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October 31, 2018

Fantasy Strategy: Bringing it home

Larry MacDougal, CFL.ca

Fantasy football is full of difficult decisions on a weekly basis even when it’s obvious who the player options are. Going into Week 21, only the Stampeders have something to play for while the rest of the teams are in the process of resting stars for the playoffs or auditioning talent for next season.

This week, more than any other, it’s imperative to keep an eye on the depth charts to ensure a lineup of active players, as starters in Winnipeg, BC, and Hamilton are prime candidates to be rested just as players in Ottawa already are.

THIS WEEK’S TRIPLE PLAY CONTEST MEANS ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN $1,000 IN TSN CFL FANTASY

QUARTERBACK

Top Projected:

Mike Reilly, EDM – $12,812

Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $10,510

Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY – $8,541

Punt Single:

Matt Nichols, WPG – $6,665

Potential Pivots:

Dane Evans, HAM – $5,000

Chris Streveler, WPG – $7,741

Eskimos coach Jason Maas has already announced Reilly will start the game versus Winnipeg, but there is significant speculation that Kevin Glenn and/or Danny O’Brien may see playing time as well. The projections reflect that. Still, even ceding some of the workload to others, Reilly is the top projected passer on the slate. Winnipeg has been a tough draw for Reilly this season, but they may be resting a significant number of starters in a game in which they also have nothing to play for. Despite a dreadful second half of the season, Edmonton is still second in passing yards per attempt and third in passing TDs per attempt, so a matchup with Winnipeg’s backups could yield some great results.

If there was any question as to whether Masoli or Brandon Banks should be the Ticats candidate for MOP, it was answered last week versus Ottawa. Without Banks in the lineup, the Ticats offence broke down and Masoli was generally ineffective. The matchup versus Montreal though is still appealing from a Fantasy perspective as they are worth picking on despite consecutive impressive efforts versus a poor Argos offence. Montreal allows the third most pass yards per attempt and an above average rate of passing TDs per attempt. A $10K Masoli minus Banks is a tough spend to justify with the Ticats having nothing to play for, but if he sits and Dane Evans gets the start, he’s certainly worth a look. As a collegian, Evans led an efficient Tulsa offence while averaging 257 yards per game with a nearly 3:1 TD to INT ratio.


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There is only one quarterback on this slate guaranteed a full workload with post-season implications giving them motivation to go all out. Unfortunately for Fantasy football players, it’s the recently struggling Mitchell. To be certain, the injuries in the Stamps’ receiving corps haven’t helped, but Mitchell himself has looked uncertain and inaccurate for much of the past two months, leading to an uncharacteristically low completion percentage, yards per attempt average, and declining TD numbers. The Lions playoff fate will be unaffected by either a win or a loss, so some starters may rest in Vancouver on Saturday. Any other week, Mitchell wouldn’t really be in the conversation versus a BC defence that yields a below average number of yards and touchdowns per pass attempt, but given the importance of guaranteed playing time, he’s one of only a handful of QBs worth considering.

Over the past few seasons, the Eskimos have been known for a leaky rush defence that was easily exploited by opposing running backs. The pass defence always kept them in games though in a pass-heavy league. This year, though, the flood gates were opened in the secondary as well, as Edmonton has allowed the second most passing yards per attempt and the third most passing TDs per attempt, making the starting quarterback for Winnipeg a valuable commodity this week. If Nichols plays, he’s a great value at only about half the salary of other starters. It’s already being discussed that he and many other offensive starters may rest Saturday. In that case, a more expensive Streveler would still be a solid option given his ability to run with the football.

RUNNING BACK

Top Projected:

Andrew Harris, WPG – $7,921

Tyrell Sutton, BC – $6,114

Alex Green, HAM – $9,310

Punt Single:

Mossis Madu Jr., OTT – $5,412

Potential Pivots:

Kienan LaFrance, WPG – $3,605

John White, HAM – $4,208

Harris projects as the top player at the RB position this week by a wide margin, but any amount of playing time lost to reserves quickly diminishes any player’s projections. Edmonton allows the third most yards per carry and second most rushing touchdowns per carry so the starting running back for Winnipeg should be a hot commodity. If Harris does get the start to lock up the rushing title, then he’s far and away the top play at the position. If he sits though, LaFrance would be one of the best values of the week at only $3,605.

Sutton’s first two starts for BC were solid Fantasy performances primarily due to exceptional volume over stunning efficiency. His Week 20 matchup versus Saskatchewan was a major hit to both of those factors. Sutton got only 12 carries in what was largely a blowout loss. He had a great deal of success versus Calgary three weeks ago but given Calgary’s need to win this week, it’s hard to imagine a repeat performance. Calgary still allows the fewest rush yards per attempt in the CFL despite recent struggles. If Sutton were to rest, either of Jeremiah Johnson or Chris Rainey could get the start. Johnson wouldn’t hold much interest at $6,034, but Rainey ($6,318) has shown in the past that when he gets a full workload he can have monstrous games, including a late season romp versus Winnipeg last year in which he had 16 carries for 106 yards to go with six receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.

If the Lions rest their starters, Chris Rainey could be a top RB option for Week 21 (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

If Green starts for the Ticats, he will find himself in a below-average matchup versus Montreal, leading a Hamilton rushing attack that has been largely ineffective since his return from injury. His main goal would be to avoid re-aggravating any of those bumps and bruises. A $9K+ price tag is near impossible to justify in this spot. If, however, White gets the start at nearly half the salary, he would be a solid option for salary relief to allow players to spend up at QB and WR. It’s not a good matchup, and the Ticats’ offence is trending down minus Banks so it’s wise to keep expectations low.

Madu had been a very effective player in previous seasons, rotating in and out of the starting lineup with Powell throughout much of 2017 without any noticeable drop off in Ottawa’s offensive performance. His first start of 2018 was underwhelming despite a moderate price tag as he managed a mere 4.6 Fantasy points on only 12 total touches in a game that saw the REDBLACKS post 30 points. This week’s matchup with Toronto is the best imaginable for opposing running backs, as they allow a league high 5.78 yards per rush attempt. With Trevor Harris and the entire REDBLACKS starting receiving corps sitting this one out, they could lean more heavily on Madu, making him a solid play at this salary level. He’s one of the few backs with guaranteed playing time this week.

WIDE RECEIVER

Top Projected:

Bryant Mitchell, EDM – $8,320

Luke Tasker, HAM – $8,700

Eric Rogers, CGY – $6,145

Duke Williams, EDM – $8,000

Darvin Adams, WPG – $7,029

Punt Single:

Chris Matthews, CGY – $2,500

Markeith Ambles, CGY – $3,546

Dominique Rhymes, OTT – $2,503

Jacob Scarfone, OTT – $2,500

Julian Feoli-Gudino, OTT – $2,597

Injuries have depleted the Fantasy options at receiver throughout the season and the news that Ottawa will be resting its starting five this week doesn’t help. Mitchell is the surprising, but completely justified, option atop the projections. Mitchell has averaged 7.14 receptions on 9.57 targets for 106.4 yards and three TDs in the seven games since getting a full-time role in the Eskimos offence. Winnipeg’s pass defence has been significantly improved this season over the past couple years but the prospect of resting starters means the path could be easier than their numbers to this point show. Williams is a similarly interesting option at a cheaper price tag, although his production has certainly slowed since sustaining injuries over the second half of the season. Again, their expected playing time makes them top options on the slate.

As projected last week, Tasker’s production took a significant hit, not a step forward, with the loss of Banks. He projects near the top of the pile but is currently listed as doubtful on the injury report and is likely to sit out this week’s game versus Montreal. In his absence, Terrell Sinkfield ($4,972) could become the top option in the Ticats passing game, assuming he plays. If Hamilton goes the full Ottawa route and rests the lot, there’s no telling who may start for them given the loss of Banks, Jalen Saunders, Chris Williams, Terrence Toliver and Shamawd Chambers. The Als allow a fair bit of yardage through the air, but if most of the starters rest, an already sagging Hamilton passing attack could go completely flat.

Ticats top receiver Luke Tasker could sit Saturday’s game as the playoffs loom in Hamilton (Arthur Ward/CFL.ca)

The Stampeders receiving corps though has finally found some measure of consistency, as the same starting group has played for the past month. Unfortunately for them, their QB has lost his consistency over that stretch. Statistically speaking, Rogers remains a great “buy low” candidate, averaging over eight targets per game and the third most air yards per game of any receiver over the past month. He hasn’t been able to convert those opportunities into Fantasy production though, averaging only eight fantasy points per game over the past four contests. If he had caught a few breaks, like converting pass interference in the endzone calls or a pretty clear catch on the goal line this past week into scores, it would be a different story. At a season-low salary just over $6K, he’s well worth consideration given the limited options with guaranteed playing time and motivation in Week 21. His teammates, Ambles and Matthews, are still priced near minimum salary and are the top value options at the position this week.

It is increasingly unlikely regular Winnipeg starters see meaningful playing time versus Edmonton this weekend. They are a matchup worth targeting though if playing time becomes clear as they allow the second most yards per target to opposing receivers. If Adams starts and plays, he could be a great option given his upward trend in the past month. If, however, he and other starters sit, it could be guys like Daniel Petermann ($2,500) and Rashaun Simonise ($2,500) that are the main beneficiaries.

That brings us to the Ottawa situation, in which the starting five receivers in practice were Dominique Rhymes, Noel Thomas II, Julian Feoli-Gudino, Jacob Scarfone, and Seth Coate – not exactly a Murderer’s Row of Fantasy threats. Versus Toronto however, it’s likely at least one of these minimum-priced players has a big day, as they allow the most receiving yards and touchdowns per attempt by a very wide margin. Rhymes appears to have the most reliable track record of production and at historical rates projects as one of the top values of Week 21.

DEFENCE

Calgary Stampeders – $4,797

Montreal Alouettes – $3,200

The two best options on defence wind up there for completely different reasons. The Stampeders defence has largely struggled over the course of their three-game losing streak, allowing an average of 440.7 yards and 28 points over that span. They do, however, have home field advantage to play for versus a Lions squad with no such motivation. The BC offence was completely ineffective versus Saskatchewan on Saturday and the Stamps defence is still only two off the league lead in sacks while being second in forced turnovers. Whether the starters for the Lions play or not, Calgary is a solid option despite the higher price tag.

The Alouettes, on the other hand, remain a minimum-priced defence despite three straight weeks of double-digit fantasy production. The Hamilton offence is flat-lining at the wrong time and if they rest their starters, they won’t offer a lot of resistance for an Als defence averaging 3.7 sacks and 2.3 forced turnovers per game over their past three games. The salary savings are just a bonus.

STACKS

Reilly > Mitchell or Williams

The Eskimos offence is one of the most reliable sources of proven Fantasy production and playing time this week, so it may be a good option to go back to the well one more time.

Mitchell > Rogers, Ambles, Matthews

The Stamps’ passing game is the other source of proven Fantasy production with known playing time this week as they try to lock up a bye to the Western Final. They have struggled of late, but playing time is more valuable than anything this week.

James Franklin > Armanti Edwards

With Ottawa resting so many starters this week, things could open a bit for Franklin and the Argos offence. His rushing skills have been far more valuable than his passing ones in his second stint as the Argos’ starter, but Edwards has been his primary target over the past three games.

WEEK 21 PROJECTIONS

QUARTERBACKS

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Mike REILLY QB $12,812.00 EDM WPG 22.59 1.76 28.50 5.80
Jeremiah MASOLI QB $10,510.00 HAM MTL 22.42 2.13 32.31 3.70
Bo Levi MITCHELL QB $8,541.00 CGY BC 21.16 2.48 33.08 0.94
Matt NICHOLS QB $6,665.00 WPG EDM 19.06 2.86 28.86 1.90
James FRANKLIN QB $9,324.00 TOR OTT 18.47 1.98 36.56 6.90
Dominique DAVIS QB $5,000.00 OTT TOR 14.38 2.88 16.90 3.90
Johnny MANZIEL QB $7,511.00 MTL HAM 11.85 1.58 29.39 4.00
Travis LULAY QB $6,359.00 BC CGY 10.89 1.71 30.07 2.80
Danny COLLINS QB $5,000.00 OTT TOR 9.54 1.91 16.90 0.90
Chris STREVELER QB $7,741.00 WPG EDM 8.80 1.14 0.00 5.90
Danny O’BRIEN QB $5,000.00 EDM WPG 2.76 0.55 4.80 0.70
Cody FAJARDO QB $5,000.00 BC CGY 1.38 0.28 1.80

RUNNING BACKS

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Pass Attempts Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Andrew HARRIS RB $7,921.00 WPG EDM 19.44 2.45 13.30 4.50
Tyrell SUTTON RB $6,114.00 BC CGY 15.70 2.57 14.30 3.70
Alex GREEN RB $9,310.00 HAM MTL 15.54 1.67 13.80 2.60
William STANBACK RB $6,171.00 MTL HAM 13.00 2.11 10.80 2.90 0.00
Mossis MADU Jr. RB $5,412.00 OTT TOR 12.60 2.33 13.10 3.10
C.J. GABLE RB $6,549.00 EDM WPG 11.52 1.76 10.20 2.30
Brandon BURKS RB $4,608.00 TOR OTT 11.44 2.48 9.10 3.90
Don JACKSON RB $6,693.00 CGY BC 11.11 1.66 13.20 2.50 0.00 0.00
Romar MORRIS RB $6,128.00 CGY BC 8.68 1.42 2.40 2.20 3.00 3.00
Dexter MCCLUSTER RB $3,500.00 TOR OTT 8.41 2.40 4.20 3.50 0.00 0.00
Stefan LOGAN RB $3,068.00 MTL HAM 7.50 2.44 0.50 0.90 5.00 3.00
Martese JACKSON RB $3,986.00 TOR OTT 7.36 1.85 1.80 2.40 4.00 4.00
Declan CROSS RB $2,500.00 TOR OTT 4.28 1.71 0.00 2.50
Mercer TIMMIS RB $3,000.00 HAM MTL 0.97 0.32 0.90 0.00

RECEIVERS

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Pts/$ Pass Attempts Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Bryant MITCHELL WR $8,320.00 EDM WPG 17.81 2.14 0.00 8.90
Luke TASKER WR $8,700.00 HAM MTL 16.80 1.93 0.00 7.30
Eric ROGERS WR $6,145.00 CGY BC 16.70 2.72 0.00 6.70
D’haquille WILLIAMS WR $8,000.00 EDM WPG 16.36 2.05 0.00 8.30
Darvin ADAMS WR $7,029.00 WPG EDM 14.37 2.04 0.00 6.40
Chris MATTHEWS WR $2,500.00 CGY BC 14.31 5.72 0.00 6.70
Markeith AMBLES WR $3,546.00 CGY BC 13.96 3.94 0.00 7.50
Dominique RHYMES WR $2,503.00 OTT TOR 11.11 4.44 0.00 5.80 0.00 0.00
Armanti EDWARDS WR $5,755.00 TOR OTT 10.93 1.90 0.00 6.80
Weston DRESSLER WR $5,152.00 WPG EDM 10.85 2.11 0.00 5.20
Bryan BURNHAM WR $6,989.00 BC CGY 10.62 1.52 0.00 5.90
Mike JONES WR $4,494.00 HAM MTL 10.58 2.35 0.00 5.50
S.J. GREEN WR $6,193.00 TOR OTT 10.30 1.66 0.00 8.30
Terrell SINKFIELD WR $4,972.00 HAM MTL 10.08 2.03 0.00 5.90
DeVier POSEY WR $5,544.00 BC CGY 10.02 1.81 0.00 6.50
Nic DEMSKI WR $4,809.00 WPG EDM 9.62 2.00 0.80 5.10 0.00
Geno LEWIS WR $4,629.00 MTL HAM 9.12 1.97 0.01 5.10
Marquay MCDANIEL WR $3,442.00 HAM MTL 9.01 2.62 0.00 5.10 0.00 0.00
Justin BUREN WR $2,500.00 HAM MTL 7.98 3.19 0.00 5.30 0.00 0.00
Kenbrell THOMPKINS WR $2,500.00 WPG EDM 7.66 3.06 0.00 3.60
Julian FEOLI GUDINO WR $2,597.00 OTT TOR 7.41 2.85 0.00 4.60
Shakeir RYAN WR $2,500.00 BC CGY 7.13 2.85 0.00 0.50 3.00 3.00
Juwan BRESCACIN WR $3,582.00 CGY BC 7.10 1.98 0.00 3.70
Drew WOLITARSKY WR $4,270.00 WPG EDM 6.94 1.63 0.00 3.70
Ernest JACKSON WR $4,007.00 MTL HAM 6.71 1.67 0.00 5.30
Ricky COLLINS Jr. WR $3,429.00 BC CGY 6.59 1.92 0.00 5.70
Lemar DURANT WR $2,785.00 CGY BC 6.34 2.28 0.00 3.90
Jacob SCARFONE WR $2,500.00 OTT TOR 6.32 2.53 0.00 4.30
Duron CARTER WR $3,128.00 TOR OTT 6.18 1.97 0.00 3.90
Llevi NOEL WR $3,520.00 TOR OTT 5.84 1.66 0.00 4.50
Adarius BOWMAN WR $3,308.00 MTL HAM 5.67 1.71 0.00 5.40
Myles WHITE WR $2,500.00 WPG EDM 4.89 1.96 0.00 3.10
Cory WATSON WR $3,304.00 BC CGY 4.64 1.40 0.00 3.20
George JOHNSON WR $2,500.00 MTL HAM 4.62 1.85 0.00 3.90
Nate BEHAR WR $2,500.00 EDM WPG 4.48 1.79 0.00 3.10
TJ GRAHAM WR $2,500.00 MTL HAM 4.44 1.77 0.00 3.30 0.00
Natey ADJEI WR $2,500.00 EDM WPG 3.34 1.34 0.00 1.90
Vidal HAZELTON WR $4,169.00 EDM WPG 1.12 0.27 0.00 0.90