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CFL DFS Week 17: Checking Under the Matt for Nichols
Chris Kay
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This week I worked extensively with Ben Kramer, the famous DailyRoto CFL writer, to put together the best list of players to use in CFL DFS Week 17. Instead of using the previous format of the top 4-5 plays at each position, we have now turned to a listing of cash game options, tournament options or options in both. Allow me to use what Ben said in last week’s article to explain how I approached this week’s picks..

“As I’ve continued to work out how to best provide information for CFL games on DraftKings, I’ve struggled to figure out how best to portray it. Rankings are usually something you see in seasonal formats, not DFS content. Just because someone may have more expected points in a week, doesn’t make them a better play, or certainly a better value. So I’m changing things up a bit this week. In each section you’ll see a list of cash game plays – some of which may be denoted as GPP eligible as well – and GPP only plays. In general, cash game plays will be more likely to produce 2-3x value with less volatility, whereas the GPP plays should be capable of higher total scores, but with more volatility and risk involved. Players in bold are my preferred plays. Hopefully this helps you narrow down your player pool as you create lineups.”

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Vegas Totals
Calgary – 33.5
BC – 30
Hamilton – 27.5
Saskatchewan – 25.5
Toronto – 25.5
Ottawa – 25
Winnipeg – 24.5
Montreal – 18.5

Quarterback

Bo Levi Mitchell $11300 ($)
Darian Durant $8600 ($ or GPP)
Matt Nichols $7600 ($ or GPP)

Jonathon Jennings $9200 (GPP)

Bo Levi Mitchell is the same kind of option every single week, so there’s no need to beat a dead horse here. He comes into the weekend with a high price tag, but is the most sure thing for mid-20s Fantasy points. The matchup against Montreal isn’t the best, but he’s generated 24+ Fantasy points in five of his last six games. With Calgary owning an implied team total of 33.5, it’s hard not to like Mitchell.

Darian Durant will be down multiple receivers, but the matchup and his recent play is too tough to pass up at $8600. He has added value on the ground recently with all five of his rushing touchdowns coming in his past six games. The Argos’ defense has really struggled in recent weeks, giving up 40.3 points per game in their past four contests. Durant completed nearly 65% of passes and threw for 310 yards the one time these two faced off (week two).

Don’t look now, but Matt Nichols has generated 20+ Fantasy points in six straight starts, an unbelievable feat for someone who DraftKings refuses to price over $8,000. He’s doing it all, scoring on the ground (five touchdowns), through the air (14 TDs) and doing it efficiently (just three interceptions on 68.7% passing). Nichols and this Blue Bombers offense just beat up BC’s defense for 37 points last week, so why not roll Nichols in any and all formats?

Jonathon Jennings is the quarterback for a high scoring offense, so of course he’s an option this week. I’m looking at him for tournament entries due to his price tag being significantly higher than Nichols and his sporadic Fantasy point totals. The fact remains though that he is third in the CFL in passing yards (4,078), routinely hitting the 300+ passing yards bonus. With that in the bag the majority of the time (seven of his last 11 games he has hit the bonus), all it takes is a three-touchdown game to blow value out of the water.[sociallocker]

Running Back

Jerome Messam $8500 ($ or GPP)
Jeremiah Johnson ($ or GPP)

Andrew Harris $7700 (GPP)
Mossis Madu Jr. $5000 (GPP)

Jerome Messam is the best in the league and he continues to be priced like it on DraftKings. Considering the many options at quarterback and receiver that allow for cap relief, there is no struggle to fit him into your lineups this week. Last week he continued his streak of four straight games with a touchdown and made it nine of his last 10 games finding pay dirt. He’s on a roll and faces the worst rushing defense in the CFL, Montreal, this weekend. Feel good about using him in all entry formats.

Jeremiah Johnson has been used in an odd fashion towards the second half of this season, but this week we should see Johnson in action against a Winnipeg defense that presents an above average matchup for him. He’s been very effective when he’s been used (6.1 ypc in 2016) and is fresh after seeing no touches the last two weeks. BC’s implied team total is quite high (30), giving his owners reason to believe a big game is in store.

Andrew Harris came back from his injury to have a stellar game, rushing 12 times for 66 yards while adding five receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. The Blue Bombers face BC again this week, great news for Harris owners. His Fantasy point totals have been sporadic in 2016, so I’m not looking to pay up for him compared to a guy like Messam in cash games. Instead, I’m looking at Harris in tournaments where the savings from Messam to Harris improves another piece in my lineup.

Do you like taking big risks that are unlikely to pay off? Well, if that is the case then roll with Mossis Madu Jr. in multi-entry tournaments. He comes in with a price tag too high to justify a lot of usage, especially considering Travon Van is back. Is Madu the likely starter who will see the majority of the carries? Yes. But Van’s presence will make it tough for us to feel comfortable using him in anything more than large tournaments. Roll with Madu where you want to take a risk at a likely very low owned running back option.

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Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Arceneaux $9300 ($ or GPP)
DaVaris Daniels $8100 ($ or GPP)
Kamar Jorden $6800 ($ or GPP)
Andy Fantuz $6700 ($ or GPP)
Bryan Burnham $5800 ($ or GPP)
Kenny Shaw $5500 ($ or GPP)

Weston Dressler $7900 (GPP)
Clarence Denmark $7000 (GPP)
Caleb Holley $6700 ($)
Greg Ellingson $6500 (GPP)
Rob Bagg $4300 ($ or GPP)
Terrell Sinkfield Jr. $3900 (GPP)
Tommy Streeter $3000 (GPP)

With Edmonton on bye, it’s hard not to like Emmanuel Arceneaux as the top high-priced receiver. He’s coming off a huge 10/150/0 game against the same Winnipeg defense he will be facing this weekend. Even without that huge performance Arceneaux has been impressive in recent weeks. He has a touchdown in three of his last four games, becoming a huge target for Jennings. BC’s offense has the second highest implied team total for the slate (30), another huge plus for the team’s best receiver.

DaVaris Daniels is an elite receiver option as his game log suggests, but I’m just waiting for the day his efficiency takes a turn for the worse and it kills his stat line. Until then, you’re looking at an elite option that provides cap relief from an option like Arceneaux. Considering the many cheap options, especially at quarterback, I’d prefer to use Daniels in tournaments. He still holds value in cash games.

Kamar Jorden is another Calgary receiver worth taking a look at this weekend. Like Daniels, Jorden has been a big option for Mitchell in the passing game. Over his last three games he has caught 23 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. With Calgary’s implied team total being 33, it’s hard to imagine one or both of these not reaching the end zone at least once.

Andy Fantuz might have had the biggest game of week 15 when he caught 15 passes for 130 yards. With Jeremiah Masoli in at quarterback due to the Zach Collaros injury, Fantuz could continue to see big games. If you don’t remember, he started the season off with three straight games of seven catches, scoring twice. Hamilton is projected to score the third most points of the slate (27), making him a nice cash game option with a chance at a big game if he can find the end zone multiple times.

Bryan Burnham is an elite big play threat, averaging 18.7 yards per catch. He’s broken the 1,000-yard with just 59 passes caught on the season. He’s coming off his best game of his season (9/208/0) and will be facing that same defense in week 17.

Kenny Shaw has fared quite well in 2016 even though the quarterback situation has been shaky since the beginning of the season. He has three touchdowns in his last three games and has caught six passes in three of his last four contests. Shaw faces a Saskatchewan defense that has been awful this season and even with fresh faces in the lineup shouldn’t be too much of a threat to a player like Shaw.

Weston Dressler has been force fed the football multiple times this season, so even though he hasn’t been the hottest receiver in the CFL recently, he has plenty of upside coming into this weekend’s game. Last week against BC he posted a modest 5/65/0 game and could be in line for an even better in week 17.

The man that has been stealing touchdowns from Dressler in recent weeks is Clarence Denmark. He has caught a touchdown in four straight games, even though he is averaging just five receptions per game. He’s been a touchdown machine, scoring in six of the games he has played in. With Winnipeg’s implied total sitting at just 24.5 I’m looking at him for just tournaments.

With Naaman Roosevelt out for the season, Darian Durant has had to look at multiple recievers to make up for his production. Caleb Holley is one of those guys and honestly has been the most reliable of all Roughriders. He’s a tournament option because of his health (keep an eye on his status coming into this week’s game) and because he only has one touchdown on the season. His volume alone isn’t enough to use him in cash games, so he finds himself viable in tournaments as we hope for big plays or for him to reach pay dirt.

With Chris Williams out for the year and Ernest Jackson banged up, Greg Ellingson is going to have to step up in this offense. I classify him as a tournament only kind of receiver because of the great options already mentioned and also because his quarterback play has been quite sketchy. Vegas has Ottawa at an implied total of just 25 points, an unimpressive number.

Terrell Sinkfield Jr. has been with BC for a limited amount of time, but has shown off some nice skills in three weeks of action. He was quite impressive in week 15 against Ottawa and now has a chance to be a part of the BC passing offense that is among the best in the CFL. He comes with plenty of risk, but with his low cost you can do some nice things to your lineup.

Two other Saskatchewan Roughriders I’m looking at this week are Rob Bagg and Tommy Streeter. Bagg’s role in this offense can only increase after being in the lineup all season long, while Streeter is a new player to the team whose role in the offense is unknown. Bagg comes with a higher price tag, but has a higher floor this weekend at Toronto. Keep an eye on Streeter and the Roughriders’ depth chart, as no one knows at this point if he will even be playing this week.

Defense

Calgary $5000 ($ or GPP)

Ottawa $4500 (GPP)
Saskatchewan $4400 (GPP)

What’s not to like about the Calgary defense this weekend against Montreal? Montreal has the lowest implied team total at just 18.5 and are among the worst at pace. According to my good friend and DailyRoto writer Ben Kramer, they have averaged 59.5 plays per game over their last two. While the league average is 66, this decrease to 60 is quite significant and he feels will continue on as the season ends.

Ottawa is a solid tournament option with a cheaper price tag than Calgary and the matchup against a turnover prone Jeremiah Masoli. He committed 10 turnovers in the first six games for the Tiger-Cats, a huge number I wouldn’t mind trying to capitalize on with this Ottawa defense.

Saskatchewan is a shot in the dark here, but they just added depth to their defense and a few guys that should see extended work in this one. Toronto’s offense is below average, allowing for Saskatchewan to qualify as a tournament entry option in week 17.

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