- CFL GameZone
- Diversity is Strength
Week 10 of CFL Fantasy brings the most unique challenges fantasy players have ever faced. There are five games this week to sort through. Players from Ottawa and Toronto will accumulate points from BOTH GAMES that they play but with salaries about 1.5x higher than their usual rates. Even with the bump in pay, though, some REDBLACKS and Argonauts are priced out below the salaries of starters from other teams that play only a single game.
With some of the obvious values that pop in projections, it’s fair to guess that there will be four or five players in almost every lineup in the Thanksgiving Feast Contest. With that in mind, a quick introduction to game theory seems wise. If every entry in the contest has four or five identical players in it, those players’ production becomes essentially irrelevant and it comes down to a battle between the two other players in the lineup versus everyone else’s two players for the top prize of $999. If Fantasy players want to get to the top of the leaderboard, they will likely have to eschew some of the highly used clear value plays to differentiate their lineups from the crowd to have a shot to reach the top.
Caleb Evans, OTT – $7,500
McBeth leads the quarterback position in the projections this week but having 69 pass attempts will do that for a player. The Argos face Ottawa on Wednesday evening and then play Hamilton on Thanksgiving Monday. Every quarterback in the league looks forward to a chance to face the beleaguered REDBLACKS’ defence that has allowed league-high rates of passing yards (9.22) and passing TDs per attempt.
It’s no secret that most of the biggest fantasy performances of the year have come at the expense of Ottawa. Given McBeth led the league in passing TDs in 2019, he’s certainly a play to get excited about on Wednesday. The issue for him is that he’s not guaranteed the second start on Monday versus Hamilton if Nick Arbuckle can get back to health — $14K is a lot to spend for a single game. Even if he does play Monday, the Ticats’ defence is the polar opposite of Ottawa’s, as they have allowed the second-fewest yards per pass attempt this season (7.11) and will be fully rested going into the game. McBeth has upside but is a tough salary to fit in a full lineup.
Vernon Adams doesn’t even offer much salary relief over McBeth, but he does get the same matchup with Ottawa that always appeals to fantasy players. Adams and the Als continue to lead the league in points (24.1) and yards (410.9) per game and show no reason to doubt they will eclipse those averages on Monday afternoon in Montreal versus a REDBLACKS team playing on short rest.
Adams continues to be unbelievably efficient as a passer, as the Als score passing TDs at nearly double the league average rate per attempt. The fact he also passes for the most yards per attempt and faces the most generous secondary in the CFL makes him as close to a “can’t miss” play as it gets. While many fantasy players flock to McBeth or Evans for their double dips, there’s reason to believe Adams may be able to put up more points in just a single game versus Ottawa.
On the other hand, Cody Fajardo is a much more difficult spend to justify as the Riders’ passing game continues to look as incomplete as the passes that they attempt over 10 yards. The loss of Shaq Evans for Fajardo and the Saskatchewan offence can’t be overstated at this point. The signing of Duke Williams will be a boon to them down the road, but his arrival is likely still weeks away.
The Stampeders’ secondary is very beatable, as evidenced by Kian Schaffer-Baker’s 71-yard romp in Week 9. Still, the Riders’ deep attack seems to be predicated on throwing jump balls at this point over scheming players open. As a rule, that will likely result in the struggles they’ve shown without players with an exceptional catch radius. Fajardo is a contrarian special in Week 10 with many more reliable options available.
Given his salary for two full games is below most other QBs’ salaries for just one game, it’s fair to expect that Evans will be the most used quarterback in Week 10 of fantasy contests. Given his 25.5 fantasy point output in his debut, that’s totally understandable. The key to winning in fantasy contests isn’t just being right, but what a player gains when they are right.
If all players use Evans in Week 10 and he succeeds, then no one is really at an advantage. However, if he fails, then the small percentage of players that do not use Evans are at a distinct advantage. The vast majority of Evans’s production came in the first five minutes of the game while Edmonton appeared to be sleepwalking. His athletic running style creates more opportunities for injury. If Evans struggles in the first half versus a solid Toronto defence, he could very well be benched for Taryn Christion and not even finish game one, let alone play in game two.
There are reasons to believe he may not be the stone-cold lock that his projection suggests. The matchup versus Toronto isn’t ideal, as they are starting to get healthy on the defensive line again. If Evans starts versus Montreal, though, he should see his easiest matchup to date as the Als allow the second-most yards (9.14) and TDs per attempt this season.
It’s not unusual to see a salary around $8K at the top of the running back projections. It is weird to see it from an Argo, given their running back by committee approach. Foster’s role is pretty well defined in the Argos offence and he gets around 8-10 touches a week between carries and receptions. The initial matchup with Ottawa is pretty appealing, given his dual-threat abilities versus a defence that gives up points and yards in bunches.
Given White’s absence in that game, Foster becomes a near-lock for exceptional fantasy production. Hamilton’s defence is a different story, though, and he’ll likely have to get his output through volume in PPR scoring. If Foster were to get an increased workload with White limited or out in the Monday game as well, his $8K salary could become the best bargain on the slate for a player with two full games to work with. Foster’s floor is reliable and his upside could be immense. On the other hand, White is a lot tougher spend to justify at $10K for all these same reasons.
Given the high salaries on players like Wilder and Stanback, they are likely to be some of the least used options in Week 10, despite having fairly glowing matchups to exploit. Fading a player like Foster and pivoting to players like Wilder or Stanback is an interesting game theory play. Wilder’s matchup with the stout Bombers’ defence may scare some fantasy players off, but the Winnipeg rush defence continues to be the most generous in the league, allowing the most rush yards (5.52) and TDs per attempt this season by a wide margin. Even with the Elks’ offence limited with Cornelius under centre in Week 8, Wilder had 101 total yards and two touchdowns for a total of 25.1 fantasy points. With Trevor Harris potentially ready to return, Wilder is a real option in Week 10.
William Stanback is in a similarly enviable position. He has been the beneficiary of an increased role in the passing game in recent weeks and now faces a RedBlacks defense that surrendered 51 points and 471 yards of total offence to Montreal in Week 6. Stanback’s salary near $9K should keep him as a rarely used pivot play this week, but he has the potential to produce the most points of any RB on the slate, despite playing just one game to some player’s two.
DeVonte Dedmon, OTT – $9,000
Chandler Worthy, TOR – $7,500
Ryan Davis, OTT – $9,000
Ricky Collins Jr., TOR – $10,500
Jake Wieneke, MTL – $9,421
Eugene Lewis, MTL – $10,384
DaVaris Daniels, TOR – $9,750
R.J. Harris, OTT – $10,000
Nic Demski, WPG – $7,588
B.J. Cunningham, MTL – $6,261
Unlike the decisions to be made at quarterback and running back, the receiver position is a much more complex situation to decode. For the first time this season, there are Ottawa receivers in the top-10 of the projections list. At first glance, it’s nearly impossible to imagine spending $9K for a receiver in the second-worst passing attack in the league. Ottawa has averaged just 6.75 yards per target as a team this season – barely better than Hamilton – and has managed just six scores through the air as well. Despite this, Dedmon has averaged over 15 fantasy points per game this season, while Davis has averaged over 13.5 in the same span.
Much of Dedmon’s success has been predicated on his work as a returner, which is multiplied by endless kick and punt returns due to Ottawa’s struggles on offence. If Ottawa’s offence improves, Dedmon’s opportunities likely diminish. With that in mind, there are some game theory and game script related reasons to either go the Dedmon route or the Evans/Davis route in lineup construction but rostering all three is likely negatively correlated. As mentioned earlier, the Argos matchup isn’t that appealing, but the Monday game versus Montreal could lead to unexpected offensive fireworks, as was the case in Week 6.
The projections for Toronto receivers are a lot more challenging to make sense of for different reasons than the REDBLACKS. Both Rogers and Collins have been limited in practice in the past week. With Rogers listed as out versus Ottawa on Wednesday, nothing precludes him from playing against Hamilton on Monday. With one game at most to produce in versus Hamilton, Rogers is pretty much unplayable near $13K. Collins also carries some injury risk and is similarly tough to justify over $10K.
If Daniels sees an increased target share, his boom or bust potential becomes interesting in a matchup versus Ottawa, but $9K is still a lot to spend on a player with four games below five fantasy points already this season. The injury situation in Toronto and the matchup with Ottawa make less expensive players like Gittens and Worthy interesting plays, given they have also seen some work as kick returners. It’s important to note that their target shares could shrink significantly if players like Rogers, Noel, Braverman, or Brescacin return to the lineup on Monday versus Hamilton.
Beyond the complications of projecting Ottawa and Toronto receivers, there are the dependable options that Montreal trots out every week in Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke. It’s difficult to justify paying the same salary for Lewis and Wieneke for one game of production as fantasy players could pay for two games for Ottawa and Toronto receivers. Still, one game versus Ottawa can be worth two versus any other team. At the very least, it makes Lewis and Wieneke interesting leverage pivots at the position.
Ottawa continues to allow the most receiving yards and TDs per target of any team in the league and Montreal is the most efficient and explosive offence in the CFL. It’s a perfect storm for Als’ receivers. Cunningham and Bray are clearly secondary options in the Als’ attack, but they also come at $3K-plus discounts to their teammates in an exceptional matchup.
With the loss of Kenny Lawler to suspension for at least one game, the Bombers’ passing attack has about seven targets a game to redistribute. Some of those will likely go to whoever replaces Lawler in the lineup, whether it be Stewart, Roosevelt, or another player, but Demski, Bailey and Adams will all likely see a bump in opportunity as well. Bailey is likely the best value of the bunch as all three of Demski, Adams, and Bailey have similar target shares.
The matchup with Edmonton isn’t particularly appealing, however, as they had just 252 receiving yards versus the Elks in Week 7 and Edmonton has allowed a league-low 50.9 plays per game to opposing offences along with the third-fewest yards per target (7.43).
This week, lower-priced value options at the receiver position are primarily from the Riders’ and Stampeders’ receiving corps that continue to provide inexpensive options due to injury and inefficiency. They will be facing off again on Saturday evening in Regina. Schaffer-Baker is beginning to rise in salary but is still a moderately priced option versus a beatable Calgary secondary that has allowed 12 completions of over 30 yards this season.
The Stampeders’ options will be somewhat predicated on the availability of Kamar Jorden and Josh Huff and that won’t be known until Friday. If Jorden or Huff are out, either Henry or Williams make attractive punt options at receiver, but both could see their opportunities evaporate if Jorden or Huff return.
Toronto Argonauts – $3,200
With ballooning salaries all over the slate for Argos and REDBLACKS players, many fantasy players will choose not to roster a defense in Week 10. However, matchups with the two least productive offences in the league – Ottawa and Hamilton – coupled with a return to health for their defence make the Argos defence an interesting option at just $3200 for two games worth of production. Despite a strong start to the season, the Argos have produced just 14 sacks and 11 turnovers thus far and are far from a fantasy juggernaut.
That said, getting a defence for essentially half of the usual minimum salary on a week where salary relief is at a premium is an interesting play, given Ottawa and Hamilton have allowed a combined 48 sacks and 33 turnovers through just 15 games.
Caleb Evans > Ryan Davis
Ryan Davis is the clear big-play threat in the REDBLACKS’ offence. Even during the worst of their struggles, he provided some level of production. Evans’ rock bottom salary of $7,500 for potentially two games of production makes this an option.
Vernon Adams > Euguene Lewis/Jake Wieneke, B.J. Cunningham/Quan Bray
If Adams is going to hit the ceiling necessary to justify spending up for his salary for just a single game, then it follows that at least two of his receivers will also have to provide ceiling production level games. Salaries make it impossible to fit in all of Adams, Lewis, and Wieneke, but double stacking Adams with one of Lewis/Wieneke and one of Cunningham/Bray should make for a very unique lineup with a very high ceiling as well.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson > Chandler Worthy, Kurleigh Gittens
As was the story with Adams, if McBeth is going to pay off a $14K salary, at least two Argos’ receivers are likely going to have big games as well. With two games on this slate, they don’t even have to happen in the same game for the strategy to pay off. Both Worthy and Gittens also get some return work which bolsters their floor production levels. They also come with a lot less opportunity cost than Collins or Daniels on a week where salary relief is at a premium.
WEEK 10 PROJECTIONS
|Name||Postion||Salary||Team||Opp||Projection||Points Per Dollar||Pass Attempts||Rush Carries||Receiving Targets||Punt Returns||Kick Returns|
|Bo Levi MITCHELL||QB||$8,157.00||CGY||SSK||14.43||1.77||35.6||0.2|
|Sean THOMAS ERLINGTON||RB||$5,592.00||HAM||TOR||10.8||1.93||8.3||3.1|
|Ricky COLLINS JR||WR||$10,500.00||TOR||OTT/HAM||19.96||1.9||13|
|Kurleigh GITTENS JR.||WR||$4,000.00||TOR||OTT/HAM||16.73||4.18||10|