Get ‘em in There! Week 1 CFL Fantasy Starts

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REGINA, SK - AUGUST 13: Bo Levi Mitchell #19 of the Calgary Stampeders on the field before the game between the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)

The season is finally here, so it’s time to set those lineups! Here are a few players you should consider for your TSN CFL Fantasy Football team this week.

Week 1 CFL Fantasy Starts

Quarterback

Bo Levi Mitchell, Calgary – $8104

2017 was a down year by Mitchell’s standards. Compared to his MOP season the year prior, Mitchell regressed in nearly every statistical category. However, there are many reasons to bet on Bo Levi Mitchell having a great week one and returning to his previous form in 2018.

First, Mitchell is remarkably inexpensive, nearly $6000 less than Mike Reilly. The value is self-evident. Next, Jerome Messam has returned to Saskatchewan. The power back’s departure indicates a shift towards the passing game, especially in short-yardage and red zone situations. That will necessarily result in increased passing attempts. Lastly, he will play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at home and should benefit from a positive game script. Hamilton allowed the second most points last year, and while improving late, they experienced some significant changes in the offseason. Bo Levi Mitchell has a clear path to produce a quality start, and to build on it through the season.

Running Back

Andrew Harris, Winnipeg – $6334

Matt Nichols’ absence is a double-edged sword for Andrew Harris. On one hand, Chris Streveler is an obvious downgrade at quarterback, and that will allow opposing defenses to hone in on Harris. On the other hand, the running back is the straw that stirs the drink offensively for Winnipeg. Andrew Harris will see as many more touches per game, and having a rookie under center could result in even more targets.

Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC – $5118

If you were to only look at year-end stats, you may assume that Manny Arceneaux was supplanted by Bryan Burnham last year as BC’s top wide receiver. However, Arceneaux’s decline came in two key statistical categories. First, the Lions’ receiver fell to 11.4 yards per reception, nearly four yards a grab below his career average through 2016. If Arceneaux had posted even 14 yards per reception, still below his average, that would produce an additional 263 yards. Second, while touchdowns are difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy, prior to last season, Arceneaux averaged a major score on 11.3% of career receptions. In 2017, he sharply declined to only a 6% touchdown rate.

Both of these stats are significant outliers on his career and are likely to regress to the mean. That makes Emmanuel Arceneaux a value pick in Week 1 at $5118. When you factor in his matchup at home against Montreal, who were arguably the worst defence in the league in 2017, his fantasy prospects are all the more tantalizing.

Luke Tasker, Hamilton – $5644

The top-priced receiver in CFL Fantasy this week is Brandon Banks, but you should be looking at his teammate Luke Tasker. While Tasker had a quality fantasy season last year, but the change in the CFL’s fantasy format to PPR makes him someone you must consider every week. In 2017, Tasker was the second-most targeted player in the league and paired that with 104 receptions. That furnishes fantasy owners with a baseline that will make him a productive option nearly every week. His matchup against Calgary on the road is not ideal, but he should receive a target volume that will allow him to return on investment.

Defence

Edmonton Eskimos – $3349

The Blue Bombers are a very good team that further improved in the offseason, but the offence is obviously hampered by Matt Nichols’ multi-week absence. While apparent starter Chris Streveler has been yoked with unwarranted parallels to Anthony Calvillo, he is a new pro and a first-time starter in the CFL.

The offensive playcalling will be much more generic than it would have been with Nichols, and the Eskimos will be able to focus almost entirely on running back Andrew Harris, the linchpin of the offence. Expect the Eskimos to frequently stack the box, and to routinely pressure Streveler. Conversely, Edmonton has been listed as the fourth cheapest defence this week, and this price now accounts for the absences of Aaron Grymes, Johnny Adams, Arjen Colquhoun and Mercy Maston. With this likely to be one of the lowest scoring games of the week, the Eskimos defense should still provide value, albeit with risk attached.

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