If you’ve been watching the broadcasts on ESPN in the USA or are lucky enough to see them without a 30 second delay here in Canada on TSN while you sweat your Daily Fantasy CFL lineups, you’ve no doubt had your ears tickled by the mellow baritone of Rod Black. Maybe you missed out on the Tiger-Cats undoing at the hands of the Argos in week 1 and did not hear seven times that “Luke Tasker is the son of former NFL great, Steve Tasker!”. Don’t worry, he’ll be sure to let you know this week again when Hamilton travels to Regina to face the Roughriders. At the potential cost of sounding like an equestrian play by play man, “Did you know Ottawa RedBlack Greg Ellingson is the son of former Roughriders great James “Duke” Ellingson?” You can see him around the 12 second mark warming up for Grey Cup 1989 – The Greatest Football Game Ever Played.
That makes Greg the Earl of Duke, and coincidentally the top projected non-quarterback on the slate for us. Add to that the RedBlacks matchup against a very beatable Argonauts defence – giving Ottawa the highest projected team total on the slate – and you’ve got a recipe for the chalkiest player of the week. Did I mention that DraftKings has apparently decided to stop adjusting prices at all and left everyone at essentially the same salary this season despite their performances for good or bad? Our four highest projected receivers are all below $7K.
This will be a mighty interesting week for lineup construction…
As usual, our rankings here are based on projected fantasy points from our projections model – not preference or value. So far this season, we’ve been really encouraged with the success of the projections model at providing reasonable expectations each week. The issue comes in trying to determine the scoring ceiling in the range of outcomes for each player, as that’s what you’re looking for in tournament plays. Our model gives a good mean projection for each player, but determining upside requires a bit more nuance that we’ll try to provide in our writeups. Given that CFL is primarily a GPP sport, we’ll keep working in that direction.
PROJECTED TEAM TOTALS
Ottawa – 30.75
Calgary – 29.75
Saskatchewan – 27
BC – 26.25
Winnipeg – 26.25
Hamilton – 26
Toronto – 25.25
Montreal – 23.75
It’s worth noting here that two usual suspects are at the top of the projected team totals in Ottawa and Calgary, but surprisingly the Saskatchewan Roughriders are all the way up to number three on the slate. None of the Riders project all that well in our model, as Kevin Glenn has shown a propensity to spread the targets around which really limits the upside of any one receiver. I’m not saying “Naked” Kevin Glenn is something to get super excited about, but the ability to stack him with non-Riders receivers with much more upside such as a pair of RedBlacks receivers and Luke Tasker/Weston Dressler/Bryan Burnham would be a pretty unique tournament lineup.
Trevor Harris OTT – $10400
Bo Levi Mitchell CGY – $10800
Zach Collaros HAM – $9800
Matt Nichols – $8600
Kevin Glenn – $8300
It only makes sense that the QBs for the top two implied team totals of the week also wind up being the top two projected passers in a passing based league. One of them though does have a few more question marks surrounding him than the other.
Trevor Harris came into the season having been benched late in the season for retirement bound Henry Burris – riding off into the Grey Cup sunset on the backs of broken Stampeders. Harris started like gang busters in 2016 but really faded as the season wore on, leading some of us to question how he’d fare as the unquestioned starter in Ottawa in 2017. Through two weeks he’s the second leading passer in the league, leads the league in TD passes and sports the CFL’s highest completion percentage at 75%. Given, both games were against the same team, so there’s still something to prove in the long term. All this being said, this week’s matchup against Toronto should be an improvement in his circumstances and makes him a high upside play. The lone bit of news that should temper expectations is the continued hand injury that seems to be hampering his comfort in throwing the ball. He can be seen shaking his throwing hand after plays on a regular basis during games. It’s nothing that should keep you from playing him, but know there is some risk involved if it flares up on him.
Projected only slightly behind Harris is BLM. I’m not going to waste my finger energy typing out Bo Levi Mitchell constantly, so BLM it is. His name is only exceeded in size by his confidence. BLM hasn’t put up quite the gaudy numbers of Harris to this point, but much of this is due to the Stamps increased rushing attempts this season as they have seemingly moved away from the two back approach of previous seasons and just decide to showcase Messam right from the get go. I expect Mitchell’s yardage may see an uptick this week though in his matchup against a very beatable Winnipeg secondary that allowed KEVIN GLENN to pass for 377 yards last week. I wrote many times last season that the success of the Winnipeg defence was predicated solely on creating an unsustainable number of turnovers to prevent scoring while they gave up a ton of yardage. The Bombers have only played one game so far this season, but if they’re giving up nearly 400 passing yards to Kevin Glenn you have to expect BLM will have a field day.
Our third projected scorer at QB is much riskier than either of the first two. If you’re playing any cash games this weekend – and you probably shouldn’t be given the pricing structure – there is no reason to look down the list farther than Harris or Mitchell. If you want a low owned GPP QB though, Collaros fills the bill. Hamilton looked terrible against a sub-par Toronto defence in week 1, and now has to start their second game without their primary deep receiving threat, Terrence Toliver, who’s been lost for the season. Working in his favour though are the facts that Kent Austin doesn’t believe in running the football and that the Riders secondary continues to give up big plays just as they did all last season. Breakdowns in the Saskatchewan secondary are as consistent as the force of gravity – it just can’t be avoided. Collaros will likely throw 40+ passes, and with the big play potential afforded them, Zach has just as high an upside as Harris or BLM at lower cost and lower ownership.
If you are looking to for a cheaper QB so you can pay up for multiple high priced WRs, then you’re likely looking at Matt Nichols – Canada’s Trent Dilfer – or Kevin Glenn – Canada’s Brad Johnson. Neither of these QBs will have as high a mean projection as the aforementioned group, but still have a ceiling that could rival them, as they showed in their 43-40 shootout last Saturday in New Mosaic Stadium. Nichols faces a Calgary secondary that has been beaten regularly by Ottawa the past two weeks, while Glenn gets to face the Ti-Cats defence that allowed a similarly aging Ricky Ray to throw for a career high 506 yards in week 1. They both have talented receiving corps but are more prone to turnovers and inaccuracy than other players at the position. This makes their floors much lower than Harris or BLM. With all the high value plays at WR this week due to extremely loose pricing, it’s unlikely you need to look this direction, but if you want to spread out your exposure in MME tournaments they both make viable candidates.
Jerome Messam CGY – $7100
Jeremiah Johnson BC – $7400
Mossis Madu Jr. OTT – $5400
James Wilder Jr. TOR – $3200
Jerome Messam is the second highest priced option this week at a position that has seen an increase in value this season over 2016. Messam seems to be out of the timeshare that he has endured the past few season and has been the full time workhorse in Cowtown. His increase in carries, along with his regular targets in the passing game have him projected all the way to the top of our non-QB projections. This week he gets the benefit of facing a much weaker defence than the RedBlacks stout front and should see an increase in space to run against Winnipeg. With the all the high value plays at WR, paying up at RB shouldn’t be the issue it sometimes is. He is however the most well-known RB in the league and as such, will likely be highly owned as well.
To this point, Jeremiah Johnson has had no competition for touches in the BC backfield. It still remains to be seen if the Lions will play the same game for playing time as they did with he and Anthony Allen last season, but as of now, we’re assuming JJ starts and plays full time. Johnson has seen a minor uptick in carries so far this season, as the Lions continue to run the ball near the highest percentage of time in the league. The real increase in his value though has been as a target in the passing game as he’s averaged 4 targets a game, up from the 1.3 he averaged last season. Montreal continues to be the most positive matchup in the league for opposing RBs and, as such, JJ stands to have a field day versus the Als on Thursday. The one mitigating factor working against him is the extremely slow pace the Als work at that limits the upside of both teams. The Als and Lions are the two highest run play percentage teams in the league and the Als in particular seem content to run at a snails pace nearly 9 plays per game lower than the league average at only 45 plays per game. Compare that to the RedBlacks at 59 or Saskatchewan at 61 and you can see how their potential for scoring is limited due to lack of opportunities. It’s not to say JJ is a bad play – it’s a very positive matchup – but ceiling expectations have to be limited due to pace.
The other RB of note this week is Mossis Madu Jr from Ottawa. We’ve been on RedBlacks RBs each week this season as they come at a significant discount to the top priced backs but with similar workloads in a high paced and high scoring offence. It has been a bit labor intensive to make sure you have the correct back in your lineup however as the RedBlacks have been playing the gameday inactive game for playing time between Madu and Powell, however, that has certainly yielded high rewards with the starter getting a full workload and only around 5% ownership in GPPs. Both Madu and Powell are around the same price, so it is fairly easy to global swap them in or out of lineups when the inactives are announced, but you need to keep your eye on the newswire around kickoff to keep from getting burned. To this point Toronto has not been a great matchup for opposing RBs in the yards per carry area, but much of this can be attributed to a terrible running team that faced them in week 1 (Hamilton). Jeremiah Johnson averaged 6.6 YPC last week so there is certainly reason to believe they are beatable on the ground.
The pure punt RB that emerged last week with late breaking Brandon Whitaker news in Toronto was James Wilder Jr. Despite getting the start, his price remains unchanged at only $3200. If you really want to punt RB, he’s your guy, but the opportunity cost makes it likely a poor play. He doesn’t get many carries in a passing based Argos offence and his receiving skills are questionable at best. Most of the RB targets in the passing game wind up going to Anthony Coombs which really limits Wilder’s upside. If you are playing him, you’re essentially needing a rushing TD to hit value which is a pretty fly or fry prospect to bank on.
Greg Ellingson OTT – $6700
Brad Sinopoli OTT – $6800
Kamar Jorden CGY – $6200
Luke Tasker HAM – $8700
Bryan Burnham BC – $6100
Marquay McDaniel CGY – $8200
DeVier Posey TOR – $6100
Armanti Edwards TOR – $5700
Brian Tyms HAM – $4800
Marken Michel CGY – $3000
We found a glitch in some of the defensive weights in our model yesterday and having fixed it, Hamilton went down and bit and Winnipeg got a bump.
Darvin Adams WPG $7500 jumps to 3rd in the projections model
DaVaris Daniels CGY $8000 returns to action this week and becomes the 2nd highest projected WR in the model. This also puts Marken Michel out of consideration. Marquay McDaniel and Kamar Jorden also take a bit of a hit as Daniels returns to action and takes some targets away.
The loose pricing becomes dreadfully apparent in the receiving options for the week. Despite averaging 11.5 and 9 targets respectively, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli continue to be priced under $7K while teammate Diontae Spencer who averages just over 3 targets per game is the highest priced receiver on the RedBlacks. Makes sense obviously.
But what do I know anyways…
Both Ellingson and Sinopoli get significant improvements in their matchup this week. They rightly top our receiver projections with their workload and efficiency while Spencer makes probably your best tournament fade of the week given his explosive week 2 special teams performance against Calgary. Let others chase box scores and overpay for a field side WR that gets 3 targets per game.
Following the Ottawa pair is the similarly mis-priced Calgary WR, Kamar Jorden. After mid-season 2016, it became fairly obvious that Jorden had become target 1A to Marquay McDaniel’s 1B in the Stamps offence and that has continued to be the case in 2017 where he continues to rack up targets, especially in the redzone. Despite his production his price remains nearly unchanged at $6200 and he gets an improved matchup against a Winnipeg defence that gives up a ton of yards. Marquay McDaniel is another reasonable target from the Calgary offence, but his projection is lower than Jorden’s while he is priced $2K higher. He’s a fine tournament play, but the value isn’t nearly the same.
Luke Tasker, “son of NFL great Steve Tasker”, comes in next in the projections. He also sees a very favourable matchup against the big play prone Saskatchewan secondary and a likely increase in targets with the loss of Terrence Toliver in an already pass heavy offence. Being priced at $2K more than the other top projected receivers likely keeps his ownership levels lower as well. He does have some risk, as was mentioned in the Zach Collaros writeup, as Hamilton looked awful in week 1 just as they struggled down the stretch in 2016. If Collaros can stay upright though, Tasker has double digit target, 100+ yard, and multiple TD upside with a ceiling of over 30 points.
Bryan Burnham also finds himself lumped in with the group of top play in the $6K region, but his matchup makes him a much more questionable play. The Montreal defence, although very beatable on the ground, continues to be reasonably competent against the pass. Given the projected anemic pace of play, Burnham’s opportunities may be limited in this game. His continued high efficiency means that he can turn even a few targets into big scores, but he is a much riskier venture than any of the other previously mentioned players despite averaging 10 targets per game so far this season.
Rounding out the bottom of the top projected WRs are a duo from Toronto. As mentioned, Ricky Ray had a career day in week 1, but plummeted back to the ground in week 2 versus a much more competent defence. Week 3 sees them traveling to Ottawa and sporting the second lowest projected team total of the week at only 25.25. Both Posey and Edwards have had monster games this season, but have to compete for targets with a number of other talented players including SJ Green and Jeff Fuller. It makes sense to have some exposure to all of Posey, Edwards, and Green in the hopes of catching the right player on the right week, but it’s difficult to predict who that might be on any given week.
If you’re looking for really cheap WR plays to plug into your roster, there are a few great punt values as well this week. The loss of Terrence Toliver in Hamilton opens the door for Brian Tyms to become the clear WR2 in the heavy passing attack of the Tiger-Cats. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him get 7-8+ targets a game from here out. At the bargain price of only $4800 he could certainly produce 4-5x production this week. Injury in Calgary similarly opened the door for Marken Michel, “older brother of University of Georgia great Sony Michel”, last week to step into DaVaris Daniels boundary WR position for the Stampeders. While his numbers weren’t staggering (4 targets, 2 rec, 37 yds, 1 TD), he certainly looked good and would emerge as a great value play at only $3K. There isn’t likely much reason to need to play someone priced that cheaply this week, but if he makes a good sprinkle in tournaments hoping to hit the right complementary pieces in a perfect lineup.
Calgary Stampeders – $4900
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – $4900
Saskatchewan Roughriders – $4700
BC Lions – $4800
The strategy for us through most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons was simply to pick on the worst QB of the week. Although this has yielded good returns in the sack and turnover columns (Montreal and Winnipeg) we have missed out on DST TD’s to this point which has hurt the upside of lineups. It is frankly impossible to project DST scores. The most accurately projected DST stat is sacks, so the strategy remains the same, but it’s likely wise to spread exposure over 3-4 DST in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle rather than having high exposure to just one or two top plays.
The Stampeders and Ti-Cats both have DST TDs to their credit already this season, while BC is only ever one play away with the elusive and speedy Chris Rainey returning kicks. Both the Stamps and Lions are near the top of the league in sacks as well, while the Riders become an interesting play after the Ti-Cats allowed a whopping 5 sacks in week 1 to Toronto. All of Darian Durant, Kevin Glenn, and Matt Nichols have struggles with turnovers and inaccuracy, so BC, Hamilton, and Calgary get a bump there as well. With defences all priced more or less the same, it’s easy to swap them in and out of lineups to get some variation in your builds.
One other item of note regarding defences is something I have yet to fully explore, but the consistently highest scoring DST units last season (MTL and WPG) were also the two that allowed the most plays per game against them. While this seems somewhat counterintuitive, as points against are a negative to DST scoring, it also makes some sense in that it increases the opportunities for DSTs to register sacks and turnovers which are more determinative in fantasy scoring overall. If you want to look that direction, Montreal and Hamilton project to see the most plays against them of the DSTs this week, projected to see nearly 65 plays each on defence.
That does it for week 3. We’ll keep updating this article throughout the week as depth charts roll out and projections adjust. Be sure to join in the conversation in the DailyRoto Forum and hit us up on Twitter at @benyamen or @RealestChrisKay. Enjoy the games, and good luck in all your contests!