June 19, 2019

Fantasy Strategy: Esks’ offence poised to repeat

The Canadian Press

Week 1 in CFL/TSN Fantasy was one of extremes, with some teams running over 70 plays on offence – 15 over the 2018 league average – while others squeaked out volume in only the low 40s.

Week 2 should bring some normalization to the numbers, but there are always exceptions to the rule.


Top Projected:

Jeremiah Masoli, HAM – $10,696

Trevor Harris, EDM – $9,229

Mike Reilly, BC – $11,268

Punt Single:

Dominique Davis, OTT – $6,244

Isaac Harker, SSK – $2,500

Week 1 brought a pretty underwhelming performance from Masoli and the Ticats’ offence, being limited to just 169 yards passing with one TD. Maybe even more surprising though is that an offence that averaged over 57 offensive plays per game in 2018 ran only 44 in their 2019 debut. This week should bring a drastic change in their fortunes as the Argos allowed the most passing yards per attempt (9.47) and passing TDs per attempt in the league by wide margins. The additions of Tobi Antigha and Kevin Fogg may help out the secondary in Toronto, but they are the still the marquee matchup to pick on until they prove otherwise.

Trevor Harris on the other hand blew all the moderate expectations for his debut out of the water with 37.1 Fantasy points, while passing for over 400 yards accompanied by three TDs through the air and one on the ground. What long held Harris out of the elite tier of CFL Fantasy QBs was his lack of rush attempts and goal line carries. His seven carries in Week 1 netted only 12 yards, but his role as the goal line option in Edmonton boosts his value immensely – Harris had only 27 carries in all of last season. BC was an average defence against the pass in 2018 in terms of yards and TDs allowed per play, but working in Harris’s favour is his volume upside. The Eskimos ran a whopping 70 plays on offence last week and now face a BC defence that allowed 60 to Winnipeg in Week 1 – 55.9 was the league average in 2018.

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Mike Reilly is looking to bounce back from a subpar Week 1 Fantasy outing (The Canadian Press)

Harris’s predecessor, Mike Reilly, returns home this weekend to face his old club. Mike Reilly put up average Mike Reilly type numbers in Week 1, passing for 324 yards and a touchdown. Maybe the most notable stat out of the entire game though is that he didn’t have even one rushing attempt. Not one. You have to go all he way back to July 20, 2017 to find the last time he didn’t carry the ball even once – an event that happened only three times in his entire tenure in Edmonton. It’s certainly a small sample size in BC, but with all that they’ve invested in Reilly, it may well be that his new offensive scheme wants to keep him clean as much as possible and his rushing totals go down this season, making it much tougher to pay off his lofty price tag. The 2018 version of the Eskimos’ defence allowed the second most yards per pass attempt (8.99), but the 2019 version should be much improved with their off-season acquisitions and allowed only 7.07 yards per attempt to Montreal last week. Reilly is an unnecessary expense in Week 2.

The two major salary relief options in Week 2 at QB are not recommended plays but both carry boom or bust potential at very low price tags. The REDBLACKS’ starter, Dominique Davis, passed for just 276 yards on a league high 44 attempts while having four INTs to show for his trouble. His Fantasy value was saved by three rushing TDs but it’s impossible to count on that kind of production on a weekly basis. A visit by the Roughriders’ defence that allowed just 169 yards and a TD to MOP candidate Jeremiah Masoli in Week 1 could result in just as many turnovers for Davis and far fewer scoring attempts. The Riders plans at QB are equally as volatile as they plan to split the QB workload between Fajardo and Harker, playing “the hot hand” in the second half. Fajardo carries far too much risk at his price tag, but Harker coming in with a gunslinger mentality at minimum salary makes him a high risk/reward candidate, giving Fantasy players the ability to spend up anywhere else they want.


Top Projected:

CJ Gable, EDM – $7,650

William Powell, SSK – $8,967

Mossis Madu, OTT – $6,652

Punt Single:

Sean Thomas Erlington, HAM – $4,083

CJ Gable had an outstanding debut in Week 1, putting up the second highest total rushing yards in his time in Edmonton, while adding three receptions and a TD. The positive game script also led to extra carries for him as he amassed 20 carries – more than all but one game in 2018. Week 2 could also bring a high volume of carries as BC allowed 7.4 yards per carry to Winnipeg in Week 1, allowing a total of 170 yards on the ground on 23 attempts. Although that extreme efficiency can’t be expected to happen weekly, BC did allow the third most yards per rush attempt in 2018 as well (5.42).

No one expected the Roughriders to be one of the top offences in the league in 2019 after their dismal 2018 campaign, but the indefinite loss of Zach Collaros on just the third play of their opening game didn’t inspire confidence in Riderville. The Riders surprisingly answered with sustained ball movement, running 70 offensive plays – 15.5 more than their 2018 average – 32 of which were on the ground. Powell can’t be expected to sustain a workload of over 20 touches a game, but for as long as he can stay healthy, it appears to be the Riders’ game plan. Ottawa was a league average rush defence in 2018, so Powell will need all that volume to pay off his immense salary given the other value options at the position.

CFL Fantasy Podcast, Ep. 30: Way-too-early conclusions

Pat Steinberg, Jeff Krever and Hannah Nordman draw their conclusions from the first week of the season. What’s real and what’s a myth? More in the latest CFL Fantasy Podcast presented by LeoVegas.

Mossis Madu was rostered by fewer people than Marcus Thigpen and Terry Williams in Week 1 – both backups on their own teams. Madu answered his doubters by compiling 140 yards on 24 carries and six receptions. He was both reasonably efficient and effective in a matchup versus the stingiest defence in the league in 2018 – another sign that the Stampeders’ defence may struggle more than usual this season due to their off-season losses. The 2018 Rider defence allowed just 4.9 yards per carry and only 4.2 yards per carry last week versus Hamilton, so Madu may have a tougher road this week. It’s also very unlikely Ottawa gets near its massive volume of 75 plays from Week 1 given the Rider defence allowed just 44 to Hamilton. Madu is affordable but unlikely to replicate his Week 1 volume or efficiency.

Sean Thomas-Erlington looked more than capable of carrying the load for Hamilton this season before exiting the game with injury in the fourth quarter. It’s expected he’ll be ready for Week 2, but Fantasy players will have to pay close attention to the depth chart released on Friday. If he can’t go, it’s likely to be Jackson Bennett in his place. Erlington’s involvement in the passing game is a big plus versus a suspect Argos pass defence, while they also allowed the most yards per carry to opposing running backs as well. The price and matchup make him an excellent option.


Top Projected:

Brandon Banks, HAM – $13,000

Bryan Burnham, BC – $6,671

Derel Walker, TOR – $8,206

Luke Tasker, HAM – $8,551

Ricky Collins, EDM – $4,273

Duron Carter, BC – $3,314

Kenny Stafford, EDM – $4,661

Greg Ellingson, OTT – $6,514

Punt Single(s):

Lemar Durant, BC – $3,772

Caleb Holley, OTT – $2,731

KD Cannon, SSK – $2,500

It may be difficult to imagine investing in Banks’ enormous salary, and difficult to bank on the kind of returns he yielded versus Toronto last season (23 rec, 31 tar, 466 yds, 5 TDs), but Banks was money versus the Argos all of 2018. His Week 1 production was solid (6 rec, 77 yds, 1 TD), but not nearly enough to justify his $13K salary. It’s tough to imagine affording him this week, but if players are willing to go the Harker route at QB, there are certainly options that open up. His teammate, Luke Tasker, did not put up as lofty statistics but still had 19 receptions on 23 targets for 297 yards and five TDs in their three matchups versus Toronto. He also comes in at a significantly more affordable tag but is still the second most expensive receiver on the slate. The generous nature of the 2018 Argos pass defence has already been laid out above and is the top matchup to target in Week 2.

Last week I mentioned that Bryan Burnham had averaged just over six targets per game in his career but was likely to see an increase in his workload with Mike Reilly under centre this year. I felt I was going out on a limb to project just under nine targets in Week 1 but he nearly doubled his career average with 11. It’s unlikely he keeps up that kind of sustained workload over the whole season but something in the range of 9-10 would be normal for Reilly’s top target. Unfortunately, he managed to snag just five of those 11 targets – down from his 70 per cent career catch rate – so there is even more room for his stats to increase. The Edmonton defence is expected to make large strides forward this season after allowing nearly nine yards per target in 2018, but Burnham’s workload and career efficiency make him an excellent option again in Week 2. His teammates Carter and Durant are also great options this week with salaries below $4K while both amassing nine targets in Week 1.

The home of Week 1 Fantasy MVPs was the Edmonton receiving corps, with Collins and Stafford each receiving 10-plus targets and producing 26-plus Fantasy points with salaries under $5K. The matchup this week versus BC will be a little stiffer than a Montreal defence that continued its 2018 struggles, but the low price tags on the members of the Eskimos receivers keep them as some of the top values on the slate. It’s unlikely they repeat their immense volume from Week 1 though, as 70 plays per game isn’t sustainable. Ellingson felt like somewhat of the forgotten man in the group but still had seven targets in Week 1 with room for that to increase in Week 2 as workloads level out.

Trevor Harris and Kenny Stafford celebrate during a big Week 1 performance (Walter Tychnowicz/CFL.ca)

James Franklin’s first season as a starting QB in Toronto was a disappointment, but his reunion with Derel Walker this season may be exactly what he needs to right the ship for the boat men. They showed excellent chemistry in Edmonton and Walker should take the pressure off of Green and Edwards, both of whom are more suited for supporting roles rather than top billing in a receiving corps. Hamilton allowed the fourth most yards per target in 2018 (7.92) and the second highest rate of TDs per target, so there’s reason for optimism for Walker in his Argos debut.

Brad Sinopoli received his usual 10 target per game work load in Week 1 but didn’t manage to turn them into much, averaging just 7.5 yards per target. The matchup versus Saskatchewan isn’t much more appealing as they allowed just 7.88 yards per target in 2018 6.03 yards per target in Week 1. Sinopoli’s salary keeps him out of general consideration but his teammates Harris and Holley come in at much more affordable tags for those looking to roll out Ottawa stacks with Davis.

Apart from Holley and Durant, KD Cannon is only other high upside option in the bargain bin with a reasonable chance of hitting his ceiling. If Fajardo manages to play most of the game for the Riders than it’s unlikely Cannon sees more than his average of 3-4 targets per game. If the Green and White turn to Harker though, Cannon could see an increased workload as he received three of his five targets in the game from Harker in the fourth quarter versus Hamilton.


Top Projected:

Ottawa REDBLACKS – $3,540

Saskatchewan Roughriders – $5,393

The REDBLACKS’ defence generated the third fewest sacks in the league last season (33) but still managed to create the third most turnovers (41) – sacks and turnovers are the heart of Fantasy defence production. One of the best strategies in picking a Fantasy defence is simply targeting the worst quarterback situation on the slate and this week that is likely some combination of Cody Fajardo and Isaac Harker. The Riders offence avoided turnovers but struggled to produce with Fajardo under centre, while Harker appeared more inclined to take risks and may be more turnover prone. This accompanied by a low price tag makes the REDBLACKS a solid option in Week 2.

On the other side of the field, the Riders are another excellent option on defence as they have a sustained track record of creating sacks and turnovers and parlaying those into TDs. Dominique Davis had a near 1:1 TD to INT ratio in college and continued his turnover prone ways in Week 1, throwing four INTs versus Calgary. The Riders led the league in INTs in 2018 with 21 and will have a great opportunity to rack up Fantasy points in Week 2 versus Ottawa, although at an inflated price point.


Jeremiah Masoli > Brandon Banks/Luke Tasker

Obviously, a double stack here is completely out of reach but Masoli/Banks is still in play with the cheap options available at RB and WR. A Tasker stack has a lower ceiling but leaves room to spend elsewhere.

Trevor Harris > Ricky Collins Jr., Kenny Stafford, Greg Ellingson

Picking any two of this group to pair with Harris makes a lot of sense from both a raw total and overall value perspective. Ellingson is likely to be the lowest owned of the group given salary and production from Week 1.

Mike Reilly > Bryan Burnham, Duron Carter/Lemar Durant

It’s hard to imagine Lemar Durant priced higher than Duron Carter, but here we are in Week 2 of 2019. Burnham is an excellent value and the low prices on either Durant or Carter make them cheap double stack options. Durant may be a household name by the end of the season now that he is no longer in exile in the far field WR position.



Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Jeremiah MASOLI QB $10,696.00 HAM TOR 24.65 2.3 34 3.44
Trevor HARRIS QB $9,229.00 EDM BC 23.64 2.56 35.9 5.5
Mike REILLY QB $11,268.00 BC EDM 22.13 1.96 35.3 3.6
James FRANKLIN QB $9,471.00 TOR HAM 19.38 2.05 34.4 4.1
Dominique DAVIS QB $6,244.00 OTT SSK 18.17 2.91 35.3 5
Cody FAJARDO QB $5,082.00 SSK OTT 7.4 1.46 10.3 4.3
Isaac HARKER QB $2,500.00 SSK OTT 4.72 1.89 17.4 0


Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
CJ GABLE RB $7,650.00 EDM BC 18.72 2.45 15.4 2.7
Sean THOMAS ERLINGTON RB $4,083.00 HAM TOR 17 4.16 13.9 3.6
William POWELL RB $8,967.00 SSK OTT 14.7 1.64 15.9 4.1
Mossis MADU RB $6,652.00 OTT SSK 13.95 2.1 14.2 3.7
John WHITE RB $4,320.00 BC EDM 10.31 2.39 8.7 4.1
James WILDER JR RB $8,385.00 TOR HAM 9.36 1.12 7.3 3.5
Chris RAINEY RB $6,533.00 TOR HAM 7.72 1.18 0.4 0.7 5 3
Christion JONES RB $2,816.00 SSK OTT 5.89 2.09 0 0 5 3
Jordan ROBINSON RB $2,500.00 EDM BC 5.72 2.29 0 0.3 4 3
Branden BURKS RB $4,891.00 TOR HAM 5.45 1.12 2.2 3.63
Marcus THIGPEN RB $6,535.00 SSK OTT 5.24 0.8 2.3 2.4
Brandon RUTLEY RB $5,316.00 BC EDM 3.89 0.73 0 0 5 3
Tyrell SUTTON RB $6,137.00 TOR HAM 2.95 0.48 2.6 1.1
Mercer TIMMIS RB $3,000.00 TOR HAM 2.08 0.69 1.7 0.63


Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Brandon BANKS WR $13,000.00 HAM TOR 25.9 1.99 0.13 9.1
Bryan BURNHAM WR $6,671.00 BC EDM 21.64 3.24 0 10.5
Derel WALKER WR $8,206.00 TOR HAM 19.88 2.42 0 8.6
Luke TASKER WR $8,551.00 HAM TOR 19.14 2.24 0 7.2
Ricky COLLINS WR $4,273.00 EDM BC 16.94 3.96 0 9.6
Kenny STAFFORD WR $4,661.00 EDM BC 15.88 3.41 0 8.5
Duron CARTER WR $3,314.00 BC EDM 15.73 4.75 0 8.7
Greg ELLINGSON WR $6,514.00 EDM BC 15.25 2.34 0 7.8
Brad SINOPOLI WR $7,157.00 OTT SSK 15.21 2.13 0 8.8
RJ HARRIS WR $4,619.00 OTT SSK 13.21 2.86 0.16 6.9
Lemar DURANT WR $3,772.00 BC EDM 13.08 3.47 0 7.5
Bralon ADDISON WR $3,762.00 HAM TOR 12.06 3.2 0 5.5
Armanti EDWARDS WR $5,848.00 TOR HAM 9.91 1.69 0 6.11
Mike JONES WR $4,347.00 HAM TOR 9.1 2.09 0.05 4.2
S.J. GREEN WR $6,221.00 TOR HAM 8.58 1.38 0 6.7
Caleb HOLLEY WR $2,731.00 OTT SSK 8.51 3.12 0 7.4
KD CANNON WR $2,500.00 SSK OTT 8.42 3.37 0 4.9
Dominique RHYMES WR $2,828.00 OTT SSK 8.08 2.86 0 5.4
Natey ADJEI WR $2,500.00 EDM BC 8.03 3.21 0 3.8
Josh CROCKETT WR $2,500.00 HAM TOR 7.11 2.84 0 3.1
Naaman ROOSEVELT WR $5,331.00 SSK OTT 7.09 1.33 0 5.7
Kyran MOORE WR $4,380.00 SSK OTT 6.91 1.58 0.2 4.8
Llevi NOEL WR $3,783.00 TOR HAM 6.83 1.8 0 4.29
Tevaun SMITH WR $2,500.00 EDM BC 6 2.4 0 3.2
Ryan LANKFORD WR $3,864.00 OTT SSK 5.94 1.54 0.1 0 4 3
Cory WATSON WR $3,038.00 SSK OTT 4.59 1.51 0 3.11
Seth COATE WR $2,500.00 OTT SSK 4.22 1.69 0 3.1
Shaquille JOHNSON WR $2,500.00 BC EDM 4.19 1.67 0 2.7
Jimmy RALPH WR $2,500.00 TOR HAM 3.44 1.38 0 2.75
Jevon COTTOY WR $2,500.00 BC EDM 2 0.8 0 1.4