Winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award is sort of a backhanded compliment for an NFL player. It’s fine if you win the award after returning from an injury plagued season, but otherwise it’s a sign that you really underperformed the previous year. The favorites for this year’s award mostly struggled either with injuries or off the field issues in 2018.
In terms of who we like to win this year’s award, it’s a healthy split between the favorites and some extreme long shots. There just isn’t a lot of value in the middle of the board. The best strategy is to wager on a couple of long shots and then back the favorite of your choice as a hedge. Read on to discover exactly how you should play this quirky award.
Le’Veon Bell and Josh Gordon share the co-favorite honors with 5:1 odds to take home the hardware. We support a wager on either or both players if you’re so inclined. The odds are just long enough to make placing some coin on either player worthwhile.
If we are forced to pick between the two, we’d give the slight edge to Gordon. Voters are going to give the Patriots receiver a little more sympathy for struggling with off the field issues than Bell’s decision to skip the season due to a contract dispute. Bell is the more likely of the two to play a full season, but Gordon’s superior narrative makes him a really intriguing play.
There’s one more favorite that’s worth your time. Jimmy Garoppolo is situated just behind the leaders with 5.5:1 odds of his own. If he can come back and lead the 49ers to a playoff berth, or better yet, a division title, he’s going to get a ton of positive press. Kyle Shanahan’s offense is tailor made for a quarterback like Garoppolo to put up big numbers. We’re a little concerned about the lack of talent at wide receiver in San Francisco, but Jimmy G has the arm talent to elevate his teammates. Gordon is still the best bet here, but Garoppolo is a little ahead of Bell in our estimation.
Now that you’ve covered yourself by backing a favorite or two to win the award, it’s time to get a little crazy and try to find a way to make serious money. The longshot we really like on the board is Leonard Fournette all the way back at 32:1.
The Jaguars running back has really impressed team officials with the work he put in on his body during the offseason. He came into training camp looking much leaner and more explosive than he did last season. We know Jacksonville is going to give him plenty of carries. Having Nick Foles at quarterback should also open up a little more room for the former LSU star to run. Add it all up and it’s easy to envision a scenario where Fournette leads the NFL in rushing. If that happens, he’ll get serious consideration for the award.
If you don’t want to take on quite that much risk, then consider backing Cam Newton at 17:1. The Panthers were rocking and rolling with a 6-2 record last season before their offensive talisman went down due to injury. Carolina’s coaching staff has treated Newton with kid gloves this preseason, but they know he needs to be great if they want to make a postseason run in 2019. It might take an MVP caliber season for Newton to garner serious consideration here, but that’s not out of the realm of possibility for such a talented player.
The only other long shot we like on the board is Josh Rosen at 40:1. He isn’t guaranteed to be the Dolphins’ starter when Week 1 rolls around, but it’s only a matter of time before he moves ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Phins’ depth chart.
He’s also an excellent bet to enjoy a much more productive 2019 season after being jerked around by the dysfunctional Cardinals in 2018. Rosen isn’t everyone’s favorite personality, but this guy can really throw the football all over the field. If Miami takes the shackles off him, they could end up with a franchise quarterback on their hands. If that happens, he could be in line for a lot of awards at season’s end.