MOP Watch: B.C. Lions stars enter the chat

Every week of the 2021 season, the 3DownNation trio of Justin Dunk, John Hodge and J.C. Abbott will vote for their top ten MOP candidates. Those rankings are aggregated and averaged to create a list of the top nine players in the mix for the trophy.

Each player will have their “last week” ranking listed beside their name, indicating the position that they held on the list the previous week.

Seven weeks in, the contenders are separating from the pack and two team have more than one player in the hunt. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers continue to be the team to beat on the field, but the B.C. Lions have more than their fair share of stars nipping at the heels of the leaders.

Photo courtesy: CFL

1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 1)

At least one NFL superstar feels that Zach Collaros should be plying his trade south of the border, but the Bombers’ quarterback will be happy to settle for leading the MOP race. His team notched another win in Week 7 and he now leads the CFL in both passing yards and touchdowns.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

2. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 2)

The best competition comes from within and Willie Jefferson is pushing his quarterback hard to become just the second defensive player in CFL history to win the MOP. He made another game-breaking play in a victory over the Elks, getting to rookie Taylor Cornelius for a strip sack that was recovered for a touchdown.

Photo courtesy: CFL/Peter McCabe

3. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: 3)

“A weapon the likes of which I really haven’t had before,” that’s what Lions quarterback Michael Reilly called the CFL’s leading receiver after he blazed past the Alouettes secondary last week. Whitehead picked up six catches for 133 yards, including a 75-yard bomb where he was simply too fast for anyone.

Photo courtesy: CFL/Peter McCabe

4. Michael Reilly, QB, B.C. Lions (last week: 5)

Weapons are useless without someone to wield them and Michael Reilly has done that to perfection this season. A win in Montreal saw him cross the 300-yard mark for the third straight game and he sits second in league passing yards, while also boasting the highest passer rating and lowest interception percentage.

Photo courtesy: George Fourlaris/Edmonton Elks

5. James Wilder Jr., RB, Edmonton Elks (last week: 4)

Being the best player on a losing team is a hard recipe to win MOP with, but James Wilder Jr. continues to make a case. The big back had 17 touches and 101 yards from scrimmage in a loss to the Bombers, bowling through the defence for two physically dominant touchdowns.

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

6. Cody Fajardo, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders (last week: not ranked)

Two straight losses to their prairie rivals sent Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo tumbling out of the rankings last week, but the one-time frontrunner is back on track after a big win over the Argos last week. Fajardo threw for 212 yards, two touchdowns and one pick against Toronto, scrambling eight times for 58 more yards and a rushing touchdown as he successfully quieted former teammate Charleston Hughes.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

7. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 7)

Some would argue that Robin has a tougher job than Batman, but Jackson Jeffcoat is more than a sidekick. Winnipeg’s other bookend is tied with his second ranked teammate with five sacks on the season and still has one more forced fumble.

Photo courtesy: David Moll/Stampeders.com

8. Kamar Jorden, REC, Calgary Stampeders (last week: 6)

Kamar Jorden’s incredible comeback story suffered a setback against the Ticats, leaving the game in the first half with an undisclosed lower body injury. The receiver did not return, but still sits second in CFL receiving yards.

Photo courtesy: CFL/Peter McCabe

9. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes (last week: not ranked)

Montreal couldn’t get past the Lions in Week 7, but William Stanback still managed to run all over the competition. The star back ran 18 times for 139 yards in a dominant performance, placing him second in CFL rushing with a game still to make up.

Also receiving votes: Kenny Lawler (WPG — LW: 9), Adam Bighill (WPG), Vernon Adams Jr. (MTL), Simoni Lawrence (HAM), Andrew Harris (WPG)

Dropping out of the rankings: Bryan Burnham (B.C. — LW: 8)

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