2022 Record: 4-14-0, missed playoffs
New Faces: LB Jovan Santos-Knox, OL Dontae Bull, OL Drew Desjarlais, RB Ante Litre
Quarterback: Jeremiah Masoli is healthy after a broken leg in Week 4 ended his (and, realistically, the REDBLACKS) season. Masoli was averaging 8.4 yards per attempt before the injury and should be able to resume a downfield attack orchestrated by new offensive coordinator Khari Jones. He may no longer be the runner he was earlier in his career, but Masoli can still generate yardage with his legs when needed. Nick Arbuckle led the league with 14 interceptions but also had a CFL-best 65.3% completion rate on pass attempts of 20+ yards. Second-year pivot Tyrie Adams has had a solid preseason and shows potential.
Running Back: The William Powell Era is over, leaving Devonte Williams and Jackson Bennett to share the touches out of the backfield. Williams ran for 454 yards in eight games before injuries ended his season, while Bennett came over from Hamilton and ran for 234 yards on 50 carries. Litre will also factor into the ground game after rushing for 241 yards and a major on 54 carries with the Elks last season.
Receivers: This is a sneaky-good receiving corps that will thrive if Masoli remains upright. Jaelon Acklin became an East Division All-Star on the strength of 75 receptions for 1,169 yards and two majors, and could see bigger numbers if Justin Hardy (39 catches in his last five games) stays healthy. The ever underrated Nate Behar (59-727-2) is a reliable intermediate target, and while Darvin Adams has departed, veterans Quan Bray and Tevaun Smith will compete to be the team’s top downfield target. The REDBLACKS will also look to find ways to get DeVonte Dedmon more involved with the offence after opposing kickers found their senses and stopped the dangerous return specialist from getting opportunities to hurt them on special teams.
Defence: Pivots beware: Lorenzo Mauldin IV is back after leading the league with 17 sacks. Fellow DL Kene Onyeka added seven sacks while DL Cleyton Laing (three sacks) chipped in to the REDBLACKS aggressive mindset. Ottawa performed attention by subtraction by adding Santos-Knox (105 defensive tackles) away from division rival Hamilton. He will join a unit that includes hard-hitting Adam Auclair. In the secondary, Monshadrik Hunter comes off a 2022 that saw him record a team-best four interceptions.
Fantasy Nugget: If you prorate Hardy’s late-season receiving binge over the course of a full season, you would be looking at a receiver with 144 receptions.
2022 Record: 9-9-0, lost in East Final
New Faces: QB Cody Fajardo, WR Greg Ellingson, QB Caleb Evans, WR Jake Harty, FB James Tuck
Quarterback: Out goes Trevor Harris (Saskatchewan). In comes Fajardo, who is reunited with former Riders offensive coordinator Jason Maas, who is now the head coach in Montreal. Fajardo looks to revive his career following a 2022 season where a porous offensive line and a spate of injuries resulted in him being sacked a league-high 61 times. The Als are hoping his strong arm can stretch defences and open the door for a running attack that Fajardo (22 rushing majors the past three seasons) will also contribute to. Backup Evans had flashes of brilliance in his two seasons in Ottawa and could be an exciting element to the offence if needed.
TREVOR HARRIS GETS SET TO START THE 2023 SEASON AS THE ROUGHRIDERS NEW NO. 1 PIVOT (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Running Back: The Als’ season was altered sharply when William Stanback was injured in the regular season opener, leading to him missing 14 games. He’s healthy, which means there’s not a back in the CFL who can rival his combination of speed and power. Stanback, who sports a career 6.0 yards per carry, could flirt with a 1,500-yard season if he’s atop the depth chart each week. Backup Walter Fletcher averaged 12 yards per catch and will see considerable action. Jeshrun Antwi adds quality depth behind Stanback and Fletcher.
Receivers: Ouch. The Als lost All-Star Eugene Lewis to the Elks and Jake Wieneke to the Roughriders, costing them 136 receptions and 1,892 yards. Although the addition of Ellingson (38-598-3 with the Blue Bombers) brings some relief, the offence will turn to Nationals Kaion Julien-Grant and Tyson Philpot to become the focus of the passing attack. Julien-Grant had five receptions of better than 30 yards last season while Philpot amassed 285 yards after the catch. Cole Spieker showed promise, and while Chandler Worthy offers experience, the Alouettes are counting on him more as a return specialist, where he tallied all but 38 of his 1,862 combined yards from.
Defence: Montreal fell from a league-best 49 sacks in 2021 to just 37 last season. That allowed opposing pivots to connect on a CFL-high 30 completions of better than 30 yards on the Als. However, DB Marc-Antoine Dequoy returns after leading the team with four interceptions, and LB Tyrice Beverette shared the league lead with three fumble returns.
Fantasy Nugget: “Give me 18 games…I might run for 2,000,” Stanback said at the start of training camp. For him to do so, he’d have to average 111.1 yards per game.