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CFL Fantasy Football Week 1 Picks

It has been a long wait, but we can finally say once again that the CFL season is right around the corner. After a full season away, we can once again enjoy three-down football and all the fun that comes with it. Along with the return of the rouge comes the return of Canadian Fantasy Football. Thankfully, you can play salary cap football on the CFL website. 

Starting with a $40,000 budget, your goal is field the highest scoring roster. Your roster must include a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a RB/WR flex, and a defense. Two things immediately stand out about the CFL brand of fantasy. The first is the prices. If you are used to the standard DFS sites, all of them price their players in even amounts. Not the CFL game. Dollar values come in all shapes and sizes. Also, choosing not to roster a defense does not disqualify your lineup. If you decide to, you can use the cash you save to pay up at another position. 

The following are suggestions for each position (except defense) for the opening weekend. Feel free to mix and match to find a final roster that is best for you. It is not always necessary to use up your entire budget, especially on the first week. Keep in mind also as you play all season that your roster saves itself until you make changes. It does not reset every week like most DFS sites. If you are looking for a league to join, there are many public leagues offered on the site. Hopefully, you have fun this season watching the CFL and of course, playing fantasy football along with it.  

Quarterback

Pay Up For: Jeremiah Masoli – Hamilton Tiger-Cats ($10,318)

If you are new to the CFL you may not be fully aware of the powerhouse that is Jeremiah Masoli. His best season came in 2018 when he threw for 5,209 yards and 28 touchdowns in the regular season. Masoli came out of the gates in 2019 with the same fire, but suffered an ACL tear in Week 7 that ended his season. The loss of a 2020 season, while tragic, did nothing but improve Masoli’s situation. He will come back to the Ticats with almost two years of rest and healing ready to pick up where he left off last July. 

Masoli will have plenty of familiar faces surrounding him at the start of the 2021 campaign. Two of his 1,000-yard receivers return to Hamilton in Brandon Banks and Bralon Addison. Also on the current roster is Jaelon Aklin who amassed 708 yards and three touchdowns last season. Rounding out that list is CFL veteran DeVier Posey who had 780 yards and three touchdowns last season with the Montreal Alouettes.

The fact of the matter is that the Tiger-Cats are locked and loaded to be a dominant force in the East Division again this season. When they take the field on opening night against the Blue Bombers, expect the fireworks to start early and not let up all night. It’s very possible that Masoli will be the highest scoring quarterback this week. 

If You Must Fade: Nick Arbuckle – Toronto Argonauts ($8,082)

The 2020 season was supposed to be Nick Arbuckle’s opportunity to show the CFL and the Ottawa Redblacks what he could do out of Bo Levi Mitchell’s shadow. He earned that right by helping the Calgary Stampeders win five of the seven games in which he started at quarterback while Mitchell was out with a pectoral injury. All told, in his relief effort, Arbuckle threw for 2,103 yards and 11 touchdowns. Of course, with the cancellation of last season, he never took a snap for Ottawa. After some contract disputes, Arbuckle moved on from the Redblacks. He will now be reunited with Ryan Dinwiddie, his quarterback coach from Calgary, who is now the Argos head coach.

He will enjoy having three former Calgary receivers at his disposal. Former Stampeders standout Eric Rogers is on the squad as well as the young and talented Juwan Brescacin. DaVaris Daniels is also in the mix who was a teammate of Arbuckle in the 2018 season before heading to Edmonton in 2019. As fate would have it, Arbuckle will face his former team as the Argos take on the Stamps right out of the gate.

The former backup has some familiarity with the opposing defence and should do enough to make this a solid value play. Watch out for his nagging hamstring though. Dinwiddie is confident his starter will play in Week 1, but just be aware. Should he not be able to go, have McLeod Bethel-Thompson ($8,082), or Antonio Pipkin ($5,399) in your queue. Whichever is named as the starter will get you through the week. Chances are it will be MBT and if it is, you are in good shape to not lose much production at the position.  

Running Back

Pay Up For: Andrew Harris – Winnipeg Blue Bombers ($9,172)

Ask any fan of the CFL who the quintessential Canadian running back in the game is right now and you’ll hear the name Andrew Harris more often than not. For three straight seasons Harris has claimed the league rushing title with back to back to back 1,000-yards performances. He’s the focal point of a scary offence and has a year of rest now on his 34 year old legs. Little else needs to be said to make the case for rostering him on any week let alone the first one. That said, his price tag will make it essential to get creative elsewhere. This is especially true if you are hoping to stack him with his quarterback, Zach Collaros, who is also priced at $9k. Be ready to find several value options to back him up if you decide to pay up for Harris. 

If You Must Fade: Ka’Deem Carey – Calgary Stampeders ($5,124)

Once a member of the Chicago Bears, Ka’Deem Carey suited up last season for the Stampeders. He not only added a veteran presence to an injury riddled Stamps backfield, but also some stability. That is of course, until he too was forced on the injured reserve list with a broken arm of his own. Up to that point, he had accumulated 422 yards in his eight games with the club. He mainly split time with fellow running back Terry Williams over the course of his time. Williams has since departed and Carey has a clear path to lead back status on an offence that is not afraid to run the ball on any down. He offers fantastic potential at his price point this week.

Wide Receiver

Pay Up For: Brandon Banks – Hamilton Tiger-Cats ($14,000)

The man known lovingly as “Speedy B,” in Hamilton enters the slate as the highest priced player by a mile. Albeit for a very good reason. It would be easier to count the number of times Brandon Banks failed to reach double digit fantasy production than the times he did. The answer to that is two by the way. Banks did not reach at least ten fantasy points twice in his last season. They came in back to back weeks in the middle of the season. What’s more is he had eight games in which he scored 20 or more fantasy points. In Week 20, he exploded for a 49 point outing. So, we know his floor and we know his ceiling. He’s going to force you to get creative. That said, if you fade him and he blows up, your week is sunk.  

If You Must Fade: Greg Ellingson – Edmonton Elks ($7,488)

For the second season in a row, Greg Ellingson will wear the green and gold with his favourite quarterback, Trevor Harris. Ellingson has an astounding five seasons in a row with more than 1,000 receiving yards. This includes his last three which have all come with Harris at the wheel of both the Redblacks, and in Edmonton. He is every bit the go to wideout on the roster and will stay that way this season. Even the return of fan favourite Derel Walker will not devalue Ellingson’s place on the Elks offence. If you choose not to roster a defence, there is a real scenario where you can fit both him and Banks in your lineups.

Flexible Options

Juwan Brescacin – Toronto Argonauts ($4,179)

As part of the vaunted young crop of Stampeder receivers, Juwan Brescacin enjoyed the best season yet in 2018. That year he showed potential catching 35 passes for 567 yards in a crowded Calgary corps of wideouts. Before he was injured in 2019, he registered a game in which he caught all five of his targets for 64 yards and two touchdowns. That game was with Nick Arbuckle at quarterback. Arbuckle will once again be calling the signals for Brescacin in Toronto. Early chemistry will be valuable in Week 1 and will benefit your lineups.

Devonte Deadmon – Ottawa Redblacks ($2,928)

One of the unique aspects of the CFL fantasy football is that players are awarded points for kick return yards. In 2019, Devonte Deadmon proved himself to be one of the best kick returners on the team. In fact, in a Week 8 game against Montreal, he scored just over 27 points in kick and punt returns alone. Last season, he didn’t offer much value in his actual position. This year though, Ottawa will field a wide receiving corps with very little CFL experience. It’s highly likely that Paul LaPolice may pull a June Jones and unlock Deadmon’s true potential as a wide receiver and utilize him more as such. At his price, you can afford to take that risk.

Fan of the CFL in general and the Ottawa Redblacks specifically. Host of the Wood Cookie SawCast. Father, husband, soldier, friend.

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