NFL Comeback Player of the Year betting: Handicapping circumstance

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The Comeback Player of the Year (CPOTY) award goes to someone who overcame an absence from the game that might have threatened the peak of their career. Every few years, performance is less relevant - Alex Smith in 2020 and Eric Berry in 2015 returned from health issues that threatened their lives. Just being on the field was a victory for both.

More commonly, like last year, the CPOTY is given to a player who missed the previous season with an injury and excelled in their return. Fortunately, no one qualifies for a heroic comeback, so we can narrow the focus to performance and injury-related circumstances as we peruse the odds board.

Comeback Player of the Year odds

Derrick Henry +400
Jameis Winston +550
Christian McCaffrey +750
Baker Mayfield +1400
Michael Thomas +1400
Chase Young +1500
Marcus Mariota +1600
Daniel Jones +2000
Mitch Trubisky +2000
Allen Robinson +2500
JK Dobbins +2500
Cam Akers +3000
Deshaun Watson +3000
JuJu Smith-Schuster +3000
Chris Godwin +4000
Drew Lock +4000
Khalil Mack +4000
Travis Etienne +4000

Odds available on theScore Bet, players not listed above available at 50-1 or longer.

The occasionally ambiguous nature of the Comeback Player of the Year award revolves around what you've come back from and how that's measured. That said, I definitely think the favorite in this market has already come back. And if I believe that, a portion of voters will agree with me and not consider Derrick Henry for the award. As a result, this is the rare instance where I don't even think the favorite can win - forget placing my bet on him. Since the other contenders are either coming back from a standard injury or career struggles, it will come down to who's the most statistically impactful.

Christian McCaffrey (+750)

Some partaking in fantasy football this season seem to believe McCaffrey is poised for a big campaign, as he's among the most expensive players, and those who are avoiding a huge investment are doing so because of his injury history. Those two elements add up to a pretty strong candidacy for this award if we're right about his statistical output this year, but we have concerns about whether he can "come back" to his previous form. With the opportunities McCaffrey will get, all he may need to do is stay healthy for a full season. That has to have a better than 11.8% (implied win probability of +750) chance of happening, making the Panthers' do-it-all tailback a good bet.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (+3000)

Despite being five seasons into his career, Smith-Schuster is still only 25 years old, meaning he's young enough to bounce back to full strength from his 2021 shoulder injury as well as get some career comeback credit after less-than-stellar campaigns with the Steelers.

Smith-Schuster also has Patrick Mahomes throwing him the football this year, which will be a boon to his production. The last time he had a peak NFL quarterback under center, he had 111 receptions for over 1,426 yards in 2018 - only 10 players have had more in the last four years. Returning to that level with the Chiefs' offense is plausible and would get a lot of attention.

Naysayers will point out that, like Henry, Smith-Schuster already came back in the playoffs last season, but a) you probably forgot that happened, and b) betting 30-1 odds that the voters did too - or don't care - is much different than just the 4-1 payout for if Henry has a big campaign.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

NFL Comeback Player of the Year betting: Handicapping circumstance
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