I’m well known for my eccentric tastes in entertainment. If it’s not weird and unique, I’m probably not interested. It’s not that I’m pretentious, I just hate to waste my time on the predictable stuff I’ve probably seen similar versions of before. Or maybe I’m just pretentious. One of my favourite musicians is a guy named Damien Rice from over in Ireland. He’s got a pretty stripped down musical style that makes him great listening on a rainy day when you have no intentions of trying to cheer yourself up or convince yourself to carry on. So what does a depressed Irish musician have to do with daily fantasy CFL contests?
We’ve got similar friends this week …
It’s a pretty rare occasion in which the WR2 on a team winds up being your favourite play of the week. No one gets excited for second place. No one remembers the backup quarterback on a championship winning team. No one clamors for the autograph of the backup singer. No one trains their whole life for a shot at a silver medal. Yet, that’s exactly where we find ourselves this week squealing with glee over the matchup that Brandon Zylstra gets. The Ti-Cats defence has been embarrassingly bad to this point. Haribo Gummy Bears bad. If you haven’t read the customer reviews for these things yet, enjoy laughing away your afternoon at the gastric expense of others. You’re welcome. The Hamilton defence is giving up a full 1.6 yards per pass more than any other defence in the league. At 13.8 yards per pass allowed, they are a 2 yards per attempt worse than league average. Normally, this would lead everyone’s eyes towards the established vet of the receiving corps, Adarius Bowman, but he’s dealing with a gimpy leg that hampered him all last week and has him OUT for week 5. Enter Zylstra. His price is slowly rising accordingly, but his upside is enormous. Stack up your Eskimos this week friends while you watch Kent Austin’s face turn many shades of magenta.
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
Calgary – 34
BC – 30.5
Edmonton – 28.5
Toronto – 27.75
Ottawa – 26.25
Winnipeg – 26
Hamilton – 25.5
Saskatchewan – 24
I’ve been tinkering around with some action on the CFL lines this season as it seems there are regularly implied team totals and point spreads that just don’t add up. I completely understand Calgary being a heavy favourite over Saskatchewan, but 10 points is an awful lot for any team to have to cover. The Calgary defence is below average against the pass, the run, and in points allowed which makes it that much more odd that the Riders have the lowest implied team total on the slate given they have the fastest paced offence in the league.
The Edmonton versus Hamilton line also seems pretty odd given the total depravity of the Ti-Cats defence matched up against the limitless fire power that the Esks seem to possess. I’d be shocked if Hamilton can put up 20 points, let alone 26 against what’s turned out to be a surprisingly stingy Eskimos defence. Anything can happen when they play the games, but the initial lines for this week’s action seem somewhat dubious, but I digress…
Mike Reilly, EDM – $11000
Trevor Harris, OTT – $10200
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $10600
Travis Lulay, BC – $9300
Kevin Glenn, SSK – $9100
Mike Reilly has topped our projections most weeks of the season to this point and has frankly underwhelmed a bit to this point. Edmonton has been running the ball at increased rate over 2016 (40.1% run versus 35.6%) and that has cut into Reilly’s numbers a bit. Even the most run heavy offence in the CFL – the BC Lions – went into total aerial mode last week to pick on a totally incompetent Hamilton secondary. These are not the players Kent Austin wants in his secondary, but they are the players he deserves. There is a fitting irony to a coach who completely neglects the running game being utterly undone by his own pass defence. Hamilton has been ceding 427 passing yards per game to this point. That’s 90 yards more than any other team in the league. 200 yards more per game than the league best Eskimos defence – almost double. Reilly has a hefty price tag, but it’s almost impossible to conceive of him passing for fewer than 300 yards and 2 TDs. With their firepower, the 3 point spread is laughable.
Coming in next in projections is the much more beleaguered Trevor Harris. Mistakes have abounded in Ottawa leading to narrow losses in each of their games this season. The Grey Cup champs are still winless and now travel to Toronto to face the Argos who they lost to by a single point in week 3. Harris has looked very solid in the starting role this season despite the lack of wins. Toronto’s pass defence seems much improved this season, but he was still able to put up 370 yards and 2 TDs against them in week 3. You never want to get caught game log watching, but Harris projects well given their pace of play and his chemistry with Ellingson and Sinopoli.
BLM has the QB with the highest implied team total on the week and that certainly puts him in the conversation for roster construction. He doesn’t project as highly as Reilly or Harris and has a significantly lower ceiling than either of the top two QBs, but his consistency is unmatched if you’re playing cash games. The Roughriders still have a propensity for blown coverages leading to a couple of long TD passes each game. They seem improved versus Hamilton, but the protection for Collaros right now is just atrocious. There was no time for him to be able to test the secondary. I expect BLM will have much more freedom in that regard and pick apart a unit that is prone to mental errors. Messam limits Mitchell’s scoring upside, but the yardage should be there.
Travis Lulay will probably be the chalkiest quarterback this week despite the juicy matchups some of the top signal callers draw. He’s priced nearly $2K cheaper than other top options and lots of eyes will be drawn to his recording breaking stat line last week in which he threw for 436 yards and 3 TDs. He’s certainly still an option this week, but he doesn’t get to face the JV level defence the Ti-Cats put in front of him last week. Lulay was the 2011 CFL most outstanding player, so he certainly has shown the skills needed to excel in the league, but numerous injuries derailed his career and sent him to the bench in BC. The matchup with Winnipeg is still great for opposing QBs, but temper your expectations a little given that Lulay had only one game over 300 yards passing in his last season with significant playing time in 2015.
Last time around I told you that “Naked Kevin Glenn” was an intriguing option given how much he spreads the ball around. At his cheap price you can pair him with some higher upside receiving options to increase your ceiling while still counting on his passing yards. Correlation is usually the way to go in NFL DFS, but the CFL works out a little differently with 5 receivers to spread the ball to versus 3 in the NFL. Glenn rewarded me with a great passing game and TWO RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS. I’m not saying Naked Glenn is the cheat code for daily fantasy CFL contests, but if you’ve got 110 entries in the $8 on DraftKings, a couple Naked Glenn lineups are realistic options. The Calgary defence is below average this season and will absolutely give up some points to the highest paced offence in the league.
William Powell, OTT – $6400
Jeremiah Johnson, BC – $7700
Travon Van, EDM – $7400
Anthony Coombs, TOR – $4900
William Powell has quietly been the darling of the DR projections model to this point in the season. He broke our hearts in week one when he left with an injury and we impatiently waited for his return. Last week he rewarded us with a 18.6 fpts performance at only $4200 and 5% ownership levels. Many people are scared off by the RB rotation late scratch news we’ve dealt with all season and as such he can provide a great source of leverage on the field if you’re patient and willing to put in the time to adjust lineups after the game day inactives are announced. This week he gets a less than desirable matchup against a surprisingly stout Argos rush defence. Mossis Madu struggled against this unit a couple weeks ago, but he’s not William Powell. Most people who have just tuned into the CFL in the past season when DraftKings began hosting contests weren’t around to see his dominant run in late 2015. When he’s healthy, and that’s a notable “when”, he’s among the most talented backs in the league and well worth consideration. After his breakout week 4 though, and with the cheapest price tag of the top group, his ownership levels are almost certain to increase.
Jeremiah Johnson took a surprising back seat to Travis Lulay in the Lions offence after Jonathan Jennings went down to injury this past week. Most teams would lean more heavily on the run with their backup QB in the game, but BC instead went away from the run almost entirely putting up 36 pass attempts to only 9 rush attempts for JJ – a significant departure from the over 12 carries a game he’d averaged to this point. Everything in BC changed when Lulay came in, as even the targets were drastically redistributed away from JJ and Burnham towards Nick Moore. I expect a little more return to the norm this week as they are no longer facing the Ti-Cats, but the Winnipeg defence has been a brutal matchup for opposing RB’s to this point, giving up only 2.84 yards per carry and a league low total of 41.7 yards per game on the ground. JJ projects strongly based on 2016 and early 2017 run heavy tendencies, but there’s reason to believe there’s some fragility to those numbers with the uncertainty of Lulay at QB.
The injury to John White vaulted Travon Van to his first start with the Eskimos last week. He looked very good in limited action with the RedBlacks last season, and continued to impress against his former team in week 4 turning in a rare 100 yard rushing performance accompanied by 4 receptions on 6 targets. On paper, the Hamilton defence seems above average at stopping the run, but much of that can be attributed to teams ease at passing against them diminishing running production for opposing offences. As I noted earlier, Edmonton has been running at an increased clip this season, running nearly 40% of the time, placing them only marginally behind Montreal for the league lead in that category. Stacking Van with Reilly and Zylstra will likely be the chalk core of the week.
There aren’t a lot of really exciting RB plays this week, and as such, it may be a good week to consider punting the position. Anthony Coombs isn’t exciting, but he’s cheap. Most weeks this season have had him playing primarily in the slot and getting about 4.5 targets a game leading to a pretty low projection. However, the loss of DeVier Posey in Toronto saw a redistribution of his 10 targets a game this season and a number of those went Coombs way leading to 8 targets for 94 yards last week. The RedBlacks pass defence has been quite porous this season – second worst to only Hamilton – so Coombs emerges as a decent punt considering the other options at RB. He’s really a RB by title only, so you can’t expect any carries. He doesn’t project all that well given his baseline production as a RB rather than a SB in previous seasons, but if he continues to see significant looks with Posey out, he’s worth some exposure to in tournaments to free up salary for other positions.
Brandon Zylstra, EDM – $8000
Greg Ellingson, OTT – $8900
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $7700
SJ Green, TOR – $8700
Armanti Edwards, TOR – $6900
Brad Sinopoli, OTT – $7300
Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC – $8800
Bryan Burnham, BC – $7100
Nick Moore, BC – $6400
Jalen Saunders, HAM – $6000
Bryant Mitchell, EDM – $3000
It’s become pretty normal to see Edmonton and Ottawa receivers atop this list, but it’s the first time that Zylstra has come anywhere near this range. As mentioned earlier, Adarius Bowman is out this week with a leg injury, and that leaves 8-10 targets a game to account for. Some of those will certainly be picked up by his competent replacement, Bryant Mitchell, but a number of them are likely to go the way of Brandon Zylstra too. With Bowman hampered last week, Zylstra had 10 receptions on 10 targets for 108 yards. The efficiency there leaves something to be desired, but he certainly has the ability to break long plays as well shown by his 76 yard reception versus BC in week 1. For his career, he averages 14.6 yards per reception, so there’s room for improvement this week. Given the matchup, the loss of Bowman, his reasonable price, and his big play potential, Zylstra is my favorite play of the week regardless of position.
Following Zylstra is Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson. He had a down week versus Edmonton with a significant decrease in targets – about 25%. The Toronto pass defence has been more stingy than Edmonton, so it creates some doubt as to whether he can live up to the projections at this range. That being said, Ellingson did go off to the tune of 10 receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown in their last meeting, so the ceiling is quite high. To this point, he’s averaged over 10 targets a game with Harris at the helm, so he’s likely to see a bounce back week.
Despite his production this season, Kamar Jorden remains very reasonably priced at only $7700. His teammates salaries have also normalized now below his at $7300 for Daniels, and $7100 for McDaniel. Make no mistake folks, this is Kamar’s team at this point. McDaniel is aging and Daniels is more of a high efficiency deep threat than a possession receiver and this leaves Jorden as the target hog in the offence – especially in the redzone. Daniels may be the lower owned receiver to have this week with the Riders propensity for giving up big plays, but Jorden is certainly the safest play of the bunch. He’s a good bet for at least 6-8 catches and a TD at current rates and the implied team total of 34 points does nothing to dissuade you from using him this week.
Next up, but in a clear secondary tier of receivers, are the Toronto duo of Green and Edwards. They both project about the same, but Edwards comes at a much more affordable price tag. They have each had one game this season with 10 receptions, but were also both held in check by the lowly Winnipeg secondary last week. Their range of outcomes are quite broad, but Green has a slightly higher mean projection. The Ottawa secondary has been the leagues second worst this season in terms of yard per reception allowed, so there’s reason to bank on the higher end of expected outcomes this week. It’s unlikely they’ll let Green run wild as he did in week 3, but ownership levels will likely be more heavily on Green than Edwards because of it. If you’re playing GPPs that may make Edwards the sharper play.
Unlike his teammate Ellingson, it’s harder to get excited about Brad Sinopoli. The converted QB has been fairly consistent, but his ceiling is much lower due to lower target efficiency. He’s kinda mediocre, in a mediocre matchup, with mediocre projections. He’s a worthy pair with Ellingson in an Ottawa GPP double stack, but doesn’t warrant a lot of consideration as an individual play.
Emmanuel Arceneaux, Bryan Burnham and Nick Moore make up another group of volatile WRs to consider this week. When Jennings went down last week, many fantasy players gasped. When Lulay put up 400+ passing yards they groaned. When they realized all the targets went to Moore, Shaq and Ianuzzi instead of the usual Manny and Burnham they almost died, but such is the nature of CFL daily fantasy contests. When I wrote about the BC receiving corps in the offseason, following the acquisition of Chris Williams, I figured Moore may be the guy to target over Burnham. Through week 3 that looked stupid. In week 4 it looked brilliant, but that being said, Moore’s week 4 was totally unprecedented. In his 7 year career, Moore has only one other game with 10 or more receptions. Interestingly, that game was in 2013, also against Hamilton, and also with Lulay as QB.
There’s no question that Moore has much more history with Lulay than Burnham and he may be a better play while Jennings remains out, but there’s no reason to expect that kind of production on a regular basis. Moore’s baseline projection around 11 fpts is to low given the circumstances, but it’s also silly to think he’ll come anywhere near that ceiling again. At $6400, he makes a very cheap stack with Lulay against a Bombers secondary that gives up a lot of yards. The question will be what a more realistic expectation for both players will be given their ages and lofty ownership following their week 4 explosion. Manny and Burnham were the more neglected targets and at their significantly higher price tags, they carry even more risk than Moore. Their price tags will also likely depress ownership a bit though as more folks gravitate towards Moore making them more interesting GPP targets.
Rounding out the bottom of the top 10 WR is Hamilton’s Jalen Saunders. Hamilton has been a dumpster fire of iron forging proportions this season, offering no protection at all for QB Zach Collaros and a continued total apathy towards running the ball as an alternative to open season on their signal caller. When Collaros has had more than two seconds to throw a ball, it’s generally been on the run throwing a desperate dart to Saunders off his back foot. Luke Tasker has faded into oblivion and quietly left Saunders as a decent fantasy option in his wake. Since being activated due to the loss of Terence Tolliver, Saunders has averaged 9 targets a game, 112 yards receiving, and has a touchdown as well. It’s hard to get excited about a Hamilton receiver in this offence, especially facing the best pass defence in the league so far to this point in terms of yards per game allowed. I wouldn’t recommend stacking him with Collaros, but he certainly merits consideration as a complimentary piece in your lineups.
The lone WR punt this week is Bryant Mitchell who will be starting in place of the injured Adarius Bowman for the Eskimos this week versus Hamilton. In the preseason, Mitchell was in the running for a starting role until Duke Williams swooped in to take the field side WR spot. With Mitchell starting in the boundary SB spot though, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to get 5-6 targets. At only $3K, he could easily produce 4-5x value in this matchup given the opportunity for playing time and the luscious defensive matchup.
Calgary Stampeders – $5100
Toronto Argonauts – $4700
BC Lions – $5300
Edmonton Eskimos – $4900
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – $4500
Picking the right DST for DraftKings lineups so far this season has been pretty tricky. There have been DST TDs scored every week so far and if you’re going to win a GPP you need to have some exposure to the unit with a score it seems. Unfortunately, projecting DST scores is akin to divining the weather forecast from a pig spleen. A not uncommon pastime here in Saskatchewan, but it’s a skill set yet to be adapted to DFS purposes. The strategy for us through most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons was simply to pick on the worst QB of the week. This week doesn’t offer a clear favourite in that regard, so I’d suggest spreading out your exposure to a few different defences in the hopes of hitting one with a TD this week.
Each of Calgary, Toronto, BC, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are likely to create some turnovers due to matchups with turnover prone offences. Calgary and BC have the most dangerous return games. Calgary and Toronto lead the league in sacks and sacks are likely the most accurately projected defensive stat for fantasy purposes. I’d likely lean most heavily on exposure to Calgary and Toronto DST and then have sprinkles of BC, Edmonton, and Winnipeg in multi-entry settings.
That does it for week 5. 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!