Week 12 is like Groundhog Day in the CFL as it brings the return battles from the home and home series that begin annually on Labour Day weekend. None of these are more famous than the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg, inaugurated by the world’s angriest retired kicker, Troy Westwood. One day in a post-practice interview he referred to the people of Saskatchewan as “a bunch of banjo-picking inbreds”. He later adjusted his statement because in his words, “The vast majority of the people in Saskatchewan have no idea how to play the banjo.” CANADIAN FOOTBALL MAGIC WAS BORN!
This week’s the expected team totals break down like this:
Winnipeg – 30
Hamilton – 30
British Columbia – 29.5
Calgary – 28.25
Toronto – 26
Edmonton – 25.75
Saskatchewan – 22.5
Montreal – 20
I think there’s more than a few surprising numbers coming from these current lines. I can certainly see Hamilton scoring over 30 points again this week, but to expect Winnipeg to get there is a major stretch. Apart from one long touchdown on a broken coverage, Winnipeg managed only field goals last week. Barring a defensive touchdown or two, I don’t see them getting to 30 points. It’s also somewhat surprising to see BC near the top of the list given that they have really struggled to score lately and are facing one of the top defences in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them barely break 20 and Montreal struggle to get to double digits.
- Zach Collaros, HAM – $11600
- Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $10300
- Darian Durant, SSK – $8800
Zach Collaros leaves you no good reason to go anywhere else in cash games. None. He has topped 30 points every week since returning from injury, and get to face a poor Toronto defence that’s only .03 yard per pass off from bottom third of the league. Collaros will put up Tecmo Bowl numbers again this week.
Bo Levi Mitchell is a nice player but he is a distant second in the quarterback rankings this week. Edmonton is still the 2nd worst yards per pass defence in the league, but BLM doesn’t have the same consistency or upside that the Zach Attack offers.
Lost in all the talk of DFS value for the Blue Bombers D/ST because of the turnovers they create, the touchdowns they score, and the sacks they accumulate is the fact that they are in reality quite a bad defense. Winnipeg is a bottom third yards per pass defence and Saskatchewan runs a higher percentage of passing plays than anyone outside of Hamilton. Darian Durant will continue to rack up yards this week against a porous Winnipeg secondary. If they through some dark magic find a way to sustain a drive or two and score touchdowns, Durant could be a top performer this week.
While it’s true that Matt Nichols is a CFL starting QB and still priced below many backups on the slate at only $7000, he’s not worth your consideration this week. I’ll give him the dreaded “Game Manager” title. He doesn’t save you nearly enough cash to make him worth the downgrade in performance over other options. Most of the top priced receivers on the slate are dreadfully overpriced to begin with and not great options even you can afford them by punting quarterback with Nichols.
- Jerome Messam, CGY – $8200
- Jeremiah Johnson, BC – $6600
- Andrew Harris, WPG – $8000
Like Zach Collaros, there’s no reason to go anywhere else in cash games than Jerome Messam, unless it’s a total punt. Calgary has the highest rushing yards per carry in the league. Messam has the most consistent usage in the league up and down the field as a rusher, as a receiver, and in the red zone. BC runs the ball more but Calgary runs it better.
Jeremiah Johnson looks to be the starter in BC this week and that will send Anthony Allen to the bench. As I mentioned, BC runs the ball more than anyone in the league. It’s not close. As of the half way point in the season, they have accumulated 200 yards more on the ground than any other team. They average two carries more per game than second place, and four more than the league average. On volume alone Jeremiah Johnson makes a good play at his price. If you NEED to save salary, go with Jeremiah, but do so accepting his ceiling is much lower than Messam.
All signs point to a bounce back for Andrew Harris this week. Winnipeg is the league’s worst in terms of yards per carry, but Saskatchewan is the second worst on yards per carry allowed. Harris’ 12.7 FPTS last week was the third least by any running back against Saskatchewan this season. Half of the time the Riders surrenders over 20 FPTS to opposing running backs, and if previous Banjo Bowls are any indicator, this should be a Blue Bombers dominated affair.
With Cato at quarterback in Montreal, you don’t want any part of that offence. Similarly, with the revolving door at running back for the Riders, they don’t even have a starter available on DraftKings for this week’s slate. That leaves the only other choices being whoever Toronto sends in to pass block for Ricky Ray and a seemingly “lost in the woods” offence from Edmonton. In cash games, you really only have 3 options, and even in GPP’s you’d probably be foolish to stray from the lead 3 running backs. LOOK FOR VALUE SOMEWHERE ELSE!
RUNNING BACKS VALUE PLAYS
- C.J. Gable, Ham – $5100
Last week Gable ran for over 100 yards for the first time this season. THE DARK END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR! Seriously though, he has only eclipsed even 60 yards on one other occasion this year. His primary role is as the pass blocker for Zach Collaros in their passing offence. Toronto’s is clearly the worst rushing defence in the league, and as such the possibility is there for a repeat performance from Gable. I wouldn’t bet on it, but if you absolutely want to punt running back he’s your guy.
- Luke Tasker, HAM – $9400
- Naaman Roosevelt, SSK – $8300
- Terrence Tolliver, HAM – $8100
- Weston Dressler, WPG – $7700
- Chad Owens, HAM – $7100
- Tori Gurley, TOR – $6900
- Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC – $8600
When considering how to sell Luke Tasker to you, I considered just linking to the video for “All I Do is Win”, and leaving it at that. He’s the hottest receiver in the league, with a conjoined twin like connection with the hottest quarterback in the league, and is playing a bottom third pass defence that he just torched a week ago. His target efficiency score is still pretty mediocre, but that can easily be explained by the Masoli monster devouring the first third of his season.
If you were looking for the most targeted WR in the league, the receiver with the third most receiving yards, and the second highest target efficiency score of any of the top twenty priced receivers you’d expect to pay top dollar right? Well, you can get Naaman Roosevelt as the eighth highest priced receiver at $8300. That’s nearly a full $2000 less than the impotent Eskimo duo of Bowman and Walker, and still $1100 less than top ranked Tasker. Even without a score, Roosevelt is a cash game lock, and if he scores a TD you are off to the races.
Terrence Tolliver isn’t nearly as high volume a receiver as Tasker, and as such carries a bit more risk, but his 13.5 yards per target versus Taskers meager 8.9 tells you all the reason you need to know why he’s worth the risk in GPP’s.
Matt Nichols and the Winnipeg coaching staff did everything they could to let Weston Dressler have a glorious day on his return to Regina for the Labour Day Classic, but alas, he’s Matt Nichols and Winnipeg can’t have nice things. That being said, Saskatchewan’s secondary remains the league’s worst and Dressler is almost certain to have a better week this week at home. He still averages close to 10 targets a game with a reasonable efficiency score of 9.32. Last week Quincy McDuffie came out of total obscurity to be the top receiver in Winnipeg. I expect things to get back to normal in the Banjo Bowl.
Last week Ricky Ray and their previously lackluster offence came into Hamilton and blew the doors off the top ranked passing defence in the league for the first half. I don’t expect them to keep up that kind of production for a second week against a dominant Ti-Cats defence, especially now with Ray injured and Logan Kilgore or Cody Fajardo under centre. Spencer is priced too high for my liking, and Gurley is only recently back from injury and thus has a small sample size. At these prices, I’m more likely to take my chances on Gurley than Spencer.
Chad Owens has had good but not great games against his former team twice this season. Both times he has gone for 6 catches for about 60 yards and a touchdown. It’s a fine game, a nice game even for the right price, but $7100 you’d hope for more than that. As the third and some weeks even fourth receiving option on his team, he’s a GPP play at best.
Let’s get this straight: I do not really like Emmanuel Arceneaux this week. He’s overpriced, he’s become a high volume but low yardage possession receiver, his target efficiency score is mediocre, and he faces one of the top pass defences in the league. I rank him though given that there are no other higher priced receivers worth considering. If you believe Jennings turns his play around this week, then this is your target.
WIDE RECEIVER VALUE PLAYS
- Caleb Holley, SSK – $5000
- Davaris Daniels, CGY – $4300
- Anthony Parker, CGY – $5000
Caleb Holley has come out of the vast depths of arena football to gain a leading role in a pass happy Saskatchewan offence. He popped up on the radar in his first game against Edmonton, but was mostly used on short routes. Last week against Winnipeg, he was the most targeted receiver on the team and made a frankly spectacular diving catch in the first quarter that set the tone for the entire game. There’s no reason to think that he’ll see a decrease in workload with Roosevelt still taking most of the attention of the opposing defence. Holley is a cash game must start.
DaVaris Daniels slowed down a bit last week after breaking out in week 10, but he still got a solid 8 targets in the game. It seems he has found a solid role in the Calgary passing game and may be an even better play this week than last when he was the most lauded value receiver on the slate. Hopefully a number of people will jump off his hype train after a slower week and not realize his target volume. He’s still got the highest target efficiency score on the slate at 17.9
Similar to Terrence Tolliver, Anthony Parker is one target amongst many in his offence and makes his value on what he does with the ball, not how often he gets it. Parker has rarely had a terrible game since Joe West went down with injury, but his ceiling isn’t that high either. This being said, he has had a couple games over 20 FPTS, which gives him 4x GPP upside that usually goes low owned.
Regular cast members of the value receiver club such as Nik Lewis, Bryan Burnham, Ricky Collins are all still in action this week, but aren’t recommended plays. Lewis and Burnham are both dealing with subpar quarterback play against very strong defences, and Ricky Collins just doesn’t get enough volume to be anything other than a total punt play.
- Quincy McDuffie, WPG – $4900
He had himself a game last week. Having not seen more than 3 receptions or 18 yards in any game this season, he exploded for 7 catches for 153 yards and a TD last week against the worst pass defence in the league. He gets the same matchup against the shameful Saskatchewanians this week, but his circumstances will be much different. Like Ellen Foley in Paradise By the Dashboard Light, I’m yelling “STOP RIGHT THERE!” Ryan Smith returns from injury this week which makes the WPG receiving core that much closer to full strength and that much more crowded. Much like Clarence Denmark declined last week with the return of Dressler, McDuffie will likely decline similarly with the return of Smith. Frankly, having suffered through that game from section 206 of Mosaic Stadium last week, the thing that made McDuffie great wasn’t him, but his matchup. Look for whoever is lined up against Saskatchewan #31 Justin Cox, and there you will find your fantasy play of the week.
- BC Lions $5300
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats $5000
- Montreal Alouettes $4500
FINALLY, we get to play a DST against a backup quarterback again! Rakeem Cato was a really entertaining college quarterback at Marshall and hot garbage as a professional in Montreal. He’s undersized, lacks confidence, and shows poor judgment. Since his first start last season, he’s only eclipsed 300 yards twice and has a 50/50 shot of throwing even 1 touchdown in a game – never more. For all these reasons, the Alouettes have seen fit to bench the 7th leading all time passer in the league in time to face the best pass defence around. Cato’s TD to INT ratio is 1:1, so you’ve got a good shot at the BC defence creating some turnovers for you on top of their vaunted defensive line racking up sacks. Add to this to constant return threat of Chris Rainey on special teams and you’ve got your top defence of the week.
With breaking news that Ricky Ray is out for the season with a punctured lung, the Ti-Cats also get a boost getting to play an instantly incapacitated offence with either Logan Kilgore or Cody Fajardo at the helm. Similar to B.C., you can get a solid defence that is capable of producing multiple turnovers, sacking the quarterback, and has the potential for a special teams touchdown from Brandon Banks.
Montreal has a great defence and a terrible offence that does them no favours. They are the second best defence in the league against the pass and in the middle of the pack against the run. The Lions defence has a safer floor and a higher ceiling, but if you’re looking for a tournament pivot, the Als defence is a good bet. After a hot streak in weeks 4-8, BC quarterback Jonathan Jennings game has gone near Cryogenian. In the three games since, he has given up three turnovers and scored only a single touchdown. Vegas expects this to be the lowest scoring game of the week and I concur.