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Team Previews: Ottawa Redblacks

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.

Ottawa Redblacks

2017 record: 8-9-1, lost to Saskatchewan in Eastern semifinal
Head coach: Rick Campbell

Key Performers

Trevor Harris, QB
2017: 4,679 passing yards, 30 passing TD, 11 INT, 78 rushing yards

William Powell, RB
2017: 1,026 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD, 32 receptions, 242 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Greg Ellingson, WR
2017: 96 receptions, 1,459 receiving yards, 12 receiving TD

Brad Sinopoli, WR
2017: 91 receptions, 1,009 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD

Diontae Spencer, WR
2017: 71 receptions, 922 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD, 41 rushing yards, 929 KR yards, 1 KR TD, 607 PR yards

Notable Additions

Julian Feoli-Gudino, WR (from Blue Bombers)
2017: 45 receptions, 462 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD

Marco Dubois, WR (drafted in second round)

Notable Departures

Joshua Stangby, WR
2017: 41 receptions, 478 receiving yards, 5 receiving TD

Jake Harty, WR
2017: 27 receptions, 226 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Fantasy Outlook

Quarterback

The Redblacks reaped the benefits of another spectacular season in 2017 from Trevor Harris, who set career highs in completions (398), attempts (572) and passing yardage (4,679) despite missing three games. The 31-year-old returns to spearhead the Ottawa offense once again and will look to help the franchise bounce back from what was considered a disappointing season. Harris will have the luxury of building additional rapport with last season's breakout all-purpose star Diontae Spencer, as well as the sure-handed duo of Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson, the latter who set new high-water marks across the stat sheet last season. The Redblacks also nabbed Marco Dubois -- who posted the fastest 40 time in the CFL combine (4.56) - in this year's draft, and inked trusted veteran Julian Feoli-Gudino, giving Harris a multi-skilled assortment of weapons to wield against opposing defenses.

The Final Word: Harris has an iron grip on the starting job, as the Redblacks simply swapped out last season's batch of backups for another group that is headlined by Dominique Davis but shouldn't pose any tangible threat to Harris' job. Spencer and Ellingson represent matchup nightmares downfield for defensive coordinators, and Harris should have no shortage of sure-handed options in the intermediate passing game, either.

Running Back

Last season's top two rushers, William Powell and Mossis Madu, Jr., signed extensions this offseason, leaving the Redblacks' running game in fine shape heading into 2018. Last season, Powell was a breakout performer with a career-best 1,026 rushing yards and Madu again acted as a complementary back. Powell should once again be the workhorse option, which will give him a shot at another 1,000-yard campaign if he remains healthy.

The Final Word: A non-descript group consisting of Wayne Moore, Cedric O'Neal and Ed Illnicki are the only other backs on the roster behind Powell and Madu. Therefore, the fantasy outlook for this backfield is very straightforward - Powell should yield excellent returns as both a runner and receiver, and Madu projects to offer serviceable but limited production as the top backup.

Receiver/Slotback

Diontae Spencer was a dynamic all-purpose force in 2017, and he may just be scratching the surface of his potential. The McNeese State product equaled a career best with 71 receptions while setting a new high-water mark in receiving yards (922) and receiving touchdowns (6). He also made a major impact on special teams, generating 1,796 combined yards and a pair of scores between returned kicks, punts, and missed field goals.

Spencer's spectacular play was overshadowed a bit by Greg Ellingson, the best pure receiver on the Redblacks roster. The FIU alum will be looking to top the career-high 96 receptions, 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns he tallied in 2017. Ellingson notably improved his reception and receiving yardage totals each of his last three seasons while playing 53 out of a possible 54 regular-season games during that span.

Meanwhile, Brad Sinopoli continues to be a pass-catching machine in the short-to-intermediate air attack, now having notched between 86 and 91 grabs in each of the last three seasons. Free-agent acquisition Julian Feoli-Gudino has experience on his side as he tries to nab the fourth receiver spot.

The Final Word: If he remains healthy, Spencer should be a lock for his first career 1,000-yard campaign, and Ellingson should easily eclipse the mark himself for a third straight season. The Redblacks will put the ball up plenty, so Sinopoli should be a PPR monster once again as one of Harris' primary options underneath. With the top three options gobbling up most of the statistics, the fantasy prospects for anyone in the lower portion of the depth chart bleak.

Return Specialist

Spencer figures to once again pull double duty as the primary returner, considering his significant success last season and the team's decision to release Quincy McDuffie, who ran back 23 kicks last season. Spencer should be one of the CFL's top special teams weapons again in 2018, affording him even greater value in season-long leagues that factor in return statistics.

Kicker

Brett Maher, who completed a second tour of duty with the Redblacks in 2017, is now a Dallas Cowboy, making it an open competition for the job. Richie Leone and Sergio Castillo are considered the top two candidates, although slight-framed Lewis Ward is also on hand during training camp. Leone has a top-tier leg and is also an accomplished punter, but he made just 72.2 percent of his 90 field-goal attempts over his two prior seasons with the Lions. Castillo doesn't quite have Leone's leg on punts, but he's been appreciably more accurate splitting the uprights, with an 83 percent success rate on 47 career field-goal attempts. Whoever wins the job should have plenty of scoring opportunities thanks to the Redblacks' high-octane offense.