Each year, the NFL awards a player who has shown the ability to overcome adversity from one season to the next the Comeback Player of the Year. In 2018, the award went to Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck. After missing the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, Luck came back to throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns. More importantly, he led the Colts to the postseason. While Luck won’t be in the running this year, the typical online sportsbook pegs another quarterback as the favorite to win the award in 2019.
Jimmy Garoppolo (3/1) Offshore sportsbooks favor San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo to win this year’s Comeback Player of the Year award. Garoppolo shined at the end of the 2017 season and had completed 60 percent of his passes for 718 yards and five touchdowns before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Fully recovered and playing in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s pass-happy offense, Garoppolo could shine much like Luck did a year ago.
Le’Veon Bell (4/1) Former Steeler and now New York Jets RB Le’Veon Bell made some history last year when he became the first player to sit out an entire season over a contract issue. Bell finally became a free agent and signed with the Jets in the offseason. He is still one of the league’s more capable backs. In 2017, he rushed for 1,291 yards and caught a career-high 85 passes for another 655. At 27 years of age, Bell has only played four full seasons in the league and appears to have plenty left in his tank. With a young quarterback in Sam Darnold, the Jets may rely on Bell quite a bit giving him an opportunity for a big season.
Jason Witten (5/1) Witten spent the 2018 season in the television booth working Monday Night Football after having retired at the end of the 2017 season. The bug was just too much to ignore and Witten announced in February of this year that he would return to Dallas where he has played his entire 15-year career. Witten has played in all 16 games of every season since 2004 and has 1,152 career receptions. Another big season in 2019 could win him the Comeback Player of the Year.
Other RB Candidates Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman had a tough go of it last year. He injured a knee in Week 1, returned and injured a foot in Week 5, then a week later found out he needed groin surgery. That ended his season, the least productive of his career. A 1,000-yard season like he had in 2015 or 2016 could put Freeman in the running.
The same goes for Arizona’s David Johnson. The four-year veteran didn’t miss last year, but he wasn’t as productive as he was in 2016 when he rushed for 1,239 yards and added 879 receiving yards. Johnson missed most of 2017 with a wrist injury and wasn’t a huge part of the Cardinals offense last season. That should change under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Could an OL win the award? An offensive lineman has never won the Comeback Player of the Year award. Dallas center Travis Frederick could become the first. A four-time Pro Bowler, Frederick missed all of last season with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness. Frederick is set to return and a big season by the Cowboys would boost Frederick’s chances at the award even though he checks in at 12/1 odds right now.
The Long Shot There is one long shot that stands out in the mix to win the Comeback Player of the Year award. Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp went down in Week 10 last year with a knee injury. Kupp missed the final eight games of the season. He was on pace for 90 catches and he already had six touchdowns before the injury. With the Rams high-flying offense, Kupp should put up some strong numbers once again. At 16/1, there is some value in a guy who could have a 100-plus reception, 1,000-plus yards receiving season.