After a season away, the CFL will kick back off again this week and marks the return of three down football. DraftKings will once again give you the opportunity to compete in Canadian Football contests this season. As always, you will start with the traditional $50,000 salary cap. To fill a roster you’ll need to pick one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers, two flex players, and a defense.
If you are new to the northern version of the game, you are in for a treat. Get ready for the waggle, the 20 second play clock, the longer and wider field, and of course, the rouge. It’s a fun and exciting brand that won’t take long to make you a fan.
The following are suggested plays for this week’s DraftKings contests. Each is selected by value at their price point. Most will be identified as a better cash play, or a tournament play. The goal is to give you a solid jumping off point on which to build out the rest of your lineups. Have fun playing, but above all, have fun watching the CFL this season.
Pay Up For: Trevor Harris – Edmonton Elks ($9,400)
There were several weeks in the 2019 season where Trevor Harris was a slate buster. Twice, he scored more than 40 fantasy points. He also added a 30 point outing to his DraftKings resume on top of that. In fact, six times he crossed the 25 point barrier. It’s impressive, considering he only played 13 regular season games and two playoff games last season. The floor for Harris has always been consistently high when it comes to Harris’ fantasy potential. Worth mentioning is that his first game with 40 points came in week 1 of 2019. Harris completed 32 of his 41 attempts for 447 yards and three touchdowns against the Montreal Alouettes.
On Saturday night, Harris will meet his former team for only the second time in career. He’ll debut the newly renamed Elks at Commonwealth stadium with one of the most formidable wide receiving corps in the league. His trustworthy friend Greg Ellingson returns for their second season away from Ottawa. Alongside him will be a host of amazing talent in Derel Walker, Armanti Edwards, and Mike Jones. They will look to exploit a Redblacks’ defense that is mostly intact from the 2019 season. It was a squad that was next to last in the league in passing yards allowed per game. They were last in total points allowed per game to boot. If anyone is primed to close out week 1 of the CFL season in a big way, it’s Harris. You can load him up at a discount this week that won’t be around much longer.
If You Must Fade: Zach Collaros – Winnipeg Blue Bombers ($7,700)
As has been the custom for some time now, the first week of the new season brings a rematch of the previous season’s Grey Cup. This season is no different as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats go at it again more than a year after their last battle. In that matchup, the Ticats defense stifled Zach Collaros and the Bombers offense as a whole. One of the only bright spots in that game was Andrew Harris and his MVP performance. Harris scored both offensive touchdowns for the Bombers on the night. In the process, he locked up both MVP honors and was named Most Valuable Canadian for the game.
All of that is important to consider with the news that Harris may miss the opening week. Should Collaros end up without the heart and soul of his offense, he’ll be forced to improvise. This works well for fantasy purposes as it could lead to more short range passing attempts. Harris’ backup Johnny Augustine enjoyed two decent games last season in relief. That said, he is nowhere near the level of talent he is replacing. Look for Collaros to lean on his studs early and often. Hopefully he will have Darivn Adams for the opener. If he doesn’t, the burden falls on Nic Demski, Kenny Lawler, and Drew Wolitarski to pick up the slack. With his range of outcomes, you will have to get creative. Collaros is the beginning of that creativity.
Pay Up For: William Powell – Saskatchewan Roughriders ($8,700)
With Andrew Harris possibly out for the week, William Powell steps into the role as the top running back to put in your lineups. The sturdy all-purpose back was second in the league in rushing in 2019 behind only Harris. His 1,093 rushing yards capped off his third straight 1,000-yard season. Powell did excel at getting to the endzone a feat he accomplished 12 times. That represented the most rushing touchdowns by a running back. On top of all that, he is a reliable fantasy asset. There were only five games last season in which Powell did not top double digit fantasy points. He crossed the 20 point threshold six times in 2019 including a 40 point outing in week 7 against the B.C. Lions.
He’ll face those same Lions right out of the gate to start the 2021 season. His quarterback, Michael Reilly, has been limited in practice this week. This could have head coach Rick Campbell and offensive coordinator Jordan Maksymic looking to feed their running back a few more times. Should that happen, Powell could have another banner day against the Lions. What’s more is he’ll get to do it in front of what will inevitably be a rabid sea of green clad fans at Mosaic Stadium. Home cooking, motivation, and opportunity make Powell an ideal cash game staple this week.
If You Must Fade: Johnny Augustine – Winnipeg Blue Bombers ($5,400)
Keep an eye on the final depth chart for this play. Should Andrew Harris be forced out of this game, Johnny Augustine should be the next man up. As stated above, he will not be an exact replacement for the best back in the league, but he is a serviceable roster filler. At his price, you can unlock all manner of expensive stacks including a Masoli-Banks pairing. Last season, Augustine had two solid fantasy games in a row while starting for a suspended Harris. In those outings, he scored 14.5 and 21.8 fantasy points.
He contributed in both the rushing and receiving games for the Bombers which he’ll have to do again against the high powered Ticats defense. Again, this play depends solely on the absence of the man directly above him on the depth chart. If Harris sits, slide Augustine into your lineup for some salary relief.
Pay Up For: Brandon Banks – Hamilton Tiger-Cats ($10,800)
Two seasons ago, Brandon Banks would have not have been anywhere near the top of the salary chart. On the heels of his league leading performance in the 2019 season, he now carries the highest price tag on the slate. Of course, this honor is not unwarranted. Last season, he turned in five games with more than 30 fantasy points. Included in those was a 43 point explosion against Calgary in week 5 and an astounding 52 domination of the Montreal Alouettes. He had only two games last season in which he failed to reach double digit fantasy points.
His floor makes him worth the price in a cash lineup. That said, you might consider going light on him in multi-entry tournaments. He’s easily recognizable as the best and as such will likely be highly owned. Banks may benefit even more should Bralon Addison be forced to miss the Grey Cup rematch. Better still is the return of Jeremiah Masoli which gives Banks an enormous ceiling. If you miss by not having some exposure to him, it will likely cost you.
If You Must Fade: Nic Demski – Winnipeg Blue Bombers ($5,800)
The Blue Bombers could be without their leading running back as well as their number one wide receiving option. Among the names on the Bombers injury list is Darvin Adams. His shoulder has him doubtful to play in the Thursday night opener. If this happens, look for Nic Demski to help fill the void. He’s not the flashiest name on the roster, but he can perform when called upon.
Last season, he posted six double digit fantasy games as the third, or sometimes even the fourth passing option. In week 4 against Ottawa, he tallied his highest mark of the year scoring 24 fantasy points against the Redblacks. Harris plays a factor in the passing game as well which means Collaros will be looking for other reliable faces when he drops back. If Adams is not there as well, Demski gets a huge boost in value this week.
Flexible Option: Jordan Smallwood, WR – Ottawa Redblacks ($2,500)
If you are a crossover fan from the XFL 2.0, you’ll recognize Jordan Smallwood from his time with the L.A. Wildcats. As you may recall, Smallwood was just starting to heat up before the season shut down. In his last two games in L.A., he caught nine passes for 161 yards. All told in his time with the XFL, he gained 236 yards on 18 receptions while adding a touchdown to the mix. His situation is much different now that he is back up north with the Ottawa Redblacks. He finds himself on one of the league’s most inexperienced wide receiving corps.
With Brad Sinopoli calling it a career recently, what’s left behind will look to forge a new identity. All indicators point to Smallwood being a piece of that rebuild. He’ll have one of the league’s most respected head coaches and offensive masterminds calling the shots in Paul LaPolice. On top of that, he’ll have LaPolice’s hand selected quarterback in Matt Nichols getting him the ball. If ever there were a dart throw at flex to be had to free up some cap space, Smallwood has all the boxes checked.