August 7, 2019

Fantasy Strategy: Get ’em while they’re cheap

Peter McCabe/CFL.ca

Fantasy players have come to expect huge changes in the CFL Fantasy landscape from year to year due to short contracts and emerging stars, but only one of the top three passers this week was expected to see meaningful time in 2019. Only three of the eight starting quarterbacks this week were the starter for their team in Week 1, while the story is similar at the RB position as four of eight starters are new since the season began.

QUARTERBACK

Top Projected:

Cody Fajardo, SSK – $7,699

Vernon Adams Jr., MTL – $7,359

Trevor Harris, EDM – $11,815

Punt Single:

Dane Evans, HAM – $5,000

All aboard the Cody Fajardo hype train that I’ve been driving since February. Week 7 was a bit of a statistical outlier with multiple special teams scores and a blowout that led to William Powell’s largest workload of the season, but despite that, Fajardo still managed to put up 15.4 Fantasy points, including 46 rushing yards. With Fajardo under centre, the Riders continue to lead the league in passing yards per attempt (9.2) and big plays gaining over 30 yards (12). The opposing Ticats however are allowing just 7.27 yards per pass attempt along with the lowest rate of passing TDs per attempt – having allowed just three scores through the air this season. The price tag makes the risk worth taking but this will certainly be one of the toughest tests Fajardo has faced so far.

On the other hand, Vernon Adams gets a much easier matchup versus Ottawa at a similar price tag and may be the better option in Week 8. The projections leave less than half a point between he and Fajardo, and the REDBLACKS are allowing the most yards per pass attempt this season (9.69) along with the third most passing TDs per attempt on the slate. It’s hard to believe a Montreal QB, post Calvillo, is the top passing option on a slate, but here we are with Adams passing for the second most TDs per attempt thus far in 2019. Adams has a similar rushing floor to Fajardo and should have a much easier path to success, especially if injured receiver BJ Cunningham is able to return to action.


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After a blistering start to his Eskimos tenure with two games over 30 Fantasy points, Trevor Harris has surpassed 20 Fantasy points just once in his last four starts. The Eskimos still run the highest paced offence in the CFL at over 64 plays per game and face a Calgary defence allowing the most plays per game to opposing offences (60.8) but that’s where the good news stops. The Eskimos are an average passing offence in terms of yards per attempt (8.11) and pass for the second fewest TDs per attempt on the slate, with similar rates to Ottawa and Toronto. The propensity to bog down and settle for field goals that plagued Harris last season in Ottawa has finally caught up to him out west as well. The matchup versus Calgary is also a bit of a problem as they allow the third fewest yards per pass attempt (6.97) and a below average rate of TDs per pass attempt as well. By and large, Harris is priced out of consideration this week.

If players are looking for a cheaper option yet than Fajardo or Adams, Dane Evans is set to take over the Tiger-Cats offence on Thursday night in Regina, following the season ending knee injury to Jeremiah Masoli. Evans hasn’t seen anything more than mop up duty in CFL regular season games but was 19-of-25 for 178 yards in the pre-season versus Ottawa and Toronto. His college numbers at Tulsa were much more promising as he had a completion rate over 61 per cent with a TD to INT ratio of nearly 3 to 1. At only $5K, he doesn’t need to be Jeremiah Masoli to be a solid value. The matchup with the Riders defence isn’t quite as scary as it would have been in 2018 either as they have regressed closer to league averages in terms of yards (7.88) and TDs allowed per pass attempt.

RUNNING BACK

Top Projected:

Andrew Harris, WPG – $11,070

William Powell, SSK – $10,031

William Stanback, MTL – $8,879

Punt Single(s):

John Crockett, OTT – $4,500

Maleek Irons, HAM – $4,500

Romar Morris, CGY – $4,870

Brandon Burks, TOR – $2,640

Andrew Harris is the top priced non-quarterback on the slate, but even at over $11K he is a difficult play to ignore. He is second in the league in rushing yards and yards per carry, while also leading all RBs in targets (36). Winnipeg has the highest implied team total on the slate (31.25) versus a Toronto defence allowing the second most yards per rush attempt (5.7) and per target (9.46) along with the most second most TDs per target on the slate. This is as good a matchup as Harris could hope to face so this is not the week to fade him with many of other top priced stars unavailable due to injury.

Coming off his best game as a Rider with 146 rushing yards and three TDs for 35.1 Fantasy points, William Powell now faces a Ticats defence that allows the most yards per carry (5.79) and the second highest rate of TDs per carry in the CFL. With the weather expected to be an issue in Regina on Thursday evening, Powell may get a heavy workload again to avoid the wind and rain. He still has to deal with losing touches to Marcus Thigpen and losing goal line carries to Fajardo, but his Week 7 performance showed he still has as high an upside as any RB in the league.

Since his Week 4 203 rushing yard outburst versus Hamilton, Stanback’s Fantasy scores have been much more pedestrian, averaging just 10 Fantasy points per game. It’s hard to believe his Week 5 game versus Ottawa with over 100 rushing yards can be called a disappointment but being held without a score or reception led it to being exactly that. The REDBLACKS’ defence allows just 4.81 yards per carry but is much more generous in terms of TDs, as they allow the third highest rate of rushing TDs per attempt. Stanback is a fine play but is a clear tier below Harris and Powell.

William Powell ran for three touchdowns in a win over the Lions in Week 7 (Richard Lam/CFL.ca)

Last season brought a slew of injuries to the WR position that made the Fantasy landscape almost unrecognizable and that fate has now changed the landscape at QB and RB in 2019. There are a plethora of usable RBs in the $5K and under range that makes it possible to have even Harris and Powell in the same lineup. Despite the REDBLACKS’ offensive struggles with Jennings at QB, John Crockett still managed to grind out 5.7 yards per carry versus stacked boxes. The expected return of Davis and Harris to the Ottawa offence this week should give him the opportunity to show what he is really capable of in an offence that can offer even some threat of a downfield passing attack. The matchup with Montreal isn’t that problematic either as they allow the third most yards per carry (5.37) along with the highest rate of rushing TDs per attempt this season. Crockett is probably the most solid bet for production among the value options.

All of Irons, Morris, and Burks will likely find themselves a part of timeshare situations that will limit their upside. Irons will lose some touches to Coombs and faces a Riders defence allowing an average amount of yards per carry but the lowest rate of rushing TDs per attempt this season. If Morris gets the starting nod in the Calgary backfield, he’ll be facing an Eskimos defence allowing an average rate of yards per carry but the second-lowest rate of rushing TDs per carry. The Edmonton defence also gives up the fewest plays per game to opposing offences (47.1), so Morris’s opportunities may be limited. Brandon Burks is expected to replace James Wilder Jr. again this week for Toronto. He looked great in the first quarter versus Edmonton with over 30 rushing yards on four carries, but he gained just 12 more yards through the rest of the game, while being held without a target. The matchup doesn’t look much better this week versus Winnipeg, so Burks is a pure punt play at best.

RECEIVER

Top Projected:

Bralon Addison, HAM – $6,087

RJ Harris, OTT – $6,812

Quan Bray, MTL – $3,674

Eric Rogers, CGY – $8,353

Lucky Whitehead, WPG – $4,752

Derel Walker, TOR – $8,691

Kyran Moore, SSK – $7,003

DaVaris Daniels, EDM – $7,837

Reggie Begelton, CGY – $7,426

B.J. Cunningham, MTL – $6,380

Ricky Collins Jr., EDM – $6,441

Punt Single(s):

Chris Matthews, WPG – $3,806

Kenny Lawler, WPG – $2,500

Jaelon Acklin, HAM – $2,500

The loss of Brandon Banks to injury this week opens up the top spot in the projections to all interested parties. It also opens up 10 targets per game to the remainder of the Ticats’ receiving corps, the lions share of which should likely go to Bralon Addison. In three games without Banks in the lineup last season, Addison compiled 24 receptions on 35 targets for 356 yards and a touchdown. That was with Jeremiah Masoli at QB, but as mentioned earlier, Dane Evans may prove to be a more than competent replacement. Addison also comes in at less than half the salary of Banks, making him a far less risky point of speculation. His teammate Luke Tasker is still priced way out of consideration at nearly $8K given his precipitous decline in targets and scoring rates this season. Jaelon Acklin is an interesting value play, however, priced at the minimum $2,500 salary. The matchup with the Riders isn’t terrible, but the uncertainty at QB and in the weather forecast makes the Hamilton offence a more risky investment than any other week this season.

RJ Harris is expected to return from injury versus Montreal this week and should be joined by his QB Dominique Davis as well. Prior to getting injured, Harris was averaging nearly nine targets per game and was the most consistent option in CFL Fantasy from week to week at the WR position. Montreal has allowed the third-most yards per target in 2019 (9.16) so the opportunity for PPR and yardage scoring should be there again, even if scores are more difficult to come by. The rest of the Ottawa receiving corps is either overpriced or too volatile to be worth consideration.

In the midst of Vernon Adams’ wonderful three-week run, Quan Bray has become the most consistent contributor in the Als receiving corps, averaging over eight targets per game. His salary hasn’t risen nearly high enough yet and he’s worth deploying again this week versus a REDBLACKS defence that allows the most yards per target in the league (9.69). The expected return of BJ Cunningham may eat into his market share a bit, but the combination of salary relief and matchup make Bray a solid play. Prior to his injury, Cunningham also averaged over seven targets per game, making him also worthy of consideration, albeit at a significantly higher price point.

Eric Rogers’ huge Week 3 performance continues to buoy his scoring rates but his other five games this season make it much more difficult to justify an over $8K salary. The matchup versus Edmonton is one to avoid as well as they allow the second-fewest yards per target to opposing receivers this season (6.88). If DB Josh Johnson misses the game on Saturday, it may leave Rogers a little more breathing room, but he and the rest of the Stampeders receiving corps, including Begelton and Ambles, are largely overpriced given the matchup.

Eric Rogers faces a difficult matchup against the Eskimos’ defence this week (Larry MacDougal/CFL.ca)

Lucky Whitehead has been a boom or bust proposition this season with two games over 20 Fantasy points while the other four games have seen him post 11 points or fewer. He is quite consistently involved in the game plan as a runner, receiver, and returner but his Fantasy contributions rest quite clearly on whether he is able to break a play for a long score or not as no member of the Bombers receiving corps is a consistently high volume contributor. The matchup versus Toronto is as good as a receiver can hope for given that they allow the second highest rates of yards per target (9.46) and TDs per target in the CFL. With Darvin Adams missing the game due to injury, Chris Matthews is expected to take over his role at boundary WR, making him an interesting option at a bargain bin price.

At a price tag of nearly $9K, Derel Walker is a mighty risky spend with the uncertainty at QB versus a Winnipeg defence allowing the lowest rate of yards per target (6.78) and the second-lowest rate of TDs per target this season. His Week 5 explosion for nine receptions, 188 yards, and two TDs shows it’s not unimaginable that he pays off his salary, but it’s extremely unlikely. He’s finally getting the targets he deserves at over 10 per game in his past three contests, but there are better ways to spend salary this week.

Players using Cody Fajardo would be wise to stack him with one of Kyran Moore or Shaq Evans, although the salaries on both of them are rising to the point they are no longer clear values. At over $7K and $6K respectively, they would need about five receptions for 70 yards and a TD to be good plays and that won’t be easy versus a Hamilton defence that allows only 7.28 yards per target and that has allowed only three TD receptions through six games. Outside of Riders stacks, it’s difficult to get too excited about playing Riders receivers at these salaries.

The Eskimos receiving corps has been a tumultuous lot this season with players shifting in and out of the lineup nearly every game and Week 8 will likely be no different. Greg Ellingson has been unable to practise so far this week, making him an unlikely candidate to play on Saturday. DaVaris Daniels is expected to return to the lineup but he will face the unenviable task of lining up across from Tre Roberson for most of the game. Ellingson’s vacated targets should lead to increased opportunities for Collins and Stafford as well, but the matchup with Calgary keeps both of their projections in check as they have allowed a minuscule 6.98 yards per target this season along with a below-average rate of TDs per target. All three receivers are priced as poor values for Week 8.

DEFENCE

Winnipeg Blue Bombers – $5,368

Montreal Alouettes – $3,200

When it comes to picking a Fantasy defence this week players would likely to wise to spend up to the top with the Blue Bombers versus Toronto or drop all the way to the floor with the Alouettes versus Ottawa. The Argos have given up the most turnovers this season (26) while allowing their QBs to be sacked three times a game. Winnipeg is second in the league in forced turnovers and should feast again versus the Argos regardless of whether it is McBeth or Prukop under centre. The Alouettes haven’t been nearly as productive on defence, with just four sacks this season, but their 14 forced turnovers could lead to big Fantasy production versus an Ottawa offence that has turned the ball over 16 times already this season.

STACKS

Vernon Adams Jr. > Quan Bray, BJ Cunningham

With Adams and Bray both priced very affordably, it’s quite possible to double stack him with Cunningham as well and still have salary remaining for one of the top RBs on the slate. The REDBLACKS’ defence is one worth picking on for Fantasy purposes.

Cody Fajardo > Kyran Moore/Shaq Evans

As the prices climb on Moore and Evans, double stacking these two with Fajardo isn’t wise, especially given the matchup and weather forecast. Either one is worth considering though if playing Fajardo at QB.

Dane Evans > Bralon Addison

Evans’ price tag and Addison’s athleticism make them an interesting contrarian stack option versus a Riders defence that hasn’t lived up to its 2018 reputation yet in 2019.

WEEK 8 PROJECTIONS

QUARTERBACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Cody FAJARDO QB $7,699.00 SSK HAM 21.79 2.83 29.5 6.1
Vernon ADAMS JR QB $7,359.00 MTL OTT 21.45 2.91 28.7 6.6
Trevor HARRIS QB $11,815.00 EDM CGY 21.02 1.78 37.3 4.6
Matt NICHOLS QB $9,135.00 WPG TOR 19.99 2.19 30.8 0.8
Nick ARBUCKLE QB $6,713.00 CGY EDM 17.12 2.55 32.7 2.2
Dominique DAVIS QB $6,692.00 OTT MTL 16.21 2.42 35.4 3.8
Dane EVANS QB $5,000.00 HAM SSK 15.56 3.11 33.3 1.5
Mcleod BETHEL-THOMPSON QB $5,760.00 TOR WPG 14.74 2.56 37.2 0.8
Chris STREVELER QB $5,668.00 WPG TOR 9.53 1.68 1.1 5.3
Dakota PRUKOP QB $5,000.00 TOR WPG 0.19 0.04 1.2

RUNNING BACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Andrew HARRIS RB $11,070.00 WPG TOR 22.13 2 14.3 6
William POWELL RB $10,031.00 SSK HAM 18.74 1.87 15.2 3.4
William STANBACK RB $8,879.00 MTL OTT 16.19 1.82 12.6 2.8
CJ GABLE RB $9,153.00 EDM CGY 16.06 1.75 17.1 3.8
Romar MORRIS RB $4,870.00 CGY EDM 11.23 2.31 10.4 3.2 0 0
John CROCKETT RB $4,500.00 OTT MTL 10.95 2.43 14.6 2.2 0 0
Maleek IRONS RB $4,500.00 HAM SSK 10.29 2.29 13.2 2.2
Branden BURKS RB $2,640.00 TOR WPG 9.49 3.6 10.1 4.3
Marcus THIGPEN RB $5,860.00 SSK HAM 7.59 1.3 3.7 1.8 3
Terry WILLIAMS RB $4,911.00 CGY EDM 7.45 1.52 3.5 1 5 3
Chris RAINEY RB $5,323.00 TOR WPG 7.29 1.37 2.5 2.6 5 3
Jeremiah JOHNSON RB $6,439.00 MTL OTT 7.12 1.11 4.5 1.5
Martese JACKSON RB $3,054.00 EDM CGY 2.86 0.94 0 0 5 3
Ryder STONE RB $2,500.00 MTL OTT 0.33 0.13 0 0 1 1
Brendan GILLANDERS RB $2,500.00 OTT MTL 0.21 0.08 1 0.4

RECEIVERS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Quan BRAY WR $3,674.00 MTL OTT 16.26 4.43 0 8.3
Bralon ADDISON WR $6,087.00 HAM SSK 15.32 2.52 0.4 8.1
RJ HARRIS WR $6,812.00 OTT MTL 15.1 2.22 0 8.8
BJ CUNNINGHAM WR $6,380.00 MTL OTT 15.04 2.36 0.2 7.3
Eric ROGERS WR $8,353.00 CGY EDM 14.88 1.78 0 7.9
Lucky WHITEHEAD WR $4,752.00 WPG TOR 14.82 3.12 0.8 5.5 0 1
Derel WALKER WR $8,691.00 TOR WPG 14.82 1.71 0.4 7.9
Kyran MOORE WR $7,003.00 SSK HAM 14.65 2.09 0.2 6.2 3
DaVaris DANIELS WR $7,837.00 EDM CGY 14.6 1.86 0 7.7
Reginald BEGELTON WR $7,426.00 CGY EDM 14.3 1.93 0.23 6.9
Ricky COLLINS WR $6,441.00 EDM CGY 13.13 2.04 0 8.9
Armanti EDWARDS WR $7,883.00 TOR WPG 12.85 1.63 0 6.3
Shaquelle EVANS WR $6,418.00 SSK HAM 12.34 1.92 0 6.1
Luke TASKER WR $7,820.00 HAM SSK 12.32 1.58 0 7.2
Kenny STAFFORD WR $5,884.00 EDM CGY 11.87 2.02 0 7.1
Nic DEMSKI WR $6,199.00 WPG TOR 11.74 1.89 1.7 4.3
Chris MATTHEWS WR $3,806.00 WPG TOR 11.1 2.92 0 5.7
Eugene LEWIS WR $5,745.00 MTL OTT 10.66 1.86 0.08 5.1
Drew WOLITARSKY WR $5,003.00 WPG TOR 10.64 2.13 0 4.5
Markeith AMBLES WR $4,952.00 CGY EDM 10.55 2.13 0 6.9
Kenny LAWLER WR $2,500.00 WPG TOR 10.52 4.21 0 5.5
Brad SINOPOLI WR $7,348.00 OTT MTL 10.47 1.42 0 6.8
Jaelon ACKLIN WR $2,500.00 HAM SSK 10.4 4.16 0 6
Dominique RHYMES WR $4,606.00 OTT MTL 10.14 2.2 0 6.2
Natey ADJEI WR $4,014.00 EDM CGY 9.07 2.26 0 4.8
S.J. GREEN WR $5,851.00 TOR WPG 8.63 1.47 0 7.4
Richard SINDANI WR $2,500.00 CGY EDM 8.44 3.38 0 4.4
Naaman ROOSEVELT WR $4,781.00 SSK HAM 7.81 1.63 0 5.8
Julian FEOLI GUDINO WR $3,278.00 OTT MTL 7.68 2.34 0 3.8
Tevaun SMITH WR $2,500.00 EDM CGY 6.61 2.64 0 4.5
Caleb HOLLEY WR $3,457.00 OTT MTL 6.47 1.87 0 5.7
Cory WATSON WR $3,414.00 SSK HAM 6.3 1.85 0 3.7
Mike JONES WR $4,132.00 HAM SSK 5.66 1.37 0.02 3.6
Anthony COOMBS WR $3,830.00 HAM SSK 5.2 1.36 3 2
Rodney SMITH WR $2,500.00 TOR WPG 4.9 1.96 0 4.2
Marcus TUCKER WR $2,500.00 HAM SSK 4.88 1.95 0 2.8
Jimmy RALPH WR $2,500.00 TOR WPG 4.72 1.89 0 4.1
Jake WIENEKE WR $2,500.00 MTL OTT 3.57 1.43 0 2.5
Hergy MAYALA WR $2,500.00 CGY EDM 3.5 1.4 0 2.4
Devonte DEDMON WR $2,500.00 OTT MTL 2.64 1.06 1 1.5 5 3
Emmanuel ARCENEAUX WR $4,592.00 SSK HAM 2.42 0.53 0 1.5
Malcolm CARTER WR $2,500.00 MTL OTT 1.53 0.61 0 1.2