Written by Christian Pundt
Images by Hubba Kimbrel
Editor’s Note: This article was written before the beginning of Week 7, so please be advised that some of the statistics may be slightly incorrect. We apologise if this causes any confusion.
We’ve reached the midpoint in the season and it’s time for an early look into who should be in the conversation for each major award. This list will mostly focus on players who would win the award if voting took place today, and those who at least would be in consideration. Additionally, some honorable mentions will include names who are uniquely well-positioned to gain further traction as the season continues on. This list is uninterested in players who are on the periphery of the awards discussion. Players who are not exceptional statistically or are not a key part of their team’s success are not on this list. If your team’s running back is sitting 7th in every major category and you’re sub.500, then he’s not an MVP contender. Simple as that. Honorable mentions mostly include players who have interesting opportunities to improve their case as the season goes along. Take no offense if a player you feel is worthy of being honorably mentioned is not included here. This game is ruled by opinions. This one is just mine.
Most Valuable Player
Jarrod McChesney, RB, Denver Nightwings
The clear-cut MVP front-runner is Jarrod McChesney. His team is tied for first in the league behind their league-leading rushing attack. He is on pace to exceed 2200 yards from scrimmage, while recording 18 touchdowns. No one else in the league is even approaching his numbers and at this stage in the game he should be considered the heavy favorite for the league’s top honors. Obviously, there’s plenty of time to change this, but he is clearly the most valuable player in the league to his team’s success right now.
Tom Pepper, QB, Vancouver Legion
The only other player that might have a case for MVP at this moment is long-time Vancouver quarterback, Tom Pepper. He is currently heading the top passing attack in the league and is one of the few quarterbacks with a positive touchdown to interception ratio. Pepper is also tops in quarterback rating and yards per attempt, while being a 74% thrower. The biggest dings on his resume is that his team currently stands 3-3. If Vancouver can get hot down the stretch and we see McChesney falter, then Pepper is probably the next most reasonable candidate to McChesney.
Editor’s Note: After Week 7’s victory at Jacksonville, Vancouver now sit at 4-3.
Offensive Player of the Year
Tom Pepper, QB, Vancouver Legion
Since Pepper was my MVP runner-up, I’m going to go with him here. Since we’ve already talked about Pepper above, we are going to move on to the four other legitimate OPOY candidates.
Jason Williams RB Fort Worth Toros, Robert Johnson RB Los Angeles Lycans, BDG Hollewood RB Atlanta Swarm, Phoenix Jones RB Mexico City Aztecs
All of these players essentially share the same story. They are the backs for successful teams that run their offense through them. While Williams and Johnson are having more success as pure runners and have better counting stats, Hollewood and Jones are having lots of success as two-way backs and have been very efficient with their touches.
The Honorable Mentions
Ashley Jackson QB Arizona Scorpions, Ace Fenech QB Lone Star Glory, Phoenix Jones RB Mexico City Aztecs, John Blades WR Las Vegas Fury, Donnie Hands WR London Knights
If teams can figure out how to win by passing the ball in the second half of the season, then these are the candidates who stand to improve the most. Jackson and Fenech are included as being the “other two” quarterbacks that are having success this year, in what has been an overall down year for QB play compared to previous seasons. Blades has been far and away the most productive receiver, even if it hasn’t translated to wins, and while Hands hasn’t been the best or most productive receiver this season, he is the top weapon on one of the few teams committed to passing the ball.
Defensive Player of the Year
Colin Douglas, S, St. Louis Gladiators
Douglas should be considered the favorite for DPOY at the midpoint. He is the headlining player on one of the league’s premier defenses. He is doing it everywhere for the Gladiators. While previous DPOY candidates at safety have had flawed resumes because they racked up tackles behind porous front sevens, Douglas has been incredible in every facet of the game and this has translated to improved team statistics for his defense. He is first in passes defensed, fifth in tackles, and has four interceptions. There’s still plenty of time for a new candidate to emerge but no one has as well-rounded of a resume as Douglas.
Iverson Gamble CB Arizona Scorpions, Jack Brown LB Charleston Predators, Nate Hezlep CB Tula Desperados
It’s hard to not include a candidate with three pick-sixes but Gamble made it pretty difficult. His team is towards the bottom in every major category, including passing defense. As a cornerback, that really hurts his case. Ultimately, I think his candidacy falls off because he doesn’t have much room to improve. His most impressive statistics are largely the result of luck (how many pick-sixes can one really get as a result of skill or gameplan?), but any list that doesn’t include Gamble should be disregarded. Jack Brown is being included as he is currently the top tackler in the league. He also has a flawed resume as he is the on-field leader of what amounts to just an average defense and doesn’t really stand out in any other area. Meanwhile, Nate Hezlep has a sneaky good case as the CB1 on the only team allowing less than 200 yards passing per game.
The Honorable Mentions
Troy Loshaw S Baltimore Vultures, Ashley Rose Finch CB Vancouver Legion, William Davidson DL London Knights, Dan Tritz DL Mexico City Aztecs
Loshaw and Finch’s resumes essentially amount to ‘Gamble-lite’ individual stats, but they have contributed to greater team success. I like the possibility of their candidacy improving as the season goes along and them building on what has already been very good seasons for these players. I would be remiss if I didn’t include the top sack artists this season, but neither player have eye-popping numbers like previous DPOYs on the line, and these players really haven’t contributed to true excellence as a unit, seeing that their defenses rank somewhere between average and below-average.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Cam Curtis QB Fort Worth Toros
Curtis is the clear front-runner for OROY, given that he has essentially been a top 5 quarterback this season. While he’s clearly not in the OPOY conversation, he has been exceptional as far as rookies and quarterbacks are concerned. The Toros don’t ask him to do much, but he is productive and efficient when his number is called. It is true that this has been a down year for passing offenses (and offenses as a whole really) and Curtis’s stats aren’t all that impressive when compared to previous season’s top quarterbacks, but when placed into the context of this season, it’s hard to deny that he has been the best offensive rookie. Ultimately, he gets the nod over his other rookie QB counterparts on the basis of efficiency. He has a much higher completion percentage, yards per attempt, and a much higher QBR. While others might have better counting stats, they have not done as much with what they have had.
Charlie Biletsky RB Florida Storm, Christian Brown QB St. Louis Gladiators
Biletsky is the best challenger to Curtis for OROY. While his counting stats aren’t very impressive, he has been a very efficient player when the Storm have chosen to utilize him. If Max Paul chooses to lean on Biletsky down the stretch, he has a really good chance of leapfrogging Curtis. Also, in a particularly weak year for offensive rookies, Brown stands out mostly on the back of his team’s success. While he doesn’t have standout individual stats (in many areas he is below average), he has not screwed up and has contributed to his team being in the driver’s seat for returning to the playoffs.
The Honorable Mention
Kevin Seay RB DC Dragons
Seay has solid counting stats as the anaemic Dragons offense relies almost entirely on his legs. He struggles with efficiency but that’s likely due to DC not opening up better opportunities for him. If Jermaine Smith can find open lanes for him, he has a decent chance of breaking out down the stretch.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Adam Leach CB Forth Worth Toros
While most people will probably call for Dan Tritz here, I have to go with Adam Leach. I’m willing to concede it’s a tight race, but the Fort Worth nickelback has been a swiss army knife on what has been far and away the league’s best defense. Leach averages over six tackles per game from his nickel alignment with half a sack, seven passes defensed, and two interceptions. If you take Leach away from this defense, the Toros are likely a much worse unit. Leach’s versatility allows them to cover what could become weaknesses and allows the coaching staff to throw more looks at opposing offenses.
Dan Tritz DL Mexico City Aztecs & Eric Gugger CB DC Dragons
Tritz has been one of the league’s most productive pass rushers to this point. If he keeps it up, he will likely be the fan favorite for this award. Meanwhile, over in DC, Eric Gugger is the top corner on the #2 pass defense in the league. There is something to be said for that.
The Honorable Mentions
Keenan Samuels LB Jacksonville Kings, Jay Mart LB Jacksonville Kings, Ralgar Lowe CB Houston Hyenas
Samuels and Mart have formed the core responsible for the #2 rush defense in the league. If they can take off individually down the stretch of the year, they can become legitimate contenders for DROY. And, of course, Lawe makes an appearance as he ranks third in interceptions this season. The reason he doesn’t rank higher is because these turnovers haven’t resulted in a top tier unit. The Hyenas are right about average in the league when it comes to defending the pass.
Coach of the Year
Nacho Sicario, Stephen Hacker Co-HC Fort Worth Toros
Nacho, Stephen and their staff have been incredible this season. They are leading one of the most impressive defenses in league history statistically-speaking as they are close to not even allowing 10 points per game. The Toros have the best point differential in the league and are tied for the best record in the entire SFL.
Drew Really HC St. Louis Gladiators, Jeremy Vega HC Denver Nightwings, TJ Cags HC Baltimore Vultures
The Gladiators, Nightwings, and Vultures, all are tied at 5-1 with the Toros for best record in the league. Each team has been incredible so far. This is likely a wide open race dependent on how the teams finish down stretch.
The Honorable Mentions
Rachelle Colston HC Los Angeles Lycans, Frank Goodin HC Jacksonville Kings, Andy Hamilton HC Vancouver Legion, Max Paul HC Florida Storm
Next up are the 4-2 teams plus the Vancouver Legion. The Lycans, Kings, and Storm all have good teams that are capable of really dominating down the stretch and putting themselves into ideal positions for the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Legion have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league and the clear-cut best offense. Andy Hamilton and co. should get credit for the unit they’ve put together.