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September 12, 2018

Fantasy Strategy: Swimming upstream in Week 14

Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca

In fantasy sports, like the rest of life, you can’t pick your circumstance, only your reactions to them. Sometimes there isn’t a good option to be had so it’s a matter of picking the best of the bad options and carrying on.

This week the vast majority of the best Fantasy options have terrible matchups and the best matchups are given to questionable options. Despite all the uncomfortable options, some of them are going to make up the winning lineup this week.

QUARTERBACK

Top Projected:

Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $9,919

Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $11,659

Antonio Pipkin, MTL – $6,721

Punt Single:

Travis Lulay, BC – $6,646

Most folks who built lineups from Hamilton stacks last week were elated with their certainty of victory around 4 p.m. Eastern time last Saturday. Then Calgary and Edmonton decided to put up 90 total points out of nowhere. Bo Levi Mitchell had an astronomical 491 passing yards along with four TD passes – a wild 10.7 yards per attempt. The Hamilton defence he faces this week, though, allows the second-fewest yards per pass attempt (7.2) and the third-fewest total passing touchdowns this season (12). This is a lot more difficult matchup than a week ago, and his ceiling is hurt even more by the pace projections, as Hamilton allows the fewest plays per game to opposing offences at 51. This projects Calgary for a full 10 per cent fewer plays than their season average. He’s the top projected passer, but Mitchell has a tough road to success in Week 14.

The quarterback on the other side of the field Saturday afternoon in Hamilton has an even more difficult matchup, as Calgary has the only pass defence that outranks the Ticats. Masoli has had two huge weeks in a row but that was versus the Toronto secondary; it was to be expected. Calgary allows the fewest yards per pass attempt at 6.9, which is still almost a yard more than Hamilton allows per rush attempt at 5.99. Even after allowing three touchdown passes to Mike Reilly last weekend, Calgary has still only given up nine all season. Also, similarly to Hamilton, Calgary allows the second-fewest plays per game to opposing offences with 53.9, meaning the game overall will likely limit opportunities for both teams. The upside will be much tougher to reach this week.


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Antonio Pipkin is really cheap and sometimes, when the top projected options are expensive and in bad matchups, it’s a realistic option just to spend down to pay up elsewhere. The good news for Pipkin is that the BC defence is second only to the Montreal defence in terms of plays allowed per game to opposing offences — his opportunities to rack up stats should be there. The bad news for Pipkin is this is the toughest pass defence he’s faced so far in terms of yards and touchdowns allowed per attempt. Even the BC rush defence is significantly improved over the past number of weeks. Pipkin is also averaging over an interception per game to this point, while BC has forced a total 12 INTs. This will be Pipkin’s toughest test to date.

His opponent, on the other side of the field, looks to be Travis Lulay, as he returned to practice with the first team for BC this week. Lulay is the cheapest of the options this week and may be in the best spot to succeed. BC has only passed for 11 TDs this season, but in the matchup with Montreal projects for the second-highest rate of passing TDs per attempt on the slate, as Montreal has given up a league high 23 scores through the air so far. Montreal also allows the most plays per game to opposing offences (63.2) and the second-most yards per pass attempt. BC should have more opportunities than usual to score and increased efficiency when given them. This may be Lulay’s week to shine at a deeply discounted price to his competition.

RUNNING BACK

Top Projected:

Jeremiah Johnson, BC – $7,229

Alex Green, HAM – $9,336

Don Jackson, CGY – $6,517

Punt Single:

William Stanback, MTL – $4000

Another BC player with opportunity to shine this week is Jeremiah Johnson. Montreal allows the second-fewest yards per rush attempt, which isn’t that heartening, but Johnson had 17 receptions over the three previous games before Lulay left with an injury in Week 13. With so many Lions’ receivers struggling with drops, Johnson has become a reliable target for Lulay in the passing game. Johnson’s outstanding scoring rates also give his value a bump.

Alex Green’s scoring streak continued in Week 13 with a late receiving touchdown, giving him at least one touchdown in six straight games and a total of nine in that six-game span. At some point that streak will end and if any defence is likely to do that it is Calgary’s. The Stampeders have allowed the second-fewest rushing scores at only eight and allow the fewest yards per rush attempt at only 4.82. This will be Green’s toughest test to date, with his fewest projected attempts and worst projected efficiency staring him square in the face at his highest price of the season. He’s a difficult high spend this week.

Despite his hot streak, Alex Green has an undesirable matchup vs. the Stamps in Week 14 (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

Green’s opponent on the other side of the field is likely to be Don Jackson, who is expected to return from injury this week. Jackson had a solid outing versus Hamilton in the first week of the season with 87 rushing yards and a long touchdown run. Hamilton’s rushing defence hasn’t improved since then, allowing a league-high 5.99 yards per carry. Jackson makes for one of the better options on the slate, regardless of position, at a very affordable price tag.

Another cheaper RB option is one of the other top values on the slate as William Stanback is also expected to return from injury this week to start for the Alouettes. After a rough start to the season, the Lions rush defence has improved a bit and slightly fewer yards per carry than league average at 4.98. They have allowed the third highest rate of rushing touchdowns per attempt, though, so Stanback has a decent shot at a score if Pipkin doesn’t vulture it. Ryder Stone may also steal a few touches, so expectations for Stanback’s production shouldn’t get too high.

WIDE RECEIVER

Top Projected:

Brandon Banks, HAM – $10,516

DaVaris Daniels, CGY – $7,489

Luke Tasker, HAM – $7,661

Diontae Spencer, OTT – $7,897

Greg Ellingson, OTT – $6,415

Bryan Burnham, BC – $6,332

Ricky Collins Jr., BC – $4,974

Punt Single(s):

Reggie Begelton, CGY – $3,513

Kyran Moore, SSK – $2,500

Like the quarterbacks, many of the top receivers find themselves in the most difficult matchups possible. The Hamilton duo of Banks and Tasker absolutely feasted on the struggling Argos secondary the past two weeks but Calgary is a much stiffer test. The availability of Ciante Evans will have a lot to say about it though. As of Tuesday, he still was not practising, and the Calgary secondary wasn’t the same without him. Banks and Tasker could see a little more wiggle room with him out, but it’s still an overall very difficult matchup, with Calgary allowing the fewest yards and touchdown per target in the CFL.

Sandwiched between those two is DaVaris Daniels, who has become the Stamps’ top target with the loss of Eric Rogers and Kamar Jorden to injury. Daniels has two straight games with over 100 yards receiving and touchdowns in four straight games. Hamilton, though, allows the second-fewest yards per target and the third-lowest rate of receiving touchdowns per target on the slate. It’s not an impossible matchup to succeed against, but it’s not the most inviting matchup to target, either.

The Ottawa trio of Spencer, Ellingson and Sinopoli make up the next bunch in the projection, but it’s hard to get too excited about any of them with the Ottawa offence in a funk that has led to only four passing TDs for the group in the past eight games, and a mere five total in 2018. Ottawa has passing touchdown per target rates similar to Toronto and Saskatchewan, which is not enticing company. The Riders allow the third-fewest yards per target to opposing receivers and the second-fewest plays per game to opposing offences, so it’s difficult to justify paying up for any of the Ottawa group. If going the full nihilist contrarian route, Ellingson is probably the best bet of the bunch.

With Kamar Jorden sidelined, Kamar Jorden (pictured) looks to make this most of his opportunity (Larry MacDougal/CFL.ca)

As mentioned earlier with Travis Lulay, the Lions passing game is in a good spot versus Montreal, and members of their receiving corps are still underpriced for the lower volume they received before losing Arceneaux to injury. Bryan Burnham is the steadiest member of the group with a 70.8 per cent career catch rate while averaging 17.4 yards per reception this season. Ricky Collins Jr. made the #ComebackSzn complete with his unexpected 26.5 fantasy point outburst last week, but he’s still certainly a more mercurial option. Montreal allows a bunch of yards and scores through the air, so the opportunities should be plentiful for Burnham, Collins, and company.

On a smaller three-game slate this week, the bargain bin options are also more limited, but a couple still stand out. Bageltown re-opened for business in the greater Edmonton area last week after a soft opening earlier this season, as Reggie erupted for seven catches and 153 yards. As mentioned, the Hamilton matchup is much more difficult than he faced in Edmonton, but the opportunities should still be more than enough to justify his $3,513 salary. Another cheap option is Kyran Moore in a matchup versus Ottawa that is pretty average in terms of yards per target allowed, but gives up the highest rate of passing touchdowns per target on the slate. His work in the return game also helps his floor, making him a solid punt option at $2,500.

DEFENCE

Saskatchewan Roughriders – $6,054

BC Lions – $3,200

The Roughriders have scored more touchdowns on defence than they have through either passing or rushing the football on offence in 2018. That’s ridiculous. It’s notoriously hard to fit in top defensive units at the pricing levels they are at, but if any unit is worthy of consideration, it’s the Riders. Ottawa has allowed the second-most sacks (24) and the fourth-most turnovers (24) while the Riders have forced the most sacks (29) and second-most turnovers (31). Add to that that Ottawa has scored the third-fewest TDs in the league on offence — behind only Saskatchewan and Montreal — and there’s the recipe for another great Riders defensive performance. With all the cheaper options at other positions, it may be the week to pay up.

The Lions may be the best cheap option on the slate. BC generates the second-most sacks per game (2.4) and the Alouettes allow a whopping 3.3 per game. While Pipkin has breathed some life into the Als offence, they still score a league-low 17.3 points per game, while he averages over an interception per game.

STACKS

Bo Levi Mitchell > DaVaris Daniels, Reggie Begelton

As mentioned, it’s a much more difficult matchup this week for the Stamps but the salary has to get spent somewhere. The Calgary offence has the most plays of 30-plus yards in the league (31), so there is some reason for hope even with so many other indicators going against them.

Jeremiah Masoli > Brandon Banks, Luke Tasker

Masoli and the dynamic duo have been on fire the past two weeks, but the Stampeders are a significant obstacle to overcome. It’s unadvisable, neigh impossible, to fit in the trifecta again this week, but even a single receiver stack would be a low owned option with upside.

Antonio Pipkin > BJ Cunningham

Pipkin’s primary Fantasy attribute is his ability as a ball carrier rather than a passer, especially with his work at the goal line, but Cunningham has certainly been his top target when looking down field. He’s had double digit fantasy points in each of Pipkin’s starts with at least five receptions in each contest. At only $5K, this pair make a nice cheap stack.

WEEK 14 FANTASY PROJECTIONS

QUARTERBACK

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Bo Levi MITCHELL QB $9,919.00 CGY HAM 21.00 2.12 31.98 0.62
Jeremiah MASOLI QB $11,659.00 HAM CGY 20.52 1.76 33.32 4.60
Travis LULAY QB $6,646.00 BC MTL 16.97 2.55 36.21 1.90
Antonio PIPKIN QB $6,721.00 MTL BC 16.44 2.45 29.39 5.70
Trevor HARRIS QB $8,161.00 OTT SSK 15.58 1.91 38.44 1.90
Zach COLLAROS QB $5,097.00 SSK OTT 12.27 2.41 30.68 1.10
Cody FAJARDO QB $5,000.00 BC MTL 1.63 0.33 1.70
Dominique DAVIS QB $5,000.00 OTT SSK 0.18 0.04 2.20

RUNNING BACK

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Jeremiah JOHNSON RB $7,229.00 BC MTL 17.73 2.45 12.50 3.90 0.00 1.00
Alex GREEN RB $9,336.00 HAM CGY 17.20 1.84 14.00 2.60
Don JACKSON RB $6,517.00 CGY HAM 13.17 2.02 13.80 2.90 0.00 0.00
William POWELL RB $8,204.00 OTT SSK 13.07 1.59 14.80 3.60
Chris RAINEY RB $6,419.00 BC MTL 12.66 1.97 3.60 3.10 4.00 3.00
William STANBACK RB $4,000.00 MTL BC 10.89 2.72 10.10 2.50 0.00
Marcus THIGPEN RB $5,466.00 SSK OTT 9.23 1.69 5.60 3.10 4.00 2.00
Tre MASON RB $4,186.00 SSK OTT 8.80 2.10 11.20 2.70
Stefan LOGAN RB $3,106.00 MTL BC 6.48 2.09 0.30 0.40 5.00 3.00
Terry WILLIAMS RB $3,779.00 CGY HAM 5.78 1.53 2.10 0.90 4.00 3.00
Ryder STONE RB $2,500.00 MTL BC 2.34 0.94 0.90 1.20

WIDE RECEIVER

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Brandon BANKS WR $10,516.00 HAM CGY 19.05 1.81 0.02 9.40 1.00
DaVaris DANIELS WR $7,489.00 CGY HAM 17.81 2.38 0.05 8.30
Luke TASKER WR $7,661.00 HAM CGY 16.86 2.20 0.00 8.40
Diontae SPENCER WR $7,897.00 OTT SSK 16.13 2.04 0.04 7.50 5.00 3.00
Greg ELLINGSON WR $6,415.00 OTT SSK 16.10 2.51 0.00 9.70
Brad SINOPOLI WR $6,686.00 OTT SSK 15.75 2.36 0.00 9.30
Bryan BURNHAM WR $6,332.00 BC MTL 14.80 2.34 0.03 7.50
Ricky Collins Jr. WR $4,974.00 BC MTL 12.22 2.46 0.00 7.50
Reggie BEGELTON WR $3,513.00 CGY HAM 11.80 3.36 0.00 6.20
Marken MICHEL WR $5,590.00 CGY HAM 11.18 2.00 0.03 6.00 0.00 0.00
Jordan WILLIAMS-LAMBERT WR $4,399.00 SSK OTT 11.15 2.53 0.00 5.90
B.J. CUNNINGHAM WR $5,111.00 MTL BC 11.07 2.17 0.05 7.50
Naaman ROOSEVELT WR $4,556.00 SSK OTT 10.07 2.21 0.00 6.80
Terrence TOLIVER WR $4,672.00 HAM CGY 10.02 2.14 0.00 5.60
Kevin ELLIOTT WR $3,109.00 BC MTL 8.95 2.88 0.00 5.40
Kyran MOORE WR $2,500.00 SSK OTT 8.53 3.41 1.10 4.80 2.00 1.00
Geno LEWIS WR $2,954.00 MTL BC 7.42 2.51 0.20 4.20
R.J. HARRIS WR $2,984.00 OTT SSK 6.90 2.31 0.00 4.20
Shaq EVANS WR $2,500.00 SSK OTT 6.89 2.76 0.00 5.50 0.00
Ernest JACKSON WR $3,128.00 MTL BC 6.41 2.05 0.03 5.20
Juwan BRESCACIN WR $2,500.00 CGY HAM 5.80 2.32 0.00 3.20
Mike JONES WR $2,500.00 HAM CGY 5.49 2.20 0.00 3.90
Adarius BOWMAN WR $2,690.00 MTL BC 5.48 2.04 0.00 5.30
Julian FEOLI GUDINO WR $2,500.00 OTT SSK 5.40 2.16 0.00 4.10
Cory WATSON WR $2,500.00 BC MTL 5.09 2.04 0.00 3.10
Rashad LAWRENCE WR $2,500.00 HAM CGY 4.01 1.61 0.00 3.40
Joshua STANFORD WR $2,500.00 SSK OTT 3.10 1.24 0.00 2.90
Lemar DURANT WR $3,041.00 CGY HAM 2.11 0.69 0.00 4.40
George JOHNSON WR $2,500.00 MTL BC 1.27 0.51 0.00 3.10