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Naylor’s Kickoff: The crowded, confusing race for MOP

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04.10.2019

TSN Football Insider

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It’s the time of year when the top candidates for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player start to come into focus.

But this season, the picture is as fuzzy as can be.

Rarely in the long history of Canadian football has pinning down the player deserving of the league’s top regular-season honour been more difficult.

Here’s why:

- With eight of nine starting quarterbacks missing time due to injury, it’s hard to make the case for a player who has been out of the lineup for a quarter of the season or more. That instantly disqualifies Bo Levi Mitchell, Jeremiah Masoli, Matt Nichols and Dane Evans. Two quarterbacks who began the year as backups – Montreal’s Vernon Adams and Saskatchewan’s Cody Fajardo – have had impressive seasons but don’t feel MOP worthy just yet.

- No receiver is blowing away the field. The top nine receivers are separated by roughly 250 yards, so it’s by no means clear who the league’s top wideout will be. It’s the same thing with the touchdown race, where there are two receivers with eight, two with seven, and two with six.

- The best offensive player in the league has a positive PED test on his resume. There’s no consensus on whether Andrew Harris is worthy of consideration for the league’s top award, but there may be enough dissent among voters from the Football Reporters of Canada to keep him out. It’s quite possible he won’t even get the votes from the Winnipeg chapter to be the Bombers’ MOP nominee.

- An award that almost always goes to the league’s top offensive player is getting some serious challenges from the defensive side of the ball. In fact, it can be argued that several defensive players have had more MOP-worthy seasons than anyone on offence.

It says something when my three favourites for MOP include two defensive players and no quarterbacks. It's been that kind of year.

With all that said, here are 11 candidates for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award, divided into favourites, hopefuls and long shots.

The favourites

Brandon Banks, WR, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Speedy B is three yards short of the league lead, has scored eight touchdowns and produced seven plays of 30 yards or more. His 489 yards after catch tell the story of his dynamic shiftiness and how much he helps his team by being able to turn short passes into big gains. He also contributes on returns and has two missed field goal returns for scores this season and a rushing........

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