The Canadian Press
The prolonged absence of Nathan Rourke casts a pall on Week 12 of the CFL season as the league and its fantasy users come to terms with losing perhaps the league’s most exciting player to foot surgery.
Like life, the games will go on, albeit with plenty of uncertainty at both the pivot and running back positions for this week.
Injuries and inconsistent play have impacted both positions over the past few weeks, yet, when there is loss, gain awaits for the right player.
Calgary (6-3-0) at Winnipeg (9-1-0)
Thursday | 8:30p.m. ET
Line: Winnipeg (-5.5)
Start: Dalton Schoen, WR, Blue Bombers, $7,028 Salary
Opposing secondaries had a much-needed week away from Winnipeg’s star rookie pass catcher as the Bombers finally received their first bye week of the season.
A refreshed Dalton Schoen, on the other hand, is bad news for the Stampeders, as Schoen resumes a streak of four straight games with a touchdown reception. Calgary’s secondary is all too familiar with what Schoen can do, evidenced by the eight receptions for 80 yards and two majors he tagged them with in Week 8.
Schoen doesn’t have to be the do-all player for Winnipeg’s passing attack, as the open week also meant receivers Greg Ellingson ($8,493) and Nic Demski ($6,474) benefited from the down time to heal their respective injuries.
Fantasy users can also feel comfort in knowing Zach Collaros ($9,712) and his 18 passing touchdowns are available this week, which means a possible pairing of he and Schoen could be the anchor to Week 12 success.
Sit: Calgary’s Receiving Corps
Ouch. It has really come to this. Bo Levi Mitchell’s ($6,416) sluggish season reached its apex when Jake Maier ($7,000) replaced him to open the second half of Saturday’s game in Toronto, and while the Stampeders came out with a 22-19 win, it is their defence that get credited for the win.
While coach Dave Dickenson has yet to announce who gets the nod on Thursday, the overall inconsistency of the Stamps’ passing game has wreaked havoc on the fantasy production of its receivers.
Reggie Begelton ($8,658) has yet to record a 100-yard receiving game. Kamar Jorden ($6,010) still has not scored a major this season. Malik Henry ($6,261) has looked average outside of two monster games against the Elks. Injuries have kept Richie Sindani ($3,350), Shawn Bane ($3,227) and Luther Hakunavanhu ($2,611) off the field at times. Put it all together, this is not a good time for a receiving corps that came into the season looking like one of the league’s best.
Hamilton (3-7-0) at Toronto (4-5-0)
Friday | 7:30p.m. ET
Line: Toronto (-3)
Start: Tim White, WR, Tiger-Cats, $8,333 Salary
If you followed our advice about Tim White the past two games, your fantasy team has benefited from the combined 57.1 fantasy points he’s produced. Since the loss of Bralon Addison, White has become the focal point of Hamilton’s passing attack, catching a combined 15 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns on 21 targets, 14 of which came in Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Montreal.
Regardless of whether Dane Evans ($8,087) returns to the lineup or if Matt Shiltz ($7,490) gets another start, featuring White is paramount to the success of the Ticats’ offence, especially against a Toronto pass defence that has allowed 12 passing scores and gave up three completions of at least 24 yards in Saturday’s loss to Calgary.
The Argos are also eighth in completion percentage allowed, and with White improving his catch rate, a third straight game of impressive numbers is a strong possibility from the talented second-year wideout.
Sit: Don Jackson, RB, Tiger-Cats, $6,908 Salary
Don Jackson continues to be steady yet unspectacular, which means disappointing numbers for fantasy users. After rushing for 41 yards on 10 carries in Week 11, Jackson now has 229 rushing yards on 61 carries, averaging 3.8 yards per attempt with one touchdown to show for it.
He has actually been a more effective fantasy producer as a receiver, having put up 49.2 fantasy points as a pass catcher, compared to the 28.9 points he has as a runner. For now, Hamilton remains committed to making the veteran its featured presence in the backfield, but the team’s success on the ground has been mostly due to its pivots. Even with the running back population hammered with injuries, starting Jackson is not the best option available.
Ottawa (1-8-0) at Edmonton (3-7-0)
Saturday | 7:00p.m. ET
O/U: Edmonton (-3.5)
Start: Taylor Cornelius, QB, Elks, $8,000 Salary
Taylor Cornelius continues to show signs of being a star, having generated at least 20 fantasy points in each of his last two starts. His fearless style of running will cause Elks fans (and his fantasy users) to hold their collective breath, yet Cornelius is showing a fire and willingness to adjust when it comes to moving the ball downfield.
Friday’s win over the Ottawa REDBLACKS was his first game without throwing an interception, as Cornelius put up a season-best 16.3 fantasy points with his arm. He also had his first game with multiple touchdowns, including the first thrown to Derel Walker ($5,417) since September 20, 2019. Cornelius has rushed for at least 47 yards in three of his last four games, which makes him a strong sleeper play if he’s continuing to avoid turnovers.
Sit: Darvin Adams, WR, REDBLACKS, $5,102 Salary
Darvin Adams had a nifty 50-yard reception on Friday, yet it was the only catch of the night for Adams on just four targets, resuming a trend that has seen him disappear from the Ottawa passing game. In four of the past six games, Adams has either had one reception or was completely shut out of the stat sheet, quite an oddity for a player who was signed to be a vital part of upgrading the REDBLACKS vertical attack.
Adams certainly can deliver (four games of at least 12 fantasy points this season), but the biggest issue facing the former West Division All-Star is the inconsistency at pivot, where Caleb Evans ($7,689) has just 177 passing yards in his last two starts, both of which ended with Nick Arbuckle ($6,388) replacing him in the lineup. While Arbuckle is — for now — taking things in stride, the lack of production in Ottawa’s passing game is taking Adams out of fantasy lineups.
Saskatchewan (5-5-0) at BC (9-1-0)
Friday | 10:30p.m. ET
Line: BC (-4)
Start: Michael O’Connor, QB, Lions, $7,500 Salary
If there is a silver lining to be found in the absence of Rourke, stacking Lions becomes easier. Michael O’Connor has a handful of cameo appearances this season, yet keep in mind the Lions had very high expectations of the former University of British Columbia star pivot after he was acquired by the team.
Believing that O’Connor can maintain the historic pace of Rourke’s trajectory might be asking too much, but keep in mind that O’Connor completed 15 of 21 passes for 173 yards in limited time with the Argos in 2019. He also has an impressive 78.9% completion rate (30 of 38) for 302 yards and a pair of majors in two preseason games.
O’Connor completed all five of his attempts for 36 yards after replacing Rourke on Friday and will have the league’s most explosive receiving corps at his disposal. It’s a gamble to play him, yet with the way things have gone for the Lions this season, it’s a gamble that has every chance of paying off handsomely.
Sit: Cody Fajardo, QB, Roughriders, $9,327 Salary
Cody Fajardo’s salary produced -1.9 fantasy points before being replaced by Mason Fine ($7,000) late in the first half of Friday’s loss to the Lions. Saskatchewan has the league’s least productive passing game, a shock considering the Riders came into the season determined to be more aggressive when getting the ball downfield.
After tossing for 311 yards in Week 1, Fajardo has topped the 250-yard barrier just once (Week 6) since and will come into this Friday’s game having failed to pass for better than 168 yards in his past three starts.
The pressure on Saskatchewan’s passing game further increases since the team may be without running back Jamal Morrow ($8,639) who started the week as a non-participant in practice after suffering a hand injury in Week 11.
Not only do the Riders lose the league’s leading rusher, they also are without one of their more reliable options in the passing department as Morrow had 34 receptions on 39 targets. The Roughriders have lost four of five after a 4-1 start, and if hopes of playing in front of the home crowd in the Grey Cup finale remains a wish, now would be a good time for Fajardo to flip the switch when it comes to cashing in as a free agent this winter.