Beyond injuries, there are also players who endured disappointing campaigns last year due to reduced playing time or diminished performance. This list includes the likes of quarterbacks Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, and Sam Darnold, all of whom will try to get their careers back on track in 2021.
With that in mind, here are our best bets and predictions for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award ahead of the 2021 season.
2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Predictions
2021 Comeback Player of the Year Odds
- Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (+200)
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (+550)
- Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (+650)
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (+800)
- Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers (+900)
- Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans (+1100)
- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs (+1200)
- Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts (+1200)
- Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (+2000)
- Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers (+2000)
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns (+2500)
- Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (+2500)
- Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints (+2500)
- Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Dallas Cowboys (+3000)
- Von Miller, DE, Denver Broncos (+3000)
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The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award has been dominated by quarterbacks lately, going to a QB in nine of the last 13 seasons. Not surprisingly, a quarterback (Prescott) is favored to take home the hardware again this year. Superstar running backs Barkley and McCaffrey have a strong chance to buck that trend, however, if they can stay on the field.
2021 Comeback Player of the Year Sleeper Picks
Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans (+1100)
Jones was in and out of the lineup last year due to a lingering hamstring issue, which ultimately limited him to just nine games. The Atlanta Falcons traded him to the Tennessee Titans during the offseason, where the 32-year-old will team up with star receiver A.J. Brown.
Despite playing on a run-heavy offense led by Derrick Henry, the tandem of Jones and Brown should open up Tennessee’s deep passing attack for Ryan Tannehill and give opposing secondaries headaches. Jones is still one of the best receivers in the NFL when healthy and will likely have a huge bounce-back year with a change of scenery.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns (+2500)
Before the New York Giants traded Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2019 season, the wide receiver was one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success in Cleveland due to injuries and the team’s run-first offense, but at 28 he’s still young enough to reclaim his status as one of the league’s premier wideouts.
Although the Browns leaned on the ground game a lot last year, Kevin Stefanski‘s system was creative and well-balanced in his first season as Cleveland’s head coach. The Browns started airing it out more in the second half (after Beckham had already been sidelined by a torn ACL), as Baker Mayfield proved up to the challenge of leading the offense. With Beckham back in the fold, he’s primed for a big season as Cleveland’s WR1.
2021 Comeback Player of the Year Prediction
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (+550)
The Giants are still waiting for Barkley to replicate his monstrous 2018 rookie season, when he accumulated over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 15 touchdowns. Injuries have limited him to just 15 games over the past two seasons combined, however, including a torn ACL and MCL that ended his season after Week 2 last year.
Now entering his fourth season, the 24-year-old has returned to practice and is aiming to play in Week 1. Barkley will rejoin an enhanced offense that added Kenny Golladay during the offseason. He also stands to benefit from an improved offensive line that helped Wayne Gallman rush for 682 yards and six touchdowns on 147 attempts in Barkley’s absence last year.
Given his age, market, and previous level of dominance, Barkley has a great chance to win the award if he stays healthy, especially if his performance helps New York reach the playoffs.
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