CFL Week 8: Agent Carter
We’ve reached week eight of the CFL schedule, but with the multiple bye weeks afforded each team because of the nine team league, most teams have played a third of their eighteen game regular season schedule. There’s a lot of football yet to be played, but at this point we have a pretty good idea of who teams are. That being said, this week’s Vegas projected team totals do hold a couple surprises.
Calgary – 30
Edmonton – 29
British Columbia – 29
Toronto – 27
Hamilton – 26
Winnipeg – 23
Saskatchewan – 24
Montreal – 22
It is somewhat surprising to see Edmonton projected for twenty-nine points as the biggest favourites of the week. This is a team that has scored only fifty points total in their past ten quarters of football that now faces a Montreal defence that is top four in the league in points allowed. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see that number come down a bit in coming days.
It’s also worth noting that Saskatchewan – last week a twelve point underdog in Calgary – is now only a six point underdog this week after coming off a 35-15 loss to Calgary. Their offence looked improved with the return of Darian Durant at quarterback and Dan Clark at centre.
- Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY $11000
- Mike Reilly, EDM $10600
- Kevin Glenn, MTL $7200
- Jonathan Jennings, BC $9200
- Zach Collaros, HAM $9700
- Logan Kilgore, TOR $6800
This week, it’s Bo Levi Mitchell, and then everyone else at the quarterback position. Mitchell has a plethora of talented receivers, a solid running game to keep the defence on its heels, and is the only top tier quarterback with a plus matchup this week. He was good for over 300 yards passing again last week, and could have had two touchdown passes last week if Lemar Durant’s hands weren’t made of cardboard. Vegas is implying this will be a closer game this week than last against the Roughriders, and as such Bo will likely be passing late into the game as opposed to just handing off to Messam to run out the clock as he did for most of the fourth quarter last week. I do like one other quarterback this week in cash games, but Bo is certainly the top option.
After BLM, the second tier of quarterbacks is comprised of a chalk quarterback in a struggling offence, Mike Reilly, facing a tricky matchup. The Eskimos offence has not played up to form over their past game and a half, since their collapse versus the Tiger-Cats in week five. The yardage has still been there for the most part, but the multiple passing touchdowns we came to expect have dried up. Add to that the tricky matchup with an Allouettes defence giving up the fewest passing yards per game (246), but the third most passing yards per attempt (8.55) and Reilly is not as safe a play as you’d like for the highest priced quarterback of the week. The other mid-tier option is the opposing quarterback Kevin Glenn, who is unexciting, but is facing the worst pass defence in the league. The loss of their coaching staff and most of their defensive secondary in the offseason has hit this previously strong unit hard. Since returning from injury, Glenn has been on the verge of 300 yards passing twice and has had at least one passing touchdown each week. Given his exceptional matchup, it’s easy to see him reaching 3x value for the week which makes him a really interesting tournament play and cash viable.
Injuries to star quarterbacks have become as common in the CFL the past couple seasons as cargo shorts on men in the summer – neither are welcome sights. This week is likely to bring us the season debut of Tiger-Cats starting QB Zach Collaros. Last season, in only twelve games of work, Collaros averaged 281 passing yards per game, while throwing 25 TD passes to only 8 interceptions. Although Hamilton will have a much improved offence with Collaros back at the helm, their matchup with the Lions is a difficult welcome back present. The other side of this matchup sees the ever improving Jonathan Jennings facing a voracious and stingy Ti-Cats defence. Neither of these QB’s have matchups you want to see, but both have enough talent themselves and in their receiving cores to warrant some consideration in tournaments.
Finally, there’s Logan Kilgore. There’s always the temptation to play a filthy cheap quarterback in a plus matchup like he has against Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers give up the second most passing yards per game (338) and are frankly, the Blue Bombers. Winnipeg just can’t have nice things. Say it with me, “I will not start Logan Kilgore in cash games.” If you want to trot him out there in a few tournament lineups though, by all means do so. I was wrong, and he looked not awful two weeks ago against a reasonably good Redblacks defence.
- Jerome Messam, CGY $7500
- John White, EDM $7300
- Andrew Harris, WPG $7400
- Jeremiah Johnson, BC $6400
In case you are just getting your feet wet in the CFL after the overwhelming disappointment of the start of the NFL preseason that wasn’t, the Saskatchewan defence is really bad. It doesn’t matter whether you want to run or pass against them, they’ll lazily arm tackle you with the same ambivalence. Saskatchewan gives up the third most rush yards per attempt (4.99) and had the ball rammed down their throat time after time in the fourth quarter last week by Jerome Messam last week. Play Messam again this week.
Last week returning running back Jeremiah Johnson got the pleasure of facing the only defence in the CFL that surrenders over 100 yards per game on the ground. This week, that honour goes to John White. If not for the Eskimos noted offensive struggles over the past ten quarters, he would be my play of the week.
Hamilton owns the weeks stingiest run defence in both a yards per attempt and yards per game basis. This is a bad matchup for Jeremiah Johnson. On the plus side though, he is the clear every down back in BC now and is the second cheapest starting running back on the slate in an offence that clearly wants to get him the ball. You could do worse than Johnson this week.
Speaking of worse, I could mention that Brandon Whitaker and C.J. Gable have the two best matchups of the week on a yards per carry allowed basis, but neither warrants much consideration given their roles in their respective offences. Whitaker runs with the grace of an Arizona Cardinals era Emmitt Smith, and Ti-Cats head coach Kent Austin only grudgingly admits that running the ball is still a legal option in the CFL.
In cash, pay up for Messam where at all possible and if you can’t make him fit, Jeremiah Johnson is a decent mid-priced value.
WIDE RECEIVER (TOP PERFORMERS)
- Duron Carter, MTL $9400
- Adarius Bowman, EDM $10600
- Derel Walker, EDM $10500
- Marquay McDaniel, CGY $8400
- Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC $7800
- Luke Tasker, HAM $8300
This may be the first week that a receiver not from Edmonton or Ottawa has topped the rankings. Montreal is far from a prolific passing offence, but Duron Carter is likely the most talented receiver in the league. If not for half a game lost to ejection, and another full game lost to Rakeem Cato, Carter would certainly have been among the top producing receivers in the league to this point. He’s averaged over 25 points per game since Glenn’s return and certainly won’t slow down in the best matchup of the week against the Eskimos. Duron Carter is my favourite play of the week.
Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker are the two highest targeted receivers in the league and they play on the same team with 64 and 63 targets respectively. By sheer volume alone these two are top plays each week. However, there have been bugs in the system lately, as noted earlier, and as such neither seems like quite as firm a lock as they had in the first five weeks of the season. Bowman struggled with drops two weeks ago leading to only 6.9 points against Winnipeg, and Walker followed that up with a three catch clunker against Ottawa last week. The ceiling is still very high for both of these two, but neither has as high a floor as Carter this week.
Last week I made a recency bias blunder and decided to fade Marquay McDaniel coming off a game with only two receptions for twenty yards. He then proceeded to return to form against the sad sack Saskatchewan defence. I won’t make that mistake again this week and you shouldn’t either.
With the best price per target value of any of the top receivers ($900/target), Emmanuel Arceneaux has been going through a transition of sorts from a deep threat to more of a high volume possession receiver with the lowest yards per reception, but also the highest yardage per game of his career. He still has the speed to get deep from time to time, but isn’t the nine route specialist he once was. Hamilton is a bad matchup, but he should still be able to get enough volume to be a viable play.
Luke Tasker should be happy to have his starting quarterback returning this week. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Rod Black broadcast a game on TV yet, you may not have heard half a dozen times that Luke is indeed the son of former Bills receiver, Steve Tasker. In seven games with Collaros as quarterback last season, Luke Tasker had 41 receptions on 52 targets, for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns. Averaged out, you get about 6 receptions for 86 yards and a 50/50 shot at a touchdown each week. He’s not a gamebreaker, but he’s a consistent possession receiver that is worth a look in cash games.
WIDE RECEIVER (VALUE PLAYS)
- Kenny Shaw, TOR $6300
- Thomas Mayo, WPG $5000
- Anthony Parker, CGY $5100
- Clarence Denmark, WPG $5200
- Bryan Burnham, BC $6100
- Rob Bagg, SSK $4700
- Ryan Lankford, SSK $3600
This is the week of the value receiver. With many of the elite players at the position having more difficult matchups to deal with, many of the receivers in the 4k-6k range make for not just great value, but could provide top overall production as well.
What does a guy have to do to be priced as an elite option? Kenny Shaw is inside the top ten of active receivers this week in terms of fantasy points per game, but is only the eighteenth highest priced. Facing a Blue Bombers defence that has given up the most passing yards in the league, he is an excellent option.
Maybe the two most intriguing value targets of the week are the replacements in Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers are down their top three receivers and that has led to backup prices for starting receivers in The ‘Peg. Thomas Mayo looks delicious even at an inflated $750/target. His team target percentage will drastically increase with a starting role in the offence. And like Henry Miller’s “The Cat Came Back”, Clarence Denmark is back starting in blue and gold. He just couldn’t stay away. Both receivers were good for 20 points last week and should be able to see good production against a beatable Argos defence.
Bryan Burnham and Anthony Parker both warrant some consideration: the first in spite of his matchup and the second because of it. Burnham has picked up much of the receiving slack in BC since Nick Moore’s injury. However, his price has risen to the point that his price per target ($915) puts him in elite company, while his production does not. Parker on the other hand has a great matchup against the Roughriders again this week. He had a touchdown last time, and if not for a couple of drops would have easily provided 3x value again.
That leaves the Saskatchewan value grab bag in the bargain bin. Neither Rob Bagg nor Ryan Lankford are consistent sources of production, but their minimal prices make them decent punt plays. Lankford is our price per target superstar at only $313.
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers $4800
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats $4700
Say it again, “I will not start Logan Kilgore in cash games.” He may not be the Ti-Cat Turnover Machine that Jeremiah Masoli was, but Kilgore did throw two picks against Ottawa in his debut. With as many turnovers as the Bombers defence generates, they are a favorite to produce again this week.
A secondary option at defence that could be in play in some tournaments is Hamilton facing and improving, but still mistake prone Jonathan Jennings. Add to that the always dangerous Brandon Banks on special teams and they have an outside shot at some positive production.