DraftKings CFL: Week 1 Value Plays
DraftKings CFL: Week 1 Value Plays

This article is part of our DraftKings CFL series.

The 2019 CFL season kicks off beginning Thursday, and the first DFS slate of the season features four exciting games, headlined by a Grey Cup rematch between the Stampeders and Redblacks. It was an offseason of notable player movement, and several big names will be donning new uniforms in 2019. There's an extra level of uncertainty above and beyond what is normally encountered in opening weeks, which makes DFS lineups all the more intriguing. Without further ado, let's dive into some of the most appealing options at each position.

Quarterback

Bo Levi Mitchell, CGY vs. OTT ($10,400): Mitchell takes on an old nemesis in the Redblacks, a squad he played an integral role in defeating during last year's Grey Cup. Mitchell totaled 16.82 fantasy points on the strength of a 253-yard, two-touchdown day in that contest, but he averaged only 208.5 passing yards and totaled just three touchdowns in two regular-season matchups against Ottawa last season. The Redblacks' defense last year was not great overall, giving up 362.1 yards per game – including 275.2 passing yards per contest – as well 26 passing touchdowns and the third-most passing first downs (220) last season, and they lost key defender A.C. Leonard during the offseason. Mitchell has the luxury of getting back several key pass catchers from last season and shapes up as a nice cost-savings pivot from top options Mike Reilly ($11,500) and Jeremiah Masoli ($11,200).

Trevor Harris, EDM vs. MTL ($9,800): One of those aforementioned marquee names in a new place is Harris, who's now sporting the green and gold of the Eskimos. Harris has the benefit of having fellow former Redblack Greg Ellingson alongside him in Edmonton, and they both draw a premium matchup to open their Eskimos tenures. The Alouettes ranked at the bottom of the league in multiple pass defense categories last season, including passing yards per game allowed (305.0), completions allowed (445), attempts against (652) and opponent completion percentage (68.3). Additionally, they yielded a hefty 28 completions of 30 or more yards. Harris eviscerated Montreal last season for 829 yards over his first two meetings against them, including a season-high 487 yards in Week 9. Given that he'll have a security blanket in Ellingson to help ease him into his new digs, Harris could be poised for a big day as he kicks off his Edmonton career.

Zach Collaros, SSK at HAM ($7,500): As was often the case last season, Collaros represents serviceable value if you're paying less at quarterback. The veteran had trouble with interceptions last season, but he'll face a Tiger-Cats team that struggled at times to defend the pass in 2018. Hamilton allowed the third-most passing touchdowns (27), 31 completions of 30 or more yards and the third-highest passer efficiency rating (92.8). Collaros didn't face the Tiger-Cats in 2018, but he displayed some nice fantasy upside with a pair of outings passing for more than 350 yards. Furthermore, his price is such that he won't necessarily have to break the 300-yard mark to offer a strong return. Additionally, Hamilton's high-powered attack could force the Roughriders to keep their foot on the gas for all four quarters, which naturally would be good news for Collaros' fantasy prospects.

Running Back

Andrew Harris, WPG at BC ($8,600): Harris was once again a workhorse back last season, often providing notable production through both the ground and air. The versatile veteran tailed off a bit as a receiver at the end of the campaign, but in Week 1, he faces a Lions team he tormented on two separate occasions in 2018. Harris gashed BC for a combined 248 rushing yards on 25 carries and added eight catches for another 51 yards over that pair of contests. The Lions finished last season allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (113.8), third-highest yards per carry (5.4), third-most rushes of 20 or more yards (14) and third-most rushing touchdowns (17). It's worth noting BC returns many of the same players guilty of allowing such numbers and actually saw four pieces from that side of the ball leave in free agency, so they could be particularly ripe for the picking in Week 1.

William Powell, SSK at HAM ($8,000): Powell is another prized offseason acquisition, signing a two-year pact with the Roughriders after rushing for career-best 1,362 rushing yards. As was the case last season in Ottawa, Powell should be the unquestioned lead back in Saskatchewan.  He'll kick off his tenure with a matchup against a Tiger-Cats squad that tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns allowed (17) in 2018 and that surrendered a healthy 5.3 yards per carry. Powell was a workhorse over his last two meetings (including one playoff game) against Hamilton last season, gaining 173 yards on 42 carries. He logged at least 15 carries in 11 games overall, including the postseason, and he figures to be in for similar volume in his new home, especially early in the season.

William Stanback, MTL at EDM ($5,600): In the midst of a dismal 2018 campaign for the Alouettes, Stanback was a bright spot. The Virginia Union product was a study in efficiency, averaging 6.7 yards per rush and complementing it with 12.5 yards per reception. He enters the 2019 season with a seemingly firm grip on the top running back job, even with veteran Jeremiah Johnson looming behind him on the depth chart. Stanback is a much more dynamic athlete and could be set up for a handsome return on his modest price against an Eskimos defense that allowed the second-highest yards per carry (5.5) and tied for most rushing touchdowns surrendered (20) last season. Just as important, Edmonton also tied for the second-most rushes of 20 or more yards allowed (15), a vulnerability the speedy Stanback certainly has the wheels to exploit. 

Wide Receiver/Slotback

Luke Tasker, HAM vs. SSK ($9,000): Brandon Banks remains the big-play threat in Hamilton, but he is $1,100 more expensive than Tasker, who is as steady as they come and has unquestioned rapport with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Tasker is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and recorded a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2018. The Roughriders were among the toughest teams against the pass last season, but they did tie Tasker's Tiger-Cats for the third-most completions of 30 yards or greater allowed (31) and yielded the most completions on targets with a depth of at least 20 yards (48). Tasker successfully hauled in nine of the 13 targets of at least 20 yards he saw last season and should once again be at or near the top of Masoli's mind each time he drops back.

Greg Ellingson, EDM vs. MTL ($8,500): As alluded to in Trevor Harris' entry, Ellingson joined the prolific quarterback in Edmonton and is coming off back-to-back 90-catch seasons with Harris feeding him the ball. Naturally, the FIU product could be the quarterback's most trusted target early in the season, given the familiarity between the two. The Alouettes' extensive collection of poor pass defense metrics was elaborated on earlier in Harris' entry, and Ellingson could be the prime beneficiary of those weaknesses. The veteran went off for a combined 19 receptions and 224 yards in his last two meetings against Montreal last season and could very well produce something similar in Week 1, especially if DaVaris Daniels (undisclosed) is unable to give it a go.

Duron Carter, BC vs. WPG ($7,300): The ultra-talented but mercurial Carter is always a bit of a roller coaster in DFS, but if he's ever been set up for success, it's this season. Carter will be catching passes from the legendary Mike Reilly, with both players arriving over the offseason. The 28-year-old wideout went through a second straight truncated campaign in 2018, mustering a combined 18-230-2 line for the Roughriders and Argonauts. Carter will have a chance to resurrect his career alongside Reilly and draws a matchup against a Blue Bombers defense that allowed the second-most completions (415) last season, along with the third-most completions on targets with a depth of at least 20 yards (43). Carter still has the ability to be a factor in both the intermediate and deep passing attacks, and with Reilly capable of getting him the ball in either range, the big receiver is worth a GPP shot at his reasonable mid-tier price.

Shaq Evans, SSK at HAM ($5,300): Evans led the Roughriders in receiving yards during his 2018 rookie campaign, and he'll be in excellent position to get his second season off on the right foot. Offseason acquisition Emmanuel Arceneaux (knee) will miss the opener, leaving Evans and Naaman Roosevelt ($6,200) as the two most experienced targets for quarterback Zach Collaros. The Roughriders largely made their name last season on defense, but Evans was a somewhat under-the-radar rookie surprise with a solid 50-785 line. The UCLA alum is still looking for his first CFL touchdown, and as arguably Collaros' top target to start the season, he could cash in in Week 1. As mentioned in Collaros' entry, Hamiton yielded the third-most passing touchdowns in the CFL, and they also lost a pair of All-Stars on defense over the offseason. Both factors put Evans in good position to offer a strong return on a bargain-basement price.

Team Defense

Edmonton Eskimos vs. Montreal Alouettes ($4,600): The Eskimos were far from the best defense in the CFL last season. However, any team facing the Alouettes is likely to look markedly better than usual, especially early in the season while new starting quarterback Antonio Pipkin gets his feet under him. Montreal yielded the most sacks (66) and was guilty of the most interceptions thrown (21) last season, while also generating the most two-and-outs (103) in the league. Meanwhile, the Eskimos finished the campaign in a five-way tie for most sacks (45), were tied for the second-most interceptions (20) and scored 107 points off turnovers. What's more, Edmonton allowed the second-fewest scrimmage players per game (53.1) and racked up eight sacks versus Montreal in two meetings last season. Given the home matchup, Pipkin's still-questionable accuracy and poise under center, and the fact they offer $500 in savings off the top-priced Calgary defense, the Eskimos are a highly appealing unit in Week 1.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only CFL Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire CFL fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
DraftKings CFL: Week 3 Value Plays
DraftKings CFL: Week 3 Value Plays
DraftKings CFL: Week 2 Value Plays
DraftKings CFL: Week 2 Value Plays
Team Previews: East Division
Team Previews: East Division
Team Previews: West Division
Team Previews: West Division
DFS 101: How To Play DraftKings CFL Contests
DFS 101: How To Play DraftKings CFL Contests
DraftKings CFL: Grey Cup Value Plays
DraftKings CFL: Grey Cup Value Plays