If you’re a CFL fantasy fan, you already know about James Wilder Jr. You are familiar with what Brandon Banks brings to the Ticats. You saw Mike Reilly’s MOP season last year. However, if you want to win at fantasy, simply dropping these expensive players into your TSN CFL Fantasy lineup won’t do. You’ve got to dive deeper and find the next ones.
Just like James Wilder Jr. or Brandon Zylstra in 2017, several players will emerge into stardom this season. As a fantasy player, you want to find these guys before they’re all over the TSN highlights, and before your fantasy rivals. Here are four names to know.
Terry Williams, Running Back, Calgary – $3595
Jerome Messam led the league in carries in each of the last two years, and his departure leaves a 200 carry-sized hole that Terry Williams has the first opportunity to fill. Speedy and elusive, Williams brings a very different dynamic to the run game than the power-back Messam. In his only start in 2017, Williams exploded for 170 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns against the Alouettes. After the game, Marken Michel raved that “All we’ve gotta do is get our hands on defenders and let (Williams) do the rest.” Terry Williams has shown he has talent, and with Messam and fellow speedster Roy Finch gone, he has the opportunity to match.
Bryant Mitchell, Wide Receiver, Edmonton – $3867
The one they call “Batman” is primed to improve on his already impressive debut campaign this year. In 2017, Mitchell had 32 receptions for 482 yards and added three touchdowns in only 7 games. That level of production pro-rated over a full-season would make him a top ten fantasy wide receiver. In addition, Brandon Zylstra and Adarius Bowman have signed with the Minnesota Vikings and Blue Bombers respectively, vacating over 200 targets. Mitchell also led Eskimos receivers with an 80% catch rate. While he did not suit up for either of his team’s preseason games, Mitchell will hopefully be fit for the season opener against the Blue Bombers
Eugene Lewis, Wide Receiver, Montreal – $2500
“Geno” Lewis has been practicing with the first team offence throughout training camp and made an impression in the Alouettes first preseason game with four catches for 82 yards, including one reception for 41. While he only played in two games last year, Lewis looks to become much more involved in 2018. Kavis Reed has raved about the former Sooner in camp, saying “(Lewis) has a tremendous catch radius…he makes the difficult catches.” With Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams and BJ Cunningham presently above him on the depth chart, Lewis likely isn’t a week one fantasy consideration. However, if Montreal’s quarterback situation stabilizes and he is able to get involved early, Lewis should be an inexpensive upside play.
Amir Carlisle, Running Back, Montreal – $2500
Tyrell Sutton is an excellent running back, but the fact is he has never played a full season in the CFL. That has made his backup relevant and valuable for fantasy. From 2015 to 2017, Brandon Rutley held that job and averaged 82 carries and 28 targets a season. Now that Rutley has moved west to BC, Amir Carlisle has the opportunity to claim the backup job.
Carlisle was a member of the Alouettes practice squad for most of last season, and running backs coach Andre Bolduc liked what he saw. “He did everything right last year. He improved every week. I think he’s still improving.” Having spent time with the Arizona Cardinals as a wide receiver, Carlisle has demonstrated he can contribute in both the receiving and rushing game, as well as special teams. If he does win the job in camp, Amir Carlisle is an important name to know in the event that Sutton again misses games.
Alex Green, Running Back, Hamilton – $6173
At his price point, Alex Green isn’t a traditional breakout candidate. After CJ Gable was traded to the Eskimos, the former New York Jet wasted no time in taking a stranglehold of the starting job in Hamilton’s backfield. However, prospective fantasy owners may have felt concern that Alex Green missed the beginning of camp on the suspended list. While Green was attending to personal matters, the Ticats started Nikita Whitlock at running back in their first preseason game, who fumbled his first carry and did so again a few series’ later. When Green returned to the team for the second game of the preseason, he immediately reclaimed first-team duties.
The Ticats went 4-2 with Alex Green in the backfield, and the team showed they believed in him over that span. While CJ Gable averaged only eight carries a game in Hamilton, Green averaged thirteen and posted 5.7 yards per rush. Over a full 18 game season, Green projects to be a top-five running back and should delight fantasy owners on a weekly basis.
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