2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Betting Odds, Analysis and Best Bets

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo shares the latest "Vegas Whispers" on how sharp bettors are approaching this 2021 NFL futures bet.
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Odds to win the 2021 NFL Comeback of the Player have been released at DraftKings Sportsbook, and the betting board is filled with several high-profile names. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sits atop the betting odds as the clear favorite at odds of +175.

Prescott was stellar prior to suffering a horrific ankle injury in Week 5 against the Giants. The star signal-caller posted 1,856 passing yards and 12 total touchdowns in fewer than five games before going down. Dallas's talented pass-catching trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup are key weapons available at Prescott’s disposal. Factor in arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott, and the potential for a monster comeback season for Prescott and the Cowboys are well within reach.

comeback

Over the last 19 years, the NFL CPOY Award has been awarded to quarterbacks an overwhelming 13 times. Last season, Washington quarterback Alex Smith took home the award following his heroic comeback season despite overwhelming doubt he would ever be able to play again. In the span from 2008–2013, the award was dominated by quarterbacks until Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won in '14.

All bettors should take a strong pause on any wagers involving running backs in this betting market. Among the contenders this year are several top 10 running backs expected to be drafted early in the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC): Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Joe Mixon. However, you need to go back 20 seasons to find the last running back to garner Comeback Player of the Year honors, with Garrison Hearst taking home the award in 2001.


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Let's dive right into this year’s field:

2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Contenders

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys / Odds: +175

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals / Odds: +600

Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles / Odds: +900

While Dak Prescott (+175) is worthy of being the overwhelming favorite, the value is simply not there from a betting perspective at such short odds. The Cowboys have a season win total set at 9.5 wins juiced to the under at odds of -130, so oddsmakers are expecting Dallas to contend for the NFC East title (+125). However, the value in these markets is often found by looking outside the top betting perch. If you own Prescott in dynasty fantasy leagues, or you’re a die-hard Cowboys fan that believes he will pick up right where he left off, then perhaps invest in the talented signal-caller in NFL MVP betting. In that market, you can currently find Prescott at odds of +1700 in his quest to overtake Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and last year’s recipient in Aaron Rodgers.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the third overall betting choice to find my first wager in this market in Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow (+600). The former Heisman Trophy winner was on his way to potentially earning Rookie of the Year honors last year before suffering a torn ACL. The Bengals added explosive LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase in the first round of the draft to an offense with emerging wideouts Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, as well as versatile running back Joe Mixon. With all the weapons in place, the door is wide open for a potentially prolific sophomore season from Burrow.

New Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (+900) is perhaps the most intriguing betting option in this market. Only a few seasons removed from being considered a league MVP candidate, he now lands behind one of the better offensive lines in football that recently added longtime Chiefs tackle and former No. 1 pick Eric Fisher. Wentz also inherits one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL led by Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Marlon Mack to go along with wideouts Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, and T.Y. Hilton. With Wentz rejoining his old Eagles' offensive coordinator in Frank Reich, it could be just what the veteran needs to get his career back on track.

2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Challengers

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants / Odds: +600

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers / Odds: +600

Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers / Odds: +700

Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers / Odds: +1600

Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos / Odds: +1600

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals / Odds: +2000

Despite occupying two of the top four overall betting slots, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey (+600) face an uphill battle to put up the stats needed to break the 20-year drought of a running back winning the award. Either of the dynamic backs would likely need to eclipse the 2,000-yard single-season mark to earn enough votes to cash for their backers.

Nick Bosa (+700) is arguably one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. Historically only three defensive players have won the award since 2000. Bosa would likely have to challenge Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record (22.5) to have any chance for bettors to cash in on this market.

2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Sleepers

Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints / Odds: +2000

Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Cleveland Browns / Odds: +2500

Tim Tebow, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars / Odds: +3300

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers / Odds: +5000

The first thing I need to say for this tier of players is please do not waste your money on Tim Tebow. His odds should be no less than 10,000-to-1 let alone 33-to-1. Don’t fall for the bait on a player who most likely will not be among the active 53-man roster for Jacksonville in Week 1. 

Keep an eye on the situation in San Francisco this summer, because if Jimmy Garoppolo earns the starting nod at odds of +5000, I won't argue with anyone wanting to throw some beer or pizza money on a player piloting a team many expect to contend for NFC supremacy.

2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Best Bets: Vegas Whispers

Joe Burrow (+600)

As I always stress, all bettors should research other betting markets before making futures wagers. In this instance, it's imperative to see what the oddsmakers are projecting for Cincinnati's season win totals. In this case, DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Bengals at 6.5 season wins juiced heavily to the under at odds of -143. What every bettor should take away from this is that early sharp money projects six wins or fewer, likely indicating the Bengals will be in pass mode often trailing in games. The No. 1 pick from the 2020 NFL draft is reportedly on pace to be ready for Week 1 vs. Minnesota following successful knee surgery. Burrow threw for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns in just 10 games in '20. 

My fantasy projections have the star signal-caller penciled in for more than 4,392 yards and 27.4 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. Last season, only six quarterbacks threw for more than 4,300 yards, and if Burrow can achieve that target level of production, we are looking at a steal at odds of +600.

Carson Wentz (+900)

We've already witnessed Carson Wentz perform at an elite level in a Frank Reich offense, so betting on a repeat may be a worthwhile investment. Oddsmakers list the Colts as the betting favorites to win the AFC South at -105, slightly ahead of the Titans at +130. What bettors should take away is that the oddsmakers project Wentz to help Indianapolis build off its strong 11–6 campaign last season, ending with a 27–24 loss to the Bills in the wild-card round. The Colts' offensive line with the addition of Eric Fisher is far better than the one Wentz played behind with the Eagles last season along with the overall talent at the skill positions. Wentz is only four seasons removed from posting MVP-type numbers, catapulting him into the thick of the 2017 MVP race before suffering a devastating knee injury. Investing in a Wentz revitalization, at healthy odds of +900, is a value wager all SI PRO bettors should consider investing in. 

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