Last year I wrote an article discussing CFL Daily Fantasy defensive options and how to give yourself the best shot at picking the highest scoring defense from week to week. This season I have collected the data and unknowingly picked essentially the same point in the season to write up the analysis of the data. Last season’s data consisted of 41 games while what I have collected in 2017 has 40 games included.
Before I dive into the analysis of this I’m going to point out a few important things to note in the data I have collected. For one, 40 games spanning just five weeks of the season is a pretty small sample size. It’s only one quarter of the season and not everyone has played each other yet. This becomes relevant to note when looking at what teams have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing defenses. Also, I am not including the July 24th game between Toronto and Ottawa. Unfortunately, the best time for me to write this article was before the game between these two teams. Now that those two things are out of the way, let’s get to the data!
2016 Compared to 2017
One great thing about having essentially the same amount of data for the 2016 and 2017 seasons is that I can compare the two. With 40 and 41 games between the two seasons, I can look at the trends between the two and potentially what to focus on moving forward.
The most telling number we see here is the increase in Fantasy points gained by touchdowns. Through 41 games in 2016, just 16% of Fantasy points generated came from touchdowns (72). This number has increased to 26% (72) in 2017. When looking at how many Fantasy points a team is allowing, it may be wise to not put too much stock in the FP from TD column.
Besides that one number, the rest of the percentages look pretty similar. There’s a 6% difference in scoring when it comes to points allowed and rouges. While rouges are completely unpredictable, it is fair to say avoiding high-implied totals will help you stay away from negatives due to points allowed. Let’s move on.
Who To Pick On
Last season I came to the conclusion that turnovers and sacks were the two statistics you wanted to focus on and as you can see from the data shown here, this continues to be the case. Seventy-One percent of fantasy points generated come from these two stats. If the trend of scoring touchdowns on defense/special teams continues, then it’s these turnovers that lead us to those opportunities.
The Toronto Argonauts lead the way, giving up 10.3 Fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. Ricky Ray has thrown the ball 43.25 times per game in 2017, the most in the CFL, so of course the opportunities are endless for sacks and turnovers. Opponents are averaging 1.5 turnovers and 2.75 sacks per game, a nice baseline of 5.75-Fantasy points.
Touchdowns and rouges, two unpredictable events could be skewing the numbers against Toronto. Hamilton appears to have a more predictable set of numbers. The Tiger-Cats are giving up nine Fantasy points per game to opposing defenses with six of those fantasy points coming from turnovers and sacks. With troubling offensive line issues, there’s no reason to see that changing any time soon. The loss of deep threat Terrence Toliver in week one certainly hasn’t helped their offense either.
Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, the absolute worst team to pick a defense against is the Calgary Stampeders. They’re giving up a measly three Fantasy points per game in 2017. With Bo Levi Mitchell under center and a more than capable running game led by Jerome Messam, Calgary can control the game and keep them out of bad down and distance situations. They’re averaging just one turnover and sack per game on offense.
Montreal’s offense is the worst is the CFL averaging just over 20 points per game, but even they’re just the second worst team to pick against. This number is trending the other way though as they have given up 7 and 11 Fantasy points to opposing defenses the last two weeks after giving up three fantasy points per game in each of their first three games. Montreal’s offense has allowed 1.5 sacks and three turnovers per game in their previous two contests. Overall, it hasn’t been smart to pick against them, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see this change over the next few weeks.
There are a few things we can definitely take away from this study. The most obvious of them is to focus on turnovers and sacks. We knew this already, but what we didn’t know is that touchdowns are up in 2017. Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg are all solid offenses to pick on, but are not ones you want to go all in on. Each have been able to turn the ball over, but it’s unrealistic to think that these teams will continue to allow touchdowns against them on defense/special teams. Finally, the best way to attack choosing a defense is by spreading your ownership around to two or three teams. You’re looking for a touchdown to give you a big number and those do not come consistently against the same teams.
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