CFL Positional Rankings After Week 16

It’s been awhile since I’ve really sat down and analyzed the positional rankings for the CFL. For a good majority of the season I have felt pretty safe about where things fall. Winnipeg good, East bad, Edmonton/Ottawa really bad. The usual. These last few weeks however I think we are starting to see a shift leaguewide right before the playoffs hit. Winnipeg looks a touch more human (unless they’re playing Saskatchewan.) B.C. lost Air Canada, destined for M.O.P. honors, and now look human. Cody Fajardo does Cody Fajardo things god bless his soul.

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We’re going to jump right in, keeping in mind we’re going with just the skill position players for my sanity and yours. On to the rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

  1. Zach Collaros- Blue BombersEveryone wants this to say Nathan Rourke. I do, you do, your grandfather who watches one half a year thinking it’s a Patriots game does. Everyone. Alas, the Lion King (I’m contractually obligated to get as many cool Rourke nicknames in as I can,) went down with an injury and we are left with Mr. Reliable, the grim reaper himself, Zach Collaros. League leader in touchdowns, yards thrown and completion percentage of those QB’s who have played double digit games. Clockwork. Wake up, eat, watch Collaros play well, sleep. He actually looked sort of human this past week against Hamilton, throwing two picks. Still had a pair of touchdowns and 370 yards. His bad games are your favourite quarterbacks good games (Or Nick Arbuckle’s best game possible.) Deal with it.
Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Courtesy: AP Photo / Larry MacDougal)

2. Mcleod Bethel-Thompson- Argonauts– “Stars hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”– Macbeth. Pitchforks down, please. I will explain. Mcleod has been a picture of consistency all season and I won’t hear otherwise dammit! Look, I know that in the next few weeks he will be passed, as guys like Mcleod always are. But right now let’s just revel in the moment of top-2 McBeth of Toronto. Maier and Vernon need a few more games. Harris and Evans need a bit more consistency. Fajardo needs to be good again. Right now, Mcleod hits all three. Consistent, constant and good. His 16 TD’s and 3400 yards are impressive. A bit more care of the ball and ability to take over will go a long ways.

3. Jake Maier- Calgary Stampeders– I miss Bo. I’ll say it. He was a gunslinger, unpredictable, fun. But it is Jake’s time. He makes me a believer in Calgary this year. 9 TD’s to 2 interceptions to go along with a 75% completion and an uncanny ability to give you confidence that Calgary can win any game.

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4. Dane Evans- Hamilton Tiger-Cats– Dane Evans you beautiful man. 5 TD’s and an absolute vanquishing of the Blue Bombers we haven’t seen in a couple years. A masterclass performance was not enough to move Dane any higher than 4th for two reasons, 1) Hamilton continues to under achieve and 2) Dane has been pretty absent the last bunch of games he’s appeared. Plus who’s really scared of losing to Dane Evans? Quintessential middle of the road guy.

Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Jeff Vinnick)

5. Vernon Adams- Lions- Magic. Adams gives you a chance to win every week. It is crazy to me that he still has his doubters. I mean yeah, he’s down here at five because he’s been in one game but that’s enough to me. He is going to give BC a chance to succeed, bet on it.

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6. Cody Fajardo- RoughRiders- You guys know a guy by the name of Kirk Cousins? For everyone not familiar with our good buddy Kirk, he is the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings (Yes Minnesota, you’re about to take potshots in an article about a different country.) Kirk plays a good game, throws a decent ball. You’ll check the box score on Monday morning and think “hey, yeah Cousins did pretty well!” Except what the box score doesn’t show you are the head scratching decisions, the failed efforts in scoring position, and the shrinking under pressure. What does this have to do with Fajardo? He is all of these things to a T. I’ve been hard on him this article, I’ll admit it. Some deserved, some probably not (I should be taking more aim at Nick Arbuckle.) 14 TDS and 10 interceptions is certainly not bad, and he throws the ball as much as anyone so the lack of turnovers is appreciated. However, I do not believe Fajardo will win the big game when it matters most and his disappointing play has him down here.

7. Trevor Harris- Alouettes- The old fella keeps on chugging. A year ago I was ready to right off Trevor, take him back out behind the barn and call it a career. I send my deepest apologies. Harris continues to be a perfectly serviceable QB and gives Montreal a chance to succeed week in and week out. This is the last QB on the list I can say that for. His stats are nearly identical to Fajardo, with 13 TDS and 11 interceptions to his name. He has the chance to move up with this list with a big game against Hamilton coming up.

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8. Taylor Cornelius- Elks- Somehow the two worst teams in the CFL have the worst quarterbacks. Huh, funny how that works out. Despite being apart of one (actually, they’re alone at the top,) of the most dysfunctional franchises in the CFL, Cornelius hasn’t been too bad. A positive touchdown to interception ratio and solid scrambling ability makes him more of a threat than he has much right to be. He also orchestrated a fun upset of Saskatchewan which is always fun to see.

Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius (15) runs with the ball during first half CFL action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. The Elks signed American quarterback Cornelius to a two-year contract extension Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

9. Nick Arbuckle- REDBLACKS- Arbuckle is not good. Three QBs have thrown the football for the REDBLACKS this year and I would say they would all be in last place. 3 TDs to 11 interceptions and a completion rate only a mother (or Taylor Cornelius,) could love. To be fair to Arbuckle, his roster sucks and I think even Collaros would struggle here (maybe, guy is a cyborg.)

RUNNING BACKS

  1. Ka’Deem Carey- Stampeders- The feature back of the CFL and it’s not particularly close. He’s explosive and a threat anywhere on the field. Calgary really just has the most root-able players (I’m not biased, you’re biased). With three 100+ yard games and seven touchdowns, Carey has the numbers and pedigree to back up being number one. Oh, he’s the yards leader as well with 773 to his name as of now. Biggest star in Calgary after Gaudreau. (Oh… uh… hadn’t heard.)
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2. Brady Oliveira- Blue Bombers- Harris who am I right? Okay not really, as Andrew Harris would probably be in this spot if he never got hurt. Still Oliveira has been superb, getting better by the week and putting up big numbers. He trails Carey ever so slightly in yards, leads the league by a huge amount in carries, and fills in a few touchdowns when needed. Oh and he’s a homegrown Winnipeger! When was the last time they had a homegrown running back you think?? Probably forever ago.

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3. Andrew Harris- Argonauts- Damn injuries man. In the ranking of worst things in sports, injuries has to be at the top right alongside endless commercials, loved veterans retiring without a ring and the Malice at the Palace. (Wait no that was awesome never mind.) The injury bug bit Harris who left the cold, cold world of Winnipeg for the glitz and the glam of Toronto. Harris had already logged 114 carries in his eight games, to go along with 490 yards. However, the endzone escaped him, which ultimately left him here in third, and could potentially drop him further by season end.

Andrew Harris, Toronto Argonauts – Via Toronto Argonauts on Twitter

4. James Butler- Lions- Butler has quietly put together another quality season in beautiful British Columbia. He stays a threat to receive out of the backfield, and holds the third position for rushing yards in the league at 577. Throw in 5 TDs on the ground and you got yourself a successful back. The only thing holding Butler back from moving up is his consistency, scoring and racking up yards in bunches and disappearing for stretches. With the darling of the CFL down and out, the Lions are going to need more big games from him.

James Butler, BC Lions – DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

RECEIVERS

  1. Dominique Rhymes- Lions- What a killer. Rhymes is finally getting the respect he deserves and I’m giving him the number one spot here. I want to make clear that this was easily the hardest ranking to come up with. I had Lewis and Schoen here before settling on Rhymes. Second in TDs with nine, second in yards with 1016 and 63 receptions. His numbers don’t lie and the eye test doesn’t lie. Rhymes was able to overcome a crowded crew to land in here at one.
  2. Dalton Schoen- Blue Bombers- Context is important. A league leading 10 TDs? Impressive. Third in yards at 988? Awesome. The best receiver on the best team in football? Absolutely. He’s a rookie. A ROOKIE. The insanity of how he Schoen has stepped up and been arguably the best receiver in football as a rookie isn’t talked about enough in my opinion. The guy is a machine and I can’t wait to watch him for years to come
Dalton Schoen, Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Via the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Twitter

3. Eugene Lewis- Alouettes- If this was written a month ago Lewis is our number one guy. Despite racking up TDs the last few weeks, I wouldn’t say his best football is being played. Still, Lewis is a steady eddy type who racks up yards, receptions and TDs at a torrid pace. He also possess a great game breaking ability where you fear him from your coach when he comes down the field opposite your favourite team in the last three minutes of a one score game.

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4. Tim White- Tiger-Cats- Your receptions leader ladies and gentlemen. Who saw that coming? (Nobody, that’s who). 72 receptions, 878 yards and 7 touchdowns and I’m questioning not having him higher up after listing those stats. That’s the strength of the receivers this year I’m telling you people! Part of the potential disrespect poor Tim gets is definitely due to the forget ableness of his name, especially surrounded by Rhymes, Daltons and Luckys. We’ll go down this list a few more names and you’ll have to scroll up to remember who was number four. Sorry Tim.

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5. Jaelon Acklin- REDBLACKS- Remember when I said Arbuckle had no help? I’m an idiot. Probably the lone bright spot on Ottawa is Jaelon Acklin, our yards leader at 1025. And that’s with Nick freaking Arbuckle throwing him the ball. Buddy would have 2000 with Henry Burris right now. For real though I hope Ottawa appreciates Acklin as he consistently brings it. His 2 TDs leaves something to be desired… but I’m not, uh, sure if that’s all his fault. Maybe if he throws it to himself? Just spitballing.

OTTAWA WR JAELON ACKLIN EVADING DEFENDER DURING 64 YARD CATCH AND RUN (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

6. Kenny Lawler- Elks- I think Kenny Lawler might be back baby. Lawler always one of the most impressive and exciting players in the CFL has come alive these past few weeks and reminded everyone, “Hey, I’m Kenny Lawler!” 849 yards and 5 TDs to go along with 56 receptions actually has him on pace for possibly his strongest year yet which is actually pretty surprising. Good for you Kenny.

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7. Lucky Whitehead- Lions- Lucky continues to be the man. Between Rhymes and Lucky, B.C. owns the best one-two punch in the league in two categories, receiver and names. Lucky’s 3 TDs could use some work but he is sharing the field with the already mentioned and Keon Hatcher. Consistency from week to week has been a bit of an issue, however when the man is on he’s on. 67 receptions and 839 will do that for a guy.

Lucky Whitehead, BC Lions – Via the BC Lions

Malik Henry- Stampeders- Oh you thought we were getting out of this receiver list without a Stampeder mention? Think again! Mr. Big Play for the Stamps, Henry has the ability to break open any game he is in, as evidenced by his 18.6 yards average and 8 TDs/909 Yards on only 49 receptions. A quality way to end out this ranking.

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That is all for me on the positions this week. As always this will be fun to look back on by the end of the season just to see how totally, 100% right about everything I was. Until next time.


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