The NFL offseason is coming to an end, and it’s been a wild one. Plenty of big name quarterbacks have changed teams, Julio Jones got traded to the Titans, and a whole lot more. The preseason has come and gone, and the real action will get started next Thursday with Cowboys vs Buccaneers.
It’s an exciting time of year for bettors, because it’s when futures markets really start to heat up. Here at Pickswise we’ve got a ton of great content planned, including picks on the Super Bowl, win totals, and everything in between. Right now we’re going to be talking awards, though, specifically Comeback Player of the Year. Unfortunately, a lot of star players went down with serious injuries last year, but on the bright side, it’s made for a fun and competitive CPOY race in 2021.
Let’s dive into it all, starting with the odds courtesy of DraftKings and then some best bets:
Dak Prescott +210
Saquon Barkley +700
Joe Burrow +700
Christian McCaffrey +800
Nick Bosa +1000
Carson Wentz +1000
George Kittle +1000
Jameis Winston +1000
Jimmy Garoppolo +1200
Michael Thomas +1200
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif +1200
Courtland Sutton +1400
Julio Jones +1400
Odell Beckham Jr. +1400
Sam Darnold +1600
Derwin James +1600
Von Miller +2500
I can’t recall a time when so many star players were contenders for this award. Prescott is the favorite, and it isn’t particularly close. After him we have Barkley and Burrow, both coming off ACL tears, and McCaffrey — who was limited to three games by various ailments.
Bosa has by far the lowest odds of any defensive player, as he comes off an ACL tear of his own. There are some players, like Wentz and Winston, who didn’t have a major injury, but instead just dealt with general adversity like getting benched or spending the whole season as a backup.
Last year the clear winner was Alex Smith, with Ben Roethlisberger as the only other serious candidate. This year the field is crowded and there are plenty of guys with legitimate arguments should they have a strong 2021.
Without further ado, let’s get to the fun part: some best bets.
Comeback Player of the Year best bets: Dak Prescott (+210) and Joe Burrow (+700)
It’s a quarterback-driven league, and Prescott and Burrow have a big advantage. Both are coming off serious injuries that had everyone holding their breath at the time. Prescott has the best chance, as he was lighting it up before breaking his ankle. He was still atop the passing yards charts for a couple of weeks even after going down, that’s how unreal the numbers he was putting up were.
He’s returning to an offense stacked with skill-position talent in the form of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup at his disposal. Plus, the image of Prescott’s foot pointing in the wrong direction is so visceral and imprinted in everyone’s memory that it can only help his case, similar to Smith’s horrific injury that won him the award last year.
Burrow was having a fantastic rookie season before his devastating knee injury that included other ligament damage beyond just the ACL. He’s easy to root for and has the pedigree of being last year’s first overall pick. Should Prescott falter, Burrow has the next-best chance.
McCaffrey and Barkley have the disadvantage of being running backs, and will need to put up borderline historic numbers to win this. It’s not inconceivable, but certainly less likely. None of the middle-tier guys like Wentz, Jones, or Darnold are appealing. Which brings us to some longshots …
Best longshot bets: Von Miller (+2500) and Odell Beckham Jr. (+1400)
Although Bosa is favored among defensive players, Miller is more intriguing at +2500. He’s a seven-time All-Pro and former Super Bowl MVP who didn’t play at all last season. Playing next to Bradley Chubb on a talented Broncos defense, he could have a big year. If he manages to lead the league in sacks or come close, he’s got a very real shot.
I’m also sprinkling a few bucks on Beckham at +1400. If you read this same column a couple of months ago I recommended taking Beckham at +2500, and even still I think he has some value after seeing his odds chopped nearly in half. It wasn’t that long ago he was considered the best receiver in the league, and he’s reportedly looked great in offseason practices just eight months after tearing an ACL. There’s nothing the media loves more than a good redemption story, and Beckham has been through the ringer the past few years. The Browns are now squarely in the spotlight following their breakout 2020 and have a ton of nationally televised games.
If Beckham can get back to his old self and make some of his patented splashy catches in primetime, some buzz will start to build for him to win CPOY. Prescott still has a leg up on everybody, but don’t count out these longshots.