It took them long enough, but it looks like the Hamilton Tiger-Cats finally have some claws. Still in a three-way battle for first place in the East, that has a couple of prominent players sinking their teeth into the MOP 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.
After a dominant Week 13 win over Edmonton, a pair of Ticats are making their debut in the MOP rankings. Chief among them is quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, whose return from injury has marked the best stretch of play since he was the runner-up for the award back in 2018. As impressive as that has been, it’s still not enough to touch the top quarterback on this list.
1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 1)
The Bombers were on a bye in Week 13, but Collaros could rest easy knowing that his spot at the head of the MOP race was not up for grabs. With three games left, the reigning Grey Cup winner has a playoff bye wrapped up for his team and leads the league in every major passing category.
2. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes (last week: 2)
The only player who might push Collaros, Stanback has rumbled for 960 yards in just nine games this season. That’s 176 yards better than the next closest back in three fewer games and only 88 yards shy of his total from all of 2019, which he could surpass while clinching a playoff spot in Week 14.
3. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 3)
Willie Jefferson has been slowly losing his shine in the eyes of our voters over the past few weeks, but nobody else has stepped up to claim third spot from him. That means the CFL’s most unique athlete is likely in line for another defensive award.
4. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Calgary Stampeders (last week: 7)
Still miles behind his competitor in Montreal, Carey’s vital role in the Stamps recent turnaround cannot be ignored. His six touchdowns trail only Bombers’ short yardage specialist Sean McGuire for best in the league and he added another one Friday in his second hundred-yard rushing outing of the year.
5. Kenny Lawler, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 4)
Even though he is second in the league in receiving yards and third in touchdowns, Lawler’s effect on a potent Bomber’s offence makes him the only pass catcher on this list. A league leading eight catches of over 30 yards might have something to do with it.
6. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 6)
Tied with Riders’ defensive end Jonathan Woodard atop the league with 9 sacks, Jeffcoat’s production has been unquestioned. How much of that is based on his own merit is more the concern when you are paired with a freak like Jefferson.
7. Simoni Lawrence, LB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (last week: not ranked)
Simoni has flirted with our rankings all season, but I guess getting body slammed by James Wilder Jr. was enough to finally push him over the top. The talkative linebacker has posted 61 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in another outstanding campaign.
8. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (last week: not ranked)
Masoli had a rocky start to the season and an injury absence, but in the four games since his return in Week 9, he’s thrown for 1,261 yards and seven touchdowns without a single interception. That’s enough to make the Ticats a serious Grey Cup contender if those gaudy numbers continue.
9. Cody Fajardo, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders (last week: 8)
Fajardo had a rather pedestrian outing against the Alouettes, managing just 158 yards through the air while battling through constant pressure. He does have the Riders back to their winning ways however, while sitting third in passing yards and seventh in rushing.
Also receiving votes: Eugene Lewis (MTL), McLeod Bethel-Thompson (TOR), Jake Wieneke (MTL — LW: 5), Bo Lokombo (B.C.)
Dropping out of the rankings: Lucky Whitehead (B.C. — LW: 9)