CFL partners with daily fantasy giant Draft Kings (plus tips for playing)
CFL fans have been asking for more platforms to play CFL Fantasy on and late Saturday afternoon a very interesting tweet came across from Daily Fantasy Sports Giant DraftKings:
Could it be? There are three laces there. What other football league could possibly be starting?
Fans from all over North America instantly became desperate to find information so they could build the optimum lineup for this week’s games. Let’s get started with a little CFL 101 to help you win some cash in your first week.
Let’s start with the DraftKings CFL scoring rules. Essentially every single player that touches the ball will give you points in some way. They even award your special teams unit for rouges! While I appreciate the Rouge being included, it’s hard to predict which defenses/special teams units will acquire the most rouges because you’d then be cheering for that team’s kicker to miss field goals. Maybe Lirim Hajrullahu (Toronto Argonauts) and his 69% field goal percentage from last year is valuable after all.
It also might be smart to combine a stellar returner with his team’s D/ST. Brandon Banks (four punt return TDs in 2015) and Stefan Logan (2,241 return yards and two kick return TDs in 2015) become smart picks in DFS.
You should also keep in mind that the Canadian game is much more pass reliant. While running backs are important, sometimes their receiving ability and pass blocking skills are more valuable to their team than their rushing ability.
While CFL teams normally don’t release depth charts until the day before each game, let’s feature some impact players on each team in the CFL.
QB – Mike Reilly. He’s better at putting up wins than he is at racking up the yards and touchdowns. There’s also a health question with him playing in only ten games in 2015 (all wins). Still, Reilly has some dangerous receivers at his disposal and a new head coach that was offensive coordinator for one of the league’s top offenses last year.
RB – John White. He returns a year after injuring his achilles during training camp last season. White had 6.9 yards per carry in 2014.
WR – Adarius Bowman (nearly 3,000 receiving yards the past two seasons), Derel Walker (1,110 yards in 10 games last year),
K/R – Look for Joe McKnight to return kicks this year. His 85-yard touchdown run against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday afternoon showed his explosive running ability.
QB – Jonathon Jennings. Jennings only appeared in 7 regular season games in 2015 but what an impact in such a short time. In those 7 games, he threw for 2,004 yards, rushed for another 127 and had a 15:10 interception to touchdown ratio. He turns 24 years old next month and the sky’s the limit for this kid.
RB – This position may not be solidified in BC but we could very well see a two-headed monster between Jeremiah Johnson and Anthony Allen. Johnson led the CFL with nine rushing touchdowns a year ago.
WR – Emmanuel Arceneaux. The Manny Show is renewed for another season after gaining new life once Jennings entered the picture (six touchdown connections between the two in six games). Nick Moore looks to regain his “BC Form” before his departure to Winnipeg for two disappointing seasons. If Moore can stay healthy, we could see that 1,000-yard receiver we saw in 2013.
K/R – Chris Rainey will once again return kicks for the Lions in 2016. Rainey set the league on fire last September when he returned a punt and a kickoff for 103 yards a piece against the Calgary Stampeders in the same game. Look for Wally Buono to try and get him more involved in the offense too.
QB – Bo Levi Mitchell. Here’s another guy that knows how to win. The 2014 Grey Cup Champion looks to expand on career highs in both passing yards and touchdowns both achieved in 2015. You can count on Bo’s health, too.
RB – Jerome Messam. While some are questioning Messam’s conditioning heading into the season (6’3”, 254 pounds), is anyone going to stand in his way long enough to find out? Messam had over 1,500 all purpose yards last year and that includes being traded from Saskatchewan to Calgary. A full training camp and season with the Stampeders bodes well for this beast.
WR – Since Eric Rogers is now with the San Francisco 49ers and Jeff Fuller is South of the border, receiver may take a few games to figure out with the Calgary Stampeders. For now you can count on veteran Marquay McDaniel (1,038 yards, four touchdowns last year) and Joe West as long as he can stay on the field. Look for Kamar Jorden to be a fixture in your lineup as the season goes on.
K/R – It was a battle in training camp to win the returner job but 25 year-old Roy Finch may just be your guy,
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
QB – Drew Willy. Can Willy stay on the field? Winnipeg’s biggest question mark is their offensive line. Willy’s biggest strength is passing out of the pocket but if there’s no pocket to be had, Willy may not improve on his seven games played from 2015. Despite health concerns, Winnipeg added tons of new weapons for Willy to use this season. If he stays on the field, he puts up big numbers.
RB – Andrew Harris. Harris could be the most complete back in the game and Paul LaPolice may just be the perfect offensive co-ordinator for him. There’s no reason Harris shouldn’t rush for 1,000 yards and gain another 500 through the air.
WR – Weston Dressler. Dressler had four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with Saskatchewan before having a cup of coffee with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He fell 59 yards short of the milestone last season but with Drew Willy and Matt Nichols in Winnipeg’s bullpen, he should shoot above 1,000 yards again. Ryan Smith (991 yards last year) and Darvin Adams (839 yards, six touchdowns) have a chance to gain over 1,000 in 2016 as well.
K/R – Quincy McDuffie. The only reason more CFL fans haven’t been exposed to McDuffie is because he was backing up Brandon Banks in Hamilton. That’s like backing up Peyton Manning (during his Indianapolis days).
QB – Darian Durant. Durant is another guy returning from an achilles injury in 2015 and he hasn’t played more than 10 games since his Grey Cup year in 2013. Durant looked like he was moving well during Saturday’s pre-season game against Edmonton so it’ll just be a matter of shaking off the rust before regaining his previous form. If 100%, Durant can pass for over 4,000 yards and rush for another 300.
RB – Curtis Steele. RB is a position of question with the Riders but despite having an underwhelming training camp, it’s clear that Steele was brought to Saskatchewan to carry the rock. Steele rushed for over 500 yards in 2014 but it’s possible that new addition Matt Walter could take over the job at some point during the season. Wait and see with this one.
WR – Naaman Roosevelt. Roosevelt only got into 10 games last year (due to terrible management decisions) but he impressed with 488 yards receiving and five touchdowns. It’s been reported that Roosevelt spent some time in the off-season improving chemistry with quarterback Darian Durant so he should hit the ground running. Rob Bagg may also be poised for his career defining year. He’s been playing at slot back during training camp and his 55-yard pass play against BC to open up the pre-season shows his knee issues are long gone.
K/R – Kendial Lawrence. Lawrence had over 2,700 return yards with the Eskimos over the past two seasons and is one of the most versatile players in the Canadian Football League. You can bet Saskatchewan’s Offensive Co-Ordinator Stephen Mcadoo, who is familiar with Lawrence from their time in Edmonton, will utilize him on offense too.
QB – Jeremiah Masoli to start the season. Zach Collaros every other time. There’s still no timetable for Collaros’ return but he was well on his way to his first MOP award before injuring his knee last year. Jeremiah Masoli earned his way into Thursday’s start with is play during the playoffs last year and training camp this year. Masoli had a career high 30 completions for 349 yards in last year’s East Final and will look to keep things on track for the TiCats before Collaros returns.
RB – CJ Gable. Gable is another running back that is both a threat with his rushing ability *and* receiving ability if he can stay healthy. Gable last played more than 7 games in 2013 when he had over 700 yards on the ground and 600 through the air. Hamilton sure likes to pass but with Masoli starting the season at quarterback, Kent Austin may rely on Gable more than usual.
WR – Luke Tasker. You may remember the last name because of this guy. Tasker had his first 1,000-yard year in 2015 and with Bakari Grant heading to Calgary, Tasker could improve on that number. Look out for Tiquan Underwood, Chad Owens, and Terrence Toliver too. Owens will be playing with a chip on his shoulder after the Argos let him walk in the off-season. Owens had 5 catches for 98 yards in Hamilton’s final pre-season game and will look to light up his former team in the season opener.
K/R – Brandon Banks. Speedy B is the most electrifying player in the Canadian Football League and with four punt return TDs in 2015, this guy belongs on any fantasy team that counts return stats.
QB – Ricky Ray. Ray is one of the CFL greats and has apparently been throwing pain free for the first time in *years*. There are a ton of offensive weapons in Toronto so if that beefed up offensive line can keep Ray upright, get ready for a big year.
RB – Brandon Whitaker. Whitaker doesn’t seem to be getting the same respect he used to command but he hasn’t played a full season since his 2011 year with Montreal. Whitaker had 636 yards rushing to go with 440 yards receiving in 2015. Ray is a smart quarterback and won’t hesitate to use his check downs so Whitaker could gain 500 yards through the air if healthy.
WR – This is where things get fun in Toronto. Jim Barker brought three new receivers to Toronto last year and all three made a huge impact. Kevin Elliott, Vidal Hazelton, and Tori Gurley combined for 2,236 yards and 24 touchdowns. Gurley is the biggest receiver of the bunch at 6’4” and 230 pounds and he’ll look to hit double digit touchdowns again. Andre Durie and Diontae Spencer (when he returns from a back injury) are even more weapons that Toronto can play with in 2016. Options galore.
K/R – Believe it or not, it could be Larry Taylor to start the season. Taylor last played in 2014 with Montreal when he had 468 kick return yards and a 21.3 average to go along with 167 punt return yards.
QB – Henry Burris. Burris is another one of the CFL greats who has no issues staying healthy. He was named Most Outstanding Player last year at the age of 40 and he had *four* 1,000 yard receivers at his disposal. With Trevor Harris (33 touchdown passes last season) behind him on the depth chart, the RedBlacks are set behind centre.
RB – Travon Van. RB seems to be a cursed position for the RedBlacks, so Van looks to add some stability. Van had 7 carries for 38 yards in Ottawa’s pre-season opener against Winnipeg. He’ll get the first opportunity to carry the rock for the RedBlacks.
WR – All four 1,000-yard receivers are back in the Nation’s Capital but their offensive cordinator, Jason Maas, is now Edmonton’s head coach. Greg Ellingson and Chris Williams are the big play guys you want to own from Ottawa’s receiving corps, but Brad Sinopoli and Ernest Jackson are steady receivers that won’t disappoint.
K/R – This is another cursed position in Ottawa that many thought was solved with the Chris Williams signing last year. Even the former Chicago Bear and CFL record holder couldn’t get anything done on special teams. Jamill Smith will try to break the trend in 2016.
QB – Kevin Glenn. The 37-year old pivot has nearly played for every team in the CFL and his closing on 50,000 career passing yards. Glenn was playing lights out for the Riders last year before an injury and trade to the Alouettes. He threw for over 700 yards in three games with Als in 2015 and with some great receivers in Montreal, Glenn could have a decent year if his offensive line can do their job.
RB – Tyrell Sutton. Montreal was big on running the ball in 2015 and it showed when Sutton became the league’s leading rusher despite missing three games. Brandon Rutley could take over the starting job if Sutton falters or gets hurt.
WR – SJ Green. The Human Highlight Reel had three consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards before Montreal’s quarterback circus began in 2014. Glenn should add some stability to the position and help start another 1,000 yard streak for Green. Duron Carter is also back in Montreal after a season in the NFL. His dad is one of the NFL greats, but Duron could become one of the CFL’s greatest. He last had 1,030 yards with the Als in 2014 and had a 78-yard touchdown in Montreal’s first pre-season game against Winnipeg.
K/R – Stefan Logan. Logan was an absolute beast last year when he gained 1,168 yards on kick returns and 1,073 yards on punt returns – both led the CFL and were Alouette records. It’ll be a three way battle for CFL return supremacy between Brandon Banks, Chris Rainey and Stefan Logan.
DraftKings Values I really Like in Week 1:
Jonathon Jennings ($8,300) – There is no way the BC Lions starting quarterback should be the cheapest salary among starters in Week 1. Jennings has another training camp under his belt and will provide some serious value.
Darvin Adams ($6,900) – Adams is a legitimate deep threat and had 839 yards last season with questionable quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Add in Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith and the fact that the Als will be starting two rookie cornerbacks this week and you have a recipe for success for the Bomber receivers.
Jerome Messam ($6,700) – Messam has four running backs priced higher than him on DraftKings and the only one I can make a case for having a bigger game this week is Andrew Harris ($8,000). Messam and Harris should be battling for the rushing title this season so I’m taking advantage of his cheaper salary.
SJ Green ($6,400) – Green at $6,400 is an absolute steal of a deal. Duron Carter costs $1,600 more than Green so give me SJ against that Winnipeg defense please.
I hope this “CFL 101” guide has given you enough information to get started with CFL DFS this week. Keep it locked to CFLpass for updates on depth charts, injuries and more throughout the season.
– written by Travis Currah