Ten biggest snubs from TSN’s Top 50 Players list

On Tuesday night TSN released their latest Top 50 player rankings. No one would likely quibble with Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell being ranked as the league’s top player, but that doesn’t mean the list is without controversy, namely in those who weren’t on the list. While 50 players does cover a large swath of the league’s elite, there will always be players who were snubbed. Here is a list of the 10 biggest snubs from TSN’s Top 50 Players list, presented in alphabetical order.

Brandon Banks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Banks was ranked No. 19 last year and while he had a down year by his standards in 2016, he still lead the league in return touchdowns. Chris Rainey was ranked No. 17, and while Banks did not deserve to be that high, a placement somewhere in the Top 50 was warranted: he was the East Division’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player last year.

John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
Eight defensive lineman made the list, but one of them was not Bowman, who finished sixth in the league in sacks last year with 10. It was his fourth-straight year of double digit sacks, and he had more sacks than four of the lineman selected for the list. Bowman was No. 10 just last year and I am not sure what he did to fall out of the top 50 altogether.

Andy Fantuz, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Some will use injuries as a reason Fantuz was not ranked, but Chris Williams is also still on the mend after tearing his knee up last year and he was ranked No. 30. All Fantuz did last year in 16 games was catch 101 balls — more than ranked players Ernest Jackson, Bryan Burnham, Chris Williams, Greg Ellingson, Naaman Roosevelt, Luke Tasker, Duron Carter and DaVaris Daniels — for 1,059 yards — more than ranked players DaVaris Daniels, Luke Tasker and Duron Carter. There doesn’t seem to be any statistical reason why Fantuz wasn’t ranked in the top 50.

Ed Gainey, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Few players stepped up more than Ed Gainey did in Saskatchewan last year. In and out of the lineup during his time in Hamilton, Gainey was far and away Saskatchewan’s best defender last year. Not seeing Gainey on the list was a surprise.

Abdul Kanneh, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Kanneh’s stats in 2015, after which he was ranked No. 27: 57 tackles, six interceptions.

Kanneh’s stats in 2016, after which he was not ranked: 52 tackles, three interceptions.

I can see why he might fall slightly with fewer interceptions, but to get knocked completely off the list? That seems indefensible.

Nik Lewis, Montreal Alouettes
Take away the injury, and the case for Lewis making the list is almost the same as Fantuz’s, but slightly better. Lewis finished with the fourth-most catches last year (102) and eighth-most yards (1,136), and was easily Montreal’s best player on offense in 2016. How a receiver can put up those numbers and not be considered one of the 50 best players in the league is beyond me.

Marquay McDaniel, Calgary Stampeders
Another receiver that deserved a ranking was McDaniel, who led all Stampeder receivers in catches and yards, finishing top 10 league-wide in both categories. But this isn’t the first time McDaniel was snubbed. He didn’t make the list year after being ranked No. 41 the year before. McDaniel quietly goes about his business, and perhaps that is why he gets passed over for lists like these, but there is no way anyone can say he isn’t one of the top 50 players in the CFL.

Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
This might be the biggest head scratcher of all the snubs simply because Sinopoli had more catches, yards and touchdowns last year as opposed to the year before when he was No. 48 (which was probably way too low for the at-the-time reigning Most Outstanding Canadian). Someone needs to explain to me how a guy can put up better numbers and fall off the list. I just don’t get it.

Terrence Toliver, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Another 1,000-yard receiver that got no love was Toliver. Limited playing time has stopped him from reaching his full potential, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the best receivers in the league. He is a matchup nightmare and produces when on the field. He is absolutely worthy of being ranked as one of the league’s top 50 players.

Brandon Whitaker, Toronto Argonauts
This might be the snub that angered me the most. Whitaker was the second-leading rusher in 2016, was Toronto’s MOP, caught 81 balls (good for ninth in the league) and he was second in receiving yards by a running back behind only Andrew Harris, who was ranked No. 12. Only three running backs made the list (four if you count Chris Rainey, but he didn’t make the list because of his skills as a running back), which shows you what the running game means to those who compiled the list. But for Brandon Whitaker not to be one of the running backs picked is a glaring and indefensible omission.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.