It is year three for daily fantasy CFL contests on DraftKings and DailyRoto has you covered with a special offer. Get insight into the top QBs, breakout WRs, top stacks and more, whether you are playing in cash games or tournaments. This year we will bring you the same free CFL content we’ve offered in previous seasons, highlighting some of the best CFL fantasy plays. Want to take your game to the next level with projections? Us too. We are partnering with Ben Kramer and Dylan Cooper to offer DailyRoto users access to their CFL fantasy football projections.
While this is not an “official” DailyRoto product (rather something they are doing independently), we definitely endorse their work and encourage you to check it out. We are comfortable saying that nobody puts more time and effort into projecting the CFL than Dylan and Ben do.
A subscription for all 20 weeks of the regular season will be available for $75, while a monthly subscription is available for $25 per month. Ben and Dylan will be offering their projections each week, available through PayPal, and you will receive a link through your email to the sortable projections page once week one projections are live.
CFL DFS Strategy
One of the biggest differences that new players will notice about CFL contests compared to NFL ones is roster construction. Classic style contest lineups consist of 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 2 Flex, and 1 D/ST. There is no TE position in CFL contests, so finding value players and punts from the RB and WR groups is that much more important. With fewer players to fit in the $50,000 salary cap, salaries also tend to be higher than what many NFL players are used to. This season’s new emphasis on Showdown style contests featuring one game slates adds a new element to the CFL game as well. Showdown lineups consist of five players from any position including QB, RB, WR, and D/ST all still fitting in the same $50,000 salary cap.
The small player pool will lead to overlap in rosters, very high ownership of dependable players, and smaller margins between those who take down big GPPs and those who don’t even cash. With small slates like this I would suggest limiting your entries in cash games to significantly less than what you may play in more mainstream sports like NFL, MLB, or NBA. If you are going to play cash games though, early in the season will be the time to do so, hoping to attack weaker players who are new to the game while there is significant edge to be had. Often the difference between winning a H2H will come down to having the right flex players as there will be quite a bit of consensus on who the top QB, RB and WR of the week will be. In GPPs the winning strategy will likely be taking the contrarian stance by avoiding too much exposure to popular plays and hoping that they flounder. In small slate GPPs variance has a much larger effect on the entry pool, so keeping your exposures in mind will be very important.
The CFL is a drastically different league than the NFL. The rules, the size of the football, and the dimensions of the field may be the least of the differences though. While the NFL has franchise players and rewards teams that build through the draft, the CFL has rosters in constant flux with few contracts being signed for more than 1-2 years. Star players are born from open tryouts in the off-season, and major contributors arise throughout the season as opportunities due to injury or ineptitude come around. There are few established statistical providers, the fantasy analyst group is still in its formative stages, and there is no vast deluge of weekly projections to work from. DailyRoto is the only major DFS information provider offering full player projections, so there is a significant edge over the competition to be had. Playing CFL contests and building lineups is quite a bit different from many other leagues as very few competitors in the weekly contests will simply be downloading subscription based projections, plugging them into an optimizer and rolling with their computerized lineups. A lot more hands on work is needed to succeed with CFL DFS.
Unlike the NFL and college football, the CFL is a passing based league. This is driven by having only three downs to gain ten yards, a field that is ten yards longer from goal line to goal line, 12 yards wider, and featuring end zones that are 20 yards deep. This means that even in the redzone there is ample space to run routes and get open, unlike in the American game where everything is compressed in the scoring area. The big field makes a big difference. In general, scoring is higher, passing yards and touchdowns are more common, consistent production from running backs is rare, and defences are hard pressed to make stops.
As I mentioned before, roster turnover, not just season to season, but week to week is the norm. Players regularly lose starting jobs and roster spots to injury. At any time in the league there are usually two to three dependable quarterbacks, a couple of every down running backs, and a plethora of receivers to spread the ball around to. Don’t try to get to know the names too well: they’ll mostly be different by mid-season. Success will likely come through keeping up to date on depth charts as they come out twenty-four hours before kickoff. Using the late-swap feature effectively may be the difference between winning and losing weekly in slates that span three to four days.
The personnel involved in the game-play are quite a bit different from American football as well. A standard formation will include the quarterback, one running back, and five receivers on offence. There has also been a move to bringing in specialized mobile QB’s in redzone packages to take advantage of the running lanes in close. This has been limiting the upside of some top QB’s in Calgary, Winnipeg, and Toronto.
Coming into any season, there are generally two or three teams with well-established quarterbacks, two or three rolling with an aging veteran or promising but unproven talent, and two or three that have no idea who the quarterback will be from week to week. Coming into this season you can likely count on Mike Reilly, Ricky Ray, Trevor Harris and Jeremiah Masoli on a weekly basis. Zach Collaros, Bo Levi Mitchell, and Matt Nichols. The rest of the starters have a lot to prove before they’d become fantasy relevant. Many mobile quarterbacks will come and go throughout the season using the large field to run and create offense. Very few of these players will last more than a couple weeks as starters. Don’t get caught up in the hype.
It’s not at all uncommon to field a six pack of receivers with an empty backfield in the CFL. Given the number of receivers involved in a game, it is often difficult to predict market share of targets beyond the top receiver for a team. The distribution is often spread throughout six or seven receivers. Look at Brandon Banks, Greg Ellingson, Diontae Spencer, Naaman Roosevelt, SJ Green, and Kamar Jorden as dependable weekly plays who should get consistent targets. One of the trickiest early season things to decipher will be the WR target distributions in Edmonton and Montreal. Edmonton lost two of their top targets in the offseason – Brandon Zylstra and Adarius Bowman – which will open up over 200 targets to be redistributed in the top passing offence in the league. Bryant Mitchell and Duke Williams may have big breakouts this year. In Montreal the story is a little different in that their top three receivers are very talented, but the QB situation is dreadful. All of Chris Williams, BJ Cunningham, and Ernest Jackson have big play talent but it’s hard to know how consistently any of them will get the ball. The difference in winning a GPP each week will likely come down to who can pick the right secondary targets on the highest scoring team of the week.
Running back is an interesting position in the CFL as most top performers only stick around for a season or two before going to be a third stringer in the NFL. A practice roster minimum salary in the NFL will still be four times the top money paid to a starting RB in the CFL. With the game being so much more passing based, pass protection skills are often perceived as more important than actual rushing skills in potential running backs. Workhorse running backs in the CFL don’t exist in the same way as the NFL game. Few players get 20+ touches a week. There are a few backs, such as James Wilder Jr., CJ Gable, and Andrew Harris that will get consistent touches but they come at a premium price. William Powell and Terry Williams make up a talented, but less proven second tier. Alex Green appears to be the clear starter in Hamilton, but he gets far less work in the passing game than most other RBs. You can expect to see numerous different starters in Saskatchewan, BC and Montreal over the course of the season. Keeping an eye on the depth charts as they are released throughout the week often low priced RB to build around each week.
As in NFL contests, stacking QB/WR combos is pretty essential in building winning GPP lineups. Given the sheer volume of passing in the league, double stacking QB/WR/WR or even QB/WR/RB with a high targets RB was the best building strategy on a weekly basis.
Hopefully this gives you a good intro to the Canadian game. It’s a lot of fun to watch and play along with.