2016 was a weird year for RBs around the CFL. There was only 2-1000 yard rushers in the league, which in a pass happy league like the CFL doesn’t seem too far fetched but in the 2019 season there was 5. Those 2 in 2016 didn’t include the likes of John White, CJ Gable (who was still in Hamilton), or perennial MOC and MOP candidate, Andrew Harris. Hell, the riders didn’t have a player in the top 10 for rushing. Curtis Steele rushed for 314yds with no TDs, while Darian Durant was only 6yds behind him with 6 TD, like I said, a weird year. Jerome Messam lead the way with 1198yds and 11TDs on the ground while Brandon Whitaker racked up 1009yds with 3TDs. Andrew Harris finished 3rd with 974yds and 4TD, but that was before he started failing drug tests…allegedly.
The top 5 fantasy performers are definitely names that we’ll all recognize but with the recency bias that exists in sports, some people may be surprised. The list doesn’t include Andrew Harris, his only sub-1000 yd season with the bombers and the last 5 years, and William Powell who missed all of 2016 with an Achilles injury. The one thing that the list proves is that CFL RB can produce fantasy numbers but can be somewhat like catching lightning in a bottle unless you want to pay for the top echelon guys and make sacrifices in other spots of your lineup
#5 Shakir Bell, EDM, Week 10 vs. Saskatchewan, 27.0pts
Probably the biggest surprise to me on this list. After a 663yd 2015, his production took a bit of a dip in 2016 with John White IV returning from a ruptured achilles, but Bell was able to step in when needed and put up some pretty decent numbers. In the week 10 matchup, he went 18/138yds on the ground, 4/4 through the air for 32yds and added a TD. The Eskimos would win the game 33-25 on the strength of a 22-3 lead at halftime and added 11pts in the 4th to seal the victory
#4 John White, EDM, Week 16 @ Montreal, 32.8pts
Making his first appearance in the top 5, John White also had 3 of the top 6 scores for RB in 2016. Edmonton traveled to Montreal with a 7-7 record and a win would go along way to clinching a playoff spot this late in the year. White posted 145yds on 19 carries, 2TDs, with 5 catches for 13yds. His 2nd of the day came in the 21pt 3rd quarter the Eskimos had to basically run away with the ball game leading 37-11 after 3. They would hold on to win 40-20 and improve to 8-7.
#3 Jerome Messam, CGY, Week 11 vs. Edmonton, 33.9pts
We all know the real season begins on Labour Day. It’s better than Christmas in my opinion but it’s been well established that I’m a grinch. In 2016, Jerome Messam saved his best performance for one of the most important regular season games on the Calendar. 18/110yds on the ground, 2TD, 6/6 through the air to add another 49yds. The Calgary defence held the Esks scoreless in the 1st and 3rd quarters and were able to hold Mike Reilly down to make it possible to establish the run and allow Messam to have a monster day.
#2 Jeremiah Johnson, BC, Week 12 vs. Montreal, 35.9pts
The Lions came out hot to start the game and never looked back in this one. Jeremiah Johnson ran in the 2pt convert on the games first TD, and added 3 more of his own on the ground. All in all, Johnson would end up with 159yds on 16 carries, 3TD, and a 2pt convert. The Lions would have a 24-6 lead at halftime, and cruise to a 38-27 victory thanks to Johsnon and Jennings having some of the best games of their season.
#1 John White, EDM, Week 15 @ Winnipeg, 37.8pts
His 2nd appearance on the list and the top spot. John White IV failed to reach 1000 yards on the season but was still able to manage some of the best fantasy performances of the season…You just had to pick and choose when to play him. White would be a big piece of why Edmonton lead 24-10 at the half with his 2TD coming in the 1st half and 8 of his 19 carries. He would end the game with 104yds, 2TD, and added 7 catches on 7 targets for 64yds. The Eskimos would win the game 40-26. Did I mention that this was the week before Edmonton played the Alouettes….where John White would put up 32.8pts. Pretty decent 2 game streak for the top scorer.
Threes only a few RB in the league that seem to put up numbers on a consistent basis, unless Chapdelaine is their OC, but I digress. The possibility of getting value at the position is there but you have to pick and choose when to pay top dollar and just play a hunch….or pay for Andrew Harris every week and hope he passes drug tests. Cheers!!!