The 2022 NFL season sits right around the corner. Teams completed a recent slate of offseason training and team activities, incorporating their rookies into the mix. As fans and bettors alike eagerly await the schedule release, and pour over NFL Futures odds, sportsbooks have begun posting odds for the different NFL awards, including the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Last year’s winner of the Comeback Player of the Year award was Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Although not the betting favorite entering the NFL Honors ceremony, Burrow edged out Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in the voting following a season where he led the Bengals to the Super Bowl after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2020.
Burrow started with +600 odds to with Comeback Player of the Year, in line with stars like Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffery. Dak Prescott stood as the initial favorite (+175) for the award heading into last season. Even Tim Tebow held odds entering 2021 (+3300 at DraftKings). Just before the ceremony, Prescott remained the betting favorite at -140, with Burrow behind at +110.
This season, a new crop of players populates the board, including several stars and multi-time Pro Bowlers. Here’s a look at the 2022 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds.
The crop of talent for the 2022 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year features a former AP offensive player of the year, four All-Pro berths, and 11 Pro Bowls. And that’s just among the players getting better than 10/1 odds for the award. If all these players return and play to their previous levels, this will no doubt affect NFL odds as the season progresses.
Of the top-seven getting better than +1000 odds, four are starting quarterbacks. It’s no surprise to see QBs holding a strong position in these early odds considering 14 of the last 20 Comeback Player of the Year award winners were quarterbacks.
A more recent betting trend for the award indicates players coming back from significant injuries might have a leg up. Since 2014, each winner, save for Ryan Tannehill in 2019, had suffered a season-ending injury during the previous season. That’s the case for a few of the early favorites, but not all.
Front-Runner: Derrick Henry (+300)
The early favorite for the 2022 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year award is Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. The 2020 AP Offensive Player of the Year led the NFL in rushing in both 2019 and 2020. Last season, Henry registered 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns through his first eight games before suffering a broken foot in Week 8.
Henry managed an improbable return for Tennessee’s divisional round playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but looked limited. He finished with 62 yards on 20 carries in the loss for the Titans. The 28-year-old should make it to training camp fully recovered and ready to carry more of the offensive load in Tennessee. The Titans saw their AFC Championship odds fade significantly following the draft day trade of A.J. Brown.
Second-Best Odds: Deshaun Watson (+400)
The Cleveland Browns went all-in for the 2022 season when they completed a blockbuster pre-draft deal with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson. The embattled quarterback still faces potential league suspension stemming from his legal issues, but his role a starting quarterback for an AFC contender immediately gives him solid odds to be the Comeback Player of the Year.
In his last full season, Watson played at a near-MVP level. The three-time Pro Bowler he threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 2020. There’s still a real chance NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspends Watson under the league’s personal conduct policy. But if that doesn’t happen, or is minimal, Watson’s role as the starting quarterback on a contending team could improve his award odds as the season develops.
Saints Duo Hoping for Co-Comeback Player of the Year
The New Orleans Saints sport two players among the top-5 odds getters for the Comeback Player of the Year award. Quarterback Jameis Winston (+550) and wide receiver Michael Thomas (+600) both hope for bounce back campaigns in New Orleans.
Winston suffered a season-ending MCL tear against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8, so he fits the recent award trends of both being a quarterback and returning from serious injury. Winston led the Saints to a 5-2 record early on, throwing for 1,170 yards and 14 touchdowns, with just three interceptions.
Michael Thomas, meanwhile, stands near the top of the odds board for this award following just seven games played over the last two seasons. He didn’t play at all in 2021 after a setback during his rehab of ankle and hamstring injuries. Thomas sports three Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro berths over his five-year career and has twice led the NFL in receptions and once in receiving yards. Although the Saints traded up for a wide receiver in the first round of the draft, a fully healthy Thomas should be Winston’s top target in the passing game. The Saints enter the 2022 season with long NFC Championship odds.
Longshots to Consider for Comeback Player of the Year
The 2021 award didn’t go to the odds-on favorite, so it’s valuable to consider an underdog for 2022. Burrow started with +600 odds ahead of the 2021 season and roared back to swipe this award from front-running favorite Dak Prescott.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery finds himself on this list once again after playing just seven games in 2021. DraftKings lists McCaffery at +800, but other sportsbooks, feature much longer odds. Caesars lists him at +1200, FanDuel at +1600, and BetMGM at +1800. If healthy, McCaffery should be a focal point of this Panthers offense.
The Titans traded for former LA Rams wide receiver Robert Woods this offseason. DraftKings lists the 30-year-old wideout with +1200 odds, while BetMGM (+300), FanDuel (+4000) and Caesars (+4000) are all less confident. He’s returning from a season-ending ACL tear, but should be healthy for 2022. Woods could be an interesting play here considering he may be the No. 1 option in Tennessee this season, and the last two Comeback Player of the Year award winners who weren’t quarterbacks were wide receivers.