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November 13, 2019

Fantasy Strategy: Another big game on the horizon for Harris?

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Unlike in the Semi-Finals, the weather isn’t expected to be an issue in either Regina or Hamilton this week. The bigger issue is or not the West MOP candidate Cody Fajardo is healthy enough to suit up for the Green and White. Many of the decisions at QB, WR, and Defence hinge on Fajardo’s availability for the West Final on Sunday afternoon.

QUARTERBACK

Cody Fajardo, SSK – $10,691

Dave Evans, HAM – $9,172

Trevor Harris, EDM – $10,345

While parts of the CFL playoff picture have become clearer after the first round of the playoffs, some mysteries are yet to be solved. Following a week of rest for his ailing back, the Riders hope that Cody Fajardo can return to action for the West Final versus Winnipeg. In two games against the Bombers this season, he had one mess and one masterpiece, so even if he is at full strength success is far from a guarantee. The Riders project for the most yards per pass attempt on the slate (9.03) versus a Winnipeg defence that has allowed the most completions of 30+ yards this season (32). Fajardo’s passing TDs don’t project nearly as high but much of that is due to his propensity to run with the ball in the redzone. If Fajardo is unable to play Sunday, Isaac Harker would be available at half the salary, but also with half the projection.


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Dane Evans led the Ti-Cats offence to a league-high 8.97 yards per pass attempt this season, but they will have to be extremely efficient if they are going to get the results Fantasy players want versus an Edmonton defence that allowed a league-low 54.5 plays per game to opposing offences. In two games versus the Eskimos earlier this season, the Ticats had blazing starts with near 300 passing yards in each of the first halves but Evans and the group slowed significantly after half time. Thankfully, given the big-play abilities of his receivers, Evans projects for the most TDs per attempt on the slate. At a significantly lower salary than the other two full-time starters, he’s certainly worth the risk.

Trevor Harris reprised his early 2019 form versus the Alouettes in the East Semi-Final, passing for 421 yards and a TD with a 92.3 completion percentage. Unfortunately for him, he’ll have to face a much more accomplished secondary this week as the Ticats allowed the second-fewest yards per pass attempt this season (7.59) along with the fewest passing TDs this season (17). Working in his favour though is the highest pace projection this week (58.2), giving him and the Eskimos receivers increased attempts to try to crack this difficult matchup.

RUNNING BACK

Andrew Harris, WPG – $8,651

William Powell, SSK – $7,069

CJ Gable, EDM – $7,865

Cameron Marshall, HAM – $5,700

With that salary cap reduced to just $30K for the playoff edition of CFL Fantasy, fitting in high priced studs becomes that much more difficult and makes the decisions as to where to spend up that more crucial. Since returning from suspension, Andrew Harris yards per carry average has dipped below 4.6 yards per carry – outside of two explosive games versus a porous Montreal rush defence – well below the 6.4 yards per carry average he had through his first 11 games in 2019. Given that drop in efficiency and a matchup with a Roughriders defence that has allowed the third-fewest yards per carry (5.07) and the fewest rushing TDs this season (9), it’s difficult to envision a game script in which Harris is able to pay off this salary. The added difficulty of having to overcome Streveler taking many of the carries in the red zone further adds to the dubiousness of paying up for Harris.

With Cody Fajardo on the bench for the season finale versus Edmonton, many Fantasy assumed William Powell would be in for a big afternoon. Unfortunately, he had one of his lowest rushing outputs of the season as the whole offence regressed to 2018 Roughrider levels. If Fajardo returns to force the Winnipeg defence to respect the pass than Powell may have an opportunity for production, but if Harker starts for the Riders again this week, Powell’s only value may be as a PPR security blanket for the young quarterback, making it difficult to imagine him justifying his $7K price tag. In three games versus Winnipeg this season, Powell has games of 14, 4.5. and 0.1 Fantasy points. That’s not a typo. The Bombers defence is susceptible to being beat with the deep ball but they allowed a league-low 4.5 yards per carry and nine total rushing TDs during the regular season, making this a matchup worth avoiding.

C.J. Gable had just three total TDs during the 2019 regular season but made the most of his carries inside the five this past Sunday, scoring twice versus a porous Alouettes rush defence. Those TD attempts aren’t reliable for him this Eskimos offence and he would have been left with a disappointing 8.8 Fantasy point output without them. The addition of Shaq Cooper to the Eskimos backfield alongside Gable is a boon to the Edmonton offence, but it also saw Gable’s receiving targets diminish accordingly. The Hamilton defence allowed slightly more yards per carry than average in the regular season (5.23) but allowed a below-average rate of TDs. If Fantasy players want to bet on Gable getting another multi-TD game for just the third time this season, he’s an option, but the odds don’t favour a repeat performance.

Throughout the 2019 season, no one outside the Ticats coaching staff has known who will lead the team in carries on a given week as all of Thomas-Erlington, Irons, Bennet, Coombs, Marshall, Banks, and Addison have seen significant work as ball carriers. Cameron Marshall was the recipient of the bulk of the work in the season finale versus Toronto, but that was a game in which Hamilton rested most of their starters. Even after the depth charts are released this coming Saturday it may be difficult to know who the main ball carrier for the Tabbies might be. Thankfully, both of Sutton and Marshall are price similarly just below $6K and are the most likely options. The Eskimos limited teams’ overall volume this season, but they did allow a league-high 5.41 yards per carry, making whoever gets the work for Hamilton a solid Fantasy option at a very affordable tag. The uncertainty around the situation though leaves it a risky situation.

RECEIVER

Brandon Banks, HAM – $14,000

Bralon Addison, HAM – $9,720

Greg Ellingson, EDM – $7,960

Shaq Evans, SSK – $6,809

Kyran Moore, SSK – $6,964

DaVaris Daniels, EDM – $5,225

Ricky Collins Jr., EDM – $6,070

Naaman Roosevelt, SSK – $5,625

Luke Tasker, HAM – $6,723

Darvin Adams, WPG – $6,469

Punt Single:

Rasheed Bailey, WPG – $2,500

Brandon Banks is the likely winner of the 2019 MOP Award and clearly the top WR on the slate this week with games of 18.5 and 22.1 Fantasy points versus Edmonton already this season. The problem is that he takes up nearly half of the salary cap and is essentially unusable. The prospects of fitting in Addison near $10K are only slightly better as the second-highest projected WR this week with games of 25.5 and 11.6 Fantasy points versus the Eskimos in 2019. Unfortunately, if players intend to use a full lineup or a starting QB and RB, both of Banks and Addison are nearly impossible to fit into lineups alongside them. Add to that that Edmonton allowed a league-low 51.2 plays per game to opposing offences at just 7.84 yards per target and it’s that much tougher to justify the spends. The big play may be there, as Banks and Addison already proved versus Edmonton, but if they don’t hit home runs, they’ll likely have disappointing Fantasy days. Their teammate Luke Tasker is much more affordably priced, but he’s also been largely a non-factor in the Hamilton passing attack this season.

Eskimos fans were thrilled to have Trevor Harris back for the playoffs, but no group of people was likely more excited than the Eskimos receiving corps. Both Ellingson and Collins returned to early season form with games of 20.5 and 17.7 Fantasy points respectively – near 3x value for both of them. The entire group of Ellingson, Collins, and Daniels remain underpriced given Harris return, but should expect a tougher matchup this week versus a Hamilton secondary that allowed the second-lowest rates of yards (7.59) and TDs per target during the regular season. Edmonton struggled passing the ball versus Hamilton in two matchups this season, but the difference between a Kilgore led offence and a Harris led one can’t be understated.

There’s a good chance that one of the Roughriders skill players will have a big day versus the Bombers on Sunday in the West Final given that Winnipeg allowed the most receptions of 30+ yards this season. The difficult is it’s nearly impossible to predict who that player will be. Powell has six games over 20 Fantasy points this season but also six in single digits. Evans has five games over 25 Fantasy points this season but also eight in single digits. Moore has six games with over 17 Fantasy points but also eight in single digits. This is a roster of boom or bust Fantasy options as the scoring can come from so many different places in the Riders offence. It’s great for the Roughriders but a headache for Fantasy players. Versus the Bombers this season, Powell has notably struggled, while Evans has games of 20.1, 6.9, and 32.3 Fantasy points, and Moore has produced lines of 5, 12, and 4.1 Fantasy points. Given the data available, Evans would appear to be the best combination of low salary and high ceiling on the slate but the uncertainty surrounding Fajardo’s health keeps him a risky option this week.

The Bombers receiving corps has been underutilized as a whole this season with the team’s tendency towards run-heavy attacks following Matt Nichols‘ season-ending injury. Zach Collaros‘ pocket passing abilities make them slightly more reasonable options, but as the West Semi-Final showed, the team can revert back to running the Streveler option at any time. Darvin Adams has been the main beneficiary of Collaros’ pocket passing abilities as his aDOT has risen from 10.7 to 13.7 over the past two games, adding a downfield threat that Winnipeg previously lacked. Adams’ salary is a little higher than most Fantasy players might like but he’s certainly a boom or bust option versus a Riders defence that allowed below average rates of yards (7.66) and TDs per target this season. Rasheed Bailey has similar downfield ability but with a lower overall market share of targets making him an interesting punt play at minimum price.

DEFENCE

Saskatchewan Roughriders – $4,970

Winnipeg Blue Bombers – $4,915

Hamilton Tiger-Cats – $4,668

The defences from the Riders, Bombers and Ticats are all priced similarly and have similar projections given they all finished in the top four in sacks this season while Winnipeg and Hamilton also both finished in the top three in forced turnovers. The Riders really struggled out of the gate in that department but forced 15 turnovers in the final six weeks of the season – a pace that would have put them among the league leaders. The Riders allowed just 25 turnovers this season, while Edmonton allowed just 25 sacks – both league lows – making them difficult matchups to target with opposing defences. When in doubt, side with teams enjoying the home field advantage of crowd noise to disrupt opposing offences and pick between Saskatchewan and Hamilton depending on what salary allows. If however Isaac Harker is named the Riders starting QB this week, the Bombers would be the defence of choice.

STACKS

Cody Fajardo > Shaq Evans

As mentioned earlier, this is a somewhat boom or bust combo this season and much hinges on Fajardo’s health but if this duo is ready to play on Sunday they are as likely as anyone to be the most affordable stack with upside on the slate.

Trevor Harris > Greg Ellingson, Ricky Collins Jr.

Overall, the Ticats are more beatable in the slot than at corner and Ellingson and Collins are both high target options in a game in which Edmonton is expected to play from behind. Collins is priced much more affordably though making him an easier option to build around.

Division Finals Projections

QUARTERBACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries
Cody FAJARDO QB $10,691.00 SSK WPG 22.87 2.14 29.9 6.4
Dane EVANS QB $9,172.00 HAM EDM 21.51 2.35 32.9 2.6
Trevor HARRIS QB $10,345.00 EDM HAM 18.11 1.75 36.2 3.7
Zach COLLAROS QB $5,553.00 WPG SSK 11.8 2.12 24.5 1.7
Chris STREVELER QB $5,839.00 WPG SSK 7.89 1.35 3 6.3

RUNNING BACKS

Name Position Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Rush Carries Receiving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Andrew HARRIS RB $8,651.00 WPG SSK 19.35 2.24 14.1 4.9
William POWELL RB $7,069.00 SSK WPG 15.19 2.15 12.3 2.8
CJ GABLE RB $7,865.00 EDM HAM 10.66 1.36 13 2.5
Cameron MARSHALL RB $5,700.00 HAM EDM 8.86 1.55 10.3 1.6
Shaquille COOPER RB $5,811.00 EDM HAM 7.51 1.29 3 4 0 0
Marcus THIGPEN RB $3,467.00 SSK WPG 6.88 1.98 2.8 1.8 3
Anthony COOMBS RB $3,312.00 HAM EDM 2.67 0.81 0 1.6
Maleek IRONS RB $2,500.00 HAM EDM 2.62 1.05 2.4 1.2

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 EDM 23.36 1.67 0.8 9.5 1
Bralon ADDISON WR $9,720.00 HAM EDM 18.4 1.89 2.3 7.5
Greg ELLINGSON WR $7,960.00 EDM HAM 13.86 1.74 0 7.9
Shaquelle EVANS WR $6,809.00 SSK WPG 13.8 2.03 0.2 6.1
Kyran MOORE WR $6,964.00 SSK WPG 13.48 1.94 0.3 5.6 2
DaVaris DANIELS WR $5,225.00 EDM HAM 11.89 2.27 0 7.1
Ricky COLLINS WR $6,070.00 EDM HAM 11.48 1.89 0.1 6.7
Naaman ROOSEVELT WR $5,625.00 SSK WPG 10.42 1.85 0 6.6
Luke TASKER WR $6,723.00 HAM EDM 10.05 1.49 0 5.4
Darvin ADAMS WR $6,469.00 WPG SSK 9.58 1.48 0 5.2
Rasheed BAILEY WR $2,500.00 WPG SSK 9.12 3.65 0.3 5.8
Jaelon ACKLIN WR $3,953.00 HAM EDM 8.42 2.13 0 4
Kenny LAWLER WR $4,525.00 WPG SSK 8.18 1.81 0 4.1
Nic DEMSKI WR $4,593.00 WPG SSK 7.98 1.74 1.5 4
Cory WATSON WR $3,017.00 SSK WPG 6.91 2.29 0 3.7
Tevaun SMITH WR $5,091.00 EDM HAM 6.83 1.34 0 4
Janarion GRANT WR $2,500.00 WPG SSK 6.7 2.68 0 0 5 3
Natey ADJEI WR $2,942.00 EDM HAM 5.83 1.98 0 4
Drew WOLITARSKY WR $3,502.00 WPG SSK 5.81 1.66 0 3.5
Emmanuel ARCENEAUX WR $3,951.00 SSK WPG 5.7 1.44 0 3
Mike JONES WR $2,768.00 HAM EDM 3.44 1.24 0 2.1