Who will be the CFL ‘MOP’ 2021?

Who will be the CFL ‘MOP’ 2021?
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CFL MOP 2021 – the candidates are in

It’s that time of year. The CFL teams are vying for position in the playoffs and people are starting to think which player has made the biggest impact. Who will be the 2021 CFL MOP?

During ‘awards season’ the CFL hands out a number of player honours including, Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

On Wednesday the CFL announced each team’s nominees in each of these categories. Which means that six player nominations are made from each team. Sometimes awards overlap too. Because teams nominate one player more than once. For instance the BC Lions nominated Bo Lokombo for both the Most Outstanding Defensive player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards.

Who will be MOP? Image from press.cfl.ca

But to keep it simple here, let’s just focus on each team’s candidate the ‘main’ player award, – the MOP. Here they are:

BC Lions

WR Lucky Whitehead. The Free Agent acquisition added some real zest to the Lions attack. He has appeared in 11 games this season. And BC have missed him in the games he was absent from. In the games he did play Whitehead has 54 receptions for 840 yards (400 YAC) and 4 touchdowns. That’s good for 15.6 yards per catch which sits at second in the CFL behind Winnipeg’s Kenny Lawler. He has also returned 2 missed Field Goals, one of which went for 119 yards and a touchdown.

Edmonton Elks

RB James Wilder Jr. The 2017 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie was a unanimous selection for the Elks. Wilder Jr. was Edmonton’s leading rusher this season. Over 11 appearances he has 142 carries totaling 770 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also has 28 catches covering 226 yards with one further major. He sits third in the league in rushing and has amassed 996 all purpose yards so far.

Calgary Stampeders

RB Ka’Deem Carey. The University of Arizona alum continued the flashes of form he had shown with the Stamps in 2019. This time out he has been Calgary’s workhorse back. With 164 carries covering 869 yards (2nd in the CFL) and a league leading 7 rushing touchdowns. Added to that are 26 catches for 194 yards. That’s 1,042 yards from scrimmage over 13 games.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

QB Cody Fajardo. Fajardo was the 2019 West Division MOP for the Roughriders. He continues to be at the heart of the team. This is only his second season as the Roughrider’s starter and already his second team MOP nomination. Saskatchewan are 9-4 so far and Fajardo has become the fastest QB to 20 wins in team history. This year he has started all 13 games so far and completed 281 of 404 attempts for 2,970 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 picks. That has been supplemented by 78 carries going 468 yards and adding 4 touchdowns.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

QB Zach Collaros. Since arriving in Winnipeg late in the 2019 season Collaros has led the team to a 15-1 record under his leadership, including winning the 2019 Grey Cup. This season he has an 11-1 record in the 12 games he started. Good enough to lead the Blue Bombers to a West Division title and then be rested. Despite being rested however he is second in the league in passing yardage and leads the league in touchdowns thrown. His stat line reads 236 of 336 passing, (a league leading  70.2 completion percentage), for 3,112 yards, 20 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. All of which gives him a QB-efficiency rating of 111.6. Which, again, is best in the CFL.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

LB Simoni Lawrence. Our first defensive player on the MOP nominee list. Lawrence was a unanimous team MOP selection and is also the Tiger-Cats nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player. This is the fourth time Hamilton has nominated Lawrence as Most Outstanding Defensive Player, having done so previously in 2014, 2015, and 2019. The linebacker out of the University of Minnesota has started all 13 games for the tabbies this season. He has recorded 68 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 interception return touchdowns & has 3 passes defended. This season he passed 18th on the CFL All-Time tackles leaderboard.

Toronto Argonauts

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Bethel-Thompson has become the acknowledged starter for the Boatmen after they traded Nick Arbuckle to Edmonton. He completed 203 of 306 passes for 2,303 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 picks. Also adding 10 carries covering 71 yards. In 2019 MBT led the CFL in TD passes and attempts, and was third in passing yards and completions. This season it was about him or Arbuckle taking control. It is Bethel-Thompson’s team now and he will be leading Toronto into a home East Division final game.

Ottawa REDBLACKS

WR/KR DeVonte Dedmon. Dedmon is listed as a Wide Receiver. He does have 10 catches covering 98 yards to his name. But it is in the return game that he has really made a name for himself. In the 10 games he has played, Dedmon has 44 kick returns for 1,137 yards, with a longest return of 100 yards and 1 touchdown. Alongside that he has 43 punt returns covering 667 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has also returned 4 missed Field Goals for 103 yards in total and has carried the ball 9 times for 65 yards and a touchdown. 2,685 return yards across punts and kicks s pretty impressive. Then you can add the fact that Dedmon has become the fastest player in CFL history to reach five career return touchdowns, in just 15 games. Which puts him in legendary company.

Montreal Alouettes

RB William Stanback. Stanback was a unanimous nomination for the Als Most Outstanding Player. The league leading rusher has 186 carries for 1,131 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s more than 200 yards ahead of his closest rival, although the Als tailback has played in two less games. Stanback leads the league in carries, yards, average per carry, and 100 yard games (six). He also has a league-leading 203 yard single game performance. He has also caught 15 passes for 105 yards. His 1,236 total offensive yards are best in the CFL.

So who will be 2021 MOP?

Last time out Brandon Banks was named the 2019 CFL MOP. That was alongside four Hamilton Tiger-Cats players who walked away with the prizes at the league’s annual awards ceremony on the back of playing for that season’s most dominant team.

But he went in as a clear favourite. This year the waters are a little muddier. The odds are always stacked in the favour of the offensive side of the ball when it comes to things like this. But who will get it? We’ve already suggested it comes down to Collaros and Stanback.

But if you have other ideas let us know. As ever it will be fun to see who gets the silverware here and even more fun to see the action on the field.

Banner Image: Montreal 2021 MOP candidate William Stanback. Image from montrealgazette.com

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