QB Index: Collaros making his case

The QB Index is a weekly power ranking of quarterbacks across the CFL. The ranking reflects recent performance, historical value, statistical indicators, team success and overall on-field evaluation.

TORONTO — There’s an anti-climactic element to all of the rankings, picks, simulations and the like on this site this season and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are to blame for it.

The reality of having a team dominate the standings — the Bombers stand at 10-1 and have won eight games in a row and locked up the West Division — is that you become the obvious favourites for pretty well everything you’d want to be favourites for. It’ll be no surprise that once again this week, Zach Collaros sits atop of our QB Index.

We go into some of the specifics of Collaros’ season below, but it should come as no surprise that he’s an MOP candidate this year, if not a frontrunner. You could argue that every QB listed underneath him has struggled with consistency at some point in the season, whether through injuries, new faces around them or just on performance issues. Collaros has been steady all year. Even in the games where the offence hasn’t been fluid, he’s been able to find ways to deliver when the team needs it, being a key part in his the Bombers’ dominance over the league this season.

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With three straight games over the 300-yard passing mark, Jeremiah Masoli is leading the Ticats into the final stretch of a tight race in the East (Geoff Robins/CFL.ca)

ZACH COLLAROS WPG
THIS WEEK: 1 | LAST WEEK: 1

Coming off of the bye week, Collaros and the Bombers know they’ll be playing at IG Field on Dec. 5, hosting the West Final. In this shortened season, Collaros will likely crack the 3,000-yard passing mark on Saturday against Montreal. He hit the 2,999-yard mark in 2018 with the Riders, but hasn’t surpassed it since his days in Hamilton (3,261 in 2014 in 13 games and 3,376 in 2015 through 12 games). Winnipeg has provided a second wind to his career. He should be very much in the conversation for his first-ever MOP award.

MICHAEL REILLY BC
THIS WEEK: 2 | LAST WEEK: 3

Reilly shook off his interception issues, for the most part, in the Lions’ OT loss to the Argos. Jeff Richards got his hands on one Reilly pass, but the veteran pivot was undeterred and finished the day throwing three TDs. It had to be incredibly frustrating to see all of that work go for naught, with the Lions unable to pull out what seemed like a very feasible win. This week’s game in Hamilton will feel like the Lions’ season is on the line. At the very least, their hopes for a crossover are.

BO LEVI MITCHELL CGY
THIS WEEK: 3 | LAST WEEK: 4

Let’s start with the positives for Mitchell, who led the Stamps to their sixth win of the season last week in Ottawa. He was 22-29 for 242 yards and for the second time in three games didn’t throw an interception. You would have liked to have seen a touchdown or two (or more) in the box score, especially against an Ottawa defence that’s been, let’s say a gracious opponent this season. Instead, Calgary got a big game out of Ka’Deem Carey and the defence held Ottawa to 13 points. It’s not a conventional Stampeders win, but style points are low on the team’s list of late-season priorities.

JEREMIAH MASOLI HAM
THIS WEEK: 4 | LAST WEEK: 5

Masoli loves going back to Edmonton, where his CFL career started in 2011. Friday night was no different. He threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 26 yards, leading the Ticats to their second-straight win. This is Masoli’s third consecutive game going over 300 yards passing. While the last two came against Ottawa and Edmonton, a visiting BC team should give them a better fight this week, knowing that their playoff hopes slip away with each loss in these final weeks of the season.

CODY FAJARDO SSK
THIS WEEK: 5 | LAST WEEK: 2

It wasn’t the prettiest stat line for Fajardo — 14-of-25 passing for 158 yards with zero TDs or interceptions — but the Riders held on to gut out a win over Montreal to punch their playoff ticket. Saturday’s win reminded the team that they have a defence that can win them games. The offence has three more games to hit its stride. It feels like it’s a matter of lighting the match for this group and if they’re able to do it in their coming home-and-home series with Edmonton, they could be on to something.

TREVOR HARRIS MTL
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: –

One quarter of work as part of an offence that he’s been learning the last two weeks brought strong results for Harris. He was 12-15 for 123 yards and a touchdown on Saturday in his Alouettes’ debut. The game brought back memories of his performance on the same field in the 2019 Eastern Semi-Final against the Als. The task still feels steep for Harris, to come in and pick up with a new team and lead them into the playoffs. Collaros has shown it can be done. We’ll see what Harris has in him in the coming weeks.

MCLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON TOR
THIS WEEK: 7 | LAST WEEK: 6

Bethel-Thompson was his own biggest critic after the Argos’ Indiana Jones-like escape from Saturday’s game, citing a number of would-have-been touchdowns that he overthrew his targets on. The win is the most important thing, regardless of how a team gets there. Bethel-Thompson’s ability to bounce back from his 23-37, 155-yard passing game will be crucial as the Argos continue to try to lock up the top seed in the East. A visit to Ottawa to face the REDBLACKS on Saturday could be that opportunity for him.

MATTHEW SHILTZ MTL
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK: 7

The game is high-pressure enough when you’ve taken over for the injured starting QB and your team is in the thick of a playoff hunt. Add in that one of the best in the league has been on the sidelines the last couple of weeks and was traded there for a reason and the pressure ramps up even more. Shiltz went into Saturday’s game needing to play exceedingly well to stay on the field. Even though the second INT he threw was called back, the team opted to put the ball in Trevor Harris‘ hands for the fourth quarter. Shiltz was stymied by the Riders defence (just 106 yards and the one INT through three quarters), easily his most difficult game of the three he’s started. Will we see more of him this season?

TAYLOR CORNELIUS EDM
THIS WEEK: 9 | LAST WEEK: 8

The Elks’ offence struggled on Friday against the Ticats, shut out until the fourth quarter, when they were trailing 29-7. It’s hard to fairly critique Cornelius, given where the Elks are in their season. The rookie QB didn’t turn the ball over but wasn’t able to find the end zone, either. Backup Dakota Prukop punched in both of the team’s touchdowns last week. With Nick Arbuckle signed for next season, Cornelius’ future isn’t as clear as it seemed in the wake of the Harris trade. Slated to start this week against the Riders, we wonder how much we’ll see of him in the team’s remaining games.

CALEB EVANS OTT
THIS WEEK: 10 | LAST WEEK: 9

Evans finds himself at the bottom of this list again, but his performance last week wasn’t atrocious by any means. Going 15-29 for 173 yards with a touchdown, the REDBLACKS held an early lead and may have had Stampeders fans worried as the first half progressed. After being bogged down by interceptions these last few weeks, Evans took better care of the ball against a very good Stampeders’ defence. In Week 13, Evans just looked like a rookie QB on a non-playoff team and that’s certainly not his fault. There’s lots for him to build on for when the Argos visit this week.

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