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September 22, 2021

Fantasy: Projections for an interesting Week 8

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

Week 8 in the CFL schedule brings us a smaller three-game slate, but there is still no shortage of decisions to be made. The matchup between the Als and Argos gives us the highest game total so far in 2021 (50.5), while the game between the Ticats and REDBLACKS brings us the lowest one (41.5). The best plays this week become fairly obvious, so it will be up to players to determine how to gain leverage on their opponents in Week 8 of CFL Fantasy.

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» Start vs. Sit: Navigating Week 8’s three games
» Prediction Time: CFL.ca’s writers’ Week 8 picks

Cody Fajardo and the Riders will meet a Lions’ defence that’s getting increasingly stingy. This could be a great test for them after a pair of tough losses to Winnipeg (Matt Smith/CFL.ca)

QUARTERBACK

Vernon Adams, MTL – $12,745
Michael Reilly, BC – $11,824
Cody Fajardo, SSK – $11,908

Punt Single(s):

David Watford, HAM – $6,362
Dominique Davis, OTT – $6,861

Vernon Adams held the top spot in the quarterback projections for Week 7, but I warned that TD efficiency regression was likely coming in the near future, as current rates weren’t sustainable. I did not expect that regression to come all at once. The Als settled for six field goals versus the Lions and turned a potential game stack shootout into a one-sided fantasy dud. Montreal settled for three field goals inside of 26 yards. That’s a losing proposition for real and fantasy football. The Als will get a shot to rebound this week, as Toronto has allowed a league-high 10 TDs through the air to this point and the second-most completions of 30-plus yards this season (10). The scores will need to be there to pay off a near $13,000 salary in Week 8.

With Trevor Harris lost to injury for the foreseeable future, Michael Reilly has the inside track to lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns this season. Fantasy players should pretty much disregard the Week 1 outcome of the game between the Riders and Lions and try to come into Week 8 with a fresh perspective. The Lions are first in the league in passing yards per attempt (9.86), second in passing TDs per attempt and second in completions of 30-plus yards (12).

They face a Riders’ defence that has allowed the most completions of 30-plus yards this season (11), including six completions of 20-plus yards in Week 7 alone. The health of Bryan Burnham is a concern, but Lucky Whitehead and the supporting cast are more than enough to make Reilly a solid play at home in Week 8.

His opposition, Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, have a little bit of a different challenge on their hands. They blew out the Lions in their Week 1 matchup, with 32 points in the first half. However, those three offensive touchdowns account for over half of the Lions’ TDs allowed this season, as they have given up just two total offensive TDs in their past five games combined. That’s 22 consecutive quarters of football with only two total TDs scored.

Fajardo and the Riders’ passing attack hasn’t been nearly as dangerous without Shaq Evans and this Week 1 rematch may be the toughest test they’ve faced to date – including back-to-back letdowns versus Winnipeg. The Riders project for the fewest passing yards (6.83) and passing TDs per attempt on the slate and their only real hope is through volume, as they project for the most offensive snaps of any team this week (59.9). Fajardo is a contrarian special at best.

If players are looking to go cheap at quarterback, there are a couple of options between Ottawa and Hamilton on Wednesday. One is a poor fantasy play in a great matchup, while the other is a surprisingly dynamic fantasy option in a terrible matchup. David Watford put up just 149 passing yards and no TDs for a total of 9.5 fantasy points against one of the more porous secondaries in the league.

Matchups with the REDBLACKS have generally led to gargantuan fantasy performances from opposing QBs this season. Still, it’s pretty tough to get excited over Watford given his showing and the lack of Banks, Addison, and Posey in the receiving corps. On the other side of the football, Dominique Davis has averaged over 21 fantasy points in his two starts this season with his dual-threat abilities, but the Ticats’ defence allows the second-fewest yards per pass attempt this season (6.98) and haven’t allowed over 17 points in a game since Week 2. It’s hard to believe either of these cheaper options at QB is an optimal play.


BC running back James Butler’s usage would be determined by Shaq Cooper’s status, but if he gets in the game on Friday against the Riders, he could be a strong value pick for CFL Fantasy users (Peter McCabe/CFL.ca)

RUNNING BACK

William Powell, SSK – $8,201
William Stanback, MTL – $8,005

Punt Single(s):

James Butler, BC – $3,593
D.J. Foster, TOR – $4,257
Maleek Irons, HAM – $2,612

It’s hard to get excited about spending over $8K for Powell or Stanback. With all the cheaper options available at RB in Week 8, that’s likely the route to go in winning lineups, but I’ll try to make a case for each of them anyways.

Powell has seen significantly increased volume over the past two weeks, including 39 carries and six targets in the passing game. When it comes to projecting RBs, volume is king. That said, Powell has scored only once this season – in the first half of the first game – and he hasn’t really come close to the end zone since then.

The Lions allow about league average rates of rushing yards per attempt (4.95), but they haven’t given up a single rushing TD since Powell had one in Week 1. Powell will likely need to score this week to justify his $8,200 salary, and that leaves him a fringe play.

Speaking of fringe plays, Stanback also has elite volume with 33 carries in the past two weeks but, like Powell, he has also only scored once this season. The Als’ matchup with Toronto is a little more hopeful for him than Powell’s, as the Argos allowed 186 rushing yards to Saskatchewan a week ago. Touchdown regression is likely to come for both of these top-priced backs eventually, but these matchups with BC and Toronto, who have allowed a combined three rushing TDs this season, makes it difficult to believe this is the week it hits.

Two of the value-priced RBs are somewhat injury contingent plays, as if either Shaq Cooper or Sean Thomas-Erlington return from injury, Butler’s or Irons’ value would evaporate. For Butler, much of his fantasy value is dependent on his role as a receiver as he hasn’t cracked 37 rushing yards in any of his three starts this season, but he has averaged over 3.6 receptions per game. In Week 1 versus Saskatchewan, Butler had 13.2 fantasy points as a receiver alone. At under $3,600, Butler is a solid option despite a matchup with the Riders, who have allowed the fewest yards per carry this season (4.41).

Irons is a little riskier play, yet as with STE out, the Ticats returned to their backfield by committee approach from 2019, with five different players garnering carries in Week 7. Even if STE sits, there’s no way to feel confident in the volume of any Hamilton RB. The matchup with Ottawa is mighty appealing, though, as they have allowed over 5.1 yards per carry this season and a league-high 27.4 points per game to opposing offences.

D.J. Foster’s volume is much more secure than either Butler’s or Irons’, but he also has significantly less upside given that he continues to share the Argos’ backfield duties with John White. A salary over $4K is a lot to spend on a guy for three carries and four targets a game. The Argos face off with an Alouettes’ defence that allows the second-most yards per target (9.38) and second-most yards per carry (5.21) this season, though, so there is a chance Foster can turn his limited opportunities into some big plays in Week 8.


Lucky Whitehead has taken the next step as a player in BC, where he’s becoming a favourite target of QB Michael Reilly (Photo: The Canadian Press)

RECEIVER

Eugene Lewis, MTL – $8,880
Jake Wieneke, MTL – $8,073
Lucky Whitehead, BC – $9,820
Kyran Moore, SSK – $8,410
BJ Cunningham, MTL – $6,390
Eric Rogers, TOR – $8,561
Bryan Burnham, BC – $10,486
Ricky Collins Jr., TOR – $7,921
DaVaris Daniels, TOR – $6,596
Jaelon Acklin, HAM – $5,554

Punt Single(s):

Tim White, HAM – $3,639
Ryan Davis, OTT – $4,128
Kian Schaffer-Baker, SSK – $3,249

Last week the Als settled for six field goals and the Montreal receivers all tanked in what was expected to be a shootout filled with fantasy points galore. The salaries are way up on Alouettes receivers given their TD efficiency so far this season, but there’s reason to expect a bounce-back this week versus an Argos’ defence that has allowed a league-high 10 TDs through the air.

Priced over $8K, Lewis and Wieneke both need scores to pay off their salaries, but B.J. Cunningham continues to be an underrated bargain to some extent as he is sixth in the league in air yards per game (73), fifth in the league in targets per game (7) and comes in about $2K cheaper than his Als’ running mates, despite having similar stats lines outside of TDs scored. On the other hand, Lewis leads the league in air yards per game (106) but has just a 48 per cent catch rate this season, despite a 64 per cent career average. At some point, that’ll turn around and then watch out! All three of Lewis, Wieneke, and Cunningham are solid options versus Toronto.

Lucky Whitehead may be the most dangerous receiver in the CFL. With Bryan Burnham hobbled with a groin injury, Whitehead had six catches on six targets for 133 yards and a TD versus Montreal. Burnham’s health will likely still be an issue heading into their Week 8 matchup with the Roughriders, so Whitehead may again be the go-to guy for Reilly versus a Saskatchewan defence that has seemed very vulnerable to the big play, with injuries in their secondary.

Keon Hatcher and Jevon Cottoy have filled in admirably in place of the injured Durant and Rhymes, so there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the other plays from the Lions’ receiving corps as well. Cottoy is a little overpriced, but Hatcher could be a solid punt option.

The Riders’ passing attack had been primarily the Kyran Moore show after losing Shaq Evans to injury, but the past couple of weeks foreshadowed the emergence of Schaffer-Baker, as he had games of five and then eight targets before seeing a whopping 11 looks versus Toronto in Week 7. That target share may not be sustainable but at only $3K, he’s one of the best values on the slate.

Moore, on the other hand, is a little bit more difficult spend at over $8K versus a Lions’ defence that has allowed just 7.2 yards per target this season, while Moore has averaged just 6.49 yards per target himself. Unfortunately, the rest of the Riders’ receiving corps is seeing under four targets each per game and are essentially unusable for fantasy purposes. The aforementioned impenetrability of the Lions’ defence seals their fate.

It’s hard to know what exactly to make of the Argos’ passing attack. On the one hand, most of their targets are condensed to just Rogers, Daniels, and Collins and the Argos pass at the second-highest rate in the league (69.8 per cent). That’s great for fantasy purposes. However, their salaries are unreasonably high given their outputs and it makes them difficult to justify putting into the lineup on a weekly basis.

The matchup with the Als is tempting, given Montreal allows a league-high 9.38 yards per target and the second-highest rate of receiving TDs per target in 2021. Daniels is likely the best option given his combination of salary relief and air yards per game, but none are a lock for more than six targets.

The final two receiving corps yet unmentioned this week belong to the Ticats and REDBLACKS. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which it’s wise to roster players from either team. The Hamilton receivers are all relatively inexpensive outside of Acklin, but with David Watford under centre it’s hard to see them eclipsing 200 total receiving yards.

On the other hand, Ottawa sees the return of Dedmon – which limits Ryan Davis’s appeal – and the debut of Kenny Stafford, which sends Petermann to the bench. Coombs posted 16.2 fantasy points in Week 6, but it’s more than unlikely he continues to see 14 targets a game in this offence. There are some weapons here in Ottawa, but the matchup with a stifling Tiger-Cats defence makes all of them long shot values, with just a 15.25 implied team total on BetRegal.


DEFENCE

Hamilton Tiger-Cats – $3,925

All season, the fantasy play at defence has been “whoever is facing Ottawa.” There’s no real reason to change that now. Ottawa has allowed 18 sacks and given up 13 turnovers to this point, while averaging just 14.4 offensive points per game. Hamilton should be primed to take advantage of that. The salary is a lot lower than it could be, given the matchup.

STACKS

Vernon Adams > BJ Cunningham, DaVaris Daniels

This week, the game between Montreal and Toronto has the highest total on BetRegal by eight points over the next closest game. It’s a solid strategy to game stack from that matchup. It’s difficult to fit in multiple Als’ receivers given their salaries, but Cunningham and Daniels have the underlying metrics to make them breakout candidates in a potential shootout.

Michael Reilly > Lucky Whitehead

Any time you can stack the league leader in passing yards per attempt with the league leader in receiving yards, you can at least rest easy that you’re not doing it wrong.

Nick Arbuckle > DaVaris Daniels, DJ Foster, BJ Cunningham

The Argos are part of the matchup with the highest total this week, but most players will be flocking to the Montreal side of the plays. Arbuckle paired with one or two of the Argos’ pass-catchers will be a lower utilized stacking option to gain ground on the field.


WEEK 8 PROJECTIONS 

Name Postion Salary Team Opp Projection Points Per Dollar Pass Attempts Rush Carries Recieving Targets Punt Returns Kick Returns
Vernon ADAMS QB $12,745.00 MTL TOR 27.6 2.17 31.6 6.8
Michael REILLY QB $11,824.00 BC SSK 22.79 1.93 33.2 2.8
Cody FAJARDO QB $11,908.00 SSK BC 21.7 1.82 35.4 6.2
Nick ARBUCKLE QB $10,020.00 TOR MTL 21.6 2.16 38.9 3.4
David WATFORD QB $6,362.00 HAM OTT 17.78 2.79 33.1 5
Dominique DAVIS QB $6,861.00 OTT HAM 16.14 2.35 33.2 6.5
William POWELL RB $8,201.00 SSK BC 14.92 1.82 14.5 4
William STANBACK RB $8,005.00 MTL TOR 14.02 1.75 15.6 1.8
James BUTLER RB $3,593.00 BC SSK 12.96 3.61 10.3 4.5
DJ FOSTER RB $4,257.00 TOR MTL 12.31 2.89 3.2 4.5
John WHITE RB $7,737.00 TOR MTL 11.57 1.5 10.2 3.4
Maleek IRONS RB $2,612.00 HAM OTT 10.75 4.12 7.5 5
Chris RAINEY RB $3,973.00 BC SSK 8.62 2.17 3.3 1 4 3
Anthony COOMBS RB $4,840.00 OTT HAM 7.04 1.45 6
Timothy FLANDERS RB $4,878.00 OTT HAM 4.83 0.99 7.3 2
Jackson BENNETT RB $3,000.00 HAM OTT 3.47 1.16 3.9 1.5
Jeshrun ANTWI RB $2,500.00 MTL TOR 2.62 1.05 3.7 0.5
Kienan LAFRANCE RB $2,575.00 SSK BC 2.31 0.9 1 1.2
Jamal MORROW RB $2,500.00 SSK BC 2.25 0.9 3 3
Declan CROSS RB $2,500.00 TOR MTL 1.24 0.5 0.7
Brendan GILLANDERS RB $3,022.00 OTT HAM 1.11 0.37 3 1
Eugene LEWIS WR $8,880.00 MTL TOR 17.69 1.99 8.6
Jake WIENEKE WR $8,073.00 MTL TOR 17.22 2.13 7.2
Lucky WHITEHEAD WR $9,820.00 BC SSK 15.61 1.59 6.44
Kyran MOORE WR $8,410.00 SSK BC 14.83 1.76 0.2 9
BJ CUNNINGHAM WR $6,390.00 MTL TOR 14.75 2.31 7.8
Eric ROGERS WR $8,561.00 TOR MTL 14.26 1.67 6.9
Bryan BURNHAM WR $10,486.00 BC SSK 13.34 1.27 5.6
Tim WHITE WR $3,639.00 HAM OTT 13.3 3.66 0.8 5.9
Kian SCHAFFER-BAKER WR $3,249.00 SSK BC 13.23 4.07 7.1
Ricky COLLINS JR WR $7,921.00 TOR MTL 13.08 1.65 7.4
Ryan DAVIS WR $4,128.00 OTT HAM 12.96 3.14 1 6.8 4 3
DaVaris DANIELS WR $6,596.00 TOR MTL 12.27 1.86 6.9
Jaelon ACKLIN WR $5,554.00 HAM OTT 11.44 2.06 6.3
Steven DUNBAR WR $2,500.00 HAM OTT 11.44 4.57 0.1 5.3
Jevon COTTOY WR $5,132.00 BC SSK 10.85 2.11 5.2
Papi WHITE WR $2,500.00 HAM OTT 10.31 4.12 2.7 5.5
Keon HATCHER WR $2,500.00 BC SSK 8.9 3.56 4.2
Mario ALFORD WR $2,992.00 MTL TOR 8.66 2.89 1 4 3
Chandler WORTHY WR $3,712.00 TOR MTL 7.57 2.04 2.3 4 3
RJ HARRIS WR $6,351.00 OTT HAM 7.47 1.18 6
Brayden LENIUS WR $3,318.00 SSK BC 7.41 2.23 4.3
Shaquille JOHNSON WR $3,508.00 BC SSK 7.3 2.08 4.2
Ricardo LOUIS WR $2,500.00 SSK BC 6.98 2.79 4.5
Mitchell PICTON WR $2,500.00 SSK BC 6.95 2.78 4.2
Devonte DEDMON WR $4,744.00 OTT HAM 6.65 1.4 1 4 3
Kurleigh GITTENS JR. WR $2,528.00 TOR MTL 6.63 2.62 3.6
Dante ABSHER WR $2,500.00 MTL TOR 6.37 2.55 3.2
David UNGERER WR $2,500.00 HAM OTT 5.68 2.27 3
Dejon BRISSETT WR $2,500.00 TOR MTL 4.8 1.92 3.2
Nathaniel BEHAR WR $3,362.00 OTT HAM 4.03 1.2 4.2
Kaion JULIEN-GRANT WR $2,500.00 MTL TOR 2.17 0.87 1.5
Cordell HASTINGS WR $2,500.00 BC SSK 1.94 0.77 1.1
Daniel PETERMANN WR $4,024.00 OTT HAM 1.67 0.42 1.2
Jacob SCARFONE WR $2,500.00 BC SSK 0.37 0.15 1

 

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