Bombers soaring, Redblacks (not) scoring, Elk fans are in mourning (of their offence). What a wild, wild CFL season it has been through 10 weeks. I happened to take a quick glance at TSN’s top 50 CFL players heading into the 2021 season. Brandon Banks was number one. Bo Levi Mitchell was number two. The lesson? Anything can happen. Who would have thought coming into this season that the Elks would absolutely sputter, the Blue Bombers would look better than their Grey Cup-winning season, and the Ottawa Redblacks would be at the bottom of the Eastern Division? Okay, maybe some experts had at least one of those (I’m not going to spoil which one though).
I thought we could look at all of the positions and try and make sense of how everyone has played through week 10 and give some updated position rankings. I went with just skill players here so that I could focus in on select players. On to the rankings.
- Zach Collaros – Blue Bombers – This one has to be inarguable. Passing Yards leader? Check. One behind Vernon Adams Jr. in the passing touchdowns category? Check. His team is 8-1? Check. Collaros has it all right now. I still feel as though he is underappreciated somehow. Threw for over 400 yards against BC last week for the first time in five years. I would say he has looked as good as he has in years. I don’t think he is the undisputed most talented QB in the league, however, I think he best combines the big-play threat, awareness, poise in the pocket and safe game managing that you could want in your quarterback. Oh, and I could probably get my buddy whose football experience boils down to betting on the Super Bowl and he could come in mid-tier on this list playing alongside Kenny freaking Lawler and Andrew Harris
- Michael Reilly – Lions – The silver fox. Michael Reilly how do you do it. The guy just keeps chugging along. And truly I think his biggest impact isn’t something that shows up on the stat sheet. He’s made the BC Lions damn relevant. Him, Burnham and Lucky. I say this with no disrespect intended, but the Lions have long felt like the left franchise of the nine. Sure the Argos have no fans jokes persist, the Redblacks are bad jokes persist, but at least there are being jokes made against them. They are relevant in some way. There’s nothing worse than forgotten, and that’s where I would have pegged the Lions, the forgotten team. Reilly is slowly changing all that. I love, love, love what the organization is doing. Oh, and his on-field stuff is pretty good too. Only one interception on the year, ten touchdowns, over 2000 yards. He’s going to need to beat the Blue Bombers at some point it feels like.
- Vernon Adams Jr. – Alouettes – This might be a controversial selection. The dude is just magical. What a baller. Guts, determination, bring your lunch pail to work… he just refused to lose to Hamilton last week. He has the numbers, tied for the TD lead with 13, 4th in yards thrown. His thing will always be consistency. Can he do this week in and week out? Can he stop making the wacky throws that don’t need to be thrown into double coverage? I’m honestly not sure. What I do know is, he passes the eye test. I wouldn’t want to see these guys come playoff time, he’s number three in my book.
- Bo Levi Mitchell – Stampeders – I think Bo looked great last week and I’m ready to say it, Bo is back. And Calgary is dangerous. I think they make the playoffs and go to the Western Final. A healthy Bo Levi is that good. He’s more dynamic than everyone in this league. That said, no more turnovers. No more playing hurt. Jake Maier is more than capable of handling things while you’re gone. For now, he’s number four and my who’s back of the week pick.
- Cody Fajardo – Roughriders – On the flip side of Bo, we have Cody. Tough, tough week for Cody. Big loss to Calgary last week, where he was handily outplayed by Bo, that culminated with him throwing a self-described hissy fit on the sideline. Oh boy. It boiled down to Cody not feeling as though his receivers are putting in enough effort on the 50/50 balls. And you know what? I see his point. Unfortunately, he made the decision to air it out on the sideline and I have to think that is going to be a detriment to these guys in the coming weeks. I think the Riders start to slide a little bit here. Numbers-wise, Fajardo is running well, having a bit of a tough time with turnovers but overall is playing… fine. I think fifth works well for him here.
- Mcleod Bethel-Thompson – Argonauts – “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it”– Lady Macbeth. McBeth of Toronto is summed up amazingly in this quote right here. No one takes this guy seriously at all. No one plans for him. Now, look at the numbers. Seven touchdowns, one interception. Efficient passing. Absolute game manager here, it might not always be pretty but he gets the job done.
- Trevor Harris – Elks – Yeah, yeah this might be too low. You know what though, I think he’s done. The numbers don’t look bad but he’s inspiring little to no confidence in Edmonton and it absolutely shows. What a mess of an organization (I don’t work for Elks radio so I think I can say that out loud?) Harris probably misses Ottawa, which is saying something. He could prove me wrong and climb back up in this list but for now, he sits at seven, I think it’s much more likely he moves down.
- Caleb Evans – REDBLACKS – Who saw this coming huh? Evans fresh off the bench, comes out and looks super poised and beats a good Elks defence and follows that up with… two pick-sixes against the Argos. And that’s okay. The rookie is absolutely going to take his lumps, and credit to him, the score does not truly reflect his performance against Toronto. Most importantly, he has breathed new life into a deflated and defeated Ottawa team, and I only expect him to get better as we go.
- Jeremiah Masoli – Tiger-Cats – I’m going to get beat up in Hamilton for this, but are we sure Masoli is better than Evans? Masoli has struggled mightily in the few games he’s been in and I am forced (against my will Hamilton fans, I swear) to put him here at the bottom. He had easily his best game of the year last week against Montreal, and if anyone can move up this list it’s him. He has to prove it though, he’s going to need to string some wins together. I’m not convinced it’s going to happen.
- Andrew Harris – Blue Bombers – Another Bomber tops the list. He missed three games to start the year and he’s tracking everyone down in yards rushed for, it’s crazy to see. Not that many touchdowns, but he doesn’t need them (fantasy be dammed.) I think he’s number one and it’s not particularly close, except for one guy.
- William Stanback – Alouettes – Adams Jr. and Stanback make for a crazy rushing backfield. Stanback truly is Harris’s only challenge to the throne. The rushing yards leader has gone over 100 yards in four of the seven games he played in and has even started to catch some passes these last few games. Again, not a big touchdown hawk (only two) and that will probably need to rise a bit if Montreal is going to truly challenge in the East.
- James Wilder Jr. – Elks – A year, Wilder is retired, fast forward to this season and he is one of only two guys over 600 yards. Life is crazy. I love Wilder, I’m really high on him as a player. Always good for a couple of receptions, a few touchdowns, 50-80 yards. I’m sure Edmonton would like to see a few more 100+ yard rushing games, which is very possible. I’m not totally convinced he has shredded the “me first narrative” that sort of has followed him throughout his career, however, if he keeps producing the way he is, I’m not sure the Elks will care (not like they have much else positive going on these days).
- William Powell – Roughriders – Powell to me is just like his Quarterback, fine. He’s not going to be a game-breaker top three or so guy at his position, but as you comb the depth charts of the other teams, you are really happy with what you got. Powell is quietly putting together a nice campaign, especially for a team that is really airing it out with Fajardo. Powell will grow more valuable as the season delves into cold, icy games on the prairie. Expect him to put up some big number games as it progresses. For now, he settles for being the second-best William at running back.
- Ka’Deem Carey – Stampeders – The only other running back really worth discussing in my books. Carey has been a steady Eddie for Calgary this year. Four touchdowns and 40-70 yards a night is certainly getting the job done. For him to climb on this list he would have to prove he can be a game-breaker in the Calgary offence. And of course, avoid the injuries.
- Kenny Lawler – Blue Bombers – Man, another Blue Bomber at the top? Who’s beating these guys? Maybe the Riders? Stamps? Argos? I don’t know. What a machine. Anyways, Lawler has been far and away the best receiver in the CFL this year. And then he got a DUI. Sigh. I have to say, his apology to the media seemed very sincere, and he seems to be a good guy who can learn from this, I hope he does. The Bombers suspended him for a game (right call,) but he’s still got the best stats in the league hands down. First in receiving yards, 2nd in receptions, tied for 2nd in TD’s. He’s been absolutely dynamic. 703 yards is awesome at this point in the season.
- Lucky Whitehead – Lions – Is this too high? Perhaps. However, I think Lucky has earned it. 665 yards is the only one within spitting distance of Lawler, and he tacks on four touchdowns to go along with it. He’s such a big-play threat and compliments Burnham perfectly. Unfortunately, the Lions are going to be without him for a couple of weeks because he broke his hand, and they’re going to have to win some crucial games with the Stampeders breathing down their necks.
- Bryan Burnham – Lions – From one Lion to another. Burnham has come in with huge expectations and mostly met them. I don’t think anyone saw Lucky really exploding the way he did, and that has affected his numbers a bit, but he still has 38 receptions, 566 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers might not be quite as impressive as the next couple of guys on this list, but context matters, and he’s a 1A with a 1B, so they subtract a bit. For now, he’s number three.
- Eugene Lewis – Alouettes – Lewis finds himself in a similar situation as the above two, him and Wieneke, where there is a bit of 1A, 1B sort of thing going on. Lewis is the guy for Montreal though. 3rd and 20 and needing a catch to extend the game against Hamilton, they call his number. He’s got four touchdowns and 559 yards so far and I think he will continue to climb both of those lists.
- Jake Wieneke – Alouettes – Your receiving touchdown leader. Seven touchdowns, three more than the next closest guy. Had eight in 2019, the guy is just a touchdown machine. Montreal has a chance to really do something these last few weeks and make some noise in the playoffs. I know I’ve said this a few times, but if they get some consistency down, they could be dangerous. And a good Montreal is fun for the league. Godspeed.
- Greg Ellingson – Elks – Ellingson just keeps on ticking. I mean, the guy doesn’t even really have a Quarterback throwing to him right now, between Harris and Cornelius. Five straight years of thousand-yard seasons, and he keeps on chugging. Only one touchdown on the year, I don’t think he can be blamed too much for that? The Elks are a dumpster fire, and we’re looking at one of the bright spots here, let’s cut him a bit of slack.
- Kamar Jorden – Stampeders – Jordan has all the talent in the world, and I think he could easily shoot up this list. He’s been banged up a bit recently and his QB play hasn’t been exceptional, however, he’s still putting up strong numbers. He’s really got progressively better each season and I don’t think it would be ludicrous to say that trend has continued in 2021.
- Nic Demski – Blue Bombers – With most of the attention it felt like on Kenny Lawler and Darvin Adams coming into the season, the sneaky Demski has really had a career year. He has matched his career-high touchdown total already with three and is about 40 yards short of his career-best in yards, and he’s played ten fewer games his career-high season. Collaros really has Lawler, Demski and Adams to throw too.. and Harris in the backfield! No wonder he’s QB number one.
- Kyran Moore – RoughRiders – Moore leads the league in receptions thus far and I think that warrants cracking this list. The dude is a great security blanket out there and I think every quarterback would love to have someone like him. To me, he is once again like the rest of the Riders’ weapons, just fine.
There is the ranking. I’m sure there were a few hot takes for some people, but in my completely unbiased opinion, I would say I nailed it. In a few week’s time, I will update these rankings and see where I went horribly, horribly wrong. Until then, happy Thanksgiving.