Written by Merrick Itera

Images by Hubba Kimbrel

Full disclosure – I like stats.

I’m not talking about all stats (shout-out to Jax Data; no way could I dig into the stuff that they do and stay sane) but the basic player stats throughout the season.  I check the leader boards after every week to see who’s doing what in the games that I don’t catch, and I track the outstanding performers from week to week, even when I don’t have something to write that depends on them.  For me, as a member of this league, that’s what keeps me coming back.

This series is a natural progression of my interest in that facet of the league.  These are always my favourite discussions, and what better way to initiate that discussion than to publish my opinion of the ‘Best of the Best’ per position?  Let me once again state this to be clear to all of the potential readers before we go any further:

THIS IS MY OPINION, BASED ON STATS.

I’m not speaking from my position as an owner in the league, but as a fellow competitor who is out there digesting the weekly statistical content the league generates, to get a feel for which players are the stand-out performers based strictly off on-the-field accomplishments.  There are going to be some decisions in here that some of you might disagree with (it’s impossible to avoid with a topic such as this) and I welcome your opinions on the position groups you feel that I may have gotten right or wrong; that’s what this piece is meant for.  That being said – let’s get to it.

OFFENSE

QB:  Tom Pepper, Vancouver Legion
At the helm of the #1 passing attack in the league, Pepper leads the league in Passing Yards, Yards per Attempt and Touchdowns, all while being second in the league in QBR.  His ball security could use some work, but VAN is winning and it’s hard to argue that the credit for their 3 – 1 record shouldn’t go mostly to him.  Side-note for the vets reading this; guess who only has 3 sacks so far this season?

RB: Jarrod McChesney, Denver Nightwings
Accounting for 836 All Purpose yards, J-Mac is easily in front of all the RBs in the league through the first 4 games of the season.  He leads the #1 Rushing Offense in the SFL, topping the league in Carries and Rushing Yards, while still being less than a yard off the league leader in Yds/Carry.  Never a one- dimensional back, he’s also second in Reception Yards (one of only 2 RBs with 200+) and second in TDs (Rushing, Passing and Total).  Not sure what more you could ask him to do.

FB: Cameron Collier, Lone Star Glory
This one is close between Collier and Bentley; they are almost identical in Receiving Yards and TDs, with Bentley holding a slight edge.  Rushing-wise, Collier trails Bentley in yardage, but with 11 less carries, he is averaging almost a full yard more per carry, and the fact that Bentley is responsible for a turnover and Collier isn’t clinched it for me.  Expect this battle to continue to be close as the season progresses.

TE: Jack Flash, Los Angeles Lycans
Tight End is a tough case; while Flash isn’t leading in either Receiving Yards or TDs, he’s second in both categories.  He trails Lloyd Graham Jr. by a TD but has 120 more Receiving Yards and he trails Dan Daly by 50 Receiving Yards but has a TD on him.  I expect these three to continue to compete down the stretch, but Jack Flash has got it at this point, for me.

WR: John Blades, Las Vegas Fury
First in Receiving Yards, first in Receiving Touchdowns, third in Yds/Per Reception – John Blades is having a monster year.  He’s the only Wide Receiver over 600 yds at this point in the season, and he’s on pace to hit 21 TDs by the time Season 16 comes to a close.  While DR Sim’s huge game in Week 4 brought him close in yardage and KL Barrett is right there as well, no one in the league at the WR position scores the way Blades has so far this season.

DEFENSE

DE: Chris Andrews, Tulsa Desperados
One area Tulsa doesn’t need to worry about is their pass rush, as Chris Andrews leads all DEs in Sacks and Tackles for a Loss, which are the most important categories for his position.  There are a couple of players who could feasibly challenge him by the end of Week 8, but for now, his spot at the top is his alone.

DT: Dan Tritz, Mexico City Aztecs
Leading the SFL in Sacks is a great way to get yourself on this list and rookie DT Dan Tritz is doing just that through the first four weeks of Season 16.  He’s also leading the league in Tackles for Loss and is second in Tackles at DT. Averaging two Sacks a game is incredibly hard to do for an entire season, but so far Tritz has put the league on notice; if he continues to produce at this rate, he’ll be a lock for nomination as the DPOTY, if not the DROTY.

FS: Jeffrey Daggs, Mexico City Aztecs
The competition at FS is intense. Daggs gets the nod with the lead in INTs, but a whole host of FS are nipping at his heels at this point in the season and Daggs will have to stay locked in to maintain his position. Maajor Key and Nicky Colontrelle are right there, 1 INT back, but with more Pass Defenses, TFLs and Tackles/Game. Keep an eye on this one as it’s sure to be entertaining as the season progresses.

LB: Blake B Craize, Louisiana Revolution
In the SFL, LBs are expected to perform equally well in stopping both the opposing teams passing and running games.  It’s a tall task, to be sure; but some LBs are just built different, and Blake B Craize seems to be cut from that cloth.  One of five LBs to average more than 10 tackles a game, Blake also has 2 INTs (1 for a TD), 5 Pass Defenses and a Forced Fumble.  There’s a LB with 3 INTs (Day Drewery) and a couple with 2 Sacks (Slinn Shady, Aman Takess) and even one whose got 9 TFLs (Nick Fargo) but Craize leads the pack at this point in time by doing all of it in one outstanding package.

SS: Troy Loshaw, Baltimore Vultures
The Vultures have been asking a lot of Troy Loshaw this season, and man is he delivering.  7 INT’s through four games is good for not only the lead among SS, but among all defensive players in the SFL. Couple that with the TD he scored on one of them and the SFL record-holder at SS better watch out or Troy just might overtake him this season.  Then again, he already possesses that record so, really, Loshaw is essentially out there trying to out-play himself at this point…and he’s succeeding.  All you can do is sit back and admire another season of Loshaw dominance. I’m sure the defending champs are.

CB: Ashley Rose Finch, Vancouver Legion
A lot of CBs have INT’s to their name this season, but only two – Ashley Rose Finch and Drew Really – have five through the first four games of the season.  The difference between them is 194; that’s the amount of yards off of those INT’s Finch has gained past the 10 yds that Really has. That and a TD, of course. Finch has been a nightmare for opposing WRs this season, and there’s no reason to think that the Legion will ask less of her from this point forward as she’s on pace to break the single season record for INT’s by a CB (currently held by Zane Doty).

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Shark Tarkington, Baltimore Vultures
If you’re leading the league in Field Goal Attempts and you haven’t missed one yet, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be here, and so Shark Tarkington is.  He’s accounted for 42 points so far this season and the defending champs have needed every one as they continue to get every teams’ best shot one season removed from SFL Gold.  Every time the Vultures ring the bell for Shark, he answers it and there’s no reason to expect him to slow down as the season progresses.

P: Dustin McRack, Las Vegas Fury
No other punter has helped his team out of more field position situations than Dustin McRack.  Like the mythical bird on his helmet, he’s risen from the ashes of retirement to once again lead his position to relevance amid the naysayers of the league, setting the example for all future punters to follow.

KR: Doug Britton, Las Vegas Fury
The transition from FB to WR has treated Doug Britton well.  Through the first four games of the season, he’s leading all KRs in Yds per KR and even broke one all the way to the house to score the only KR TD of the season thus far.  I don’t know what he did in the offseason, but this Special Teams Ace shows no signs of slowing down, which might upset more than one ST coach as he’s shown a killer instinct once he fields the kicks heading his way.

PR: Giovanni Bolt, Baltimore Vultures
If it seems like the Vultures are circling this list, it’s because they are – and Giovanni Bolt is another addition to the wake.  He’s fourth in PR Attempts, but first in PR yds and second in Yds per PR.  Just another reason why Baltimore is sporting those snazzy rings you’ve all no doubt seen; they treat all three phases of the game as critical pieces to their overall game plan.  Bolt’s success on special teams so far this season is a welcome improvement to the Vulture’s field position each time they force a punt on defense and if you don’t think that matters, it’s time to start paying more attention.

Alright – that’s the list!

Congratulations to all of the SFL Stars who’ve pushed their way to the front of the pack in their respective position groups through the first four games of Season 16!  I’ll be back again during the ramp-up towards Week 9 with updated stats and standings…who knows?  Anyone in the league could emerge with just a few consistent weeks of stellar play, and although opinions may vary (as they should) my intent is to stay as loyal to the stats as possible, and let the players speak for themselves.  See you in Week 9!