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  • Writer's pictureNoah Beausoleil

CFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 1 Review

The CFL is back, and so are the Between The Goalposts Special Teams Power Rankings! Specialists have tested free agency, coaches have drafted potential stars, and it's time to showcase it all on the field. While this week's article is shorter due to my day job as a 911 operator, I aim to provide weekly updates on every special teams position in the CFL—from kickers to long snappers to individual efforts on special teams plays. I will hand out Player of the Week awards for both the East and West conferences, and highlight the standouts and slip-ups of each position. Without further ado, here’s how the CFL special teams units performed in Week 1;

 

Special Teams Player of the Week

West Division: Rene Paredes

East Division: John Haggerty

 

Kickers

   Here are the CFL Week 1 Kicker Power Rankings:

  Standouts;

  1. Rene Paredes (CGY) made all 6 of his field goals, including a long of 52 yards. He also completed both of his PATs.

  2. Sean Whyte (BC) went 2/2 on field goals this week, including a long of 51 yards. He also remained perfect on his 2 PATs.

  3. Brett Lauther (SSK) is the only kicker to have played a full game without an opportunity to kick a field goal. He was perfect on all 4 PATs.


  Slip-ups;

  1. The CFL for putting a chip in the kicking ball. Seriously, did we learn nothing from the USFL in 2022?

 

Punters

Here are the CFL Week 1 Punter Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. John Haggerty (TOR) punted 6 times for an average of 48.2 yards and 41.2 net yards per punt. He managed to land 4 of his punts (67%) inside the 20-yard line, including 3 that landed inside the 10-yard line.

  2. Jake Julien (EDM) was my selection for the breakout punter in 2024, and what a showing he had in Week 1. He punted 7 times, recording a league-leading average of 54.4 yards and 48 net yards per punt. Over 85% of Julien's punts travelled more than 50 yards, including a 69-yard punt, the longest in 2024.

  3. Nik Constantinou (HAM), the left-footed rookie from down under, had a great CFL debut, recording an average of 52.3 yards and 37 net yards across 4 punts. He even notched his first Rouge!


  Slip-ups;

  1. Jamieson Sheahan (WPG) was the only punter to receive a penalty this week when one of his punts travelled out of bounds between the 15-yard lines.

 

Kickoff Specialists

  Here are the CFL Week 1 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. Brett Lauther (SSK) kicked off 5 times for a total of 351 yards, averaging 70.2 yards per attempt. He launched 3 of his kickoffs (60%) over 70 yards and kept 3 kickoffs inside the 30-yard line.

  2. Stefan Flintoft (BC) averaged 69.3 yards across 4 kickoffs, including 2 that travelled further than 70 yards. He was the only other kickoff specialist to keep a kickoff inside the 30-yard line.


  Slip-ups;

  1. Lirim Hajrullahu (TOR) was hot-and-cold all night, averaging 65.8 yards across his 5 attempts. He showcased his leg strength with 3 kickoffs (60%) travelling more than 70 yards, but struggled with consistency as his remaining 2 kickoffs were under 60 yards.

 

Long Snappers

Here are the CFL Week 1 Long Snapper Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. Mike Benson (WPG) tackled a returner in their own end zone after the player had already exited the end zone, resulting in a safety!

  2. Riley Pickett + Kyle Nelson (BC) are sharing long snapping duties, something I haven't seen before during a regular season game. Pickett handles field goal snaps while Nelson snaps to punter Stefan Flintoft. Since Jake Reinhart's career-ending injury with the Argonauts, I’ve been a fan of keeping multiple long snappers on a team’s roster. I'll keep you updated on this situation as the season continues.

 

Kickoff Returners

Here are the CFL Week 1 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;

    Standouts;

  1. Mario Alford (SSK) continues to do what he does best, returning 2 kickoffs for a total of 62 yards, including a 37-yarder, the longest return of the young season.

  2. Thomas Bertrand-Hudon (SSK) must have picked up some tips from his teammate, as his lone return travelled 35 yards, and is the second-longest return of Week 1.

  3. Josh Banks (BC), a defensive lineman, gave us the first big-man return of the week when he returned a kickoff for 20 yards.


  Slip-ups;

  1. Javon Leake (EDM) struggled to get anything going on kickoff returns, which doesn’t surprise me. He is an electric punt returner but struggles to find open lanes on kickoff returns. This is one aspect of his game he will look to improve upon in 2024.

 

Punt Returners

Here are the CFL Week 1 Punt Returner Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. James Letcher Jr. (MTL) was almost the East Division's Special Teams Player of The Week. His 3 punt returns over 15 yards ensured that Montreal started their drives with excellent field position, and was a huge factor in their win over Winnipeg.

  2. Janarion Grant (TOR) signed with the Argonauts right before the season started and is already producing at a high level, averaging 14.3 yards across 3 attempts, including 2 returns (67%) that went for more than 15 yards.

  3. Javon Leake (EDM) had a 75-yard punt return touchdown nullified by a penalty. Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll break off a huge return again next week.

  4. Mario Alford (SSK) had a 32-yard punt return, as well as a 92-yard punt return touchdown nullified by penalties on his return team.


  Slip-ups;

  1. Myron Mitchell (WPG) was the starting punt returner in Winnipeg for Week 1, but things didn’t go his way. He returned 7 punts for an average of 5.3 yards per return. He also fumbled the ball on a return, resulting in the opposing team recovering the ball and scoring a touchdown.

 

Missed Field Goal Returners

  Here are the CFL Week 1 Missed Field Goal Returner Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. Terry Williams (BC) got plenty of practice against Lirim Hajrullahu, who missed 2 PATs during their Week 1 battle. He was able to return both kicks out of the end zone, which would have ensured no points were scored if they were field goals and not converts.

  2. Erik Brooks (CGY) had a breakout game for the Stampeders, returning kickoffs, punts, and missed field goals. His 84-yard missed field goal return helped Calgary put the game away late in the third quarter.


  Slip-ups;

  1. James Letcher Jr. (MTL) had trouble fielding his lone attempt. By the time he had the ball in his hands and exited the end zone, the Winnipeg coverage team was all over him. He was tackled inside the end zone and gave up a safety.

 

Coverage Teams

Here are the CFL Week 1 Coverage Team Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. The Montreal Alouettes were the only team to record a turnover this week and had the best coverage unit by a large margin.

  2. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were the only team not to receive a penalty, according to CFL statistics. However, I believe they had to burn a timeout to avoid a "Too Many Men" penalty during a PAT.

  3. The Edmonton Elks allowed an average of just 4.4 yards on 5 punt returns, the lowest in Week 1.


  Slip-ups;

  1. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers received the highest number of penalty yards, which is something you just can't do if you want to be successful on Special Teams.

 

Individual Special Teams Tackles

  Here are the CFL Week 1 Special Teams Tackles Power Rankings;

  Standouts;

  1. Tyrice Beverette (MTL) forced a fumble on a Winnipeg return, causing the only turnover on special teams in Week 1. He did receive a No-Yards penalty, but it was declined.

  2. CreVon Leblanc (MTL) was the only player in Week 1 to record 3 special teams tackles. He did receive a penalty for an illegal block that hurt his position in the power rankings.


  Slip-ups;

  1. Devine Scott (CGY) received an unnecessary roughness penalty on special teams, costing his team 15 yards in the process.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my work.


Continue the discussion over on the Official CFL Forum!

Consider following me on Twitter - @NoahBeauso

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