The Canadian Press
One playoff berth remains entering Week 20 of the CFL regular season, yet there are other implications (East Division title, West Semi-Final home berth) that are also in play. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the only team to have their postseason plans already assured and with that in mind there is plenty at stake in both the Friday and Saturday doubleheader.
Keep in mind this week is the regular season finale for the Edmonton Elks, so fantasy users who want one last chance to ride the stretch of running back Kevin Brown ($6,784) or a resurgent Derel Walker ($5,891) should do so before the next time we see Edmonton football in 2023.
Ottawa (4-12-0) at Hamilton (6-10-0)
Friday | 7:00p.m. ET
Line: Hamilton (-5)
Start: Justin Hardy, WR, Ottawa REDBLACKS, $4,825 Salary
Justin Hardy has appeared in just five games this season, yet Friday’s 17.3 fantasy point performance marked the fourth time he has scored at least 12.5 points. The past two games have given fantasy users a strong indication of what he can be if he returns to the nation’s capital in 2023, as Hardy has scored a total of 37.9 fantasy points while serving as the featured target for pivot Nick Arbuckle ($7,020).
Since his return to the Ottawa REDBLACKS roster, Hardy has been targeted 32 times, catching 24 of those for 266 yards. The high volume of targets only increases his chances of finding the end zone. In a game where playoff hopes still dwell for Ottawa, Hardy is a heck of value play who will continue to deliver at more than double his current salary, make the room to find a roster spot for the receiver.
Sit: Dane Evans, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, $8,454 Salary
Had it not been for the heart-stopping final drive that gave the Hamilton Tiger-Cats their first win in Calgary since 2004, Dane Evans’ Week 19 numbers would have been less impressive than the 20 fantasy points he tallied. Evans’ late-game touchdown pass to Tim White ($10,336) carried his totals over the finish line of positive production, yet did not turn what has been a negative trend for Evans.
Over the past three games the Hamilton quarterback has managed just one passing major and is in a stretch to where he’s thrown just one or failed to do so in seven of his last eight starts. He’s also gone three straight games with fewer than 30 pass attempts, due in part to the rise in production from running back Wes Hills ($5,925). Although he did tag Ottawa with 342 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 6, fantasy users competing for a league title would be taking a huge risk if Evans is the Week 20 pivot on their roster.
BC (11-5-0) at Edmonton (4-13-0)
Friday | 9:30p.m. ET
Line: BC (-6.5)
Start: James Butler, RB, BC Lions, $9,399 Salary
James Butler has been productive through the final stretch of the season and gets a cure for the touchdown blues in the form of an Edmonton Elks run defence. They have been at the bottom of the league in both rushing yards allowed per game and rushing majors yielded this season.
After midseason downward trend, Butler finds himself just 87 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season and is in the midst of a five-game run that has seen him rush for at least 82 yards four times, including Saturday’s 104-yard gem in the win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Butler has just six rushing majors this season, but three of those have been scored over the last five weeks. He also had his best game of the 2022 campaign at the expense of the Elks when he rushed 108 yards and scored twice in the Week 1 rout while also catching a pair of majors, giving him a CFL fantasy-best 44.1 fantasy points. Don’t count on a similar performance, but look for Butler to at least deliver 18-20 points this week.
Sit: Dillon Mitchell, WR, Edmonton Elks, $6,526 Salary
Toronto’s secondary finally cooled Dillon Mitchell‘s jets, holding him to just three receptions for 29 yards on six targets in the Week 19 win. Stopping what had been a stretch of six straight games of at least one reception for 45 yards by the Elks speed merchant. As good as the Argos’ pass defence is, the BC Lions are better and will focus on keeping the rookie from getting behind them for a deep shot or two.
Mitchell has also seen his role as the team’s go-to receiver taken away by the aforementioned Walker, who has had three 100-yard games in his last five starts and comes off a season-high 114 yards in Saturday’s loss to Toronto. While Mitchell should have a considerable role in the 2023 plans of the Elks, don’t look for him to end 2022 on a high note.
Toronto (10-6-0) at Montreal (8-8-0)
Saturday | 4:00p.m. ET
Line: Toronto (-1)
Start: Tyson Philpot, WR, Montreal Alouettes, $3,690 Salary
We may have seen the arrival of Tyson Philpot as a factor in the Montreal Alouettes passing game in Friday’s win over Ottawa. With Reggie White Jr. ($5,411) sidelined due to injury, Philpot answered the call and caught seven passes for 76 yards on 10 targets. With defences putting most of their focus on Eugene Lewis ($10,206), Philpot, the Als’ first-round pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, is in a position to seize the day and provide a complimentary role in Montreal’s passing attack.
Philpot has caught at least four passes in four of his last six games but is ready for a larger role. If the Als have any desire to avoid a third straight one-and-done in the postseason, it will be up to Trevor Harris ($8,560) to get Philpot even more involved in a game where homefield for the East Semi-Final is still in play.
Sit: Montreal Alouettes Running Backs
In the two games since William Stanback ($6,180 has returned to the lineup, the Alouettes have maintained their backfield by committee approach, with Stanback getting the touches on the ground while Walter Fletcher ($5,714) and Jeshrun Antwi ($3,194) have become the options in passing situations. The rotation worked in Friday’s win, with Fletcher catching four passes for 60 yards and a critical touchdown, while Stanback scored on the ground and rushed nine times for 34 yards.
Montreal doesn’t appear to be ready to give Stanback a full-time role and as long as the current arrangement is working. There isn’t a need to rush until the 2021 CFL All-Star is ready to resume being the workhorse back he’s established himself as. Until then, that’s also a reason to not roll the dice on any of the Montreal backs.
Calgary (10-6-0) at Saskatchewan (6-10-0)
Saturday | 7:00p.m. ET
Line: Calgary (-1.5)
Start: Jalen Philpot, WR, Calgary Stampeders, $3,397
There is risk here, but if the Calgary Stampeders are without Malik Henry ($9,394) for a second straight game, then playing Jalen Philpot will have validation as the Calgary receiving corps will be in need for someone who can alter the game on one play. The rookie thrived in a do-all role in Saturday’s loss to BC as he totaled 178 all-purpose yards on a combined 10 touches. Philpot caught five passes, had three kickoff returns and rushed twice in what was the best game for the Stampeder’s 2022 first-round pick.
There’s not a team in the league who wouldn’t want a player who averages 17.8 yards every time he touches the ball in the manner Philpot did on Saturday. It would not be too much of a challenge for the Stampeders to get the ball into Philpot’s hands 10-12 times this week, and if one of those touches results in a touchdown, fantasy users would be sitting on high-end production at a near bargain basement price.
Sit: Saskatchewan Roughriders Defence, $3,200 Salary
There was a time earlier in the season when starting the Saskatchewan Roughriders defence was an excellent source of fantasy points as the Riders were bringing down opposing pivots at will, forcing turnovers and getting the occasional pick-six or scoop-and-score. That is no more.
The struggles of Saskatchewan’s offence can be looked at as a factor in why the Roughriders have gone 2-9 after a promising 4-1 start. Yet the defence has earned their share of pieces in the pie of blame, particularly a pass defence that has allowed a league-high 29 completions of better than 30 yards, along with yielding a CFL-high seven yards on first down.
When opposing offences are frequently able to use the full complement of their playbooks on second-and-short, that usually results in the chains moving on a consistent basis. The Calgary offence averages 27.2 points per game and are one of three teams that have scored 50 offensive touchdowns, translating into a strong avoid of the Green and White defence.