For months we have been clamoring for football, and just last week we were given the gift of the Canadian Football League. For some, they enjoyed it to the max, watching every game on one of the ESPN networks and playing Daily Fantasy CFL contests on DraftKings. For some though, their weekend was ruined by injuries and poor performances. After waiting all these months this is how you greet us? Canada you really are a cold cold place.
It’s week two though, and the weather feels warmer. At least it does to me (I live in Atlanta where it’s always hotter than Canada). Let’s get past the bad luck (if you felt it last week) and move forward towards a new opportunity to degen the CFL. Good karma is headed your way and at least the law of averages is on your side, working towards getting those injuries out of the way in week one!
With our new and improved weekly picks article being just two weeks old, here’s a refresher on this year’s look at how we make the picks…
We have put in hundreds of man hours this offseason developing a statistical projections model to help us determine player values each week. While it is still in beta we won’t be publishing numbers, as we’re still working out the kinks for ourselves. Our model will certainly be the driving force behind our picks each week though. No more waffling over simple matchup data and last year’s numbers, but rather the educated and statistical driven information that DFS players want. We’re excited to refine our process and share some of the benefits of all our hard work with you here each week. The rankings you see below are not representations of value in a points per dollar sense or preference, but simply lists in order of projected points for the coming week.
PROJECTED TEAM TOTALS
CGY – 32.5
OTT – 24.5
BC – 23
TOR – 24
MTL – 21.75
EDM – 29.75
WPG – 25.5
SSK – 24.5
Mike Reilly, EDM – $10,200
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $10,400
Trevor Harris, OTT – $10,100
Matt Nichols, WPG – $7,700
Mike Reilly of the Edmonton Eskimos leads the charge again at the quarterback position this week, projected to score only one point fewer than Bo Levi Mitchell. The pace at which Edmonton plays allows them a higher number of potential scoring plays than average. Like Ben said last week, their pace was second best in the CFL in 2016, and we should expect the same this season. Reilly has himself a plethora of receivers to throw to with the (hopeful) emergence last week of Duke Williams as a number three receiver and Brandon Zylstra as this year’s Derel Walker. You can’t go wrong with paying up at the quarterback position this week and with mid-tier options available at other positions it’s easy to plug Reilly into your lineups.
Bo Levi Mitchell was unstoppable last week against the Ottawa Redblacks, and because the CFL couldn’t get any funkier, these two teams will play again on Thursday night. While we don’t expect two overtimes and 48 passing attempts in week two, we do expect him to generate the second most Fantasy points at his position. It is worth noting that in 18 games last season, Mitchell attempted 40+ passes in just four games.
With two legitimate top options at this position, considering Trevor Harris for just $300 and $100 less than the previously mentioned quarterbacks feels reckless. Harris threw for three touchdowns and 300 yards on the dot in the season opener, but benefited greatly from the double overtime affair. He threw seven times and hit the 300+ yard bonus because of it. Harris has a great receiver group around him, but unless you’re looking for low ownership in large tournament fields, he should be avoided.
DailyRoto Slack chat has become quite interesting this past week with Matt Nichols making his 2017 debut. The two other DailyRoto CFL experts have compared Nichols to Kirk Cousins (Dylan) and Trent Dilfer (Ben). I’m going to stay out of this one and let the projections do the talking. Nichols is the fifth highest projected quarterback on the slate, but comes in as the cheapest of all starting quarterbacks. He benefits from an above average offensive pace and a group of receivers that can really stretch the field. Nichols allows for some variance in your lineups, but will limit your scoring ceiling at the position. Plan accordingly.
Jerome Messam, CGY – $7,400
John White, EDM – $7,700
Brandon Whitaker, TOR – $6,800
Last week, the strategy of paying up for two running backs would have resulted in likely victory as guys like Jerome Messam, John White and Jeremiah Johnson all performed admirably. While we almost always say to avoid using two running backs in a lineup, this may be the week to do so if you look to our top three backs.
Jerome Messam and John White are neck and neck this week according to projections with the difference being one yard in projected rushing yards. Messam will cost you less and has the same matchup as last week that resulted in 13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown to go along with five receptions. As long as he continues to get this kind of usage from week to week, it won’t matter if he faces a top three run defense like Ottawa was last season. It also helps that Calgary has the highest implied team total (34) and a game script that promotes running the football.
Edmonton’s up-tempo offense and second highest implied team total (30) are two reasons to love John White this week, but how about his usage against a very poor rush defense in the Alouettes? He’s looking at upwards of 20 touches this week, and with his talent with the football in his hands, we’re looking at a potentially huge day. Last season White recorded 16+ touches in six games. In those six games, he generated Fantasy points totals of 26.9, 20.3, 11.3, 40.8, 35.8 and 33.2. Yes. Please.
Projections look to Brandon Whitaker as our third best running back of the week, but we would be weary of him in cash games. The difference between Whitaker and the fourth and fifth rated running backs (Jeremiah Johnson and Andrew Harris) is about the same distance as where I stand when watching the CFL, three feet from the television. Unfortunately for the three of them, they can’t even see John White or Jerome Messam from where they’re standing. Whitaker’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is intriguing, but it was his 9 carries for 21 yards against Hamilton that leaves us reluctant to invest much of anything in him. Tournament usage is where you should look at Whitaker if you want to roster the starting Argos’ back. UPDATE: James Wilder Jr. will be starting in place of Whitaker who is out this week.
Mossis Madu Jr./William Powell, OTT – $5,100/$4,900
William Powell was recently announced as the starting running back per the team’s depth chart, solidifying him as not only the value option to use this weekend, but also the fourth highest projected running back on the board. Powell ran great before what I presume was an ankle sprain, kept him from playing in the second half. He was later quoted as saying he could have played, but didn’t want to be a detriment to the team. That’s great to hear, but will give us caution as we go into this slate. Keep an eye on the late scratches that are announced an hour before the game Thursday night. If Madu Jr. is out, then bump up Powell’s ownership, but if he remains active, then you may want to limit your exposure. UPDATE: It looks as if Powell will be the late scratch tonight moving Madu Jr. into the starting role. We like this value as well, but he projects slightly lower than Powell would have.
Marquay McDaniel, CGY – $8,400
Adarius Bowman, EDM – $9,600
Brandon Zylstra, EDM – $6,100
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $6,000
Darvin Adams, WPG – $7,700
Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC – $9,300
Marquay McDaniel, while not the highest priced receiver on the slate, is our highest projected receiver this week and with too many reasons to count. To start, he’s coming off a big game against the same opponent he’ll face this week, Ottawa. In that game he registered 15 targets, bringing in 10 of them for 114 yards. We expect more of the same this week with Calgary owning the highest implied team total and the second best receiver on the Stampeders being out, DaVaris Daniels. Daniels missed seven games last season and in the games he missed, McDaniel generated 17.1 Fantasy points per game. In games that featured both McDaniel and Daniels, McDaniels averaged 11.9 Fantasy points per game. (Hat tip to Billy, @billsnake23, for the stat!). McDaniel will be chalk this week, but considering the slate, and lack of highly projected receivers around his price tag, there’s no reason to fade him in any format.
Adarius Bowman might be the scariest play of the slate, coming into the week with quite possibly the exact opposite situation as McDaniel. He saw just five targets last week and only brought in two of them. His teammates (Brandon Zylstra and Duke Williams) both outperformed him, looking mighty impressive in the win over the BC Lions. With that being said, Bowman is coming off a season in which he caught 120 passes for 1,761 yards and 9 touchdowns. His matchup against Montreal isn’t the greatest, as Mincey from Montreal was great in slowing down Duron Carter and Naaman Roosevelt last week, but we’re believing in Bowman’s talent and Edmonton’s pace to help with that.
We follow up Bowman with another Edmonton receiver in Brandon Zylstra. Zylstra had an impressive showing in his debut as the number two guy for the Eskimos last week generating seven receptions for 152 yards. While he did catch a 70+-yard pass in the final minute to help save his day, he was also one yard away from an even bigger day as he was just stopped of the goal line. It’s dumb to point to one week to explain why you love someone, but with Zylstra it makes perfect sense to do so. Coming into week one we were all sure he would be the Derel Walker of 2017 and he not only saw Walker type targets, but also produced exactly like the now NFL receiver.
Kamar Jorden is the 20th highest priced receiver on the week, yet he projects to score the fourth most points in week two. This is insane value, but unfortunately his situation is well known. DaVaris Daniels is out this week leaving plenty of targets for the taking, especially the ones that are most important: red zone targets. Jorden is an elite option in all formats this week thanks to Daniels being out, Calgary being one of two teams projected to score 29+ points and his great start to the 2017 season (5/72/1). Like Zylstra, expect high ownership levels from Jorden.
One very intriguing tournament option this week is Darvin Adams. When healthy, Adams is a legitimate top five receiver in the CFL, yet he currently isn’t priced like one. In nine games last season Adams dealt with inept quarterback play, yet generated 19+ Fantasy points in six of those games. With Matt Nichols providing above average quarterback play (depending on who you ask), Adams has a more reliable quarterback throwing him the football this week against the worst pass defense in the league last season.
Emmanuel Arceneaux is the top receiver for the BC Lions, yet he certainly didn’t act like it in his week one matchup against Edmonton. He ended the game with just three receptions for 20 yards, disappointing many DFS players. Heading into week two, projections are not a fan of “Manny” even with Chris Williams on the six-game IR. Manny, while talented, may be “over the hill” as they say. Sift through CFL talk this week and some have said that he looks “gimpy” and “old,” and while we don’t necessarily agree with those statements, we can’t help but think, “Is his time as star receiver over?” Manny should be considered in tournaments this week because using one week to determine a player’s output for the rest of the season is dumb, but we won’t be using him in more than about 15% of our lineups.
L’Damian Washington, WPG – $3,000
Joshua Stangby, OTT – $4,600
L’Damian Washington was mighty impressive in the preseason, helping earn himself a role in the Blue Bombers offense in the team’s first game of the season. Washington excelled at Missouri in their wide-open shotgun offense and so it makes sense that he should feel comfortable in the CFL. Washington should be starting against Saskatchewan, the league worst pass defense in 2016, making him a great way to spend down at the position. Unfortunately, spending down at the position doesn’t make a ton of sense in cash games due to the mid-priced options, so we’ll be looking at him in tournaments only.
Joshua Stangby had an impressive 2017 debut, not only returning kicks, but also bringing in five passes for 61 yards and one touchdown. Stangby has a lot of potential because of his return role, but seeing Kenny Shaw out this week has solidified himself as a value option against Calgary. He saw seven targets last week, and if he sees that kind of usage in week two then he’ll almost certainly see 10+ Fantasy points against the Stampeders. Stangby is a good way of getting good exposure to a game that should be high flying.
Winnipeg – $4,700
Edmonton – $4,600
When picking a defense we like to target the worst quarterbacks and this week we see Winnipeg facing Kevin Glenn and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. With 30 interceptions last season, the Blue Bombers defense was quite impressive. Glenn is most certainly over the hill and with a reasonable price tag, the Blue Bombers defense is an easy selection this week.
Edmonton’s defense terrorized Jonathon Jennings, allowing fewer than 15 Fantasy points to him last week and if they do more of the same in week two then we can only believe they’re going to put up a big number against Darian Durant and the Montreal Alouettes. Montreal ran just 48 plays last week against Saskatchewan, limiting opportunities for turnovers and sacks, but also limiting Montreal’s potential for scoring. The Alouettes should be an easy target all season long when it comes to picking defenses.
That’s it and that’s all for week two. We’re on to another week of great CFL action and we’re hoping that this article, and Ben’s, will get you prepped for this great weekend of action. Let us know your thoughts on the slate in the forums or on twitter at @benyamen and/or @RealestChrisKay.