June 7, 2022

Start vs. Sit: Building a winning roster for Week 1

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

We’re here and will be for the next 25 weeks. If the joy of playing CFL Fantasy football from June to the end of November doesn’t excite you, well, you’re definitely on the wrong site.

Week 1 brings hope and optimism for all nine teams, yet, as our first Start vs. Sit piece kicks off, fantasy users will quickly learn some things remain the same.

The official start of the season doesn’t arrive until Thursday, so consider this a succulent appetizer between now and then. Let’s go.

Montreal (0-0-0) at Calgary (0-0-0)
Thursday | 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Calgary (-3.5)
O/U: 47.5

Start: Vernon Adams, Jr., QB, Alouettes, $12,405 Salary

New season, so, heck yeah, we’re going big here. Vernon Adams Jr. was the league’s most efficient touchdown passer in 2021 (5.9 per cent). He’ll have elite receivers Eugene Lewis ($10,200) and Jake Wieneke ($8,250) to throw to against a solid Stampeders secondary that finished sixth in both completion percentage and opponent pass efficiency last season. Adams Jr. threw eight of his 14 majors on throws of at least 20 yards, so rest assured, the Als will test Calgary deep, early and often. While starting Adams will put a dent in your salary, the hunch here is that Thursday is the launching pad for potential Most Outstanding Player campaign for Adams in 2022. Despite not rushing for a touchdown in 2021, Adams does provide plenty of dual-threat value, so do be pleasantly surprised if he rushes for a major here.

» CFL and Genius Sports: Check out the CFL GameZone
» Sign up and set your lineup for Week 1!
» Fantasy: Survival guide for a winning roster in 2022
» Play CFL Pick ‘Em here!
» Buy Tickets

Vernon Adams Jr. threw 14 touchdowns and totaled 298 rushing yards in 2021. (The Canadian Press)

Sit: Reggie Begelton, WR, Stampeders, $11,250 Salary

Look, we love Reggie Begelton, yet there is still reason to avoid him this week. Calgary looks to have a talented receiver room entering the new season and with Bo Levi Mitchell’s $8,250 salary, he is an enticing option to pair with the likes of a Begelton. We are all well aware of the talent Mitchell possesses, throwing for a combined 67 touchdowns in 2017 and 2019. However, in 2021 Mitchell was responsible for a league-leading 13 interceptions and had just two games with multiple touchdown passes. The fantasy advice here would be to wait on the Calgary receivers for Week 1,  just so we can see if the former fantasy monster is bringing his “A” game to the 2022 party.

Ottawa (0-0-0) at Winnipeg (0-0-0)
Friday | 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Winnipeg (-9.5)
O/U: 47.5

Start: Winnipeg defence, $4,431 Salary

The champs are back and the road to a three-peat begins with a juicy matchup for the Blue Bombers’ defence. Ottawa bolstered its offence with the additions of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli ($11,881), running back William Powell ($8,360) and wide receiver Jaelon Acklin ($6,842). However, for the new REDBLACKS offence there are better places than IG Field to hold your first “getting to know you” session, especially given the added excitement for Bomber fans as Winnipeg gets set to unveil their 2021 Grey Cup banner. Most of the Blue Bombers’ defence from 2021 has returned, so expect a dominant performance from the Winnipeg defenders. Ottawa will certainly have an opportunity to show flashes of how good they can be, but don’t be a contrarian when it comes to choosing a defence in Week 1. Just hit the icon next to the words “Winnipeg Blue Bombers” and carry on.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence allowed just 15 touchdowns during the 2021 season. (BlueBombers.com)

Sit: William Powell, RB, REDBLACKS, $8,360 Salary

You don’t run on Winnipeg. You don’t run on Winnipeg.

That’s it. That’s the avoid.

Hamilton (0-0-0) at Saskatchewan (0-0-0)
Saturday | 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Saskatchewan (-1.5)
O/U: 47.5

Start: Steven Dunbar Jr., WR, Tiger-Cats, $5,582 Salary

Hey, finally a bargain player. Steven Dunbar Jr. finished 12th in the league with 630 yards and tied the now-departed Jaelon Acklin with a team-best four receiving touchdowns. Brandon Banks ($7,000) is also gone, leaving a combined 144 targets for the Ticats to make up.

Dunbar is facing a Roughriders secondary that allowed a league-worst 273.6 yards per game last season, and that was with Ed Gainey and Deon Lacey still residing in Saskatchewan. Dane Evans ($7,553) is now the clear-cut starter and with plenty of big-play potential, the Ticats’ passing game has an opportunity to be more efficient than it was in 2021. That’s bad news for a Roughriders’ secondary that allowed a league-high 24 passes of 30 yards or more last season. Take Dunbar at one of your receiver spots and bask in the value of a bargain.

Sit: Jamal Morrow, RB, Roughriders, $4,500 Salary

This was a tough call since Morrow is one of our choices to become a breakout back for fantasy users, but he’s making his Week 1 start against the league’s toughest run defence last season. Hamilton allowed just 4.2 yards per carry while giving up a mere 79.6 yards per game.

Morrow can make up for his challenges on the ground, as he is a tremendously good receiver out of the backfield, he also has the added upside and ability to rack up return yards. Right now though, the vibe isn’t good with playing Morrow on Saturday, and while better days are ahead for him, the vibe wins.

Nathan Rourke totaled three passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2021. (BCLions.com)

Edmonton (0-0-0) at BC (0-0-0)
Saturday | 10:00 p.m. ET
Line: BC (-3.5)
O/U: 48

Start: Nathan Rourke, QB, Lions, $7,250 Salary

Rourke will finish the regular season with a salary above $10,000. Bank it. The path to a breakout season begins against an Edmonton Elks team that he carved up for a combined five touchdowns during a 43-10 walloping in last year’s regular season finale. Edmonton went out and added some pieces to its defence, but as mentioned in the Ottawa-Winnipeg Start/Avoid, the Elks’ defence is going to need some time to find its rhythm. Rourke has a nose for the goal line, so don’t be shocked if he cashes in a rushing major (he had three against Edmonton in Week 16’s finale). The Elks allowed 12 rushing touchdowns last year and for all the talk about Rourke’s running, he does have CFL all-star Lucky Whitehead ($9,190) and West Division all-star Bryan Burnham ($9,708) at his disposal. The feeling is that Rourke and the Lions will hit the over, so start him and add one of his star wideouts for good measure.

Sit: Edmonton’s QBs

Taylor Cornelius ($5,138) is likely to start. It’s anyone’s question as to whether he will finish on Saturday. Nick Arbuckle ($7,185) looms in the background, and if the game gets out of hand, head coach Chris Jones may be tempted to give first-round pick Tre Ford ($5,000) his initial taste of regular season play. Edmonton has a solid receiving corps, highlighted by the addition of CFL all-star Kenny Lawler ($9,802), but until there is some more clarity in Edmonton, Lawler and the rest of the wideouts are a riskier fantasy option.

The comment system on this website is now powered by the CFL.ca Forums. We'd love for you to be part of the conversation; click the Start Discussion button below to register an account and join the community!