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Team Previews: Edmonton Eskimos

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Edmonton Eskimos

2017 record: 12-6, lost to Calgary in Western finals
Head Coach: Jason Maas

Key Performers

Mike Reilly, QB
2017: 5,830 passing yards, 30 passing TD, 13 INT, 390 rushing yards, 12 rushing TD

Derel Walker, WR
2017: 48 receptions, 634 receiving yards, 2 receiving TD, 13 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

C.J. Gable, RB
2017: 367 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD, 9 receptions, 99 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

D'haquille Williams, WR
2017: 46 receptions, 715 receiving yards, 4 receiving TD

Vidal Hazelton, WR
2017: 55 receptions, 709 receiving yards, 4 receiving TD

Notable Additions

Juron Criner, WR (from Redblacks)
2017: 18 receptions, 201 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD

Kevin Glenn, QB (from Roughriders)
2017: 4,038 passing yards, 25 TD, 14 INT, 75 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD

Alex Taylor, RB (drafted in sixth round)

Notable Departures

Adarius Bowman, SB
2017: 45 receptions, 534 receiving yards, 5 receiving TD

Brandon Zylstra, WR
2017: 100 receptions, 1,687 receiving yards, 5 receiving TD

John White, RB
2017: 112 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

Travon Van, RB
2017: 283 rushing yards, 3 rushing TD, 17 receptions, 69 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Fantasy Outlook

Quarterback

The prolific Mike Reilly figures to be tested a bit this coming season, as the exodus of pass-catching talent from Edmonton during the offseason was significant. Gone are Brandon Zylstra -- who will try to latch on with the Minnesota Vikings across the border, trusted slotback Adarius Bowman -- who, despite a down year in 2017, was still an option defenses had to account for, and capable backs John White and Travon Van.

On the bright side, Derel Walker re-upped with Edmonton this offseason after giving the NFL a shot for a portion of last year. It was just two seasons ago that Walker put up a whopping 1,589 receiving yards, and he quickly reestablished himself as one of Reilly's top targets after integrating back into the Eskimos offense. Additionally, the productive duo of D'haquille Williams and Vidal Hazelton are also back in the fold, as is the promising Bryant Mitchell. Veteran running back C.J. Gable is no slouch as a receiver out of the backfield either, as his 156 career catches will attest.

The Final Word: Reilly will still have numerous options at his disposal, and the Eskimos' offensive philosophy should continue to largely revolve around the man that racked up career highs in yardage and touchdowns in 2017. The Eskimos added long-time CFL quarterback Kevin Glenn during the offseason, but he will not threaten Reilly's job. Given Reilly's tremendous dual-threat upside, he once again projects as the elite fantasy option in both season-long and daily formats.

Running Back

With both John White and Travon Van out of the picture, C.J. Gable could be primed to receive the lion's share of the carries. The veteran was acquired last October and averaged a solid 5.1 yards per tote over four games in Edmonton. Gable added 99 receiving yards and another touchdown through the air after his arrival and totaled 34 receptions altogether in 2017. His ability to contribute in multiple areas should help him hold off rookie Alex Taylor and the rest of the inexperienced backs on the roster.

The Final Word: As presently configured, the Eskimos' roster doesn't seem to possess a true threat to Gable's lead-back role. Gable should therefore have plenty of fantasy value in all formats to open the campaign, but he will be dinged a bit due to the Eskimos' high-powered passing attack and Reilly's skills at the goal line.

Receiver/Slotback

Derel Walker could see a significant bump in targets, considering the departed duo of Brandon Zylstra and Adarius Bowman saw a combined 209 passes thrown their way in 2017. After returning to Edmonton from the NFL, Walker kicked off his CFL campaign in Week 9 and provided numbers on par with his spectacular 2016 campaign when prorated over a full 18 games. Having spent the entire offseason with Edmonton this time around, Walker could be the most productive receiver in the CFL this season if he remains healthy.

Plenty of opportunities should trickle down to the likes of D'haquille Williams and Vidal Hazelton, who combined for 101 receptions last season and finished second and third on the team in receiving yards behind Zylstra. Bryant Williams, Kenny Stafford, and Juron Criner should battle for the No. 4 and 5 wideout spots.

The Final Word: Given the Eskimos' pass-centered attack, Walker has an opportunity for a record-setting campaign if he plays all 18 games. Williams is a player to watch, however, as he could absorb the majority of the targets Bowman leaves behind. Hazelton and Bryant Williams could both well see upticks across the board as well, considering Reilly put up over 600 pass attempts in each of the last two seasons.

Return Specialist

Zylstra was a part-time punt returner last season, but the likes of receiver Jamill Smith and defensive back Chris Edwards also put in work at both returner spots and are back in Edmonton this season. The two incumbents figure to handle the bulk of the return duties in 2018.

Kicker

Sean Whyte and Hugh O'Neill will presumably battle for the job after both provided solid performances last season. Whyte was 15-for-16 on field goals and 12-for-14 on point-after tries, while O'Neill was 9-for-13 and 8-for-10 in those respective categories. Both split duties in the postseason, so it remains to be seen exactly how the kicking situation will play out in the coming campaign.