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CFL DFS Week 18: A Ray of Hope
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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Only a couple short weeks ago, CFL pricing on DraftKings was looser than my pants after a four day bout with the flu, and many of us were leaving $1500+ on the table even in cash lineups. In what seems like an adjustment in the pricing algorithm for everyone but Diontae Spencer, the vast majority of players have seen significant price increases this week. There are a number of top performers that are priced over 10k and even 11k. If you are hoping to roster some of those high priced quarterbacks or receivers, you’re certainly going to have to play some punts elsewhere. Thankfully, there are some great value plays that have emerged as well.

Before we get into the plays this week though, can we talk about Diontae Spencer for a second? All the way back in week 8 he arrived on the scene with 19 targets and 34.6 points at a $7400 price tag. Since then, he’s only eclipsed even 18 points twice, and was down in single digits last week against the Riders. So a price reduction would seem justified at some point right? In the words of Lee Corso, “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!” His price ROSE on the back of this stellar performance to $8100. I have spent years in formal education studying the depths of the questions that humanity struggles with in theology and philosophy, and nothing has ever stumped me so much as the pricing of Diontae Spencer. It seems that it doesn’t matter what he does, his price just floats around $8000 regardless of the reality the rest of humanity lives in. Someday we will find out that his pricing is secret military code for a black-ops mission in the Eastern Bloc. TO THE PICKS!

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EXPECTED TEAM TOTALS

  • Calgary – 34.5
  • BC – 30
  • Ottawa – 28.5
  • Saskatchewan – 28
  • Edmonton – 28
  • Hamilton – 24.5
  • Montreal – 21
  • Toronto – 17.5

QUARTERBACK

(Preferred plays in bold)

Ricky Ray, TOR – $6,400 ($ or GPP)

Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $11,100 (GPP)
Henry Burris, OTT – $9800 (GPP)
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $7600 (GPP)

In what appears to be a scoring glitch caused by uncertainty over the starting quarterback in Toronto this week, Ricky Ray is a great cash game play. While all other quarterbacks are priced up significantly this week, Ray is in company priced well below most team’s backups. The team total doesn’t look hopeful, but I expect that line may move a bit with news that Ray will be back starting this week. With a floor of 15 points, he’s almost a lock for 3x value.

The BC Lions defence is not a great matchup and Mike Reilly is a little better at home than on the road. I think it’s a reasonable week to fade the highest priced player on the slate in favour of players with better matchups.

It’s hard to ignore the quarterback from a team that’s a 17 point favourite with the highest team total of the week at almost 35 points. Thing is, Bo Levi Mitchell’s top scoring game of the year is only 32 points which even then would leave you short of 3x value. Jerome Messam tends to eat into his value quite a bit in high scoring games, and if this game gets out of hand quickly, some of the Stampeders starters may sit in the second half as we get closer to playoff time.

Speaking of playoffs, it looks like last year’s MOP is settling in for another playoff run. After the first quarter of a season that Trevor Harris had at QB for the RedBlacks, not many of us ever thoughts we’d see the return of HENRY. Hamilton still gives up some of the fewest yards per attempt in the CFL, and I expect Burris’s numbers to regress a bit this week in the second half of the home and home series. Still, given his outburst last week, he’s worth a look in GPP’s.

I got a shiver as I clicked CTRL+B before typing the name of the Ti-Cat Turnover Machine. Mr. Masoli carries a bit of risk of total implosion of nuclear proportions, but he draws a good matchup against a fairly porous Ottawa secondary. Despite a number of turnovers last week, he still managed to exceed 3x value, and seems like a great candidate to do the same again. As I mentioned, this seems like a good week to spend down at QB with the prices having escalated as much as they have…[sociallocker]

RUNNING BACK

(Preferred plays in bold)

Joe McKnight, SSK – $5100 ($ or GPP)
Jerome Messam, CGY – $8600 ($)

John White, EDM – $7800 ($ or GPP)
Brandon Rutley, MTL – $4700 ($ or GPP)

Back in the good old days, Joe McKnight was a regular play in my College Football DFS lineups. I miss CFB DFS SOOOOO MUCH! The Joe McKnight hype here though isn’t just the nostalgia play. He busted on to the scene for the Roughriders previously dormant rushing attack to the tune of 150 yards. This week he gets a similarly great matchup against an Alouettes team that makes the Springfield Tire Fire look like a butane lighter. They are utterly disheveled. The Riders are not a great rushing team, and call a higher percentage of passing plays than any other team in the league, but at his price McKnight makes a great cash game play.

Jerome Messam is the most consistently productive running back in the league, his team has the highest projected team total, and he faces the worst rush defence in the league. So why is he not the top cash game play of the week? Because his price has finally hit the law of diminishing returns. He might hit 3x value, but it’s unlikely given that he’s only eclipsed 25 points three times this year. He’s a safe lock for production, but his value isn’t very good. The ceiling he provides doesn’t justify this price tag.

John White however, has been a monster the past two weeks scoring 75 points over that span. His matchup isn’t great, and this level of production isn’t sustainable, but with the upside he’s shown in the past couple weeks he’d impossible to ignore in GPP’s. At a lower price tag than Messam but a higher ceiling, he’s my favorite tournament play this week.

Brandon Rutley is the running back on the worst team in the CFL that just cut its top two playmaking receivers. They ran on 23 plays in the first half last week against Calgary, a team that allows almost 70 plays per week on defence. There are very few reasons to like Rutley, but at his exceptionally low price, he’s likely to provide some value as a punt play if you want a double or triple stack from Edmonton or Calgary.

RECEIVER

(Preferred plays in bold)

Adarius Bowman, EDM – $11,100 ($ or GPP)
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $7,000 ($ or GPP)
Andy Fantuz, HAM – $6,900 ($)
Brandon Zylstra, EDM – $3,500 ($ or GPP)

Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC – $9,500 (GPP)
Terrence Toliver, HAM – $8,400 (GPP)
DaVaris Daniels, CGY – $8300 (GPP, Cash viable)
Ernest Jackson, OTT – $7700 (GPP)
Bryan Burnham, BC – $5800 (GPP)
Nik Lewis, MTL – $5300 (GPP)
Ricky Collins, SSK – $4,200 (GPP, Cash viable)
John Chiles, HAM – $3,700 (GPP)
Joe Craig, SSK – $3,100 (GPP, Cash viable)

It’s hard to believe that there is a QB/WR stack that is priced at over $22k. It’s even harder to believe that there is a triple stack over $32k! I wouldn’t recommend the double or especially the triple stack this week, but if you’re looking to shore up a solid floor in a cash lineup Adarius Bowman is a solid bet every week for at least 20 points. It’s not a great matchup, and his price tag is obscene, but if you somehow have a bunch of extra cash left sitting around during lineup construction he’s the safest play you’ll find even if he’s not a great value.

The Calgary Stampeders get the joy of facing the Toronto Argonauts defence that gave them 48 points only two weeks ago. Kamar Jorden is the highest targeted receiver in Calgary, and although he may not be the most explosive, he’s certainly the safest in cash games. He provides a great floor with his high volume and is worthy of being a near lock in cash games.

As of publication Andy Fantuz is expected to play this coming week despite being limited in practice. His upside is quite limited as a possession receiver, but the volume of targets he has received since Luke Tasker went on IR makes him as safe as play as there is on DraftKings right now. His scoring opportunities and yardage are limited, but in PPR scoring he is a great option in cash games.

In his first three games since arriving with the team from IR, Brandon Zylstra hasn’t been amazing, but he’s certainly seen a regular workload in Edmonton averaging over 5 targets per game. He’s pretty clearly taken over the place as the third receiving option from both Chris Getzlaf and Cory Watson who failed to seize the role. I wouldn’t expect the 25 fantasy points he put up last week, but he provides great salary relief and a floor near 3x for near minimum salary.

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It’s hard to get excited about Emmanuel Arceneaux on a weekly basis, but he draws a great matchup against an injured and still very exploitable Edmonton secondary that gives up the second highest yards per pass. One or two BC receivers are likely to have big days this week in a high scoring affair, and although Arceneaux’s price is higher than I’d like given his ceiling, he’s a solid play.

Terrence Toliver seemed to show great chemistry with Masoli last week after having gone completely missing in the reeds the previous two weeks against good pass defences in Montreal and Calgary. Ottawa’s secondary offers much easier competition and Toliver took advantage of it even with a poor quarterback throwing him the ball. I expect him to keep up the pace this week in the rematch, especially if Andy Fantuz is somewhat limited due to injury.

The other half of the aforementioned dangerous duo in the Calgary receiving core is the more explosive DaVaris Daniels. He carries a bit more risk that his counterpart Kamar Jorden and seems a prime candidate for regression, but to this point continues to catch almost every one of his 6-7 targets per game and often for long yardage and a touchdown. He had a tough matchup with a stingy secondary and a slow pace last week and came back down to earth, but a meeting with the Argos should provide him the opportunity to return to productivity. Given his increasingly high price tag though, he carries significant risk.

Although Henry Burris is an interesting play at QB this week given last week’s success against Hamilton, trying to stack him with any of his receivers always feels like a crapshoot. Any of Ellingson, Sinopoli, Criner, or Ernest Jackson could be the leading receiver on any given week depending on matchup and game plan. Jackson though seems to provide the most consistent production out of the group, and has certainly had the most consistent chemistry with Hank in the past. He carries the risk of tough matchup and competition for targets, but if you’re looking to stack the Ottawa passing game, he’s your best bet.

Bryan Burnham continues to be one of the highest rated players in terms of Target Efficiency Score at 13.54 on a weekly basis. In all honestly, much of this is likely the product of almost all of his points coming from yardage because he almost never scores touchdowns. However, given injuries in an already beatable Edmonton secondary, he becomes a really nice play at his very reasonable price tag.

With the release of Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford in Montreal this week, SOMEONE will still have to catch ducks from Rakeem Cato this week in the 40 plays they may squeak in. Nik Lewis has generally been the beneficiary when Carter and Stafford have been out due to injury, so I like his chances of a large increase in volume even if his efficiency is poor. The Saskatchewan defence is improving by leaps and bounds, but they still give up the most yards per target in the CFL.

I can’t believe I’m writing up Ricky Collins again. I thought I had finally kicked that habit, but here we are again, trying to make Ricky Collins happen again, just like we did for the first two months of the season again. With the losses of Naaman Roosevelt and Armanti Edwards for the season, targets are up for grabs in the offence that passes a higher percentage of plays than any other team. While most of us banked on Caleb Holley last week, it was in fact the second coming of Ricky Collins that made headlines. He’s only had 3 good games all year, but when he has a good game, it’s a GREAT GAME! At only $4200 he’s a great upside play, albeit with the risk real risk he’ll return to obscurity and post a single catch for 5 yards.

Another receiver in the bargain bin, formerly Collins teammate, is the similarly enigmatic John Chiles. He’s got the legs of a gazelle and the hands of a T-Rex, regularly struggling with drops and the inability to consistently catch the targets he gets. Going 4/43/1 is nothing to write home about, but priced at only $3700 that’s 5x value which is great salary relief and upside in a tournament lineup. I wouldn’t expect the touchdowns to keep flooding in, but he’s certainly capable of a similar stat line in a good matchup.

Finally, there is the case of the kick returner. We’ve come a long way since the week one debates in the forums over the sneaky value of kick returners in CFL DFS, and have learned they’re basically never worth paying up for the slight chance of a kick return touchdown. That being said, Joe Craig is priced well below most other returners and may see a number of snaps on offence as well. The past two weeks he has put up 5x value and is certainly a good punt play. “Punt” play. Get it? He’s a punt returner and a “punt” value. That’s punny. You should be laughing harder. Come for the DFS analysis, and stay for the dad jokes.

DEFENCE/SPECIAL TEAMS

(Preferred plays in bold)

Saskatchewan, $5000 ($ or GPP)

Calgary, $5500 (GPP)
Hamilton, $4900 (GPP)

I haven’t rostered the Saskatchewan defence since the ill-fated debut week of the CFL on DraftKings. In my defence, their coach is a defensive mastermind. Also, I learned enough never to trust them again … until this week. The defence has been vastly improved in the past month, in no small part due to the additions of Willie Jefferson and Henoc Muamba, and the emergence of Ed Gainey. This unit looked frighteningly dominant against Toronto last week. This week, they get to face what is clearly the most dysfunctional unit on the most dysfunctional team in the CFL. Since their coaching change to Jacques Chapdelaine a few weeks back, this offence has absolutely tanked and has slowed to a snail’s pace below 60 plays per week. In the first half last week they managed to run on 23 plays! Add to that the awful quarterback play and potential turnovers from Rakeem Cato and you have a recipe for a great fantasy performance from this defence.

If you want to look for other options in tournaments, Calgary is consistently one of the best plays week to week and draws a similarly inept Toronto offence. However, the return of Ricky Ray may rectify that and Calgary is the highest priced option on the slate at a position it rarely pays to pay up for. The Hamilton defence on the other hand presents an interesting option in that they looked quite beatable last week, but their numbers still bear out that they are a top unit. Given Burris geriatric status and propensity for inconsistency, Bad Hank may rear his ugly head in the return matchup of this home and home series and provide to opportunity to roster a top defence and a low price while other players are scared off of them due to recency bias.

It’s hard to believe there are only two more weeks left of regular season CFL football remaining, so I hope you’re able to cash in while we still get to enjoy this game we love. Be sure to look at our tools available in the CFL DFS Week 18 thread in the Forum, and keep checking back for updates right through the weekend. Good luck, and may your profits be always as steady as Diontae Spencer’s slary!

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