- Free Agency
Projections are the lifeblood of fantasy football. Anyone can have an opinion on how a player will do but putting an actual number to their production takes things to the next level. These projections are “mean projections”, meaning they aren’t predictions per se, but the average expected outcome based on historical production and matchup.
No projections will predict when a player will go for 200 yards and three scores or absolutely tank with four turnovers, but these projections will give you a good idea of who the most likely performers are on a given week.
Mike Reilly, EDM – $14,000
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $8,104
Chris Streveler, WPG – $2,500
Mike Reilly will sit atop the QB projections pretty much every week so long as he’s playing. No player at any position was as consistent in 2017. Winnipeg gave up the second most yards per pass attempt last season at 8.5 while allowing the most passing TDs per attempt as well. It’s a great matchup for the top passer in the league. He is far and away the top projected QB on the slate.
If you don’t want to pay up for Reilly though, things get much more muddled as the next five passers all project within three points of each other. With that being the case I’d opt for the cheapest of the bunch with the best remaining matchup in Bo Levi Mitchell. In 2017 he was a much better real-life quarterback than a fantasy quarterback, but the return of Eric Rogers may change that. Hamilton allowed the most passing yards per attempt last season at 8.6 and allowed the third-most passing TDs per attempt. Bo Levi is a riskier play but at nearly half the salary he may be worth the discount.
If you want to stack the deck at RB and WR though, there’s the option to punt the position this week with rookie Chris Streveler getting the starting nod in Winnipeg. Edmonton was a pretty tough passing matchup in 2017 allowing the second fewest passing yards per game and second fewest total passing touchdowns at 25. With a number of injuries in their defensive secondary though, they may not be as tough a matchup as usual. Streveler’s rushing ability may be his saving grace as a fantasy quarterback this week.
James Wilder Jr., TOR – $8,216
Terry Williams, CGY – $3,595
Andrew Harris, WPG – $6,334
Tre Mason, SSK – $2,500
Jordan Robinson, EDM – $2,500
James Wilder Jr. came on like a stunning force of nature after a relatively slow start to his career in the CFL. Through the final six weeks of the regular season, no player was more dominant. This week’s matchup with the Riders isn’t ideal as they allowed the fewest rushing TDs per attempt by a wide margin in 2017. He was held off the scoreboard and had a below average yards per attempt in each matchup vs. the Riders in 2017. If he’s going to excel it’s likely going to be as a receiving threat.
It’s not yet confirmed, but Terry Williams is expected to take over as the starting running back for the Stampeders this season. His lone start in 2017 creates expectations for astronomical production that isn’t sustainable week to week, but Calgary has the highest implied point total on the slate at 31 points according to Vegas odds, so his opportunities to score should be there. Hamilton gave up the fewest rushing yards per attempt last season at 4.7 though, so his production will likely come through volume rather than efficiency. Williams’ price makes him a steal.
With Matt Nichols out and a rookie QB starting in his place, the Bombers will likely lean on Andrew Harris heavily to start the season. He may not get a lot of carries as a rusher, but the Eskimos’ penchant to give up yards on the ground may make him efficient when he does get carries as Edmonton allowed a league-worst 5.8 yards per carry last season. It’s also likely he receives 7-8 targets in the passing game as a quick outlet pass to take the pressure off Streveler.
If looking for cheap options for the second RB slot, there are two minimum-priced RBs this week worthy of consideration. The Riders are likely to split the workload between Mason and Messam this week, but at Mason’s price he doesn’t have to do much to be of great value. Robinson on the other hand will likely see very few touches on offence, but his abilities as a returner on special teams make him a boom or bust option.
Eric Rogers, CGY – $6,327
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $4,889
SJ Green, TOR – $6,310
Naaman Roosevelt, SSK – $5,891
Bryan Burnham, BC – $5,777
Derel Walker, EDM – $5,755
Vidal Hazelton, EDM – $3,888
Duke Williams, EDM – $2,868
Caleb Holley, SSK – $3,795
Ricky Collins Jr., BC – $3,241
Any time that the top projected player at the position hasn’t played in the league in two years, there’s admittedly some fragility to the projection. That being said, Eric Rogers was that good in 2015. Between his big-play ability and a juicy matchup against the Ticats secondary that allowed the most passing yards per attempt and third most passing touchdowns per attempt last season it’s tough to ignore him. His teammate Kamar Jorden comes at a significant salary discount however and may make a better value play if you need to save the cash.
The Riders’ improved pass rush this season with the additions of Charleston Hughes and Zack Evans may make it tougher on opposing passing games, but the workload of S.J. Green is near unmatched. At 9.2 targets per game in an offence that ran the second highest percentage of pass plays in the league in 2017 at 71 per cent, Green should still have lots of opportunities to produce.
On the other side of the field, Naaman Roosevelt looks to return from an injury-marred 2017 with new quarterback Zach Collaros. Roosevelt has the hands to be a consistent possession receiver and the speed to take plays deep. It’s a difficult matchup given the Argos allowed the third fewest passing yards per attempt and third fewest passing TDs per attempt in 2017, but Roosevelt should get plenty targets.
Bryan Burnham has been one of the most efficient receivers in the league since his breakout in 2016 and gets a great matchup vs. Montreal in Week 1. Montreal allowed the second-most passing TDs per attempt last season, so his big-play ability may be on display in Vancouver on Saturday. If Jonathon Jennings can return to decent form there will be passing scores to be had for this receiving corps.
Rounding out the top projected receiving options is Mike Reilly’s top target Derel Walker. Edmonton projects to run the highest number of plays on the slate at 61.4, so Walker should have every opportunity to produce. The departure of Zylstra and Bowman in the off-season only makes his veteran presence that much more valuable. Other Eskimos receivers are cheaper than him, but none are more proven.
Over 200 targets opened up to be redistributed in the Eskimos passing game for this season, and the top two bets to soak a lot of those up are Vidal Hazelton and Duke Williams. Hazelton is likely to take Bowman’s spot in the offence at boundary SB while Williams looks to fill Zylstra’s role as outside field SB. At near minimum salary, Duke is one of my favourite plays of the week. Other beneficiaries of increased playing time this season are Caleb Holley in Saskatchewan and Ricky Collins Jr. in BC, who both look to prove they belong in starting rosters for their franchises and fantasy players.
Lions – $3,200
Eskimos – $3,349
Stampeders – $5,254
There aren’t a lot of opportunities this week to play proven high-scoring Fantasy defences in great matchups this week. In that scenario it’s wise to opt for defences playing that come at a discount in matchups versus questionable quarterbacks. Both the Eskimos and Lions check in near the bottom of the salary scale this week and get to face teams with two of the lowest implied Vegas totals on the slate in Winnipeg and Montreal. The Eskimos and Lions were both below average Fantasy defences in 2017, but their matchups and salary savings make them desirable plays.
If, however, you’ve filled out the rest of the lineup card and have salary to burn, the Stampeders are still likely the most talented group available. The matchup vs. Hamilton is not ideal though given their stable of 1,000-yard receivers. Add that to the departure of a number of starters on the defensive unit from 2017 and they aren’t the lock that they were last season when they beat Hamilton 60-1 in Week 6.
In fantasy football, “stacking” is the practice of pairing players together that have high correlation in their projected outcomes. To put it simply, if Mike Reilly is going to be a good play, a couple of his receivers will necessarily be good plays as well. Positive correlation is essential to building high-scoring fantasy lineups.
Mike Reilly > Derel Walker, Vidal Hazelton, Duke Williams
The Edmonton passing game is expensive, but for good reason. If you are playing Reilly though, it may make sense to save the cash and opt for the cheaper stack with Hazelton or Williams to allow for improvements at other positions.
Bo Levi Mitchell > Eric Rogers, Kamar Jorden
This is actually a surprisingly affordable double stack for the group of three given the price discount on Mitchell. Even if you aren’t convinced Rogers is worth the cost in his first game back, a Mitchell/Jorden stack is relatively cheap and will allow you to spend up at other positions.
Jonathan Jennings > Bryan Burnham, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Ricky Collins Jr.
Jennings’ matchup with Montreal gives the offence a significant boost in projected plays on offence. Arceneaux is a little expensive, but a Jennings/Burnham/Collins double stack is quite affordable with a ton of upside.
Terry Williams > Stampeders Defence
This stack is a little more unorthodox, but if you expect the Stampeders to get out to a large lead in the game the game script is likely to tip more heavily to the run for Calgary. There is positive correlation to be had by pairing the Stampeders running back with their defence while others invest their dollars in the passing game.
|Name||Salary||Team||Opponent||Projection||Points/$||Pass Attempts||Rush Carries|
|Bo Levi MITCHELL||$8,104.00||CGY||HAM||18.54978931||2.29||34.09||0.18|
|Name||Salary||Team||Opponent||Projection||Points/$||Rush Carries||Receiving Targets|
|James WILDER JR.||$8,216.00||TOR||SSK||23.64396832||2.88||13.30||7.40|
|Name||Salary||Team||Opponent||Projection||Points/$||Rush Carries||Receiving Targets|
|Ricky COLLINS Jr.||$3,241.00||BC||MTL||13.13485969||4.05||0.00||6.50|