I covered the first 8 weeks of the CFL season on DraftKings for The Daily Audible last season, and both our staff and readers seemed to love the Canadian version of fantasy football. It also didn’t hurt that our picks actually cashed for all 8 weeks, including winning several of the bigger CFL GPP’s on DraftKings last season.
I actually love the Canadian version of professional football. Particularly three rule changes that may make the most popular sport in North America even better:
- Teams only get 3 downs to make 10 yards. We are going to blend a few points together here: you only get 3 downs to make a first down, so it’s essentially 2 and out. Additionally, teams play with 12 men on the field, and on offense the extra man is a receiver lined up in the backfield.
Receivers are allowed to move toward the line of scrimmage as long as they don’t cross it. This allows them a running start at DB’s. This set of rule changes vastly diminishes the run game, as a first down run that gains zero yards essentially leaves you with what would be 3rd and 10 in American football.
- The play clock is 20 seconds, not 40. Additionally, the penalty for letting the play clock lapse is 10 yards and a loss of down. The CFL isn’t messing around, they want teams to play fast. You can often watch 5 minutes of a CFL game and see several possession changes.
- The Rouge.The “rouge” gives a single point when a kickoff is not returned out of the end zone or if the ball is kicked out of the end zone. Assuming you don’t care about player safety, this fixes the boring NFL kickoff problem. Teams can not take a knee, because they are surrendering a point to the other team.
Differences Between NFL and CFL on DraftKings
Your typical CFL game is extremely fast paced, with loads of passing, and on average around 55 total points scored. It makes for a very entertaining fantasy product. Obviously there aren’t the household names that you see in the NFL, but CFL DFS is every bit as challenging as the American game. Here are some key differences between NFL and CFL on DraftKings.
There are no tight ends. CFL teams rarely use tight ends, and as a result the tight ends that do exist in fantasy CFL are simply classified as receivers or pass catchers.
Quarterbacks and receivers are where you will find the bulk of your points. Most CFL running backs are going to be wildly inconsistent in fantasy. Take for example the best back in the league, John White. White had 3 games with at least 19 carries where he averaged over 35 fantasy PPG towards the end of the season. However he also had 6 games with 10 or less carries, and four games where he didn’t score double digit fantasy points.
Our strategy last season was generally stack our top QB/WR combo. Generally one we thought had multi-touchdown upside. Mike Reilly and either Derrel Walker or Adarius Bowman or Trevor Harris and Chris Williams were generally our stacks last season. From there we would target value receivers, based either on matchup or a changing role ie injury or promotion.
One thing you absolutely have to keep in mind with DraftKings CFL is that return yards count. Specifically: 20 return yards will give you 1 point, and return touchdowns are obviously 6 points. Return yards can be more consistent than rushing production when it comes to a running back that returns kicks. Yes, we are talking about Chris Rainey who was one of the most consistent RB’s on DK last season, despite averaging less than 2 carries per game.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking guys that were successful in the states will automatically find success in Canada. For whatever reason, players that have CFL experience seem to always find more success in this league. For example a guy like Brad Sinopoli, who went to the University of Ottawa and would never be able to play in the NFL will likely outperform a player like Kenny Shaw who went to FSU and could arguably play in the NFL right now.
Research Resources to Help You Build Your CFL Lineups
One of the reasons I think we won so consistently last season is that information isn’t readily available. You have to actually dig to give yourself a research advantage.
One tip you won’t find below, but will come in handy once the season gets into full swing: get familiar with the local papers and reporters for each of the teams. When it comes to injury news, depth chart changes, etc… You aren’t going to find them in the DraftKings news section… Won’t happen. You are going to have to identify, bookmark, and check in on either the newspaper that covers the team, or the team’s beat reporters Twitter handle.
Here are a few other fantasy resources that may come in hand throughout your CFL journey:
The CFL lines on Bovada are a great place to identify which teams are going to put up big points each week, or to identify teams that are likely to outperform their season averages.
The official CFL website is the most obvious source for information, but does a great job with basic stats, team stats, and box scores. It’s the easiest way to get some of the most basic news and data needed in your research. Team pages can be found in the top left portion of the website, and each team keeps an updated depth chart on their page.
The Onside CFL fantasy twitter handle. These guys know the CFL inside and out, and also have a weekly podcast that will be worth a listen whilst crafting your lineups.
Bookmark or subscribe! We will have our week one CFL lineup out tomorrow! Start your research, get into the action. DraftKings has a $4 week one contest that will pay out $40,000 in prizes!