- Free Agency
As is the norm for the league as the regular season wraps up, there are a lot of new faces in starting lineups this week. There are different faces at quarterback, running back, and receiver so it’s time to get caught up on the player movement and what it means for lineup construction.
Mike Reilly, EDM – $12,802
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $11,817
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $9,974
Matt Nichols, WPG – $6,556
Reilly still projects as the top passer on the slate, but really, after the past three weeks that he and the Eskimos offence have had, it’s hard to imagine many folks will be interested in spending a third of their budget here. Since the Labour Day rematch in Edmonton, Reilly has averaged only 220 yards passing per game and has only one touchdown pass to go along with six interceptions. The offence and coaching staff seem to have no answers for opposing pass rushes. Add the fact this matchup is with an Ottawa defence that allows a below average yards per pass attempt (7.82) and that has averaged over 2.6 sacks per game in the second half of the season and it seems unlikely this is the week Reilly and the Eskimos figure things out.
Masoli, on the other hand, has completely dismantled the Toronto secondary in their previous two matchups this season, passing for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in their home and home series. The Argos haven’t shown any improvements in that regard and still allow a league high 9.57 yards per pass attempt along with the highest rate of passing touchdowns per attempt. It’s a dream matchup for the Hamilton passing game that leads the league in offensive passing yards per attempt.
Mitchell and the Stampeders offence took a similarly appealing matchup last week though and proved there is no sure thing in Fantasy football. All the metrics pointed to the Stamps passing attack stomping the Als in Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday, but Mitchell showed up with his worst game of the season, compiling a mere 199 yards passing to go with three picks. With temperatures expected to be near freezing again this week, there are reasons to be anxious about rostering Mitchell for a second week in a row. The matchup with BC’s secondary isn’t that appealing either as they allow a below average 7.95 yards per attempt and are second in the league in sacks with 38. They have given up TDs through the air at an above average clip and Calgary still leads the league in big plays by a wide margin (37), so Mitchell is at least in the conversation.
Nichols was the top value play at quarterback in Week 17 and he came through with his best game of the season in a shootout versus Ottawa. The Riders defence will be a stiffer test and the weather is forecast to be around freezing with a chance of snow and 50kph wind gusts, so it may not be a good idea to invest much in the Bombers or Riders passing attacks. The Bombers are certainly still a run-first offensive scheme which has seen Nichols yet to crack 300 yards passing at any point this season. The Riders also allow below average rates of yards per pass (7.91) and touchdowns per pass attempt and their pass rush still likely wakes up Nichols in the middle of the night in a cold sweat since the Banjo Bowl. It’s not a great week to spend down at QB.
Andrew Harris, WPG – $8,297
William Powell, OTT – $10,348
Brandon Burks, TOR – $4,200
John White, HAM – $4,086
Harris is the top projected back on the slate and his first 100-yard rushing effort in over a month didn’t even drive his price up. Harris’s yards per carry (5.6) are among the league leaders and he will need to carry the load in bad weather versus a Riders rush defence that ranks fourth in the league allowing only 5.12 yards per carry along with a league low rate of rushing TDs per attempt. High winds may raise the importance of the short passing game as well which also works in Harris’s favour as he’s had only 11 receptions since the beginning of September. The overall game environment keeps his total projection down from the lofty heights it was at earlier in the year.
Powell is the highest priced back on the slate by nearly $2K and the matchup versus a porous Edmonton rush defence that allows an above average 5.39 yards per carry and the league’s highest rate of rushing TDs per attempt would seem to have him destined for a high projection as well. His low touchdown rate, though accompanied with the third lowest implied team total in the Vegas odds, keeps his overall projection down. There’s good reason to believe he can outperform this projection by a considerable margin, but the math gives lower expectations so far.
White looks to get another start in the Ticats’ backfield with Alex Green still on the six-game injured list and, at his discounted salary, in a plus matchup, he’s about as close to a lock a player can get. Jeremiah Johnson had not cracked 80 yards this season and managed over 60 yards only three times, yet he went for nearly 120 last week versus the Argos. Toronto allows the league’s second highest rate of yards per carry (5.54) and Hamilton scores an above average rate of their TDs on the ground so White could be not only a solid value play but also in contention to be the highest scoring back this week.
Toronto running backs had 18 carries for 145 yards along with four receptions for 26 yards versus BC last week. Unfortunately, that workload was split evenly between Dexter McCluster and Burks. That’s fine for Marc Trestman but it’s less exciting for Fantasy players. Unfortunately for Toronto, but thankfully for Fantasy players, it appears Burks has the backfield to himself this week in a matchup with Hamilton that allows the most yards per carry (5.79) in the league. He only needs to break one big run to exceed value and Hamilton has already allowed eight rushes of 30-plus yards this season. Toronto is expected to be playing from behind which may hurt his touches, but he has shown enough ability as a receiver to stay in the game plan.
Brandon Banks, HAM – $11,854
Duke Williams, EDM – $9,123
Luke Tasker, HAM – $9,227
Eric Rogers, CGY – $7,722
Diontae Spencer, OTT – $8,576
Greg Ellingson, OTT – $7,674
Brad Sinopoli, OTT – $7,418
Bryant Mitchell, EDM – $6,427
Chris Matthews, CGY – $2,500
Juwan Brescacin, CGY – $4,076
Kenny Shaw, SSK – $4,136
Banks’ salary is getting ridiculous but so has his sustained production. He has been held under 100 yards only three times this season, and in one of those games he made up for it with a pair of touchdowns. Seemingly no receiver in the game has a higher floor or ceiling. In his two previous matchups with Toronto, Banks compiled 288 receiving yards and four touchdowns for a total of 67.8 fantasy points. It’s unfair to expect that kind of production to continue but it’s not unreasonable given that Toronto allows the highest rates in both yards and touchdowns per target. He’s difficult to fit, but if players go with two cheap RBs and a cheap WR, it’s not inconceivable. His teammate Tasker is a more affordable option but he has a similarly lower projection and significantly lower floor.
Williams has been playing hurt since the Labour Day rematch with the REDBLACKS in Edmonton and it has shown as his production continues to wain from early season levels. The matchup versus Ottawa isn’t ideal in the yardage projections but they do allow the third highest rate of touchdowns per target, making Duke a fair bet for a score this week. In their matchup only a couple weeks ago, he was one overturned TD away from a huge day, so he may be a low owned contrarian option in this week’s rematch. However, Mitchell has led the Eskimos in targets and air yards over that same span. At a much lower salary, he may be the one to go with if players are looking to buy low on the Edmonton offence.
As mentioned earlier, the Calgary offence had a terrible Week 17 in a matchup they were expected to dominate. With news that Rogers is away from the team right now for the birth of a child it could get dicey for the Stamps passing game. If Rogers plays, he projects well in an above average matchup versus the Lions. If Rogers is out, then the whole offence takes a bit of a hit in efficiency. Rogers’ upside could justifiably have him in the $9K range, so his salary is a relative bargain for the top Stamps WR in an offence that has the most plays for 30-plus yards this season (37). If Matthews also suits up for his first game for Calgary, the supporting pieces like Brescacin and Markeith Ambles will take a hit. To say there’s a lot up in the air in the Calgary passing game is an understatement.
The Ottawa trio of receivers generally underwhelmed again in a difficult matchup versus Winnipeg. If not for the last drive in both the fourth quarter and overtime, they would have had terrible outings. The volume is certainly there for Ellingson and Sinopoli as both are near the league lead for targets while Spencer gets the boost from return yardage, but Ottawa continues to lag in terms of efficiency and passing touchdowns. They are well below average in terms of TDs per target and just about average in terms of yards per target (8.26). There is hope for increased efficiency as Edmonton allows the second most yards per target (8.7) and the second most plays of 30-plus yards this season but 17 weeks of data this season gives reason not to let expectations get too high.
The receiver bargain bin this week yields a few good options but also ones that require Fantasy players to keep tabs on the news as the week progresses. Matthews was close to suiting up in Week 17 so it’s likely he’ll get his first start this week versus BC. At only $2,500 and with ample opportunity to get involved, he’s the top value on the slate regardless of position. If Rogers is out this week, his opportunities likely only increase. Much of Brescacin’s value also likely hinges on Rogers’ status. Shaw doesn’t have the upside of the Calgary receivers in the Riders low end passing offence, but he has seen a sizable workload as the Riders top targeted receiver since entering the starting lineup two weeks ago. The potential loss of Jordan Williams-Lambert only increases his importance.
Calgary Stampeders – $5,845
Saskatchewan Roughriders – $6,217
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – $4,313
The Stampeders defence had an expectedly solid outing versus the fairly punchless Alouettes offence, allowing only six points while racking up six sacks and a pair of turnovers. The Lions offence has a few more weapons and a more established QB with Travis Lulay expected to return to the starting lineup. The Stamps are near the league leaders in sacks (36) and are atop the standings in forced turnovers with 41. With all the turnover in the Lions lineup and the affects of the cold weather on a dome team it could be another great weekend of the Stamps defence.
The Riders defence put up another defensive touchdown in their late win versus the Eskimos last week. They lead the league in that category while also leading the league in sacks (41) while forcing the third most turnovers (36). It could be another dark day for Nichols and the Bombers offence.
If players are looking for a cheaper option on defence, Hamilton may provide some salary relief in their matchup with Toronto. James Franklin is expected back under centre for the Boatmen this week and he’s averaged over an interception per game as a starter this season. They also have four defensive touchdowns over the past three games, which although certainly is not sustainable, is reason to believe there’s upside for the unit at a cheaper price tag.
Masoli > Banks
In the best matchup of the week, and with uncertainty in most other passing attacks, the combo of Masoli and Banks is the best bet to be the top performing duo this week. It’s a pricey stack but that may help keep ownership down as well.
Mitchell > Rogers, Matthews
If Rogers and Matthews are both in the lineup this week, they make an affordable double stack with Mitchell that is a solid value while also presenting significant upside in their matchup versus BC.
White > Hamilton Defence
The Toronto offence has shown little sign of life this season and has made the third QB change of the season this week. White has seen 34 carries over his past two starts and if the Ticats get up early again he could easily see 15-20 again this week. There’s solid correlation here in betting against the Argos.
WEEK 18 PROJECTIONS
|Name||Postion||Salary||Team||Opp||Projection||Pts/$||Pass Attempts||Rush Carries|
|Bo Levi MITCHELL||QB||$9,974.00||CGY||BC||24.42363409||2.45||35.25164232||0.8|
|Name||Postion||Salary||Team||Opp||Projection||Pts/$||Rush Carries||Receiving Targets||Punt Returns||Kick Returns|
|John White IV||RB||$4,086.00||HAM||TOR||14.21801947||3.48||14.5||2.4|
|Name||Postion||Salary||Team||Opp||Projection||Pts/$||Rush Carries||Receiving Targets||Punt Returns||Kick Returns|
|Ricky Collins Jr.||WR||$5,108.00||BC||CGY||7.051226867||1.38||0||6.3|
|Julian FEOLI GUDINO||WR||$2,770.00||OTT||EDM||5.310945304||1.92||0||3.8|