This article is part of our Team Previews series.
2017 record: 9-9, defeated Calgary in Grey Cup
Head coach: Marc Trestman
Ricky Ray, QB
2017: 5,546 passing yards, 28 passing TD, 11 INT, 52 rushing yards
James Wilder, RB
2017: 872 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD, 51 receptions, 533 receiving yards
S.J. Green, WR
2017: 104 receptions, 1,462 receiving yards, 10 receiving TD
Armanti Edwards, WR
2017: 83 receptions, 962 receiving yards, 4 receiving TD
Brandon Burks, RB
Greg Morris, RB (from Roughriders)
2017: 66 rushing yards, 1 reception, 34 receiving yards
DeVier Posey, WR (released)
2017: 52 receptions, 744 receiving yards, 7 receiving TD
Jeff Fuller, WR (released)
2017: 24 receptions, 287 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
The Grey Cup champions retained as many important pieces of their championship squad as possible, with the most prominent being the seemingly ageless Ricky Ray. The 16-year veteran racked up the second highest passing yardage (5,546), attempts (668) and touchdowns (28) totals of his career in 2017, and he ultimately secured his fourth Grey Cup championship as a starter. Ray has no competition for his job, and although both DeVier Posey and Jeff Fuller departed over the offseason, he will still have the benefit of a wideout corps helmed by the talented duo of S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards. Furthermore, head coach Mark Trestman's aggressive attack and a strong running game spearheaded by the emerging James Wilder should also help pave the way for another stellar fantasy season for Ray.
The Final Word: This will be Ray's show once more in 2018 as the Argonauts look to defend their title, and he's essentially a sure bet to be among the league leaders in pass attempts again. The receiver group behind Posey and Fuller is unproven, but don't expect that to hinder Ray's production.
Although he suited up for 17 games last season, James Wilder's true emergence began in Week 13, when he lit up the Eskimos for 190 rushing yards and another 67 through the air. Wilder would go on to post four 100-yard efforts during the regular season, and he compiled between 77 and 91 receiving yards on four occasions as well. Behind Wilder, former NFL back Brandon Burks recently joined the Argonauts and could add some speed to the backfield.
Fifth-year veteran Greg Morris was also brought on during the offseason, but he boasts only 28 career carries over 27 games. Meanwhile, the shifty Martese Jackson is primarily a change-of-pace back and dynamic returner, and Anthony Coombs is essentially an extra receiver, as he has 164 career catches and just 36 career carries.
The Final Word: This should still be Wilder's backfield, but Burks has the talent to carve out a complementary role. The carry distribution will be something to monitor as the season unfolds, but Wilder has to be considered the clear-cut lead back heading into Week 1. There likely won't be much left over for any back behind the top two options, given Toronto's pass-heavy tendencies.
S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards are the unquestioned leaders of the wideout corps, considering the career-best numbers each put up in 2017. Green was particularly impressive, totaling 104 receptions for 1,462 yards and 10 touchdowns. Edwards was much more of a possession receiver, but he came just 38 yards shy of a 1,000-yard campaign while also posting four scores. Both should once serve as effective deep and intermediate threats, respectively, in the coming season, while Brian Tyms, who boasts NFL experience, will look to build on his 25-catch tally over eight games with the Tiger-Cats last season. Malcolm Williams is worth keeping an eye on, considering he wrested a starting job away from Jeff Fuller last season and possesses excellent size at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds. The remaining contenders for a pass-catching job – a group that includes the likes of Brian Jones, Jimmy Ralph, and Llevi Noel – should sort themselves out in preseason.
The Final Word: Green and Edwards are blue-chip fantasy prospects in this offense, and Tyms could separate himself from the rest of the pack with a strong preseason. Of the remaining candidates, Williams Ralph, and Jones all have experience within Trestman's system, but they don't appear to offer an abundance of fantasy upside as reserves.
Martese Jackson was excellent returning kicks in 2017, compiling a combined 1,957 punt and kickoff return yards and also kicking in a pair of punt return touchdowns. What's more, Jackson was lethal on missed field goals too, as he added 257 yards and another score on four returns in that category. He is the favorite for the job heading into the new season, as Trestman will likely want to keep Armanti Edwards, who returned 16 kicks last year, out of harm's way.
Lirim Hajrullahu departed in free agency, leaving a sizable hole on the roster that the Argonauts will attempt to fill with either Swayze Waters or Ronnie Pfeffer. Waters would appear to be the odds-on favorite, having spent 2012-2015 with Toronto before not playing in the CFL in 2016 and then going 11-for-15 on field goals and 11-for-13 on extra-point tries with the Eskimos last season. Notably, Waters brought value as a punter as well (44.8 to 48.1 average during his four Argos seasons). Pfeffer also spent time with the Argos in 2015 and was rock-solid while drilling 12 of 16 field-goal attempts and 11 of 13 extra-point tries. He's adequate as a punter as well, but he doesn't come close to matching Waters' track record in that area. That could be the tiebreaker when it comes to deciding the winner of the kicking competition.