Mike Reilly and a Doug Flutie-like fantasy year

By Dan Ukrainetz

When fans of the Canadian Football League discuss high production quarterback play in the modern era, some well-known names come to mind like hall of famers like Damon Allen, Tracy Ham, or Anthony Calvillo. For others, it may be gunslingers like Kent Austin, Henry Burris, or Warren Moon. Then there are those who would bring up the names of Dave Dickenson, Khari Jones, and Danny McManus.

In evaluating how players do on the football field, we often turn to stats and let the numbers do the talking. In fact, our modern viewing has brought us fantasy football and the ability to “see” how good a player can be.

While so many CFL QB’s have had fantastic careers and individual seasons, the discussion on that position has started and ended in the last 20 years with one name: Doug Flutie.
No one in the last 20 years has come anywhere close to the six massive seasons that Flutie produced in the mid-1990’s, where he passed for big yards, threw a ludicrous number of touchdowns, and ran all over the field and into the end zone.

From a CFL fantasy football standpoint (had we all been playing it then), Flutie would have been a dream. His 1991 season with the B.C. Lions is the biggest point producing campaign in CFL history with a whopping 537.8 point total under the DraftKings CFL scoring system. In fact, during a seven-year period from 1991 to 1997, Flutie had the six biggest fantasy football years, all with more than 450 fantasy points.

TOP 1-6 CFL QUARTERBACK FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASONS ALL-TIME
Player Team Year Pass Yds Pass TD’s INT’s Rush Yds Rush TD’s Fantasy Pts
Doug Flutie BC 1991 6619 38 24 610 14 537.8
Doug Flutie CGY 1994 5726 48 19 760 8 526.0
Doug Flutie CGY 1993 6092 44 17 373 11 506.0
Doug Flutie CGY 1992 5945 32 30 669 11 468.7
Doug Flutie TOR 1997 5505 47 24 542 5 468.4
Doug Flutie TOR 1996 5720 29 17 756 9 457.4

Since then, there have been multiple 5,500-plus passing yard seasons, years with over 30 and even 40 passing touchdowns, and even some QB’s have rushed for as much as over 1,000 yards. Still, no quarterback had put all that together and dominated defences in each facet or with that amount of fantasy points.

That was until Mike Reilly in 2017.

In 2016, the Edmonton Eskimos signal caller actually produced one of the better QB stat seasons with more than 5,500 passing yards, 28 passing TD’s, 406 rushing yards, and nine rushing TD’s. Those numbers manufactured 416.8 fantasy points, good for the 12th largest total in league history. It was also the fifth largest non-Flutie QB season, trailing only Kent Austin (1992), Tracy Ham (1989 and 1990), Casey Printers (2004), and Henry Burris (2008).

TOP 6-12 CFL QUARTERBACK FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASONS ALL-TIME
Player Team Year Pass Yds Pass TD’s INT’s Rush Yds Rush TD’s Fantasy Pts
Kent Austin SSK 1992 6225 35 30 200 11 445.0
Tracy Ham EDM 1989 4366 30 18 1005 10 437.1
Casey Printers BC 2004 5088 35 10 469 9 434.4
Tracy Ham EDM 1990 4286 36 24 1086 5 430.0
Henry Burris CGY 2008 5094 39 14 595 3 423.3
Mike Reilly EDM 2016 5554 28 12 406 9 416.8

Coming into the 2017 season, many questioned whether Reilly would be able to replicate those numbers. After all, the Eskimos had lost two-time CFL all-star receiver Derel Walker to an NFL contract and veteran Canadian receiver Nate Coehoorn to retirement, amongst other changes to the offence.

Thanks to the early season emergence of veteran international receiver Vidal Hazelton and rookie Duke Williams, the Eskimos offence did not miss a beat in the early stages of the new campaign. Reilly produced four 300-plus yard passing games in the first seven games, propelling the green and gold to a 7-0 record to open the year.

Fantasy owners, meanwhile, enjoyed this early season success, with the Eskimos signal caller producing 167.3 total fantasy points in that stretch, an average of 23.9 per game.
For as encouraging as the first stretch numbers were for Reilly, he actually ran the ball himself far less than he had for most of his career. He averaged just 4.1 carries per game in that time, where he had averaged 5.3 carries per game between 2013 and 2016 with the Eskimos.

The numbers remained consistent for the veteran QB from a fantasy perspective even though the Eskimos lost five games in a row in that time. He continued to regularly produce fantasy points in the mid-20’s range and remained a no-brainer start each and every week.

It was in the final third of the season, however, when the Edmonton field general really drove up his numbers. The return of Walker from the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided yet another weapon in the Edmonton offence. In addition, the Eskimos added former Hamilton running back CJ Gable in a late-season trade to shore up the running game. Reilly averaged 30.3 fantasy points in that final stretch, which is fantasy playoffs time for those in season-long formats. In that six-game period, he threw for 1,881 passing yards, eight touchdowns, just two interceptions, and ran the ball 38 times for 207 yards and six rushing TD’s. He closed out the year with games of 45.0 points and 32.7 points in week 18 and 20.
Thanks to that late-season stretch, Reilly finished with 5,830 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 390 rushing yards, and an amazing 12 rushing TD’s (2nd most all-time by a QB). From the fantasy standpoint, that was good enough for a whopping 500.2 fantasy points, the fourth largest output in CFL history and the biggest non-Doug Flutie season. His average week was 27.8 points per game, well ahead of Trevor Harris of the Ottawa Redblacks, who finished with 22.4 points per game.

NEW TOP 1-10 CFL QUARTERBACK FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASONS ALL-TIME
Player Team Year Pass Yds Pass TD’s INT’s Rush Yds Rush TD’s Fantasy Pts
Doug Flutie BC 1991 6619 38 24 610 14 537.8
Doug Flutie CGY 1994 5726 48 19 760 8 526.0
Doug Flutie CGY 1993 6092 44 17 373 11 506.0
Mike Reilly EDM 2017 5830 30 13 390 12 500.2
Doug Flutie CGY 1992 5945 32 30 669 11 468.7
Doug Flutie TOR 1997 5505 47 24 542 5 468.4
Doug Flutie TOR 1996 5720 29 17 756 9 457.4
Kent Austin SSK 1992 6225 35 30 200 11 445.0
Tracy Ham EDM 1989 4366 30 18 1005 10 437.1
Casey Printers BC 2004 5088 35 10 469 9 434.4

If there was any doubt that Mike Reilly was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2017, fantasy owners will be quick to make the case and showcase his stats. The Edmonton offence showcased an explosiveness not seen since the days of what many say was the greatest quarterback in the history of the league.

It’s rare to see a quarterback do it all in one season, and we had that from Reilly in 2017. The question now is if he is able to maintain the consistency for the length of time that Flutie did in the 90’s. Multiple CFL quarterbacks such as Burris and Calvillo have proved that the modern game can allow for players in that position to play into their late 30’s. Reilly, who turns 33 in January, has shown no signs of slowing down and if he maintains that level play should be in the conversation amongst the greatest ever at the position in the CFL.

Onside CFL Fantasy

Onside CFL Fantasy

Dave Dawson and Dan "the Stats Guy" Ukrainetz offer position breakdowns, insight and projections on all types of CFL fantasy football. Their Onside CFL Fantasy Podcast is the leader in CFL fantasy coverage.
Onside CFL Fantasy
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Onside CFL Fantasy
About Onside CFL Fantasy (46 Articles)
Dave Dawson and Dan "the Stats Guy" Ukrainetz offer position breakdowns, insight and projections on all types of CFL fantasy football. Their Onside CFL Fantasy Podcast is the leader in CFL fantasy coverage.
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1 Comment on Mike Reilly and a Doug Flutie-like fantasy year

  1. Had an amazing season and if not for his head coach would have at least been in the Grey Cup

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