Week 19 of CFL daily fantasy contests brought us the demise of yet another top receiving option, as this season’s MOP went down to a clavicle injury. The fantasy football world mourns the loss of Brandon Banks consistency and unmatched ceiling. Add his name to the list of Emmanuel Arceneaux, Kamar Jorden, DaVaris Daniels, Reggie Beleton, Derel Walker, Jalen Saunders, and Chris Williams, as the remaining number of exciting options at the position dwindles. It is an ugly week for trying to determine stacking options for GPPs as the best QB option is a running back in disguise and the top projected receivers are in terrible matchups. This is probably the toughest GPP building week this season.
Implied Team Totals
Hamilton – 29
Calgary – 28.5
Saskatchewan – 27.5
Ottawa – 25.5
Montreal – 25.25
Winnipeg – 25
Toronto – 24.25
BC – 24
It’s odd to see Hamilton atop the implied team totals minus Brandon Banks. I don’t know how they reach that total this week. Calgary is similarly suspect minus many of their top scoring options with the continued poor play of Bo Mitchell at quarterback. Despite having the lowest team total on the slate last week, Vegas has decided overnight that the Riders offence is in fact good and given them the third highest implied total. Suffice it to say, I think all three of these numbers are high given their matchups and game environments.
The game in Winnipeg Friday night will be cool with a 70% chance of rain that only increases as the evening wears on. Regina is forecast to be cool with rain tapering off into the evening but with 20-30mph winds for the Riders and Lions to contend with. Hamilton might be the worst weather situation of the weekend with cool temperatures, 15-20mph winds, and heavy rain expected throughout the day. The forecast in Montreal is only slightly better with cool temperatures, 10-15mph winds and a 70% chance of rain. Overall the weather is expected to be ugly across the board so it’s tough to fade any of the games based on the elements.
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $11700
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $10000
James Franklin, TOR – $9800
Jeremiah Masoli is far and away the top projected quarterback on the slate, but he’s also far and away the highest priced. Masoli leads a TiCats passing attack that is the most efficient in the league in terms of yardage (9.51 yards per attempt) and third most efficient for passing scores. Just like last week, the Ottawa defence is about league average in terms of defending the pass but they give up passing touchdowns at the second highest rate behind only Toronto. That’s a matchup worth attacking. The problem is, with the loss of Brandon Banks, there’s a good argument to be made that the whole TiCats offence bogs down like they did in the two games he missed earlier this season. In those two games Masoli averaged more than a yard less per attempt (8.4) and his TD rates were about 40% lower. If you adjust his rates down accordingly, he slumps back to the rest of the pack. Add to that a forecast for 20-35 km/hr winds and heavy rain and it gets more difficult to justify the spend.
Bo Levi Mitchell continues to look out of sorts having averaged only 242 yards passing over the past five weeks while averaging 305 through the first 11 games this year. His interception rates have also ballooned with nine in his past six games while throwing only five through the first 11. His completion rates have also fallen below 60% in seven of his last eight games despite being a career 64.8% passer. There are problems in Calgary beyond injured receivers. Week 20 doesn’t look to help out, as Winnipeg allows the fewest yards per pass attempt this season along with the second lowest rate of passing TDs per attempt. Given the cacophony of problems in Calgary, this is a good week to pass on the Stamps passer.
James Franklin leads the league in rushing touchdowns while averaging 7.8 yards per carry, not counting short yardage plunges. If he were a starting running back at this price, he would be worthy of consideration given his ridiculous market share of rushing touchdowns (78%). In some ways, whatever he gets players for passing points are just a bonus to his rushing totals for fantasy purposes. That said, the matchup with the Alouettes secondary that allows the third most yards per attempt, the fourth most passing TDs per attempt, and the most plays per game to opposing offences (61.9) is enticing too. It’s a fine week to save some salary at QB. The problem with playing Franklin is that the stacking options are just so poor. S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards are dreadfully overpriced, the receiving backs are in a time share, and most of the TDs are QB sneaks. Naked Franklin is a good play but extremely difficult to stack in GPPs.
Andrew Harris, WPG – $7800
Alex Green, HAM – $6700
William Powell, OTT – $7900
William Stanback, MTL – $6800
Cameron Marshall, SSK – $4400
Patrick Lavoie, SSK – $3000
The running back position overall suffers from being either dreadfully overpriced or in terrible matchups. Andrew Harris is in the latter category. In his previous matchup versus the Stampeders he carried the ball seven times for a total of 13 yards. Fantasy players were bailed out somewhat by 11.1 receiving points that afternoon but his role in the passing game has largely evaporated over the past six games since that outburst. Harris averages 5.7 yards per carry on the season but Calgary allows a league low 4.84 average on the ground. In previous seasons he could count on rushing TDs to boost his totals, but he has only one of those in his past seven games as much of the redzone carries have been given to backup QB Chris Streveler as he has four rushing TDs over that span. The salary relief is nice, but it would take Harris getting the redzone carries back again to reach this projected total.
Alex Green may be the most enticing option this week from a raw projection perspective as Hamilton has tended to tilt a little more run heavy in games without Banks in the lineup. The price tag however is also ridiculously cheap for him as he was a justifiable $8K back before his injury. Ottawa allows a league average 5.15 yards per carry and a pretty average rate of rushing TDs per attempt as well, so the matchup isn’t special. If, however, Green receives an increased workload and maybe and extra target or two in the passing game he could easily be the top RB on the slate at one of the cheapest tags.
As I wrote about William Powell last week, all the rushing yardage in the world can’t justify this price tag if he doesn’t score touchdowns. Then, backup QB Dominique Davis went out and vultured all three goal line touchdown carries and Powell was held without a reception for the second game in a row. In PPR scoring those two issues are impossible to gloss over. Hamilton still allows the second most yards per carry but unless players get an unexpected ceiling game for Powell with a TD and a handful of receptions there is no way for him to pay off a nearly $8K tag. Getting 170 yards rushing is an unlikely way to get to the 2.5x value most players are looking for.
William Stanback doesn’t get nearly the number of carries as most full time RBs as the Alouettes offence just can’t sustain drives long enough to stay on the field. He also has yet to score a touchdown in his CFL career as Montreal has the lowest scoring offence to be found. His price though is much more reasonable than any other lead back, the Argos allow the most yards per carry, and the Als are home favourites for what feels like the first time in half a decade. On a slate where most of the other top options are unpalatable for various reasons, it’s a reasonable consideration to look to the mid-tier option.
The rest of the backs in the pool are all part of time share situations in Toronto, Calgary, BC and Saskatchewan and as a result mostly boom or bust options depending on which player may get the majority of touches on a given week. Cameron Marshall is an interesting option versus a BC defence that is ferocious versus the pass but porous on the ground. Marshall unexpectedly saw the vast majority of touches out of the Riders’ backfield in Week 19. The most interesting punt option on the slate though may be Patrick Lavoie who has converted to a fullback/slotback hybrid position since being traded to the Riders, averaging 5.5 targets per game with his new team. At a mere $3K he’s a fine punt.
Diontae Spencer, OTT – $8700
Luke Tasker, HAM – $9800
Eric Rogers, CGY – $8100
Brad Sinopoli, OTT – $8900
Greg Ellingson, OTT – $7400
Geno Lewis, MTL – $7200
S.J. Green, TOR – $8300
Mike Jones, HAM – $5200
Terrell Sinkfield Jr., HAM – $3000
K.D. Cannon, SSK – $3400
I did not foresee a week in which the mercurial Diontae Spencer versus arguably the top pass defence in the league would project as the top scorer at the position but here we are. Spencer has had games anywhere from 8.6 to 42.7 fantasy points this season with an average around 17.9 points. His work as a kick returner certainly raises his floor production but having to compete with Sinopoli and Ellingson, who are second and third in the league in targets, hurts his ceiling. Hamilton allows the second fewest yard per target (7.54) and the fewest plays per game to opposing offences (53.6) so the Ottawa passing attack would have to be unexpectedly efficient for a second straight week for any of the Redblacks big three to have the big weeks necessary to pay off high salaries. Ellingson is the best value of the bunch simply because he has the lowest tag.
The lone remaining member of the feared TiCats receiving corps from earlier this season is Luke Tasker. There is a case to be made that, in Banks’ absence, Tasker will be even more heavily relied on. However, in the two games Banks missed earlier, Taker averaged 7 targets per game which is right on his season average (6.93). Without Banks to threaten secondaries vertically, defences are able to congest the shorter routes which is where Tasker does a lot of his damage underneath coverage. It may be just a small sample size, but there is no certainty that Tasker’s workload increases and a high likelihood that his efficiency decreases. Cheaper options in the TiCats receiving corps like Mike Jones ($5200) and Terrell Sinkfield ($3000) may be more likely options to soak up Banks vacated targets. Ottawa allows the second highest rate of receiving TDs per attempt, so one of these two is likely to get some opportunities to cash in.
Despite Calgary’s struggles in the passing game, Eric Rogers continues to average nine targets per game since his return and has the most air yards per game of any receiver on the slate over that three-game span. Mitchell’s accuracy problems though have kept him from converting those air yards in to fantasy points however as he as a RACR (efficiency: receiving yards/air yards) that puts him in TJ Graham territory near the bottom of the league over the past three games. The matchup with Winnipeg is as difficult as it gets, but the underlying metrics say he’s on the edge of breaking out. Thanks to Matt Swanson (@_swanson) for the excellent work he does on slotbacklabs.com in providing air yards data for CFL. The rest of the Stamps receiving corps – Markeith Ambles notably – are some of the best cheap options on the slate, despite the matchup, as they both clock in at near minimum salary. Chris Matthews would have been another great punt option this week but DraftKings unexpectedly left him out of the playoff pool for the second straight week. SAD!
Last week Geno Lewis had his best game as a pro, catching all eight of his targets for a total of 100 yards and a touchdown versus a Toronto secondary that allows the most yards per target and most receiving TDs per target in the league by a wide margin. He draws Toronto again this week. Poor quarterback play makes all the Montreal receiving options high risk plays, but Lewis’ relatively high price tag makes him an uncomfortable – yet high ceiling – spend as it’s unlikely he’s able to replicate those results a second week in a row to pay off that high a salary.
S.J. Green technically leads the Argos receiving corps versus the Als defence in what is a great matchup for opposing passing games. The problem is that there is no way to know on any given week where the receiving targets will go. Franklin spread out 37 attempts to eight different receivers last week. With the top options in Toronto priced near $8K and above, it’s impossible to project any of them to come close to paying off those tags – especially with Franklin doing most of the scoring with his feet. Green has ceiling games that could warrant his salary, but it’s impossible to go there in single entry contests. Armanti Edwards ceiling games just barely justify his now $7800 tag.
There is a possibility that Naaman Roosevelt returns to the Riders’ lineup this week, but if he doesn’t, K.D. Cannon is a fine punt option at receiver. He is an exceptional deep threat with 4.41 speed in the 40 yard dash that has the ability to break big plays on any given snap, having averaged over 16 yards per reception at Baylor in college.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – $4800
Saskatchewan Roughriders – $4700
Montreal Alouettes – $4600
Just a few short weeks ago it would have been near unthinkable to consider starting the struggling Bombers’ defence versus the high-powered Stamps offence – let alone at the highest price tag at the position – yet here we are. The Bombers have two games of nearly 30 fantasy points in the past three weeks and face an unexpectedly turnover prone Calgary squad in recent weeks. Winnipeg is near the top of the league in sacks (41) and leads in forced turnovers (45) so if Mitchell doesn’t turn things around quickly it could be another big weekend for the blue and gold.
The Riders’ defence hasn’t been nearly as threatening over the past month with only one game of double-digit fantasy production over their past six contests. The return of Charleston Hughes this week though should help the Riders pass rush (43 sacks) versus a Lions squad that given up the third most turnovers this season (35). Mosaic Stadium is a difficult place for opposing offences to function efficiently. The Riders are 5-3 at home this season, while BC is just 2-6 on the road.
The Alouettes are the best cheap option of the week at a minimum priced $3200. They are coming off two straight games of double-digit fantasy points and face an Argos offence that has given up a league high 41 turnovers. They have also developed a more consistent pass rush over the past month, averaging three sacks a game over that stretch. Toronto is the third lowest scoring offence as well, making point prevention a more solid bet as well.
Good luck in all your contests down the playoff run!