- The 2021 Canadian Football League (CFL) season begins on Thursday, August 5.
- The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the 2019 CFL Grey Cup champions.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) 2021 regular season is scheduled to start on Thursday, August 5 as the league returns to play after an 18 month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 season will be played later than usual and will be just 14 games instead of the typical 18 games but otherwise it’ll be business as usual for the CFL. Since there was no champion crowned due to the cancellation of the 2020 season that leaves the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the defending champs by virtue of their 2019 Grey Cup victory.
A few days ago we looked at some CFL team wagers that are available for the 2021 season. In addition to the futures market for the Grey Cup champion there are team win totals available. The defending champion Blue Bombers are the second choice in the futures betting odds at +375 behind the Hamilton Tiger Cats at +300. This is the first time I’ve seen CFL team win totals and it’s great to see a wider variety of betting options available on Canadian football. In addition to the team performance bets available BetOnline.ag is offering markets for individual player performance as well. This includes the CFL’s versions of the MVP award–Most Outstanding Canadian and Most Outstanding Player–along with markets for rushing yards, receiving yards and passing yards. In this article we’ll look at the first two props and hit the odds for rushing, receiving and passing yardage in a subsequent post:
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (CFL) PLAYER PERFORMANCE ODDS
The CFL has taken steps to make sure the league retains its uniquely Canadian identity and doesn’t become simply a ‘minor league’ for the NFL. This is done via a quota system referred to as a ‘ratio’ whereby teams are required to have a certain number of Canadian players in the lineup. This system was revised during the CFL’s 18 month break. The previous system designated players as either ‘non-import’ (Canadian) or ‘import’ (non-Canadian).
The new ratio guidelines are a bit more nuanced. Teams are required to have a minimum of 21 Canadian players (called ‘National’ players in CFL parlance) on the roster out of a total of 46 players. Two players designated as ‘global players’ are required to be on the roster–these are players not from Canada OR the United States. That’s because there is a maximum of 20 American players allowed on the roster, 4 of which are called ‘designated Americans’. The ‘designated Americans’ are allowed to play on special teams OR replace an American starter. In other words, these four ‘designated Americans’ aren’t allowed to start. Teams are allowed to carry a maximum of two quarterbacks–this is the only position that doesn’t factor in the national designation.
There are additional rules for the starting lineup for each team. A minimum of 7 Canadian players must be in the starting lineup and there can be a maximum of 16 American players along with the quarterback. At this point, teams are not required to start a ‘Global’ player but if they do they replace an American player. The ratio means that there are essentially two most valuable player awards in Canadian football–one specific to Canadian players and one overall MVP award.
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (CFL) MOST OUTSTANDING CANADIAN
Henoc Muamba +150 Cameron Judge +160 Andrew Harris +225 Cory Greenwood +1200 Lemar Durant +1200 Kwaku Boateng +1600 Cleyton Laing +2000 Jake Burt +2000
The nominees for this award are the ‘most outstanding Canadian’ players from the East Division and the West Division. The East Division winner receives the Lew Hayman Trophy while the West Division winner receives the Dr. Beattie Marin Trophy. Every team nominates a player to receive consideration for the appropriate divisional award. The winner of each division–as well as the overall award–is selected by the Football Reporters of Canada. Henoc Muamba won the award in 2019 and is favored in this futures market. He’s a linebacker for the Montreal Alouettes and his win broke a nine year winning streak by offensive players–before 2019 the last defensive winner was BC Lions’ defensive end Ricky Foley in 2009.
Second favorite Cameron Judge is also a defensive player–he’s a linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts–and won the Dr. Beattie Marin Trophy as the top Canadian in the East in 2019. Andrew Harris is a running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and was the winner of the 2017 ‘Most Outstanding Canadian’. We’ve got another defensive player next–Calgary Stampeders’ linebacker Cory Greenwood–who is at +1200 along with BC Lions’ wide receiver Lemar Durant. Kwaku Boateng is a defensive lineman for the Edmonton Elks, Cleyton Lang is a defensive lineman for the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Jake Burt is a tight end for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
As is evident from this list, there’s no decided bias against defensive players and for offensive players as is the case with the NFL’s Super Bowl MVP Award.
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (CFL) MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER
Cody Fajardo +200 Bo Levi Mitchell +300 Willie Jefferson +300 Henoc Muamba +350 Brandon Banks +400 Matt Reilly +600
By way of contrast, the Most Outstanding Player award has been dominated by players from the offensive side of the ball. The selection process for this award is similar to the Most Outstanding Canadian–each team nominates a player with the East Division winner receiving the Terry Evanshen Trophy and the West Division winner getting the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy. The Most Outstanding Player for the league is selected from these two ‘finalists’.
The favorite is Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Cody Fajardo who won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy in 2019. The 2019 Most Outstanding Player was Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Brandon Banks who is a +400 fifth choice this year. Bo Levi Mitchell is the Calgary Stampeders’ starting QB and a two time winner of this award (2018, 2016). Mike Riley (+600) is the Edmonton Eskimos’ starting QB and won this award in 2017.
Willie Jefferson (+300) is a defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and we’ve previously discussed Montreal linebacker Henoc Muamba. The Most Outstanding Player Award has been given every year since 1953 with the exception of the cancelled 2020 season. There have only been two defensive players to win the award–BC Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian in 2014 and Montreal Alouettes defensive back Hal Patterson in 1957. It is also a rarity for a Canadian player to win this award–only three have done so, most recently Calgary Stemppeders running back Jon Cornish in 2013.