Nothing excites fans and bettors more than an incredible redemption story, and that’s why gamblers are already budgeting bucks to throw at the NFL Comeback Player of the Year (CPOTY).
This award is fun for bettors to wager on because it allows them to track various players’ paths back to their best selves or, in some cases, better versions of the players they once were.
The unforgiving gridiron doled out its fair share of injuries last season, making way for a handful of players to stage comebacks in 2022. Odell Beckham Jr. injured his ACL after catching a pass for a touchdown in the Super Bowl where the Rams beat the Bengals. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston injured his MCL and ACL in a Week 8 showdown against Tampa Bay. After Winston was sidelined for the rest of the year, the promising season for New Orleans’ took a downturn.
Sometimes, however, it’s a career slump and not an injury to blame for why an athlete might be a candidate to win the award.
Baker Mayfield, for example, came into the league as a Heisman winner and was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018. He set a rookie record for passing touchdowns by a QB, and then in 2020, helped lead the Browns to their first playoff appearance in 18 years. But after a few down years in Cleveland that led to being replaced by Deshaun Watson, Mayfield is starting over in Carolina. Can he have an award-winning comeback story? Per FOX Sports Research, quarterbacks have won the award 15 times, including the last four. So the odds could very well be in Baker’s favor.
We will highlight a few good men who we think have a chance to walk away with the award. But first, let’s dive into the players with the top 20 odds to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year (with all odds via FOX Bet).
Derrick Henry: +350 (bet $10 to win $45 total)
Jameis Winston: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Christian McCaffrey: +700 (bet $10 to win $80 total)
Daniel Jones: +900 (bet $10 to win $100 total)
Baker Mayfield: +1000 (bet $10 to win $110 total)
Michael Thomas: +1100 (bet $10 to win $120 total)
Mitchell Tribusky: +1400 (bet $10 to win $150 total)
Marcus Mariota: +1600 (bet $10 to win $170 total)
Chase Young: +1600 (bet $10 to win $170 total)
J.K. Dobbins: +2000 (bet $10 to win $210 total)
Deshaun Watson: +2000 (bet $10 to win $210 total)
Allen Robinson II: +2000 (bet $10 to win $210 total)
Chris Godwin: +2000 (bet $10 to win $210 total)
Cam Akers: +2200 (bet $10 to win $230 total)
JuJu Smith-Schuster: +2200 (bet $10 to win $230 total)
Khalil Mack: +2500 (bet $10 to win $260 total)
Travis Etienne: +2500 (bet $10 to win $260 total)
DJ Chark: +3300 (bet $10 to win $340 total)
Tre’Davious White: +3500 (bet $10 to win $360 total)
Robert Woods: +4000 (bet $10 to win $410 total)
Per FOX Sports Research, since 2014, the average preseason odds of the eventual winner is +650.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was named last season’s winner. His odds of winning the award started off at +800 before last season. Back in 2014, now-retired Rob Gronkowski won after his odds were listed at +1000 at the start of the year. So who’s the next man up for the coveted award — someone at the top of the oddsboard or a long shot?
Here are a few players whose odds stand out.
The explosive Titans‘ running back was sidelined in the middle of last season with a broken bone in his foot. Even though he missed nine games, Henry finished with 937 rushing yards, ranking in the NFL’s top 10 last year. Henry returned during last year’s playoffs, where he ran for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Not only is Henry freakishly athletic, but he’s a vital part of Tennessee’s offense. If the running back can top 2,000 yards again as he did during the 2020 season, gamblers might want to set aside a few bucks for this no-brainer bet.
When the Manning family anoints a player as the “Chosen One,” that must mean success is in his DNA. So far, Jones has fallen short of that distinction.
Last season, Jones’ 2,428 passing yards ranked 29th in the NFL, and his 10 passing TDs ranked 28th. And during his short tenure as the Giants‘ starting QB, the G-Men have never made the postseason. In Daniel’s defense, he has been subjected to NY’s head coaching carousel. But could this be the year that Jones rises above the noise in New York and proves the Mannings right and haters wrong?
If he can carry the Giants to the playoffs, he might be a player to consider for CPOTY.
Odell Beckham Jr.: +4000 (bet $10 to win $410 total)
FOX Sports Research notes that only three wide receivers have won the award. Could Beckham beat his injury bug and the odds to become the fourth? At +4000, OBJ is certainly a long-shot bet. But he has proven over the course of his NFL career that he has got the bounce-back juice.
From ankle sprains to ACL tears, OBJ has never met an injury he couldn’t overcome. And now that the Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler is a free agent, it’s only a matter of time before a new team picks him up and gives him a chance to do what he does best — catch TDs, frustrate opposing defenses and prove why he’s one of the best in the league.
Los Angeles also seemed to be a good fit for his larger-than-life personality. With that in mind, Odell at +4000 might be worth a sprinkle.
FOX Sports NFL writer Eric Williams chimed in on the Comeback Player of the Year odds.
“Christian McCaffrey and Cam Akers are interesting possibilities because I think both the Rams and Panthers will run the football more this season,” Williams noted. “However, I like Jameis Winston here for a couple reasons.
“First, Winston is operating in a familiar offense that he had some success in last season before his knee injury. And secondly, with Michael Thomas returning, a dynamic runner and pass catcher in Alvin Kamara still on the roster and the additions of Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave, Winston has enough explosive playmakers at his disposal to put up good numbers.
“Finally, the Saints take the ball away defensively. New Orleans finished in the top 10 in takeaways the last three seasons, making it easier for the Saints’ offense to score.”
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