Week 20 in the CFL, like week 17 in the NFL can feel like the ideal candidate for just using a random number generator to build a lineup. It’s hard to know for sure who really cares about winning the games or not, coach speak doesn’t really help, and lineups tend to get juggled as coaches take a long hard look into next year country. If there is a next year. HOW ON EARTH DOES KAVIS REED STILL GET A NEXT YEAR IN MONTREAL?
Weather always plays a factor in late season games, and this week in CFL daily fantasy contests it’s Rainey-ing Men. Chris Rainey finally got his time to shine in a full workload on offence and special teams and blew the Bombers storm doors off. Assuming the same workload this week, he’s a safe bet for similar production. Lots of workloads are up in the air this week however.
Anyways, it seems safe to infer that Edmonton will be going full force versus Saskatchewan with a shot at a home playoff game, Winnipeg will try to win despite Dan LeFevour at QB to secure their first home playoff game since the bronze age, Toronto would love a bye through the first round of the playoffs with a win because it’s one less empty home stadium game to have to play through, and the Ti-Cats look to be playing for the shot to keep the core of coaches and players intact through the offseason with their second half resurgence. Calgary and BC seemingly have little to play for at all, while Montreal gave up on their staff and season 2 months ago. Saskatchewan says they’re playing to win, as I’m sure they always do, but many star veterans will sit – Naaman Roosevelt, Cam Marshall, Trent Richardson – leading a person to wonder how much they really care if they win. Split time at QB shenanigans and Duron Carter at corner a soon to follow. It’s fair to say you should roll out Eskimos, Argos, and Ti-Cats with confidence, Bombers and Lions with some trepidation, and Stampeders, Riders and Alouettes with nihilistic self-loathing.
WEEK 20 EVERYONE!
As usual, our rankings here are based on projected fantasy points from our projections model – not preference or value. So far this season, we’ve been really encouraged with the success of the projections model at providing reasonable expectations each week. The issue comes in trying to determine the scoring ceiling in the range of outcomes for each player, as that’s what you’re looking for in tournament plays. Our model gives a good mean projection for each player, but determining upside requires a bit more nuance that we’ll try to provide in our writeups. Given that the CFL is primarily a GPP sport, we’ll keep working in that direction.
After weeks of tweaking and tinkering though, we are finally at a place where we are comfortable sharing our projections with you our loyal readers. I’ve had a number of GPP wins this season, along with other high finishes, that have given me confidence in our product. Other sites might offer you generic player rankings and statistics, but this is the only place you’ll get access to actual projections to work from in building your lineups. We are offering them to you for $5 per week. Come find me on Twitter @benyamen for details. This isn’t a DailyRoto premium subscription at this point, just access to our projections, but coupled with our weekly slate breakdowns and twitter chat, we think it’s a pretty powerful edge to have in CFL contests.
PROJECTED TEAM TOTALS
Hamilton – 33
Calgary – 31
Saskatchewan – 29
BC – 26
Toronto – 26
Edmonton – 25
Winnipeg – 21
Montreal – 19.5
As has been the case with the CFL all season, there’s one or two betting lines each week that just don’t add up. In week 18 I wrote that Edmonton would win outright despite being +1.5 road dogs and that Hamilton would blow out Montreal despite being only -3.5 road favourites. There’s some pretty silly lines and implied team totals again this week.
As I noted, the Riders really don’t look like a team that is fully motivated to win this week. Either way they’re on the road in the playoffs and are resting veterans on Saturday. The Eskimos on the other hand have everything to play for. Despite all this and common sense, the Riders opened -5.5 favourites at home versus the best offence in the CFL. The line has since shifted to Riders -4.0. The Riders have no idea who their QB is and are starting a 31 year old RB who hasn’t played in three years. I have no idea how they get 30 points. The Eskimos on the other hand I can’t see scoring below 28 in this game. There’s just too much talent and motivation and our projections reflect this.
The other game that really doesn’t make sense is BC opening up a -1.0 favourite versus Toronto. Given the Lions are at home, but they are losers of 8 of their last 10 games. They are a bad football team. The Argos defence can apply a ton of pressure and that is really Jonathan Jennings kryptonite. Along with defences that play zone. The Argos do that. And bring pressure. And a lot of stunts. I can’t see a road around Toronto curb stomping the Lions into offseason oblivion with a first round playoff bye on the line with a win. The line has since shifted to pick.
Somewhat differently, we have the Stamps with nothing to play for opening as -9.5 favourites over the Bombers fighting for a playoff game in their shiny new Flanders Hurricane House Stadium – built with a wheelbarrow full of hope and some cement. Hopefully the hot water still works in November.
The Bombers are starting Dan LeFevour at QB. No amount of cowbell can fix this. The Bombers are falling backwards into 3rd place in the West at just the wrong time. I can’t see the Stamps backups getting all the way over 30 this week, but I struggle to see Winnipeg scoring over 20 as well. The line has since shifted to Stampeders -10.
Mike Reilly, EDM – $10800
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $10300
I feel like after 20 weeks there’s not much more to be said about Reilly than has been said. He’s the best QB in the CFL. There’s really no debate. Matt Nichols truthers are laughable and Choke Levi Mitchell appears to have forgotten how to play football in the fall again. The Riders are a talented defence and Mosaic Stadium is a horror show for visiting teams, but the Eskimos just have too much on the line while the Riders have no good reason to care. The resting veterans on the Riders offence and defence only solidify his spot on top of the projections. I don’t think it’s a week to lock Reilly into every lineup, but he should certainly be a significant portion of your exposure.
The only other QB that deserves serious consideration in cash games or single entry contests is Jeremiah Masoli. He has put on a show in the final third of the season in a revamped June Jones offence. He’s no longer a “running quarterback” and has managed to cut down on his turnovers. Alex Green has given them a legitimate threat in the running game and Brandon Banks appears to finally learned how to play WR at the pro level. Montreal provides a significant bump in pace to the Ti-Cats to go along with the softest matchup of any bantam team available this week, so it’s fair to expect Hamilton to romp as they did two weeks ago. They project for the most pass plays of any team this week along the second highest passing TD per attempt matchup of the week. Masoli is a great play in a great matchup.
Now, it’s true that Dan LeFevour is only $7500 and starting for Winnipeg, Matt Shiltz is only $7500 and starting for Montreal, and Andrew Buckley is only $7400 and starting for Calgary, but if you’re considering using any of them this week then it is apparent you have learned nothing from reading these articles all season. Just don’t. Delete the bookmark from your browser and go tell people you got your taeks from someone with a variation of “shark” in their username instead.
Chris Rainey, BC – $7000
James Wilder Jr., TOR – $7600
CJ Gable, EDM – $7500
Marcus Thigpen, SSK – $3000
ANDREW HARRIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!
For the first time all season, Andrew Harris doesn’t crack the top 3 in the RB projections. Part of this is the loss of Matt Nichols check down happy ways. Part of this is total lack of efficiency. Part of this is the Bombers having scored only 3 offensive TDs in the past 4 games. Part of it is even the return of Tim Flanders this week to vulture touches and touchdowns. ANDREW HARRIS IS NOT WHO YOU THOUGHT HE WAS AND I’M LETTING YOU OFF THE HOOK. It also doesn’t help that his matchup this week is versus the league leading Stampeders stifling defence with Dan “Cowbell Can’t Fix This” LeFevour under center. Andrew Harris is a bad play. Who knew that day would come.
Our top projected RB is somewhat depth chart dependent. Chris Rainey is the top value and top projected player at the position if he starts at RB again this week while maintaining punt return duties on special teams. That’s just way too many touches to avoid for a high efficiency player. Toronto is a significantly better defence than Winnipeg was last week, but his floor and ceiling remain very high. Toronto is middle of the pack in terms of yards per rush allowed, but they allow the 3rd highest rushing TD per attempt rate well above league average. It’s a good week for Rainey again.
Following him in the projections is his counterpart on the Argos offence, James Wilder Jr. Anthony Coombs returns to the lineup this week versus BC and although he’s technically an RB on DraftKings, he primarily lines up in the slot so he’s unlikely to take too many touches from Wilder. Like Rainey, he faces a difficult matchup in terms of yardage efficiency, but an above average matchup in terms of rushing TD efficiency. Also like Rainey, he just represents too much volume to his offence to possibly avoid using him in lineups.
The Roughriders defence has waffled between stifling and sieve like from week to week. Their overall rush defence for the season is almost right on league average, allowing 5.22 yards per carry, but they have also allowed some huge rushing games to Jerome Messam and William Powell. This week CJ Gable will likely have a full work load in the highest percentage running offence in the CFL in a game the Eskimos are much more motivated to win than the Riders. The Riders have allowed the fewest rushing TDs in the CFL by a large margin and at a rate less than half the league average, so Gable’s scoring would likely come through the air. Like Rainey and Wilder, much of his projection rests on the high volume he carries in the fastest paced offence in the league.
The best value play of the week at any position is likely Marcus Thigpen who is expected to start at RB for the Riders at only $3000. His historical rates are not great and he hasn’t seen significant playing time in a few years, so it’s hard to say exactly what his workload might look like. He’ll likely share some touches with Greg Morris and possibly even recent signing Shakir Bell. Right now we have him projected for 9 carries and 2 receptions which would be the smallest workload of any starting RB this week. Even at that, he’s still a very solid value as he doesn’t have to do much to pay off a minimum price tag. The Eskimos are the leakiest run defence in the league in terms of rushing yards per attempt allowed – almost a full yard above league average – and in terms of rushing TDs allowed per carry. There’s a number of things working in Thigpen’s favour with very little risk investment wise.
Brandon Zylstra, EDM – $9600
Derel Walker, EDM – $8700
Brandon Banks, HAM – $8800
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $8100
Duron Carter, SSK – $7300
Chad Owens, SSK – $6700
Luke Tasker, HAM – $7600
DeVier Posey, TOR – $8200
DaVaris Daniels, CGY – $7400
S.J. Green, TOR – $8900
Reggie Begelton, CGY – $4500
Zylstra and Walker both top the WR projections even in the toughest yards per attempt receiving matchup in the CFL. They’re both just so unbelievably efficient that it’s hard to keep them down while they average 9 targets a game. It’s going to be a cold and snowy game Saturday evening in Regina and as such footing will probably be a difficulty. It’s hard to say for sure how that plays out, but poor footing is often an advantage for receivers over defenders as they know where they plan on going. With Edmonton having so much to play for, it’s likely Zylstra and Walker continue to be a large part of the game plan in a difficult matchup. Lower your ceiling expectations, but both have a high floor.
Next in line is Brandon Banks, but realistically, he’s my top WR on the slate. Montreal has completely given up on the season, the coach, and maybe each other. They look like an utterly disheveled sodden paper bag that has been frozen to the concrete on the walkway to the playing surface. Banks has done his best impression of Galactus – Destroyer of Worlds – over the past month and there’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down this week. Hamilton projects for the most passing plays on the slate and faces the defence with the highest rate of passing TDs per attempt allowed. Banks has regularly seen double digit targets in the passing game and is a threat to score TDs on special teams as well. He is underpriced at anything other than the highest priced receiver on the slate. His teammate Luke Tasker also looks to carry on superb play at a significantly lower price tag. He gets the same great matchup, but lacks the special teams contributions and the big play upside of Banks.
Kamar Jorden is a little bit more tricky. He’s no longer the lock that he was at $5800, especially in an offence that has really struggled to pass the ball all season. With Andrew Buckley stepping in at QB for season mop up duty, that doesn’t look to improve. The matchup with the Bombers is superb giving him the best possible matchup for yardage and an above average one for a TD, but the question is if Buckley can get him the ball and if he will care enough about winning to catch it. The Stamps offence has been sluggish at best in the second half of the season, so although Jorden should see good volume in a great matchup, it’s difficult to convince yourself to spend $8100 there.
Following Jorden is a pair of Riders receivers that also carry risks for different reasons. No one has any idea why the Riders have been doing what they’ve been doing for the past month, but they’re winning football games. No one knows who will play QB for the Saturday or for how long. No one knows how many snaps Duron Carter will see on offence or defence. No one knows how motivated the Riders will actually be to win. Between this, likely poor field conditions, and a matchup with one of the toughest passing defences in the league there’s a lot working against the Riders receivers. However, Carter’s price has become deeply depressed over the past few weeks leaving him nearly $2K cheaper than his high point. If he returns to full time on offence to tune up for the playoffs he certainly carries 4x upside at this price. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chad Owens has become the centerpiece of the receiving corps with the loss of Rosie and Duron but remains priced at only $6700. If Carter remains limited on offence, Owens has a 2x floor and a 4-5x ceiling at home versus the Eskimos. Riders receivers carry significant risk this week, but also high reward if the news and circumstances break their way.
Finally, you get the Argos duo of SJ Green and DeVier Posey rounding out a couple spots in the top 10. As stated earlier, Toronto has everything to play for this week on the road versus BC. They are exorbitantly priced at both over $8K, so it’s difficult to play them over much cheaper options with better projections. The Lions, however, represent a plus matchup in terms of yards per attempt allowed passing and the Argos run the highest percentage of passing plays in the league. The problem for both Green and Posey is that they garner all the yards, but continually stall in the redzone leaving it to kicker Lirim “Hit Your Hallelujah” to do the scoring. Their respective ceilings are very high if they manage multiple TDs, but their odds of doing so are slim.
The lone punt option at WR this week is Reginald Begelton III, or as we lovingly call him Bageltown. As I mentioned with Kamar Jorden, the Bombers are a great matchup to target and Bageltown has increased opportunity with McDaniel on the shelf. He has likely seen a bit more work with Buckley on the second team for the Stamps this season and had an endzone target late versus the Riders in Buckely’s only significant work a couple weeks ago. He doesn’t have to do a ton to pay off his price tag at only $4500 and is needed salary relief if you don’t want to go the Marcus Thigpen route.
Calgary Stampeders v WPG – $5000
Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs MTL – $5100
Toronto Argonauts vs BC – $4400
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs CGY $4300
With all the backup QBs in starting roles this week, those are likely matchups you want to pick on with a defence looking for sacks and turnovers.
The Stampeders, who have been the top option all season, get to face Dan LeFevour who throws an INT for every 23 pass attempts in his pro career. With a projection for about 34 pass attempts on Friday, that’s likely to result in at least a couple turnovers. The return of Roy Finch on special teams also bodes well for the chances of a Calgary DST score.
Hamilton, the early season laughing stock on defence, has got their act together a bit and gets to face Matt Shiltz in his first CFL start. He’s not nearly as INT prone as LeFevour, but the Ti-Cats still maintain a high floor due to a high sack rate and the Als likely inability to score.
Jonathan Jennings throws INTs to zone defences because they are just too confusing for him and the Argos have the ability put him under pressure to force those bad throws. They come at a significant discount to the other DSTs on the slate while maintaining a similar ceiling. I think they’re less likely to hit it, but if you need the savings they are a reasonable option.
The Bombers are a similar story, but with a floor that is lower still. The could quite simply get stomped by the Stamps and hand you a 0. They could also have two defensive TDs off Buckley turnovers that would be their most likely road to victory in Calgary. They are opportunistic with upside so they are a sprinkle GPP play to wind up the season.
Well, that does it for week 20. We’ll keep updating this article throughout the week as depth charts roll out and projections adjust. Be sure to join in the conversation in the DailyRoto Forum and hit us up on Twitter at @benyamen or @RealestChrisKay. Enjoy the games, and good luck in all your contests!