We know it’s early, but we’re ready to talk about the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award before the 2017 season even kicks off.
With less than a week before the season begins, it’s our last chance to make some predictions before seeing what the players bring to the field in 2017. Each CFL team has superstar caliber talent, and we’re weeding out the one player we think has the best opportunity on the given team to have a MOP worthy year.
Some of the names might be obvious, and others may not be, but these are the players we suspect will be in the conversation for MOP when the season is winding down this November.
Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Calgary Stampeders
After leading the Stampeders to first place in the West with an impressive 15-2-1 record, and throwing a league-leading 32 touchdown passes in 2016, it’s hard to believe Bo Levi Mitchell could be inspired to do more. But after a heartbreaking loss in the 104th Grey Cup, Mitchell is more motivated then ever. We can feel a career year coming from Bo, and it’s why he’s a frontrunner prediction for the 2017 MOP.
Mike Reilly, QB, Edmonton Eskimos
Once the name Bo Levi Mitchell is mentioned, the Mike Reilly counterpoint isn’t far behind. The 2015 Grey Cup MVP led the CFL in passing yards in 2016 with a whopping 5,554 yards, and will look to continue his dominance in 2017. The weapons Reilly has at the wide receiver and slotback positions like Derel Walker and Adarius Bowman (who could both win the MOP in their own right) are sure to help him reach an elite level of play this upcoming season.
The non-QB hopefuls
Emmanuel Arceneaux, REC, B.C. Lions
After leading the league in receiving touchdowns with 13 in 2016, Emmanuel Arceneaux has set a goal to double that mark in 2017. That’s 26 receiving touchdowns in 18 games. To put that in perspective, the record for touchdowns in an NFL season was set by Randy Moss during the 2007 season when Tom Brady hooked him up with 23. The CFL record is also 23, and held by TSN’s own Milt Stegall. If “The Manny Show” gets anywhere near his goal, we better get that MOP trophy polished up for him right now.
Ernest Jackson, REC, Montreal Alouettes
Last season’s East Division Most Outstanding Player Ernest Jackson was one of the CFL’s most productive wide receivers in 2016, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier for his second straight season on his way to a Grey Cup championship with the Ottawa Redblacks. As long as his new quarterback Darian Durant stays healthy, we expect Jackson to once again hit the 1,000-yard mark, and be in the discussion for the 2017 MOP award.
Bear Woods, LB, Toronto Argonauts
After winning the 2016 Most Outstanding Defensive Player award, and leading the East Division with 126 tackles, Bear Woods was blindsided by his release from the Alouettes. Woods wasn’t a free agent long, getting scooped up by the Argos soon after his release. Woods is sure to be playing with a chip on his shoulder in 2017.
Duron Carter, REC, Saskatchewan Roughriders
While drama seemed to follow Duron Carter everywhere he turned in Montreal, a fresh start with the Roughriders could be just what he needs to break out in 2017. During the preseason, Carter has already been making highlight reel catches. Make enough of those fantastic grabs, and you could end up in the MOP discussions.
Andrew Harris, RB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
While Jerome Messam was the best running back from a stats perspective in 2016, achieving both the most yards and most touchdowns at the position, some might argue Andrew Harris has been the most consistent running back in the league over a 5-6 year span. He’s been the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian, so who’s to say 2017 isn’t the year Harris breaks out further for an MOP nomination?
The Other QBs
Zach Collaros, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
In 2015, Zach Collaros was on the fast track to becoming the CFL’s MOP, until a game against Edmonton in late September when his season came to a sudden stop. The TiCats signal caller suffered a season-ending knee injury. While he made a full recovery, returned last year, and showed moments of greatness, he hasn’t been the unstoppable quarterback he was. In 2017, we’re predicting Collaros gets back to where he was in 2015, and climbs back into the MOP discussion.
Trevor Harris, QB, Ottawa Redblacks
It seems like Trevor Harris has been waiting in the wings for an eternity, first behind Ricky Ray with the Argos, and then Henry Burris in Ottawa. In 2017, the ball is finally in his hands, and Harris has an opportunity to prove himself as the undisputed No. 1 in Ottawa. There will be a plethora of pressure on his shoulders to lead the defending Grey Cup champions to a home Grey Cup game, and if he carries the load we imagine his name being in the MOP conversation come November.
(Honorable mention in ‘The Other QBs’ section goes to Jonathon Jennings, who deserves to be in the conversation with Collaros and Harris, but was beaten out by Manny for the Lions’ team spot).
Hint hint… while these MOP hopefuls are certainly expensive in TSN CFL Fantasy, they are almost guaranteed to get you points, so don’t avoid them entirely!