MOP Watch: Lucky back for a late surge

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

With two weeks left in the CFL season, a bevy of MOP candidates are putting the finishing touches on their applications for the award. When all is said and done however, one question will plague voters more than any other: how much do you actually have to play to be outstanding?

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.

Week 14’s list is a microcosm of that common voter problem. Among the top candidates are players who have missed meaningful time to both injury and suspension. In a normal year, that would tank a MOP nominees chances, but what do you do when even the MOP frontrunner won’t play out the entire season?

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

Just how good has Zach Collaros been this year? Good enough that the CFL’s leading passer in every major statistical category will get to put his feet up on the bench for the last two games of the season with a West Final berth long since clinched for his team.

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

2. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes (last week: 2)

Montreal couldn’t quite get past the Bombers in the first half of their back-to-back, but that wasn’t due to a lack of effort from their star running back. Stanback picked up 106 yards on 16 carries, striding past the 1,000 yard mark in just his 10th game of the year.

Photo courtesy: CFL

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

Winnipeg’s dynamic defensive leader has made his case to win his second Most Outstanding Defensive Player, but he likely hasn’t done enough to break through as the second primary defensive player to win MOP.

Photo: Nik Kowalski/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

4. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 6)

Maybe the league’s most underrated player, at least one of our voters feels Jeffcoat has been better than Jefferson this season. He’s certainly closed the gap, sitting second in CFL sacks with nine.

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

5. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (last week: 8)

How could the CFL’s seventh leading passer be a serious MOP contender? Simple, because the bulk of Masoli’s production has come in the five games since his return from injury. It’s arguably been the best stretch of by any quarterback this season and has the Ticats in position to take first in the East with a win this week.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant /

6. A.C. Leonard, DE, Saskatchewan Roughriders (last week: not ranked)

Named a top performer by the CFL for the second week in a row, A.C. Leonard has come a long way from not being able to pee in a cup. The former tight end now has nine sacks in just nine games, leading a Riders defence that is keeping their team afloat.

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

7. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: not ranked)

Whitehead fell out of our rankings due to his hand injury, but a 98-yard performance in his second game back has him firmly back in our good graces. He may not win MOP, but no player matters more to his team’s offence than Lucky.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

8. Kenny Lawler, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 5)

Being the fourth ranked player on his own team basically rules Lawler out for the actual one-nominee-per-team MOP voting, but the CFL’s leading receiver and most prolific deep threat will always get some acknowledgement from our voters.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

9. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Calgary Stampeders (last week: 4)

A distant second to Stanback in rushing, Carey’s MOP case has less to do his excellent statistical production and more to do with his importance in the Stampeders’ offence. Another big game from the former NFL fourth round pick and Calgary can clinch a playoff spot.

Also receiving votes: Jake Wieneke (MTL), Eugene Lewis (MTL), DeVonte Dedmon (OTT)

Dropping out of the rankings: Simoni Lawrence (HAM — LW: 7), Cody Fajardo (SSK — 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.