to break one big run to exceed value and Hamilton has already allowed eight rushes of 30+ yards this season. Toronto is expected to be playing from behind which may hurt his touches, but he has shown enough ability as a receiver to stay in the game plan.
Tyrell Sutton looks to get his first start as a BC Lion this week, but he couldn’t imagine a worse matchup to have to do it in. Calgary allows the fewest yards per rush (4.73) and a below average rate of rushing TDs per attempt while BC has the lowest implied team total on the slate in what’s expected to be a blowout. All this bodes poorly for Sutton’s prospects. Fortunately, he’s an experience receiver out of the backfield for an offence that tends to check down to their backs in the passing game at an above average rate. His low price makes him an option, albeit one with a low ceiling.
Brandon Banks, HAM – $9700
Duke Williams, EDM – $9300
Luke Tasker, HAM – $8600
Eric Rogers, CGY – $8700
Diontae Spencer, OTT – $9100
Greg Ellingson, OTT – $8400
Bryant Mitchell, EDM – $6600
Juwan Brescacin, CGY – $6300
Chris Matthews, CGY – $3000
Kenny Shaw, SSK – $4900
Brandon Banks salary is high but so is his sustained production. He has been held under 100 yards only three times this season, and in one of those games he made up for it with a pair of touchdowns. Seemingly no receiver in the game has a higher floor or ceiling. In his two previous matchups with Toronto, Banks compiled 288 receiving yards and four touchdowns for a total of 67.8 fantasy points. It’s unfair to expect that kind of production to continue but it’s not unreasonable given that Toronto allows the highest rates yards and touchdowns per target. His teammate Luke Tasker is a more affordable option, but he has a similarly lower projection and significantly lower floor.
Duke Williams has been playing hurt since the Labour Day rematch in Edmonton and it has shown as his production continues to wain from early season levels. The matchup versus Ottawa isn’t ideal in the yardage projections but they do allow the third highest rate of touchdowns per target making Duke a fair bet for a score this week. In their matchup only a couple weeks ago, he was one overturned TD away from a huge day, so he may be a low owned contrarian option in this week’s rematch. His teammate Bryant Mitchell has led the team in targets and air yards however over that same span. At a much lower salary, he may be the one to go with if players are looking to buy low on the Edmonton offence.
As mentioned earlier, the Calgary offence had a terrible Week 17 in a matchup they were expected to dominate. With news that Eric Rogers is away from the team right now for the birth of a child it could get even dicier for the Stamps passing game. If Rogers plays, he projects well in an above average matchup versus the Lions. If Rogers is out, then the whole offence takes a bit of a hit in efficiency. Rogers upside could justifiably have him in the high $9K range so his salary is a relative bargain for the top Stamps WR in an offence that has the most plays for 30+ yards this season (37). If Chris Matthews also suits up for his first game for Calgary, the supporting pieces like Brescacin and Ambles will take a hit. To say there’s a lot up in the air in the Calgary passing game is an understatement.
The Ottawa trio of receivers generally underwhelmed again in a difficult matchup versus Winnipeg. If not for the last drive in the fourth quarter and overtime they would have had terrible outings. The volume is certainly there for Ellingson and Sinopoli as both are near the league lead for targets while Spencer gets the boost from return yardage but Ottawa continues to lag in terms of efficiency and passing touchdowns. They are well below average in terms of TDs per target and just about average in terms of yards per target (8.26). There is hope for increased efficiency as Edmonton allows the second most yards per target (8.7) and the second most plays of 30+ yards this season but 17 weeks of data this season give reason not to let expectations get too high.
The receiver bargain bin this week yields a few good options but also ones that require fantasy players to keep tabs on the news as the week progresses. Chris Matthews was close to suiting up in Week 17 so it’s likely he’ll get his first start this week versus BC. At only $3000 and with ample opportunity to get involved he’s the top value on the slate regardless of position. If Rogers is out this week, his opportunities likely only increase. Much of Brescacin’s value also likely hinges on Rogers status. Kenny Shaw doesn’t have the upside of the Calgary receivers in the Riders low end passing offence, but he has seen a sizable workload as the Riders top targeted receiver since entering the starting lineup two weeks ago. The potential loss of Williams-Lambert only increases his importance.
Calgary Stampeders – $5300
Saskatchewan Roughriders – $4400
Ottawa Redblacks – $4300
The Stampeders defence had an expectedly solid outing versus the fairly punchless Alouettes offence allowing only six points while racking up six sacks and a pair of turnovers. The Lions offence has a few more weapons and a more established QB with Lulay expected to return to the starting lineup. The Stamps are near the league leaders in sacks (36) and are atop the standings in forced turnovers with 41. With all the turnover in the Lions lineup and the effects of the cold weather on a dome team it could be another great weekend of the Stamps defence.
The Riders defence put up another defensive touchdown in their late win versus the Eskimos last week. They lead the league in that category while also leading the league in sacks (41) while forcing the third most turnovers (36). It could be another dark day for Matt Nichols and the Bombers offence.
A month ago it would have been nearly inconceivable to want to pick on the Edmonton offence with a DST, but here we are in Week 18 assuming the Eskimos are broken. Life comes at you fast. Reilly has been throwing picks at the rate he used to throw touchdown passes while running for his life behind what used to be a solid offensive line. Ottawa has seen an uptick in sacks and turnovers over the past month and gave Reilly fits a few weeks back. The Riders are a better bet at this price range but the Redblacks will be much lower owned.
With only a couple weeks left in the regular season there’s not much time left to enjoy the edge that CFL DFS provides over any other sport. Good luck in all your contests!