August 14, 2019

Fantasy Strategy: The perfect time to bet on the Esks

The Canadian Press

If Dedmon wasn’t in your lineups in Week 8, your hopes of victory were dead, man. With his addition to the offensive game plan at receiver this week, he’s pretty impossible to ignore while his salary remains at the $2500 minimum.

QUARTERBACK

Cody Fajardo, SSK – $8,491

Trevor Harris, EDM – $11,655

Dane Evans, HAM – $5,831

On the heels of a performance in which Fajardo averaged over 10 yards per attempt versus a Ticats defence that had allowed only 7.27 yards per pass attempt going into the game, Fajardo is again on top of the QB projections this week versus Montreal. The Alouettes provide a significantly easier matchup for the Riders as they allow the second-most passing yards per attempt on the slate (8.52) along with the most total passing yards per game by a wide margin (328). Also working in Fajardo’s favour is that the Als have allowed five rushing TDs to QBs this season which is a large part of his value. Only narrative boogeymen like “western teams struggle when having to travel east to Montreal” speak against another solid outing from Fajardo, and they should be scared away easily by the math.


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» Fantasy Status Report: Evans questionable; Ticats turn to Marshall


Trevor Harris continues to be priced significantly higher than Fajardo on a weekly basis despite any actual edge on him statistically. He’s still worth considering in a matchup with Ottawa which allows the most yards per pass attempt on the slate (8.73) as well as the second most plays over 30 yards this season (11). Edmonton runs the highest paced offence in the CFL (62.6) and gets the added benefit of a REDBLACKS defence that allows the most plays per game to opposing offences (61.3), so there should be ample opportunities for Harris and company to pile up yardage points. The trick, as always for him, will be converting all those yardage numbers into touchdowns.

If Fantasy players really want to pick a Lions defence which allows 8.4 yards per pass attempt and passing TDs at the highest rate in the CFL – over two per game – Dane Evans is a pure punt play at QB worth considering at under $6K. He struggled badly in the first half versus Saskatchewan but salvaged a decent points per dollar outing by games end with 196 passing yard, one touchdown, and 35 yards on the ground. He is not a naturally gifted runner, however, so those rushing yards points may not be the norm. Evans should also get the benefit of Brandon Banks back in the lineup this week, so this may be the first real test of what he’s capable of at the helm in Hamilton.

RUNNING BACK

Andrew Harris, WPG – $11765

William Powell, SSK – $9633

CJ Gable, EDM – $8474

Cameron Marshall, HAM – $5810

Punt Single(s):

Romar Morris, CGY – $3773

As projected, Harris blew holes through the sails of the boatmen, but unexpectedly did so in a Bombers loss. Harris amassed 196 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in a losing effort to a winless Argos squad. Sometimes fantasy success doesn’t translate to real-world wins and vice versa. Harris’s price tag continues to rise – now priced only behind Brandon Banks – and his projection is justifiably high given his historical rates. The question will be how much of a hit his rates and opportunities take versus a Calgary defence that allows just 3.89 yards per carry this season as opposed to the 6.8 yards per carry Harris has managed so far in 2019. A 2018 matchup versus Calgary left Harris with just 13 yards on seven carries, so the floor is certainly a possibility. Harris may still be the best RB on the slate, but his price and matchup make him more risky than usual.

The Roughriders are third in the league in points per game (29.6) and have scored the second-most offensive TDs (21). What a difference a year makes. Powell added his seventh TD of the season in Week 8 versus Hamilton but was largely kept under wraps with only 51 rushing yards and 11.1 total Fantasy points. The matchup with Montreal is enticing, as they allow the second-most rush yards per attempt on the slate (5.18) along with the third-highest rate of rush TDs per attempt allowed in the CFL. Given both teams rates, the Riders project for a TD once in every 10 rush attempts this week – more than double the league average. Some of those opportunities may go to Fajardo, but Powell is a solid option.

Saskatchewan Roughriders running back William Powell celebrates a touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Arthur Ward/CFL.ca)

On the other hand, CJ Gable has yet to score a rushing TD this season but that may turn around in Week 9 versus a REDBLACKS defence that has allowed a league-high 11 rushing TDs this season – the second-highest rate in 2019. Edmonton projects for the third-fewest rushing yards per attempt on the slate but Gable’s projection is buoyed by the Eskimos projected pace and his involvement in the passing game. If he’s going to reach value though, he’s going to have to finally get in the endzone.

After spending much of the season on the practice roster, the losses of Sean Thomas Erlington and Malik Irons coupled with the inefficiency of Anthony Coombs has finally led the Ticats to activate Cameron Marshall. Marshall proved he can still be an effective back in the CFL late in 2018 with the Roughriders and now gets to start at RB for the team with the highest implied team total on the slate (31.5). The Lions allow league average rates of yards and TDs per carry, so this isn’t a clear path to Fantasy glory, especially with the whole offence still adjusting to having Evans under centre. His salary is also still much higher than most backup RBs as it is buoyed by his 2018 production.

If Fantasy players are looking for a truly cheap RB in Week 9, Romar Morris is expected to get the majority of the workload in the Calgary backfield in their matchup with Winnipeg. Morris was largely stymied by the Edmonton rush defence, being held to just 14 yards on nine carries, but his Fantasy stock was bailed out with 9.9 Fantasy points as a receiver. Calgary is, unfortunately, the worst rushing team in the league this season with the second-fewest rush attempts (117) for the second-fewest yards (492) leading to the lowest yards per carry average in the league (4.21). The matchup is also pretty daunting as the Bombers allow the second-fewest yards per carry (4.85) and have given up just two TDs on the ground this year. If Morris is to have a solid Fantasy outing, it will likely have to be as a receiver – a job he’ll still likely split with Terry Williams.

WIDE RECEIVER

Brandon Banks, HAM – $14000

Kyran Moore, SSK – $7436

Bralon Addison, HAM – $6008

Greg Ellingson, EDM – $8459

Ricky Collins Jr., EDM – $7179

DaVaris Daniels, EDM – $7837

RJ Harris, OTT – $6812

Shaq Evans, SSK – $7348

Reggie Begelton, CGY – $7722

Eric Rogers, CGY – $8531

Punt Single(s):

Kevin Elliott, EDM – $4130

Devonte Dedmon, OTT – $2500

Brandon Banks is on top of the projections because anyone with his historical rates can’t help but project exceptionally well. The fact of the matter is though that even if he gets his 10 targets per game with Dane Evans at QB, it’s difficult to envision him maintaining the same efficiency. $14K is just too much to invest in a WR with this much uncertainty at QB. If there was any team to prove it’s still possible against though it would be versus the Lions which are allowing league-high rates of receiving TDs per target, leading Hamilton to the highest projected receiving TD rate this week. Bralon Addison is probably the more interesting option for Fantasy players looking to exploit the matchup, as he’s priced at just $6K and had eight receptions on nine targets from Evans in Week 8. Those targets will likely go down in Week 9 however with the return of Banks.

As the Roughriders passing game continues to evolve with Cody Fajardo holding the reins, both Kyran Moore and Shaq Evans are starting to grow into their full potential. Moore and Evans have seen 25% and 42% respective increases in their Fantasy rates this season with continue improvement every week. Moore’s involvement as the teams’ punt returner also bumps up his fantasy value – a role that was cemented with the trade of Christion Jones to Edmonton this week. Evans was injured in practice on Monday and may miss the game versus Montreal, which may lead to Kenny Stafford being pushed into starting duty with only a couple practices under his belt with the green and white. If that’s the case, Moore may see even more targets than usual. The Als allow the second-most yards per target on the slate and the most yards per punt return in the CFL (16.8), making Moore an enticing option.

A trio of Edmonton receivers make up the next three spots in the projections in a matchup versus Ottawa which is allowing the second-highest rate of yards per target (8.73) this season. The highest pace projection on the slate (61.9) also leaves a healthy workload for the entire receiving corps. The biggest hurdle for each of Ellingson and Daniels will be health as they missed last weeks game versus Calgary and Daniels has played in only two games this season. Their salaries are also quite inflated due to historical rates rather than real-world production this season as each has produced just one game over 15 Fantasy points this season. Collins, on the other hand, has been the most consistently targeted and productive receiver on the team this season and finally got into the endzone in a breakout performance versus Calgary in Week 8 with six receptions for 148 yards and two scores. The trade of Stafford this week also likely secures Kevin Elliott’s spot in the starting lineup going forward and he is a cheaper value option this week, priced at just over $4K.

Edmonton Eskimos receiver Ricky Collins Jr. stiff arms Montreal Alouettes defensive back Patrick Levels (The Canadian Press)

On the other side of the field in Edmonton this week, RJ Harris seems poised to the return to the starting lineup and has been the most consistent fantasy option at WR in 2019. His nine targets per game are near the league lead, while his 80 air yards per game are the second-most on the slate for receivers with over 30 targets this season. The matchup with Edmonton is daunting as they allow the fewest yards per target (6.86) in 2019 and expect to have Don Unamba and Anthony Orange returning to the starting lineup this week. Harris may return to the lineup this week but may be better held out of Fantasy lineups for at least one more week yet.

Reggie Begelton and Eric Rogers round out the top ten in the receiver projections in their matchup versus Winnipeg this week. The Bombers are allowing a league-low 6.82 yards per target and the second-fewest receiving TDs per target, despite getting shredded by McBeth and the Argos offence for 343 yards and three TDs in Week 8. This is where it gets interesting. Outside of the two games versus Ottawa and the one versus Hamilton in which they lost Masoli for the season, the Bombers have allowed 350 receiving yards per game – 7.73 yards per target. Their two games versus Ottawa really hold their rates down (168 yds/gm, 5.25 yd/tg) and it may not be as difficult for the Stampeders as it initially appears. The numbers in the Calgary receiving corps are also statistically odd as all of Rogers, Begelton, and Ambles have nearly identical target rates but have vastly different outcomes. Reggie Begelton has the lowest aDOT of the three but over 100 more receiving yards than anyone in the trio (461). Rogers is getting only 2.53 YAC yards per reception – versus 5.26 for Begelton or 3.68 for Ambles – but has five TDs this season to just one between Ambles and Begelton combined. Players using Rogers are gambling that his targets will be in the endzone while those using Begelton are hoping he can continue to evade tacklers and turn short targets into big plays. All of the Stampeders WRs are risky options in Week 9.

There are a number of minimum priced options with decent points per dollar value projections at WR, but the one with the highest floor/ceiling combination is Week 8’s star performer, Devonte Dedmon. It’s unlikely he is able to return a kick for a TD for a second straight week, but his performance has earned him expected time as a receiver, giving him Diontae Spencer like appeal at only $2500. He’s likely to be one of the most used players in all of CFL Fantasy this week.

DEFENCE

Edmonton Eskimos – $4577

Saskatchewan Roughriders – $4429

Hamilton Tiger-Cats – $3995

As usual, picking on turnover-prone QBs is one of the best strategies for Fantasy success at defence so it only makes sense that Edmonton and Saskatchewan make two of the best options this week. It’s also appealing that they are priced somewhat affordably below $5K. The Eskimos lead the league in sacks (26) and are in the middle of the pack with 16 forced turnovers. The expected return of Orange and Unamba to the lineup only helps their stock. They will face an Ottawa offence that has allowed the fourth-most sacks (15) and the second-most turnovers (20), giving them a high number of opportunities for Fantasy scoring. The Riders unit hasn’t produced as many scoring opportunities on their end with only 23 sacks and five forced turnovers, but Antonio Pipkin averaged over two turnovers per game in 2018 and is worth picking on in Week 9.

The best cheap option at defence this week is the Ticats – having created 20 sacks and 19 turnovers in 2019. They will face a BC offence that has allowed a league-high 25 sacks (3.6/gm) and which has scored the second-fewest points per game (18). Mike Reilly may be in for another difficult week.

STACKS

Cody Fajardo > Kyran Moore

Cody Fajardo continues to laugh in the face of all those who branded him a short-yardage quarterback. The matchup this week versus Montreal is quite exploitable and Kyran Moore has the big-play ability and even more upside if Shaq Evans sits.

Dane Evans > Bralon Addison

The BC Lions give up over two TDs per game through the air and Banks is generally priced out of consideration. Addison still provides a solid floor of targets the second receiver in the offence and makes a cheap stack with Addison to provide Fantasy players room to spend at RB.

WEEK 9 PROJECTIONS

QUARTERBACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Cody FAJARDO QB $8,491.00 SSK MTL 23.49 2.77 30.4 6.6
Trevor HARRIS QB $11,655.00 EDM OTT 22.78 1.95 38.1 4
Dane EVANS QB $5,831.00 HAM BC 19.29 3.31 34 3.7
Nick ARBUCKLE QB $5,797.00 CGY WPG 16.96 2.91 34.8 2.2
Matt NICHOLS QB $8,794.00 WPG CGY 16.95 1.93 30.8 0.7
Antonio PIPKIN QB $6,663.00 MTL SSK 16.84 2.53 28.3 6.5
Mike REILLY QB $10,753.00 BC HAM 16.28 1.51 33.6 3.6
Dominique DAVIS QB $6,827.00 OTT EDM 15.53 2.28 32 3.4
Chris STREVELER QB $5,668.00 WPG CGY 8.04 1.42 1.1 5

RUNNING BACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Andrew HARRIS RB $11,765.00 WPG CGY 23.83 2.03 14.1 6.5
William POWELL RB $9,633.00 SSK MTL 17.31 1.8 15.3 3
CJ GABLE RB $8,474.00 EDM OTT 16.64 1.96 16.7 4
Romar MORRIS RB $3,773.00 CGY WPG 15.1 4 10.9 5 0 0
Jeremiah JOHNSON RB $6,079.00 MTL SSK 14.47 2.38 13.5 3.2
John WHITE RB $8,049.00 BC HAM 12.54 1.56 10.3 3.6
Maleek IRONS RB $4,500.00 HAM BC 11.95 2.06 12.5 2.4
Terry WILLIAMS RB $5,735.00 CGY WPG 11.41 1.99 4.3 1.3 5 3
John CROCKETT RB $4,500.00 OTT EDM 8.35 1.86 13.9 1.3 0 0
Marcus THIGPEN RB $5,344.00 SSK MTL 7.29 1.36 3.6 1.9 3
Brandon RUTLEY RB $4,578.00 BC HAM 4.07 0.89 4.2 1.8 0 0
Ryder STONE RB $2,500.00 MTL SSK 1.97 0.79 1.8 0 1 1
Brendan GILLANDERS RB $2,500.00 OTT EDM 1.22 0.49 1 1

RECEIVERS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Brandon BANKS WR $14,000.00 HAM BC 21.51 1.54 0 10.2 0
Kyran MOORE WR $7,436.00 SSK MTL 15.84 2.13 0.4 6.2 3
Bralon ADDISON WR $6,008.00 HAM BC 15.77 2.62 0.4 7.5
Greg ELLINGSON WR $8,459.00 EDM OTT 15.71 1.86 0 8.3
Ricky COLLINS WR $7,179.00 EDM OTT 15.3 2.13 0 8
DaVaris DANIELS WR $7,837.00 EDM OTT 14.33 1.83 0 7
RJ HARRIS WR $6,812.00 OTT EDM 14.33 2.1 0 8.6
Shaquelle EVANS WR $7,348.00 SSK MTL 14.21 1.93 0 6.2
Reginald BEGELTON WR $7,722.00 CGY WPG 14.19 1.84 0.3 7.1
Eric ROGERS WR $8,531.00 CGY WPG 14.18 1.66 0 7.5
Devonte DEDMON WR $2,500.00 OTT EDM 14.17 5.67 0 4 5 3
Quan BRAY WR $4,306.00 MTL SSK 14.1 3.27 0 8.4
Bryan BURNHAM WR $8,308.00 BC HAM 14.04 1.69 0 8.8
Lucky WHITEHEAD WR $5,257.00 WPG CGY 13.83 2.63 0.9 5.4 0 2
BJ CUNNINGHAM WR $6,467.00 MTL SSK 12.59 1.95 0 7.3
Lemar DURANT WR $5,290.00 BC HAM 10.51 1.99 0 5.9
Luke TASKER WR $7,255.00 HAM BC 10.43 1.44 0 5.5
Nic DEMSKI WR $6,306.00 WPG CGY 10.33 1.64 1.9 4.5
Markeith AMBLES WR $5,118.00 CGY WPG 10.21 1.99 0 7.1
Drew WOLITARSKY WR $4,449.00 WPG CGY 9.87 2.22 0 4.8
Brad SINOPOLI WR $7,270.00 OTT EDM 9.32 1.28 0 6.2
Duron CARTER WR $3,957.00 BC HAM 9.29 2.35 0 7.3
Kenny LAWLER WR $2,500.00 WPG CGY 8.87 3.55 0 5.7
Chris MATTHEWS WR $4,029.00 WPG CGY 8.68 2.16 0 5
Eugene LEWIS WR $5,071.00 MTL SSK 8.57 1.69 0 5
Dominique RHYMES WR $4,995.00 OTT EDM 8.55 1.71 0 5.5
Kevin ELLIOTT WR $4,130.00 EDM OTT 8.47 2.05 0 5.5
Naaman ROOSEVELT WR $5,175.00 SSK MTL 8.45 1.63 0 5.9
Natey ADJEI WR $3,786.00 EDM OTT 8.41 2.22 0 4.3
Cory WATSON WR $3,800.00 SSK MTL 7.74 2.04 0 4
Jaelon ACKLIN WR $2,559.00 HAM BC 7.2 2.81 0 3.6
Julian FEOLI GUDINO WR $3,249.00 OTT EDM 6.04 1.86 0 3.4
Shaquille JOHNSON WR $3,254.00 BC HAM 5.13 1.58 0 3.5
Anthony COOMBS WR $4,284.00 HAM BC 4.78 1.12 2 2
Ryan LANKFORD WR $5,365.00 BC HAM 4.64 0.86 0 0 5 3
Jevon COTTOY WR $2,500.00 BC HAM 4.61 1.85 0 2.7
Richard SINDANI WR $2,500.00 CGY WPG 4.58 1.83 0 2.8
Mike JONES WR $3,263.00 HAM BC 4.38 1.34 0.02 2.8
Jake WIENEKE WR $2,500.00 MTL SSK 4.32 1.73 0 2.5
Michael KLUKAS WR $2,500.00 CGY WPG 3.58 1.43 0 2.6
Emmanuel ARCENEAUX WR $4,268.00 SSK MTL 3.51 0.82 0 2.3
Malcolm CARTER WR $2,500.00 MTL SSK 2.25 0.9 0 1.9
Caleb HOLLEY WR $3,219.00 OTT EDM 2.21 0.69 0 2
Tevaun SMITH WR $2,605.00 EDM OTT 1.52 0.58 0 1
Hergy MAYALA WR $2,500.00 CGY WPG 1.4 0.56 0 1