CFL East Division Season Preview

CFL East Division Season Preview

Here we are with training camps underway and only about 3 weeks until the start of the season. Below I go over the team’s off-season changes and offensive players that will make a CFL DFS impact in the East Division.

Montreal Alouettes

Key Losses:

  • SJ Green
  • Duron Carter

Key Additions:

  • Darian Durant
  • Ernest Jackson

There is a new coaching staff in Montreal after a couple bad seasons.  The team is now lead by Head Coach and offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.  He was the Saskatchewan Roughriders Offensive Coordinator in 2015 so has some relationship with newly acquired QB Darian Durant.  Durant was set to flourish under Chapdelaine’s offense in 2015 after returning from a torn ligament in his arm but after throwing.  In the 2 quarters of regular season action before tearing his Achilles Durant threw for 165 yards and 2 TDs with a 72.2% completion percentage.  This was the only glimpse we saw of Durant with Chapdelaine’s offense but there is an opportunity for a big year from Durant if he can remain healthy after having a scare in training camp this week.  He is listed as day to day and the MRI came back negative.  Durant will be throwing to newly acquired receiver Ernest Jackson who was 7th in receiving yards with 1225.  He played a key role as a go-to receiver in Ottawa after they lost Chris Williams for the season.  Ernest Jackson will fill the hole that was left after SJ Green signed in Toronto and Duron Carter was cut towards the end of the season for off-field reasons.

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Ottawa Redblacks

Key Losses:

  • Ernest Jackson
  • Henry Burris
  • Chris Williams

Key Additions:

  • Shakir Bell
  • Tori Gurley
  • Kenny Shaw
  • Diontae Spencer

The defending Grey Cup champions have lost a few pieces of the puzzle however they have done a great job finding new pieces.  In free agency, they picked up 3 new receivers that have had success in Toronto in the last couple years.  Tori Gurley entered the league in 2015 and was tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions with 9.  In 2016 he had an off year with some rumored locker room issues which could be contributed to the lack of success and injuries at the quarterback position.  Look for him to become a big possession type receiver for the RedBlacks this year.  Kenny Shaw is another great pickup coming off a 1000 yard receiving season with a banged up Argonauts squad.  The third receiver they picked up is Diontae Spencer who missed the first 6 games the year due to injury.  He came in and made an immediate impact on his first game of the season and had a monster game of 11 receptions for 146 yards.  The Redblacks appear to have the hole filled at receiver, we’ll just have to wait and see who rises to the top.  The last 2 years Ottawa has had 4 receivers go over 1000 yards so there should be enough footballs to go around to the starting 5 receivers.  At running back the Redblacks added Shakir Bell who filled in for John White in Edmonton last year.  He was an exciting player to watch and I expect he will rise to the top as RB1 in Ottawa this year.  Henry Burris went out on top retiring this offseason, but have no worries Trevor Harris should be able to pick up right where Burris left off.  Harris has had success over the past couple seasons in his limited action and should continue to be a good quarterback for a lot of years.

Toronto Argonauts

Key Losses:

  • Dionte Spencer
  • Kevin Elliott
  • Kenny Shaw
  • Tori Gurley

Key Additions:

  • SJ Green
  • Marc Trestman
  • Jeff Fuller
  • Armanti Edwards

The Argonauts have a fresh new coaching staff and regime in place after a bad year last year.  Head Coach Marc Trestman and GM Jim Popp join up once again after coaching the Montreal Alouettes to 3 Grey Cups in 5 years winning 2 of them.  Trestman will look to guide Ricky Ray to a Grey Cup similar to what happened in Montreal with Anthony Calvillo from 2008-2010.  The Argos lost 4 receivers that had success with the team however with the new management in town they worked fast to acquire some good talent.  SJ Green is coming off a knee injury and if healthy will have an immediate impact for the Argo’s. They also added Jeff Fuller who left the CFL to try the NFL for a year.  Prior to that he was with the Calgary Stampeders for 3 years and had some success.  He is big and can go up for the ball and should be a big red zone target for Ray.  The Argo’s acquired Armanti Edwards from the Roughriders via trade right before training camp opened.  Edwards, a former college QB, only played 4 games for the riders last year before getting injured but he picked up 231 receiving yards on 19 receptions.  He is smaller at 5’11” but fast which is advantageous on the bigger CFL field and he isn’t afraid to go up and make the catch.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Key Losses:

  • Chad Owens
  • Andy Fantuz*

The Ticats didn’t add much offensive power in the offseason but they did beef up their defense.  Quarterback Zach Collaros will lead the Ticats behind center this season and he will be hungry after missing the first 8 games of last season.  He has had success under Head Coach Kent Austin and I don’t see why that will change.  I’m not sold on CJ Gable holding his running back spot this season so look for a new up and coming starting running back that could hold some value.  One twist on CFL DFS is kick and punt return yards.  The ticats have Brandon Banks who is an explosive kick returner that has a chance to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.  He gets in on the offensive side of the ball as well.  Andy Fantuz tore his ACL towards the end of the season last year so will miss the first part of the season but look for this possession receiver to return and make an impact.  The ticats lost receiver Chad Owens in the offseason.  He had 808 yards receiving last year, however, there are other players in the wings ready to take over.  Brandon Banks and Owens are similar players so look for Banks to have maybe an expanded role.  Luke Tasker and Terrence Toliver will be the go-to guys for Collaros and I expect both receivers if they can stay healthy will both be over 1000 yards.

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Nathan Thorburn

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