NFL Betting: Who Will Win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2022?
Of all the awards given out at the end of season NFL Honors show, the one for which the criteria is not always clear is the Comeback Player of the Year.
There always seems to be some questions as to what a player is "coming back" from. Were they injured the season before? Did they just play terribly? Did a move to a new team propel them to hitherto unseen heights? No one really knows.
That gives us some flexibility in targeting the players listed on the odds board at FanDuel Sportsbook for Comeback Player of the Year and other NFL season awards, but even with the subjectivity involved in the award, not everybody is worth betting. Here are some names with legitimate cases for the award -- and some who probably don't have strong ones to make.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +350
A season after rushing for more than 2,000 yards, Derrick Henry was on course for another monster season before an injury struck him down after eight games. Despite missing more than half the season, Henry still finished 10th in the league with 219 rush attempts and 9th with 937 yards on the ground. He was also putting up 2.3 receptions per game, a career-high.
If he sees a similar workload as he did in the first half of last season and can keep on churning out the yards, then he should certainly be in contention for this award.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +900
Three seasons ago, Michael Thomas set an NFL record with 149 receptions for the New Orleans Saints on his way to 1,725 receiving yards, the eighth-most in a single season in NFL history. In the two seasons since then, Thomas has appeared in just seven games, none since 2020, and caught 40 passes for 438 yards.
The Saints look a different beast to the one they were the last time we saw Thomas fully healthy. Drew Brees and Sean Payton are gone, and Jameis Winston and Pete Carmichael are now in charge of running the offense.
But if Thomas can move around freely, he is still the best wide receiver on the roster and the player most likely to shoulder the burden of holding up a passing offense. If he can play the whole season and produce solid wide receiver numbers, then this award could be his. But it's a very large "if" at this stage.
Drew Lock, Seattle Seahawks
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +2000
Drew Lock is a perfect case of why this award can be confusing.
I mean, what exactly is he coming back from? And when coming back, doesn't that mean you have to return to what you were before?
If so, then Lock would have to return to the form that saw him lead the NFL with 15 interceptions in 13 games as a starter for the Denver Broncos in 2020 (he also went 0-3 in 2021).
I'm not sure this return would be worthy of winning an award. Besides, Lock seems to be behind in the race to be the starter for the Seattle Seahawks behind the irresistible force that is Geno Smith. So, he is very much a long shot to take home this prize.
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +3000
But he was a rookie in 2021, and as such the NFL world has not seen him do anything yet. So the notion of the comeback might be a tad hard to justify here.
Still, a strong campaign for Etienne could be enough to see him contend for the award, especially if he can transfer his strong offseason showing into tangible success on the field. One Jaguars beat writer wrote that Etienne was their MVP of OTAs. Still, he's a long shot for me.
Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +10000
Defensive end Brandon Graham was restricted to just two games in 2021 but is back and ready to roll for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. He has been a productive player over the last half-decade without perhaps gaining the attention of everyone outside of Philadelphia.
Between 2016 and 2020, Graham was fourth among all defensive ends with 241 total tackles and third with 66 tackles for loss. He dished out 80 quarterback hits and amassed 35.5 sacks, good for the 10th most.
If teams give out comeback awards to their own players, then Graham is likely to be in the running for the Eagles prize. But it would likely take a massive outlier season for Graham to scoop the national award.
My Pick: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +10000
Since becoming just the third player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and gain another 1,000 through the air, Christian McCaffrey has played just 10 games. But he appears to be back to something like full health, and the Carolina Panthers have already declared that he will sit out preseason games to protect him.
Outside of D.J. Moore, they are desperately short of talent at the skill positions. Given the tendencies of head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the Panthers are likely to want to run the ball and keep the ball short when forced to pass.
This all points to McCaffrey walking back into a heavy workload once again. Assuming this happens, and assuming he can get through the season unscathed, his production will be enough to sway the voters and give him the Comeback Player of the Year award for 2022.