CFL Daily Fantasy DraftKings Week 6 – Saddle Up
It's the first full slate of the CFL daily fantasy season without Mike Reilly so of course the landscape for lineup construction looks totally unfamiliar. Gone is the weekly Reilly/Williams stack and in its place is a top passing stack of Mitchell/Rogers – both of which may miss the week completely. A slate without the stability of the Eskimos passing game is one that makes for a lot of intriguing build options and a lot more volatility. There are a few great matchups and values worth exploiting but only if those players actually play. Saddle up your horses and hope to ride the Stampeders to victory!
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Implied Team Totals
Calgary Stampeders – 31.5
Hamilton Tiger Cats – 31.25
Ottawa RedBlacks - 30
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 25.5
Toronto Argonauts – 25.5
BC Lions – 23.5
Saskatchewan Roughriders – 20.25
Montreal Allouettes – 18.5
Given the injury situation with Bo Levi Mitchell, there is no line available yet for the matchup between the Stampeders and Alouettes. As such, the implied team totals are just where I would set the line for the game. Most of the other lines look about right but any time I see a line greater than double digits in a professional football game I'm interested in the underdog. The Riders come in at +10.5 road dogs in Hamilton on Thursday night having just beat the TiCats in their previous matchup. I think the Tiger-Cats win this game, but 10.5 points is a big spread given they only managed to score 13 total points last time around.
On the weather front, there are a couple forecasts worth taking note of as well. Toronto has a 70% chance of showers with winds sustained at 12mph gusting to 19mph on Saturday, while Calgary forecasts a 30% chance of showers with winds sustained at 13mph gusting to 20mph. If it is rainy and windy in Toronto there may be more emphasis on the run games there, while if Arbuckle starts for an injured Mitchell in windy Calgary, Don Jackson may get his biggest workload of the season.
Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY - $10200
Jeremiah Masoli, HAM - $10800
James Franklin, TOR - $8500
With the Eskimos and Mike Reilly on bye this week, the decision at quarterback is no longer between Reilly or the field but rather which of the congested group of QBs to roll with. The decision would be fairly clear if not for a scary looking injury to Bo Levi Mitchell part way through last week's game versus Ottawa. Mitchell has a talented corps of receivers to throw to in Kamar Jorden, Eric Rogers, and company and they get to face a Montreal defence that has allowed the most total passing touchdowns (10) and the most passing TDs per attempt this season – nearly double the league average. If Mitchell is unable to go, Nick Arbuckle will get the nod at only $8300, albeit with much lower expectations.
On just about any other week Jeremiah Masoli would be the clear top passer on a slate without Mike Reilly but as evidenced a couple weeks ago, the Roughriders defence can be dominant when they're able to get the quarterback off his spot. Masoli spent much of their previous matchup throwing on the run off his back foot. Masoli is setting records weekly for passing yards but an inordinate number of the TiCats scores are coming on the ground this season (5:4) versus their 2017 trend which saw them score more through the air (23:17). The Riders defence represents a tough matchup for passing TDs though, allowing well below the league average through the first quarter of the season. Masoli did have a couple near misses on attempts to Terrence Toliver in the end zone in Week 4, so as long as the Duron Carter on defence experiment persists there is significant upside for Masoli. The Riders hid Carter all over the field in matchups they wanted much of Week 4 but the TiCats will have had ample time to game plan for that this time around.
James Franklin has looked at least serviceable through his first two starts this season, and this week he gets an upgrade in matchup over Edmonton. The Bombers allowed the most passing yards in the league in 2017 and also lead in that stat so far in 2018. The number could be even worse given they've faced the anemic Drew Willy and Jonathan Jennings in two of their five games. Franklin fell just short of the 300 yard mark last week, but has a good chance to eclipse that Saturday. As is the case with Masoli, an unsustainable number of their TDs have come on the ground so far this season – 5:2 versus 10:30 in 2017 – so at some point statistical regression will likely get Toronto scoring more through the air. The cheap salary also allows players to splurge at other positions.
Andrew Harris, WPG - $8500
James Wilder Jr., TOR - $7900
William Powell, OTT - $7500
Don Jackson, CGY - $7400
Brandon Rutley, BC - $5000
John White, HAM - $3000
Andrew Harris leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, and has averaged five targets a game as a receiver. After a slow start in rushing efficiency, he's back to a solid 6.6 yards per carry as well. The Argos allow about a league average yards per carry at 5.37 but have been really stout against the run, in terms of scoring, having allowed only one rushing TD this season. The Bombers lead the league with nine rushing scores this season, so this is kind of the case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Harris projects as the third highest scorer regardless of position but his salary is tougher to justify in a more difficult matchup than he's faced in recent weeks.
The second highest projected back is similar to Harris in many facets of his game but Wilder has yet to pile up rushing yards with nearly the kind of consistency as Harris. Wilder has eclipsed 100 yards on the ground only once this season, versus the generous Eskimos rush defence, and now he has to face an improved Bombers rush defence allowing nearly half a yard less per carry than they did in 2017. Frankly, Wilder has looked more like the early 2017 version of himself that lost touches to old man Whitaker than the late 2017 version that held out for a new contract. Much of Wilder's projection is buoyed on his ability to score TDs and his involvement in the passing game as he averages five targets per game. It may be more helpful to think of Wilder as a receiver with rushing attempts than a running back that catches passes for lineup construction purposes.
William Powell started 2018 with a bang averaging 118 yards rushing per game through his first three starts, however week four brought everything to halt versus the crushing Stampeders defence. For as difficult a week as that was though, his Week 6 matchup versus BC is reason for optimism. The Lions defence has averaged allowing 176 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks and have allowed a league leading 6.3 yards per carry this season. Ottawa's continued penchant to score their touchdowns through the air and Powell's lack of involvement as a receiver keep his projection lower than other top RBs but he could have an absolute field day on the ground.
Don Jackson seems to have laid claim to the majority of the touches in the Stamps backfield and will likely see significant work in a game versus the Alouettes that isn't expected to be close. I set the line at -13 and frankly that seems potentially too close. The Drew Willy led Als offence is completely impotent and will likely see the Stampeders roll up the score regardless of who starts at QB for them. While Jackson's unsustainable efficiency has slowly come down to more expected levels - 10 yards per carry through two games down to 6.2 through his last two – the opportunity to grind down the clock in a potential blowout to protect an ailing Bo Levi Mitchell gives him significant upside.
The last two backfields worth mentioning both have significantly more questions regarding who will get the ball – BC and Hamilton. The injury to Jeremiah Johnson last week means any of three RBs could get the Lions' share of carries for BC including Chris Rainey, Brandon Rutley, or even Johnson himself if he's able to get back on the field. Projections are for Rainey to keep his usual role in the offence and return game with Rutley getting the starting nod in the backfield. If, however, Rainey gets the full workload he'd become potentially the best play of the week given his big play ability and role in the return game. The starting job won't be known until the depth chart comes out Thursday.
John White will get his first start for the TiCats this week but it's also expected to remain a complicated three headed Cerberus for Fantasy players. White is cheap, but his opportunities are likely to be limited by Whitlock and Timmis. He's not likely worth the risk as anything more than a multi-entry GPP sprinkle.
Eric Rogers, CGY - $7900
Kamar Jorden, CGY - $8600
Greg Ellingson, OTT - $8300
Diontae Spencer, OTT - $7300
Brandon Banks, HAM - $9200
Terrence Toliver, HAM - $6800
Luke Tasker, HAM - $8200
Brad Sinopoli, OTT - $7400
Shaq Evans, SSK - $4700
Chris Harper, MTL - $4800
Ricky Collins Jr., BC - $4200
Much of the projections for the Calgary receivers are predicated on the return of Bo Levi Mitchell to the lineup this week versus Montreal. Nick Arbuckle may still be good enough to beat the Alouettes this week but not with near the same kind of Fantasy scoring upside. Eric Rogers returned to practice this week after missing the game versus the RedBlacks and comes in as the top projected receiver in the most enticing matchup for opposing passing games in the CFL as the Stamps project for the most passing yards per attempt and passing touchdowns per attempt this week. His teammate Kamar Jorden would also be a great option versus the Als at a significant discount. The tricky part is that the starting QB for Calgary won't likely be known until the depth chart comes out on Friday making them both risky plays.
In their previous matchup versus the Riders most folks expected Brandon Banks to see a healthy dose of Duron Carter at boundary corner, however, the Riders played the matchup game and shadowed Terrence Toliver with Carter most of the night. Expect the TiCats to game plan a few more crossing routes this week to try to exploit Banks speed and elusiveness versus Carter. The high price tag though makes him a difficult reach. His teammate Toliver on the other hand is a great value and will likely make the most of his time versus Carter this week having had near misses on long TDs last time around. Saunders is a fair pivot to Toliver at nearly the same price but with four very talented options in the receiving corps there will always be at least one or two of them that will be fantasy disappointments. Tasker is frankly just overpriced and only a contrarian GPP option.
The high-flying Ottawa duo of Ellingson and Spencer will look to get back on track this week after being absolutely stymied versus Calgary. The Lions defence is much more susceptible to the run than the pass but the big play upside of Ellingson and the special-teams contributions of Spencer keep them both in consideration at WR. The matchup in terms of passing yards and touchdowns allowed is right about league average, so there's nothing expected to be particularly exploitable here. Brad Sinopoli is a GPP option but is overpriced given a significantly lower career rate in terms of yards per catch compared to Ellingson or Spencer.
There is a significant group of minimally priced receivers available for salary relief this week for players spending up at other positions. Evans, Harper, and Collins each have the ability to score double digit fantasy points but also have the downside of near a zero. Collins has the best matchup of the bunch but is at best the third or fourth option in his own offence. Harper and Evans are each higher on the depth chart for the Alouettes and Riders respectively, but also have a lot of instability to deal with at quarterback.
Calgary Stampeders - $5200
Hamilton Tiger Cats - $5100
Saskatchewan Roughriders - $4400
It's really hard to imagine using anything other than the Stampeders at defence this week. They lead the league in both yards and touchdowns allowed per attempt while also leading the league in both sacks and forced turnovers. They literally lead the league in every fantasy worthy statistic and face the worst offence in the league in terms of scoring, yardage, sacks allowed, and two & outs. If the flag football team of 10 year olds I coach faced the Stampeders defence this week, the projection wouldn't look much different. The Stamps defence was already 55% owned last week in a matchup versus a much better offence. This may be the chalkiest play of the season.
If DK players want to go with a tournament pivot against all better judgment and hope to watch the world burn, the TiCats are that kind of option. At only $100 cheaper than the Stamps there's really no other reason to go there. Working in their favour, the Roughriders lead the league in interceptions thrown (7) and are third worst in terms of sacks allowed (9). The current Vegas odds have the Riders as 10.5 point underdogs with an implied team total of only 20 points. The TiCats defence is near the bottom of the league however in terms of sacks and forced turnovers so this play does hold a lot more risk than the Stampeders.
If needing to punt the position, which again is not recommended, the Roughriders DST is an option. The Riders have only generated 8 sacks to this point but have QB pressures for days. They are middle of the pack in terms of forced turnovers but lead the lead in forced two & outs. There is certainly the contrarian punchers chance that they repeat their Week 4 performance and put together a solid fantasy outing and a significant discount but, again, it's not recommended.
Keep your eyes on the BC and Calgary depth charts and hope for stability. Good luck in all your contests!
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