MOP Watch: Collaros reclaims his crown after one week absence

Photo courtesy: Darryl Dyck/CFL

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros has reclaimed his crown as the leader in the Most Outstanding Player race.

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.

This week, there was plenty of movement up and down the rankings as a familiar face clawed back to the top, but injuries and suspensions mean a whole new cast of characters could arrive in Week 10.

1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 2)

Up until Week 9, Zach Collaros was a leading MOP candidate without a signature MOP moment. That changed in a big way against a typically stout B.C. Lions secondary, as he sliced and diced the West Coast dwellers for 417 yards and two touchdown.

Photo courtesy: CFL

2. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 3)

Winnipeg’s one of a kind defensive weapon just keeps getting better every week. Jefferson added another sack against the Lions on Friday, making it four straight games where he’s gotten to the quarterback for a decisive play.

Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions/Darryl Dyck

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

With his top receiver knocked out with injury and a porous o-line in front of him, Reilly only mustered 177 yards passing against the CFL’s best team. But while voters varied wildly on some candidates, all agree that the league’s clear number two quarterback is in the MOP hunt. Maybe DeVier Posey is the weapon to get him over the hump?

Photo courtesy: CFL/Jimmy Jeong

4. Kenny Lawler, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: not ranked)

In a week of highs and lows, Lawler made 12 catches for 205 yards and a touchdown against B.C. to claim the CFL receiving lead in a career breakout performance, then turned around and got arrested for impaired driving. He holds the fourth spot now, but a one game suspension is sure to have him lower in the rankings next week.

Photo courtesy: George Fourlaris/Edmonton Elks

5. James Wilder Jr., RB, Edmonton Elks (last week: 7)

Wilder may not win MOP, but he is the runaway candidate for best player on a bad team. The CFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 781, he hasn’t necessarily produced that one defining game but he has also never had less than 74 yards this season.

Photo courtesy: CFL/Darryl Dyck

6. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: 1)

Lucky looked like he was pulling ahead in the MOP race, but the Brandon Alexander had to mess it all up. The Bombers’ safety broke Whitehead’s hand with a big hit early in their Week 9 matchup and the electric receiver was unable to record a catch. He still sits second in CFL receiving, but will be much lower after his 2-4 week recovery from surgery.

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

7. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes (last week: 5)

Stanback wasn’t a major factor in Montreal’s stunning overtime comeback in Hamilton, but he didn’t need to be to stay as the CFL’s leading rusher. The big back is still averaging an absurd 6.2 yards per carry and has four 100-yard games to his credit.

Photo courtesy: Candice Ward / Calgary Stampeders

8. Cody Fajardo, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders (last week: 6)

Fajardo is still in the hunt, but after a flat performance in a loss to Calgary, it’s getting tough to vote for a QB with more interceptions than touchdowns. An MOP needs to be able to throw the deep ball, so maybe Duke Williams will be the key to the trophy case in Regina.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

9. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 8)

Jeffcoat is losing steam in the voting as Jefferson pulls ahead, but don’t discount his impact. While both are tied with six sacks, the Texas product leads in both tackles and forced fumbles.

Also receiving votes: Jake Wieneke (MTL), Simoni Lawrence (HAM), Devonte Dedmon (OTT)

Dropping out of the rankings: Jordan Williams (B.C. — LW: 9)

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.