Early All-Stars

I tried to post this yesterday before the first Week 7 game, but as I stated in another thread here, technical problems prevented me from logging in (good thing I posted my VGC picks on Wed).

Six weeks is one-third distance, so I thought I'd take a look at who has played the best at each position, and lined up a list of Week 6 All-Stars. I've been watching all the games this year almost every down and I don't see everything, but I've judged the players by how well they perform when I've noticed them good or bad (as opposed to straight statistical production, although numbers still count). Especially in key plays when you go back and analyze who made the block, who made the tackle, who blew the coverage, etc. You may find the list SLIGHTLY Sask heavy. If you do, it's not meant to be a homer pick, I've tried hard to not make homer picks, but I do follow Sask more closely than other teams so I notice more stuff from them. So if you think TJ Hill should be in place of Freeman for example that's totally kosher.



I picked five guys regardless of position, but made sure that I had at least one center. I have to admit that this is the hardest category to judge.


Peter Dyakowski - Hamilton
This guy has emerged. He reminds me of Makowsky, the way he's a big guy who also moves well, can get down field on screens and wreack havoc.

Ibrahim Khan - Winnipeg
It's a pleasure to see the guy healthy and performing the way that he can. He's one of the very best in the business.

Josh Bourke - Montreal
Perhaps the biggest indicator is how much the Als pass protection suffers without him. He is AC's main protector.

Scott Flory - Montreal
The vet is still getting it done at guard as well as anyone. Montreal's biggest strength has always been the o-line because of guys like Flory.

Brendan LaBatte - Winnipeg
Fred Reid has this guy to thank for a lot of his yards. A lot like Fiacconi, he digs in and just drives guys back. I think he deserves credit on this list.


Patrick Kabongo - Edmonton
Here's a guy who has taken a lot of ribbing (justly or unjustly) over the years. When the story broke that he shed 70 pounds over the spring I thought, ok let's see if it helps. Every time that I've watched him he's looked fantastic. He is the early favorite for outstanding lineman. He has been just dominating guys on run plays. Good on him.

Dimitri Tsoumpas - Calgary
Dimitri's had a lot of hype early in his career and he's really living up to it this year. His pass protection at tackle has been great.

Dan Goodspeed - Saskatchewan
Dan's a great all around tackle. With Rider receivers having trouble getting open, he's been handling guys like Anwar Stewart and Keron Williams just fine.

Alex Gauthier - Saskatchewan
The few times that the Riders have been in the red zone, Alex has made huge blocks for Cates. The inside run game for the Riders is strong. If they can get some leads, they could really pound.

Aaron Fiacconi - Edmonton
Fiacconi's not just on this list because I needed a center, either. He and Kabongo are a big reason for Messam's yardage totals. Aaron's small size reminds me of Chad Folk. He uses that lower center of gravity to his advantage and drives guys back.

Honorable mention:
Marwan Hage of Hamilton. He is the anchor of the Ti-Cats line but I just thought LaBatte deserved to be there.


This is pretty straight forward. I just picked the best guy.


Anthony Calvillo - Montreal
He's on pace for another banner year. Protects the ball as well as anybody too. A total pro through and through.


Ricky Ray - Edmonton
He's been precise and deadly surgical. The Ray that we knew from five or six years ago is back. All they had to do was protect him.

Honorable mention:
Buck Pierce of Winnipeg. He's the only guy giving much challenge to AC in the East so far. Competes hard, and he's throwing the ball very well. He's having a career year.


I left it open to choose one or two backs as traditionally there are two but the past few years the ace set has taken over. I ended up taking one in the West (adding a fifth receiver) and one in the East, adding a RB/WR as an extra receiver, leaving out the fullbacks who are becoming obsolete. At this position I looked numbers the least of all the offensive positions and (mostly) judged on a wide range of skills.


Avon Cobourne - Hamilton
This was a tough pick between him and Whitaker, but I went with "double-deuces". He's an inspired ball carrier both inside and out and brings a complete package of skills. he's a game breaker.


Jerome Messam - Edmonton
Messam has been highly impressive as a pure power runner. Tacklers either bounce off or get dragged for a couple more yards. He hits the hole quickly and protects the ball. Textbook stuff.

Honorable mentions:
Brandon Whitaker of Montreal for his complete skill set, particularly his productivity catching passes. He was a monster in Week 3 against the Argos.
Wes Cates of Saskatchewan for similar complete skill set, but particularly impressive between the tackles (even in just 3½ games) hasn't looked this powerful at running since '07 or '08.


I picked the best five guys (sacrificing the fullback spot for an extra receiver), regardless of slot or wideout. I like all round players so I went with production, reliability and clutchness.


SJ Green - Montreal
Not a big surprise here. He's productive, and a reliable clutch guy. For the first six games I'm giving him top honors.

Jamel Richardson - Montreal
He could easily be interchanged with Green above. Perhaps missing one game cost him top spot. Just like Green, a reliable, productive big target.

Terrence Edwards - Winnipeg
Not a lot of catches but huge, huge yards and scores. His playmaking has been essential to the Blue Bombers offense.

Dave Stala - Hamilton
I've always been a Stala fan since way back in the Montreal days. He's playing the best ball of his career and there was absolutely no way I could keep him off the list. He blocks downfield too. He earns every cent of his pay.

Andre Durie - Toronto
He's a hybrid back/receiver. I put him in as a receiver as that is how the Argos use him and it suits him well. The guy has no quit in him whatsoever. He never gives up on a play. I love his after catch ability, especially on short routes in traffic. He's extremely athletic. He has won me over and doesn't get enough credit.


Fred Stamps - Edmonton
Stamps is probably at the top of everyone's list for obvious reasons. He's a human highlight reel.

Geroy Simon - BC Lions
With all the dropped passes in BC, Simon has been the go to guy, and he has delivered big time. He's been a blessing for young Lulay.

Weston Dressler - Saskatchewan
He's the clear number one target for Durant this year and he still produces. Smart, reliable and great wheels deep.

Jason Barnes - Edmonton
Barnes has totally grabbed my attention and forced me to put him on the list. He's got great hands and will take any shot to make a play. He's great in traffic, plays with no fear.

Romby Bryant - Calgary
He obviously made a name for himself making the play getting popped with a minute to go in Regina, but Romby's been quietly reliable all year. I am steadily becoming a Romby fan.

Honorable mentions:
Adarius Bowman of Edmonton for similar reasons as Barnes. He's a big body in traffic and very hard to tackle after the catch. He's also improved his hands. He used to have a bit of the drops but not this year. If it weren't for the busted ribs he'd probably slot in somewhere between Simon and Barnes.
Chris Williams of Hamilton for his sheer numbers, even though at least a third of his yardage is from sloppy tackling, you can't ignore game changing playmaking.
Brian Bratton of Montreal for his great hands and savvy. He's an excellent third target for AC.
Nik Lewis of Calgary for his solid play. By his standards he's playing pretty average, but by league-wide standards, he's still a teriffic player. Probably the best downfield blocking receiver in the league.



I picked four guys each regardless of end or tackle.


Odell Willis - Winnipeg
He's the best pass rusher in the league right now, bar none. He can't not be on the list.

Doug Brown - Winnipeg
Obviously a veteran presence, but he's a big time run stuffer. He says it's his last year, but it's probably his best year (so far) of the past three of four.

Justin Hickman - Hamilton
Justin's been bringing a lot of speed off the edge and causing tons of problems for opposing QBs.

Kevin Huntley - Toronto
Kevin seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in the offensive backfield. Toronto has some good players on their front three and Huntley is probably the best of them, or at least has been for the first six games.


Keron Williams - BC Lions
Williams has consistently been the Lions best pass rusher. He's been very tough to block. He has a great combination of strength and speed. Smart with outside contain.

Greg Peach - Edmonton
He was a player that I really wanted to watch this year. I've always liked what I've seen from him and he's having a breakout year. He is easily Edmonton's most outstanding defensive player. The best pass rusher in the West is either Keron or Peach. Edmonton's defense will struggle until he gets back.

Charleston Hughes - Calgary
Not a lot of talk about this guy but there should be. He's very quick and versatile too. Chris Jones will get him to do anything including the odd pass drop. he seems to play in spurts - a game or a half he'll be quiet, and then the next he'll almost be unblockable. Very agile guy.

Dario Romero - Saskatchewan
With Saskatchewan's deficiency at the rush end spot, the interior of the line has actually been quite good. I almost put Shologan here, but I think Romero has been more consistent, especially in terms of backfield penetration. Romero has probably been the Riders' best pass rusher.

Honorable mentions:
Aaron Hunt from the BC Lions for doing all those little veteran things that he does so well like getting his hands up to block throws, and chipping in with a couple of sacks too. Tremendous athlete.
Rickey Foley from Toronto for generally consistent solid pass rush.
Keith Shologan from Saskatchewan for just clogging up the middle like a nose tackle ought to.
Claude Wroten from Toronto for his ability to penetrate the line and squash running backs. He moves very well for such a huge man but consistency issues limit him to honorable mention.


I picked three guys, regardless of sam, mack or will. I looked for versatile, impact athletes.


Joe Lobendahn - Winnipeg
Joe moves pretty well for a big guy and covers a fair amount of ground. He has tremendous instinct and ball pursuit. He's a solid performer who also makes plays. He's having a teriffic year. So far, I think he's the best guy in the East.

Shea Emry - Montreal
It seems wherever the ball is, Shea is. His tremendous athleticism allows him to make plays. He's been an obvious impact player.

Jamall Johnson - Hamilton
Jamall is just an incredible blitzer. When he's not blitzing he's extremely fast and a punishing hitter.


Solomon Elimimian - BC Lions
Solomon has matured into an excellent linebacker. He is on top of his game and is one of the league's biggest hitters. He has great range and has been a sure tackler. Over the first six games, probably the best LB in the league.

Jerrell Freeman - Saskatchewan
Jerrell has been all over the field for the Riders. He's been their biggest playmaker both blitzing and forcing turnovers, as well as one of the league's leading tacklers. Impossible to ignore.

JC Sherritt - Edmonton
He had that monster game in Week 1, but has been a solid performer ever since. JC has a motor and is always involved where the ball is. Maybe by the end of the year he will lose lustre as a raw rookie but for the first six games he needs to be on this list. He deserves it.

Honroable mentions:
Chip Cox of Montreal for his consistent playmaking and hard hitting.
TJ Hill of Edmonton for his speed and versatility, as well as veteran presence. I could be wrong but he seems like an emotional pillar of strength for some of the young guys around him.
Renaud Williams of Hamilton for all around consistent play.


I chose five guys regardless of corner, half or safety. I looked for coverage skills above all, but of course I always respect a well-rounded game.


Jonathan Hefney - Winnipeg
Hefney might be the best cover guy in the league right now. He has tremendous skill. He's aggressive and smart. Not too shabby at ballhawking either. I've been watching him for a couple years now and I think he has been Winnipeg's best defensive back for a while.

Alex Suber - Winnipeg
He's quietly been a solid cover guy for about a year, until Week 1 in Hamilton when he picked off the winning TD. Still he doesn't have quite the ballhawking ability of Hefney but he has very similar skills (and hair).

Billy Parker - Montreal
Billy seems to have taken over the hot corner for the Als and he's done a great job. He has quick feet and is good at jumping routes, but not at the expense of coverage. He picks his spots well.

Ryan Hinds - Hamilton
Hinds has just forced me to take notice of him. He has a knack for breaking up big plays, potential touchdowns and key first downs and I have to give him credit for that.

Brandon Stewart - Winnipeg
Perhaps the beneficary of stellar defensive play all around him, but he's made the most of it and come up with some big INTs. He uses his height to his advantage. We'll see if he's still on the list at the end of the year, but for the first six games, he belongs.


Chris Thompson - Edmonton
Chris is an excellent all around defensive back. In addition to his three picks, he is without question, the Esks best 1 on 1 cover guy and among the best in the league. He is a highly valuable player.

Geoff Tisdale - Calgary
An excellent offseason acquisition, the Stamps have lost nothing in their secondary, perhaps even improved after the departures of Browner and Anderson. Calgary's defensive scheme is very demanding on it's defensive backs coverage skills and Tisdale is their best guy.

Keon Raymond - Calgary
Another Stamp on the list. Secondary was big question mark for Calgary as mentioned above the turnover they had this year so I've been watching that closely and the Stamps have no problems here. Surprisingly perhaps the best secondary in the league because of guys like Raymond who can handle 1 on 1 duty and also make plays. Forcing the fumble in Winnipeg was huge. That was a big time play.

Tristan Jackson - Saskatchewan
I've been watching Jackson since preseason and he left a positive impression on me. I didn't think he'd be an impact player other than as a returner, but he has improved every week and has easily, easily been the Riders' best defensive back. His reactions and closing speed fit perfectly in Richie Hall's scheme and he brings tons of hustle. I never would have guessed that he'd be in this conversation this year.

Brandon Smith - Calgary
Yet one more Stampeder. I gotta give it up to Calgary. They have the best stockpile of 1 on 1 skilled coverage guys in the league. Smith gets a great jam. Positionally sound.

Honorable mentions:
Korey Banks of the BC Lions for his speed and versatility. Wasn't sure whether to put him as an LB or a DB, but for now Wally has put him back to weak half. BC's whole secondary has had problems especially with injuries. Banks has still been quite strong. I fully expect him to get off the honorable and onto the list proper by the end of the year.
Donovan Alexander of Edmonton for speed and hustle. He's even come up with a couple turnovers. He's played corner most of his career so moving to safety has given him less responsibility and more free reign to make plays. Going to keep an eye on him at safety, he could be the next Baron Miles or Orlondo Steinauer. A safety that can cover is rare.
Bo Smith of Hamilton for his 1 on 1 skills. He's made some strong plays and covered some tough receivers. Played very well against Montreal.
Brandon Isaac of Calgary for his quickness and a couple of nice knockdowns. Maybe there's others that could have been mentioned, but he just made me notice him and I will definitely be keeping an eye on his play.



Pick 1.


Justin Medlock - Hamilton
Only missed two kicks all year, but what stands out statistically is his average length of made field goal. It's a good 8 yards longer than most others. His range is tremendous. His 55 yarder just before the half in BC was clutch and I had no doubt that he'd nail it.


Paul McCallum - BC Lions
Consistent, reliable, money. I think it's obvious. I almost took him as the West punter too.

Honorable mention:
Sean Whyte of Montreal for just being damn good. One miss all year. Medlock is the only reason he's not my first pick.


Pick 1.


Mike Renaud - Winnipeg
Mike just has a consistently strong leg and has impressed me for a couple years now. No one else has done enough to dethrone him so he's my pick.


Burke Dales - Calgary
Almost went with McCallum, and even though Huf kinda called him out last month, his 46 yard average is just too much to ignore.

Honorable mention:
Eddie Johnson of Saskatchewan for one hell of a leg. Put a kickoff through the uprights and almost recovered his own (booming) punt for a TD. A very poor game in BC kept him off the list.


Pick 1. There's not much to choose between most of the returners in the league so my choices were mostly statistical. Some good guys don't get mentioned.


Tim Maypray - Montreal
Maypray has put up the most consistent good numbers in the East.


Larry Taylor - Calgary
One of the most underrated veterans in the league. He has an explosiveness that is rare. There are guys with similar numbers but if you look it up, Taylor has the best averages for both punts and kickoffs.

Honorable mention:
Tim Brown of the BC Lions for his running style. He uses space and blockers wisely. How do the Lions always find these guys?

So that's my list and I'd love any comments. Tell I'm right, wrong, tell me who could be added as honorable, and is there anyone else that we should keep an eye on. Let's talk about some players.

Thanks…you’ve put a lot of work into this.
My differences would be Chip Cox instead of Emry, Pierce instead of Calvillo, Whitaker instead of Coburne and Duval instead of Dales, Nik Lewis instead of Bryant and Cornish instead of Cates as HM,

I would consider (punter) Duval over Dales as is stated in the above post. Ricky Ray is an allstar that’s a given, but I do think Burris is a fit in my opinion. Excellent read and well thought out in detail.

I considered Burris and he has been solid. he does some things that no one else can do. He is the most elusive (toughest to sack) QB. He is the ONLY QB I have seen in any league anywhere who can throw accurately off his back foot (the Jackson/Romby play in week 5) he's made those throws for 3 or 4 years now. His play action is sickening. No one else is close. But he's not really lighting things up yet (well, Week 7 wasn't counted), And I didn't want a list of HM longer than the list proper.

I would consider Whyte for placekicker in the East but that list was awesome! Thanks pdog72

I'd swap Ibrahim Kahn for Marwan Hage.