CFL DFS Week 3: Band of Eskimo Brothers
Welcome to week three of the CFL season! In this week’s strategy article, I explored the question “How Do I Research for DFS CFL?” Make sure to give that a read if you’re having any issues putting together your lineups. Otherwise, let’s jump right into this week’s action!
Winnipeg @ Hamilton (-9)
Winnipeg Team Total: 21.5
Hamilton Team Total: 30.5
In what has to be the least appealing matchup for pure CFL fans, Winnipeg heads to Hamilton hoping to win their first game of the season. Don’t look now, but Winnipeg’s quarterback, Drew Willy, has thrown for 661 yards and is averaging 26 Fantasy points per game over the first two games of the season. While these numbers are great, I’m not even considering Willy on Thursday night. In the first two games of the season, the offense has scored 36 points, but 25 of those points have come in the fourth quarter. This offense is one of the worst in the league and picking their quarterback makes little sense. Andrew Harris on the other hand is a great option because of his usage in all facets of the offense. He is averaging 10.5 carries per game to go along with 7.5 catches. I’ll be targeting him heavily in cash games for the Thursday night slate, but likely won’t use him in the full week slate. There are simply so many great receiver options out there. Weston Dressler will be back for this game, making him a very interesting tournament target. His price is steep enough for people to steer clear of him, but considering his talent and production in just one quarter of action (3/22/0) I think he’ll be worth some exposure. One Winnipeg receiver I won’t be targeting is Ryan Smith. Smith has not found the ability to break a big play for the Blue Bombers. Darvin Adams should be considered and easy fade this week. Even though he has been the team’s leading receiver (167 yards), he has accounted for just 25% of the team’s receiving yards. He’s also done this with Dressler playing just one quarter this season. For reference, here is how a few others stack up when it comes to market share of receiving yards on their respective teams: Chris Williams (38.7%), Shawn Gore (38.4%), Derel Walker (38.9%), and Naaman Roosevelt (36.4%). Nine of Adams’ 12 catches and 112 of his 167 yards have come in the fourth quarter.
Hamilton really struggled to get their offense going last week against the BC Lions, scoring just three points in the loss. They couldn’t overcome tough winds and a great BC defense. Things should turn around though and Canadian Vegas agrees with me. They have given the Tiger-Cats an implied team total that is the highest of all teams playing this week (30.5). Jeremiah Masoli was the one that struggled the most in week 2, throwing two interceptions in the defeat. It’s important to remember that Masoli is the fill-in quarterback and there is no allegiance to him if he continues to struggle. Luke Tasker and Chad Owens both produced fine stat lines in the loss even though neither reached the end zone. Owens intrigues me the most, as he’s the bigger play maker and receives enough targets (and a better price) to warrant cash game consideration in full week slates. Those who threw Brandon Banks into their lineups last week felt the burn of depending on a receiver who is largely used as just a returner. Tiquan Underwood’s return from injury took away from Banks’ usage and/or targets. Underwood has value as a pivot to the 4k value plays that I’ll talk about later (Shawn Gore/Joe West), while Banks holds no real value in my book. Hamilton’s defense is priced out of my usage in initial roster building, but in terms of upside, this is a defense to target.
Toronto @ BC (-4.5)
Toronto Team Total: 22.5
BC Team Total 26
Ricky Ray is a guy I’ll be looking at in all formats. He’s only put up 17.34 and 17.38 Fantasy points in his two games this season, but he could have done much better. In week one, he faced a Hamilton defense that dominated the line of scrimmage and was consistently in his face. In week two, Ray and the Argonauts got up early (up 14-0 in first seven minutes of the game) and he was limited to just 22 passing attempts. Because of this, all of his top targets (Vidal Hazelton, Tori Gurley, and Kenny Shaw) suffered as well. Hazelton is the guy I love the most of the group and I’m calling him my favorite tournament option of the entire week. He’s caught three of Ray’s four touchdown passes so far this season and is Ray’s clear number one target. Even at $6,900 Tori Gurley is too aggressively priced for his production this season (6/91/0). Shaw should not be ignored after a 2/31/0 performance last week. He went over 100 yards and felt the impact of just 22 passing attempts against Saskatchewan. If not for the matchup (BC has allowed only 99 total rushing yards on the season), Brandon Whitaker would be in consideration.
BC is an offense I’m not going to target much at all, but there is one player I want to emphasize and that is Shawn Gore. Gore has produced big time for the Lions, recording a 100-yard game last week against Hamilton with 16 targets on the season. He saw a lower target number last week (five compared to 11 in week one), but this was likely due to the game being in hand early on. Gore is my second favorite 4k receiver in the slate, ranking just behind Joe West. Jonathon Jennings is a super cheap quarterback option, but one I’m not looking into very hard. In tournaments I don’t mind plugging him in so that I’m able to get receivers like Bowman, Walker, and C. Williams, but otherwise I’m avoiding him and his lack of upside in the BC offense. It sounds like Jeremiah Johnson will be sitting out this game and if he does then Anthony Allen is the guy to target. He poses as a great punt running back option as a starter, but I’d approach him with caution. Even if he starts, we’re not sure how many touches he’ll see. I’d look to him more in tournaments than in cash games. Emmanuel Arceneaux was a star last week with 12 targets, six catches, 46 yards, and one touchdown. He’s priced too aggressively for the lack of star talent coming from his quarterback, but he’s a safe option at receiver if you have extra money laying around. BC’s defense might be the best in the league and has a solid matchup against Toronto. We like Toronto’s offense this week, but BC has done a great job and is a smart way of hedging your bets if you roster Ray in the Thursday only slate.
Calgary @ Ottawa (PK)
Calgary Team Total: 26.5
Ottawa Team Total: 26.5
Bo Levi Mitchell played much better in week two than week one, but was honestly just a few passes away from an average performance. The problem with Mitchell is that he isn’t priced like an average quarterback. He’s $9,600 on DraftKings, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because of their matchup, Ottawa. They rank just above average with 5.7 yards-per-play and very average according to points-per-play and points-per-drive statistics. I won’t target Mitchell because of his price, but if he was close to $9,000 I would strongly consider him. Jerome Messam is an option following last week’s performance (16/137/0), but his lack of targets on the season means I’ll look at him for tournaments only. Joe West, the team’s number two receiver, makes for my favorite low to mid-range option. He has seen seven and 10 targets in the team’s first two games. Marquay McDaniel struggled in week one, but is the team’s clear number one target. He saw 12 targets last week and was great with those looks, coming through with seven catches for 116 yards and one touchdown. Kamar Jorden is the team’s third option with only nine targets in two games.
Ottawa’s offense has been fantastic this season, generating the league’s best points per play (.537) and yards per play (eight) to go along with the second best yards per drive (2.52). Trevor Harris has been the clear number one quarterback, throwing for 661 yards and six touchdowns in six quarters of football. That said, I’m going to rank him slightly behind Mike Reilly this week, but only because of the more difficult matchup and slight savings at the position. Chris Williams has the wheels to get away from everyone on the field and has shown it with his play. He is averaging 39.5 Fantasy points per game and is priced appropriately. I love him this week, but again, the difficult matchup is troublesome. While I expect Ottawa to score plenty in week three, Calgary’s second best ranking in yards-per-play and points-per-play has me looking towards the Edmonton receivers. The rest of the Redblacks receiving core is loaded. Ernest Jackson and Brad Sinopoli are two receivers I’m looking hard at. They’re priced fairly and are worth using if you have the cap space, but until Chris Williams is hurt, these two are best served in cash games or as the final addition to the lineup in tournaments. Travon Van has been placed on the six game injury list and is obviously out for this game against Calgary. Kienan Lafrance will not be the running back starting for the Redblacks this week, instead it will be Mossis Madu. Don’t be tricked into playing Lafrance when he’s not the starter. Lastly, I don’t mind Ottawa’s defense because they rank middle of the pack or better in points-per-play, points-per-drive, and yards-per-play so far this season. They are also just $4,500.
Saskatchewan @ Edmonton (-10.5)
Saskatchewan Team Total: 19
Edmonton Team Total: 29.5
Saskatchewan has the lowest implied team total (19), but I’m still going to look at a few of their players this week. The best tournament quarterback in this slate, to me, is Darian Durant. Durant is a former star quarterback in the CFL, who has had to battle through injuries over the past few seasons. He played fairly well in week two, his first game of the 2016 season, completing 31 passes for 310 yards and one touchdown. Against Edmonton, there’s potential for this offense to get going in its second game of the season. Edmonton played Ottawa in week one, where they struggled defensively giving up 7.8 yards-per-play and 2.81 points-per-drive, both ranking them last in those statistics. Durant’s top receiver, Naaman Roosevelt, has seen the most targets in one game with 15. He produced very well with those targets, catching nine passes for 113 yards. He’s a safer receiver than Vidal Hazelton, but ranks similarly with Chad Owens. The Roughriders’ running back, Curtis Steele, saw 10 targets and ended the game with 15 total touches. Because they were down throughout the entire game, the offense sent a lot of check downs Steele’s way. I suspect we’ll see more of the same against Edmonton. Steele is one of my favorite (if not my number one) cash game running back this week. Rob Bagg, John Chiles, and Ricky Collins all saw six or seven targets during their first game of the season. I’m looking most at Collins due to his near minimum price ($3,600). While I like him more than Tiquan Underwood in full week slates, he’ll be a Friday only slate option for me personally (if at anything at all).
Edmonton is my favorite team to target, but they’ll cost you plenty. The Eskimos have the second highest of the slate (29.5). Mike Reilly leads the charge and makes for an excellent quarterback option this week. Let’s face it – with receivers like Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker, it’s hard not to be a great quarterback. This offense is averaging .529 points-per-play (second in CFL) and 2.64 points-per-drive (best in CFL) so far this season. I expect this offense to continue rolling and will be using these three Eskimo “brothers” in the majority of my cash game lineups. These two receivers have commanded a large amount of targets this season, seeing 12 (Bowman) and eight (Walker) in week one. Together, these two players generated 66.6% of Reilly’s passing yardage and a combined 47.5 Fantasy points, even though neither of them found the end zone. John White, the team’s star running back, scored twice in week one, which won’t be an every week occurrence. With that said, I fully expect Bowman and Walker to record a stat line of 7/100/1 or better against Saskatchewan. While I expect less out of John White, it’s hard not to like him as salary relief option to Andrew Harris. White saw plenty of action on the ground (11 carries) and through the air (five receptions) against Ottawa. Expect more of the same this week.