CFL 2022 West Division Preview

CFL 2022 West Division Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings CFL series.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

2021 record:

11-3, 1st in West Division/ Won Grey Cup

 

Head coach:

Mike O'Shea (8th season)

 

Key Additions:

Greg Ellingson, WR (last with Edmonton Elks)

Notable Departures:

Andrew Harris, RB (to Toronto Argonauts)

Kenny Lawler, SB (to Edmonton Elks)

Darvin Adams, WR (to Ottawa Redblacks)

Fantasy-relevant Holdovers:

Zach Collaros, QB

Brady Oliveira, RB

Johnny Augustine, RB

Drew Wolitarsky, WR

Nic Demski, SB

Rasheed Bailey, SB

 

Overall fantasy outlook: Just as was largely the case last season as the Bombers looked to defend their 2019 Grey Cup title, Winnipeg is blessed with continuity. The now-back-to-back champs' biggest challenge may be making up for the departures of Harris and Lawler, and to a lesser extent, Adams. However, the Bombers feel they keep the ground game vibrant without Harris, who only played in seven games last season due to injury. The Oliveira-Augustine duo is charged with taking the mantle of the ground game moving forward, with both having impressed last season – Oliveira averaged 4.6 yards per carry across 13 games in 2021, while Augustine was ultra-efficient gained 285 yards at an even more impressive clip of 7.1 yards per attempt. Then, with Adams and Lawler elsewhere, Demski, Bailey and newcomer Ellingson, a five-time 1,000-yard receiver, could all thrive fantasy-wise, with the first two already having a well-established rapport with Collaros. 

Saskatchewan Roughriders

2021 record:

9-5 2nd in West Division/ Lost West Division Final to Winnipeg Blue Bombers

 

Head coach:

Craig Dickenson (3rd season)

 

Notable Departures:

William Powell, RB (to Ottawa Redblacks)

Jordan Williams-Lambert, WR (to Calgary Stampeders)

Fantasy-relevant Holdovers:

Cody Fajardo, QB

Jamal Morrow, RB

Shaq Evans, WR

Kian Schaffer-Baker, WR

Kyran Moore, SB

Duke Williams, SB

 

Overall fantasy outlook: The Roughriders are legitimate Grey Cup contenders, but they'll almost assuredly have to overcome the Blue Bombers to get there. However, Saskatchewan will make its push without any notable offseason additions on offense and having lost a key piece in Powell. The veteran's departure to the Redblacks leaves the talented but inexperienced Morrow as the presumed lead back, with veteran Kienan LaFrance around as an insurance policy. The compactly built Morrow is an excellent receiver and proved very adept in space a year ago while averaging 11.0 yards per punt return, but it remains to be seen how well he'll hold up in a potential three-down role. Meanwhile, Fajardo could be due for an even bigger year than a 2019 campaign when he racked up a career-high 4,913 total yards and 28 total touchdowns, as he should have the benefit of Williams as a target for an entire season and a potential breakout year from the speedy Moore if he can remain healthy.

Calgary Stampeders

2021 record:

8-6, 3rd in West Division

 

Head coach:

Dave Dickenson (6th season)

Notable Departures:

Markeith Ambles, WR (to Toronto Argonauts)

Hergy Mayala, WR (to Montreal Alouettes)

Michael O'Connor, QB (to BC Lions)

Fantasy-relevant Holdovers:

Bo Levi Mitchell, QB

Ka'Deem Carey, RB

Reggie Begelton, WR

Richard Sindani, WR

Kamar Jorden, SB

Malik Henry, SB

Overall fantasy outlook:  Much like the Bombers, the Stampeders will largely rely on incumbents for their offensive firepower in 2022. The biggest key to success will almost certainly be the play of Mitchell, who has mused about retirement after battling injuries the last couple of seasons and who turned in a sub-par effort in 2021 with 2,594 yards and a 10:13 TD:INT across 11 games. If Mitchell, a two-time 5,000-yard passer, can rediscover past form, he could return to fantasy stardom while working with a pair of highly familiar, talented targets in Begelton and Jorden. Carey should also be a consistent producer yet again after a rock-solid first two CFL seasons during which he amassed 1,619 total yards and 10 total touchdowns in 21 games, while Sindani and Henry could see expanded roles due to the departures of Ambles and Mayala.

British Columbia Lions

2021 record:

5-9, 4th in West Division

 

Head coach:

Rick Campbell (2nd season)

Key Additions:

Michael O'Rourke, QB (last with Calgary Stampeders)

 

Notable Departures:

Michael Reilly, QB (retired)

Shaq Johnson, WR (to Ottawa Redblacks)

 

Fantasy-relevant Holdovers:

Nathan Rourke, QB

James Butler, RB

Lucky Whitehead, WR

Dominique Rhymes, SB

Bryan Burnham, SB

Overall fantasy outlook: Michael Reilly headed into retirement this offseason after a prolific career, leaving the Lions offense in the hands of Rourke, who did at least have a chance to appear in 13 games as a rookie in 2021 and throw for 754 yards while rushing for another 111. Rourke had a reasonably successful three-year run as a starter at Ohio from 2017-19, but he's still largely unproven at the CFL level. The second-year signal-caller will at least be well-insulated by a rock-solid group of skill-position assets. Butler showed plenty of upside as both runner and receiver a season ago with 739 total scrimmage yards and three touchdowns while adding 325 kickoff-return yards. Then, the Whitehead-Rhymes-Burnham trio is arguably as versatile and skilled as any in the league, while third-year slotback Jevon Cottoy could be a sneaky breakout player after compiling a 77-905-4 line over his first 30 career games. 

Edmonton Elks

2021 record:

3-11, 4th in West Division

 

Head coach:

Chris Jones (1st season)

Key Additions:

Kenny Lawler, WR (last with Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

Caleb Holley, SB (last with BC Lions)

Emmanuel Arceneaux, SB (last with Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019)

 

Notable Departures:

Greg Ellingson, SB (to Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

 

Fantasy-relevant Holdovers:

Nick Arbuckle, QB

Taylor Cornelius, QB

James Wilder, RB

Derel Walker, WR

Mike Jones, WR

 

Overall fantasy outlook: Much like the Redblacks in the East Division, the Elks had an utterly forgettable 2021 that led to the firing of coach Jaime Elizondo after just one season. Enter Chris Jones, who also had a two-year run at the position in Edmonton back in 2014 and 2015. The old/new head man inherits an interesting offensive group that adds a trio of veteran pass catchers to a group which already includes Walker and Jones, as well as an outstanding receiver out of the backfield in Wilder. They'll all be on the receiving end of targets from Arbuckle, who's slated for his first legitimate full-time starting opportunity after throwing for 3,405 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while adding 174 rushing yards and 11 scores over his first three seasons. Lawler could be the breakout fantasy star of the group after putting together a 1,014-yard season over 13 games in 2021, a body of work that included a memorable 12-catch, 205-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Lions in Week 9.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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