NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds & Analysis 2023-24

The Comeback Player of the Year award is always a fun one to watch. Players who are coming off of down seasons for whatever reason – usually missed time due to injuries – come back with a vengeance and light up the league. 2022 saw several high-profile players have down years or season-ending injuries, leaving us with a number of candidates for the Comeback Player of the Year award this season. The best value on this future bet can often come prior to the start of the season, so let’s take a look at some of the players who have the best shot for a terrific comeback year.

2022 CPOY Recap

Geno Smith won the NFL 2022 Comeback Player of the Year award following an elite Pro Bowl season not many people saw coming. After the Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson, it was assumed they would enter a rebuild, but Smith led them to a playoff berth. He threw for 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, ranked fifth in passer rating, and led the NFL with a completion percentage of 69.8%. Smith earned 28 first-place votes while Christian McCaffrey came in second with 12.

CPOY Historical Analysis

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year award has an interesting past. From 1963-1966, the Associated Press awarded a Comeback Player of the Year to one player each from the NFL and AFL. The award was then dissipated before being reinstated in 1998. On one occasion, the award was split between linebacker Tedy Bruschi and wide receiver Steve Smith. Since 1998, a quarterback has won the award 15 of the 26 times (57.7%). That includes the past five years when Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Joe Burrow, and Geno Smith have won. A wide receiver has won 3 of the 26 times (11.5%), a defensive lineman has won 3 times, and a safety, tight end, running back, and linebacker have each won once. Since 2008, an offensive player has won 14 of 15 times (93.3%).

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Damar Hamlin Enters 2023 Season as Heavy Favorite

In past years, we have seen players like Alex Smith come back from devastating injuries that have dominated national media storylines. Eric Berry was a Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor who was able to return to the NFL field. It may seem obvious, but the best media narrative is likely the one that will drive a player to win CPOY. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see Damar Hamlin as such a heavy favorite to win this award. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the football field last season but is planning to make a full return this year.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Hamlin winning this award if he’s able to play any meaningful football this season given the massive amount of support he has received since the life-altering incident. Hamlin has already become a powerful motivating figure in the public eye and said that he wants to “show people that fear is a choice.” Hamlin has been to the White House, has spoken to children extensively, and has taken the opportunity to use his newfound platform for good. He’s someone well worth rooting for, but at -500 odds on some books, probably not someone worth betting on.

Other Top CPOY Candidates

If you’re looking for longer shot odds to win this award, there are a handful that offer intrigue. Lamar Jackson is coming off two injury-shortened seasons and could put up career best numbers in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s system. With Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers joining Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews, this could be the best receiving corps of Jackson’s career.

Tua Tagovailoa is another quarterback coming off a season marred by injury complications, but when on the field he led the Dolphins to an 8-5 record as a starter and led the NFL in passer rating. Russell Wilson wasn’t as effective, but the Broncos will be hoping the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback can bounce back in new head coach Sean Payton’s offense.

Wide receiver John Metchie III could also be a sleeper in this market as the former Alabama wideout missed his rookie season off a torn ACL and an unfortunate leukemia diagnosis. If you believe in his talent winning out in a weak Texans wide receiver room, it’s easy to make the argument for the narrative case for Metchie. Keep an eye on Foster Moreau for similar reasons. The new Saints tight end had a cancer scare earlier this offseason but is expected to be good to go for the start of 2023.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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