The NFL season will be here before you know it. In fact, training camp action is on the verge of popping off across the league as we stand here today. While we're still weeks away from watching the regular season unfold, now is as good of a time as ever to begin contemplating some of the futures bets that you'll be placing. Naturally, season awards are a popular angle to take when looking at futures, including the Comeback Player of the Year. Yours truly was able to cash on this award last year by picking former Washington quarterback Alex Smith prior to the start of the 2020 season, so we're hoping to get lucky once again in 2021. That said, it may be a bit more difficult this time around.

The pool for this award is stacked for 2021 with a ton of viable candidates spread up and down the board. Today, we'll be jumping into this group and highlighting those atop the odds along with a sleeper candidate to keep an eye on. 

All odds via William Hill Sportsbook.

The Favorite

Dak Prescott
DAL • QB • #4
View Profile

Dak Prescott is the heavy favorite to bring home this award sitting at +180. The odds then dip to +600 for the next two candidates, creating quite the margin in favor of the Cowboys quarterback. Of course, we all remember the horrific season-ending ankle injury that Prescott suffered in the midst of 2020 and his recovery has been at the forefront in Dallas throughout the offseason. To this point, Prescott seems to be coming along splendidly and even noted earlier this offseason that he could suit up and play right now. That's certainly encouraging for chalk bettors taking Prescott in this race and it's admittedly wise to expose yourself to this to some degree while he's still at plus money. 

Not only does Prescott appear to be nearing full strength, but he also plays a position that collects seasonal awards like Thanos does infinity stones (The last three Comeback Player of the Year award winners have been quarterbacks). It also doesn't hurt that he plays for the most recognizable brand in the NFL. If Prescott plays near the absurd level we saw from him prior to the injury last year and the Cowboys reach the playoffs, he'll likely be a shoo-in to take this award home. 

Just as a reminder to what we saw from Prescott last year, the soon-to-be 28-year-old was on pace to throw for 6,760 yards through the first four weeks of the season. Of course, it's ridiculous to expect him to actually come anywhere close to those numbers but it's just an example of how prolific this offense can be with a healthy Prescott under center. 

Tier 2

After Prescott, we have five players somewhat bunched up together. While he's tied with Saquon Barkley for the second-best odds, Joe Burrow has what I consider to be the best odds on the board from a value standpoint at +600. The Bengals quarterback was impressive during the first 10 games of his career before suffering a torn ACL. He was on pace to throw for 4,301 yards, which would have been on par with fellow 2020 draft classmate and Rookie of the Year winner Justin Herbert. With NFL experience under his belt, Burrow could be in for an even better season in Year 2 so long as the Cincinnati offensive line can keep him upright. 

Meanwhile, both runnings backs in Barkley and Christian McCaffrey would really need to make some serious noise to win this award. The last running back to win Comeback Player of the Year was San Francisco's Garrison Hearst back in 2001. Both Barkley and McCaffrey certainly have the talent to put together seasons that could justify being in consideration, but it appears like they'd really need to have slam dunk campaigns and put up numbers that would make them the top fantasy football player in the league for them to win it. 

As for Bosa, it's not totally uncommon for a defensive player to win this award, but it doesn't happen too often either. The last defensive player to win CPOY was former Chiefs safety Eric Berry in 2015. Prior to that, it was Dallas defensive end Greg Ellis in 2007. Bosa came into the league like a missile in 2019, totaling nine sacks and 45 pressures to help San Francisco reach Super Bowl LIV. He'd need to have similar production to get in this conversation. However, if the 49ers do end up back in contention in 2021, our sleeper candidate may be the better play for this award. 

Finally, Carson Wentz is a polarizing guy to try and figure out. He was horrendous for the Eagles last season but has a chance at redemption now that he's with the Colts. In Indy, Wentz will have a better offensive line in front of him and be reunited with coach Frank Reich, who was his OC in Philly when he was viewed as an MVP candidate back in 2017. While Wentz may be in for an improved season, I do have pause about him actually winning this award as voters may lean more towards players that have been able to overcome an injury rather than simply a poor season. 


Jimmy Garoppolo
View Profile

While it may be silly to factor in team success for an award such as this, the fact of the matter is that it does come under consideration at some level. That's why I might be leaning towards Jimmy Garoppolo (+3000) rather than Nick Bosa (+800) if I'm looking for a 49ers player to win this award. If San Francisco is in contention, both could very well be in the conversation here. 

Of course, the elephant in the room on this sleeper pick is the fact that the 49ers selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick to supplant Garoppolo -- who was limited to just six games last year due to an ankle injury -- as the team's franchise quarterback. While that switch will happen at some point, it doesn't necessarily need to come in 2021. There's certainly a scenario where Lance -- who played at North Dakota State -- needs a redshirt season to learn the NFL game behind the scenes, opening the door for Garoppolo to start wire-to-wire. 

So long as the veteran stays healthy -- and that's a big if -- he has shown the ability to pile up wins and put together impressive numbers. Garoppolo's last healthy season came back in 2019 where he played all 16 regular-season games and led the Niners to a 13-3 record while completing nearly 70% of his throws for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 picks. If he can replicate that, he's certainly a finalist for this award and folks should be pretty excited if they're holding this ticket.  

Again, at +3000, this is a long shot. That said, there's certainly a path towards cashing making this a worthwhile option to be your Hail Mary bet of the summer.