The NFL Comeback Player of the Year (CPOY) can be won by any position, but it’s most often taken home by quarterbacks. A unique wrinkle in CPOY betting markets is that you have to figure out if certain options would even qualify for consideration in this race. This year’s race is unconventional, as Damar Hamlin is the overwhelming favorite over several high-end quarterback contenders.
In our final installment of our preseason awards series, we’ll take a look at 21 CPOY options:
|Damar Hamlin -300
|Tua Tagovailoa +2000
|Lamar Jackson +2500
|Russell Wilson +2500
|Breece Hall +2500
|John Metchie III +2500
|Cooper Kupp +3000
|Calvin Ridley +3500
|Matthew Stafford +4000
|Odell Beckham Jr. +5000
|Jonathan Taylor +5000
|Javonte Williams +5000
|Derek Carr +6000
|Sam Darnold +6000
|Deshaun Watson +6000
|Michael Thomas +6500
|Baker Mayfield +7500
|Mac Jones +7500
|Von Miller +7500
|Rashan Gary +7500
|Chase Young +7500
Damar Hamlin, Bills Defensive Back -300
The football world stopped when Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during last season's Week 17 tilt between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. Not only has Hamlin recovered, but remarkably, he’s playing football again this summer.
For the CPOY race, Hamlin is currently a reserve safety in Buffalo. He’s not a lock to even make the team. That collectively means Hamlin's ability to make a major impact on the field is limited. His CPOY candidacy is primarily driven by the idea that all he has to do is step on the field in an NFL regular season game. That will likely be enough for at least some awards voters.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins Quarterback +2000
Tua Tagovailoa missed five full games last season if you count Miami’s Wild-Card round playoff game. In general, that’s on the border of being enough missed time for a player to “come back from” in this particular race. The wrinkle with Tagovailoa is that he contemplated retirement this offseason due to his mounting number of concussions. Tagovailoa can be a high performer on a contending Miami Dolphins team. If not for Hamlin, Tagovailia would have opened in the +500 odds range in this race.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens Quarterback +2500
Lamar Jackson missed five regular season games last season, but his injury was more short-term. More times than not, in the CPOY race, the winner is coming off a significant injury from the previous season. If you’re betting on Jackson, your biggest concern is that his injury wasn’t severe enough for him to qualify in this race in the eyes of certain awards voters.
Russell Wilson, Broncos Quarterback +2500
Russell Wilson is an excellent CPOY contender because he was a borderline future Hall of Famer entering last season. He was then traded to Denver, where he absolutely bombed. If the Denver Broncos make the playoffs behind a bounce-back year from Wilson, he’ll be in the thick of this race all season.
Breece Hall, Jets Running Back +2500
A running back has not won the CPOY since Garrison Hearst in 2001. If Christian McCaffrey did not win it last year, it’s hard to imagine Breece Hall leapfrogging Hamlin and all of the premium quarterback contenders.
John Metchie III, Texans Wide Receiver +2500
This is another unique situation, as John Metchie III missed last season due to his battle with Leukemia. That Metchie is even playing this year is a testament to his will and toughness. That alone puts Metchie on the map in this race. If he can rise to the top of Houston’s wide-open wide receiver room, he has a path to convention here.
The Mid-Range Longshots
Cooper Kupp, Rams Wide Receiver +3000
We already know that Cooper Kupp is capable of historic wide receiver production. He also missed eight games last year, which crosses the unofficial threshold of being “enough” to qualify in this race. If Kupp had been in this situation entering last season, he might have opened as the favorite in the CPOY market. This year’s race has far more competition, which is Kupp’s biggest obstacle.
Calvin Ridley, Jaguars Wide Receiver +3500
Calvin Ridley has played in five NFL games over the last two years. He’s in an excellent spot with Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, where Ridley could be a top performer at the position this season if he’s still the same player. But even in that best-case scenario, will Ridley outproduce Kupp? He’ll have to in order to have a shot in this race.
Matthew Stafford, Rams Quarterback +4000
Team success will be Matthew Stafford’s biggest obstacle in the CPOY race. Stafford led the Rams to a title two years as an MVP contender deep into the regular season. We know he can be an elite producer. However, outside of their elite core, the Los Angeles Rams' overall roster is filled with unknown players. Generally speaking, quarterbacks that win the CPOY lead their team to the playoffs.
The Long Shots
Odell Beckham Jr., Ravens Wide Receiver +5000
It’s hard to see Odell Beckham Jr. out-producing Kupp or even Ridley this season.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts Running Back +5000
As mentioned in the Hall write-up, the CPOY is not often won by running backs. In Jonathan Taylor’s case, if he’s traded to Miami or Philadelphia, he becomes a more interesting candidate. Even still, he has to leapfrog Hamlin and half a dozen quarterbacks. If McCaffrey didn’t beat Geno Smith last year, it’s hard to see Taylor overcoming all of the contenders in this race.
Javonte Williams, Broncos Running Back +5000
Javonte Williams is ahead of schedule after his season-ending knee injury from last season. His progress is impressive, but running backs rarely win the CPOY. Williams’ path to contention is quite narrow.
Derek Carr, Saints Quarterback +6000
Derek Carr is the sort of CPOY candidate who's on the board for most major sports books, but will he actually qualify? Carr is changing teams, but he did not miss significant time due to a major injury last season. I’d lean toward him not officially qualifying. That said, the New Orleans Saints' league-easiest schedule creates a path to significant team success for New Orleans. That means Carr should at least be on your radar in this race.
Sam Darnold, 49ers Quarterback +6000
Deshaun Watson, Browns Quarterback +6000
Deshaun Watson is a very interesting CPOY contender. On the one hand, he’s in a very clear position to have a bounce-back season for a potential playoff team. On the other, his off-field incidents could make him a relative cross-off for many awards voters. If you’re bullish on Watson’s prospects this season, I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk you out of putting a sprinkle on him in this race.
Michael Thomas, Saints Wide Receivers +6500
Michael Thomas has played in 10 NFL games over the last three years. Before that, he was an elite producer at the position. His path is narrow, but in a best-case scenario, Thomas can rise to the top of this race if he can stay healthy.
The Deep Long Shots
Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers Quarterback +7500
Baker Mayfield’s CPOY path would be similar to Geno Smith’s last season. Mayfield has a talented supporting cast on offense, and his offensive coordinator actually comes from Seattle. Ultimately, unless you think Mayfield is going to have a career resurgence while leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the playoffs, his path in this race is narrow.
Mac Jones, Patriots Quarterback +7500
Mac Jones would normally be a strong option in this race, as he had a disastrous sophomore year after being the Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up the previous season. Unfortunately, the New England Patriots have an absolutely brutal schedule to start the season, so team success will be a major hurdle for Jones. With last year’s CPOY contenders, Jones would have opened in the 15-1 range. This year, there are a ton of excellent contenders that he’d need to leapfrog.
Von Miller, Bills Edge +7500
On the positive side, Von Miller is a highly capable pass rusher on the contending Bills. On the negative side, he’s 34 years old, and this is an abnormally deep CPOY class.
Rashan Gary, Packers Edge +7500
If you’re going to bet on a long-shot pass rusher, Rashan Gary was ascending before his season-ending injury last season. If the Green Bay Packers surprise this season as a playoff team, their defense will be the driving force. In that scenario, Gary likely has a breakthrough season.
Chase Young, Commanders Edge +7500
Chase Young is a talented edge rusher who has underwhelmed to this point in his career. Not only does Young need to have a career year, but the Washington Commanders need to be a competitive team. That’s a lot to ask for in a very competitive CPOY race.
Ryan’s CPOY Pick: Tagovailoa
Ryan’s Favorite Long Shot: Watson