The AP NFL Comeback Player Of The Year 2019: Top-Ten Odds and Predictions

Every year there are multiple ongoing tales of NFL players overcoming adversity, and at the end of each NFL season, the Associated Press (AP) awards the most outstanding Comeback Player of the Year.

In a league filled with so many season ending injuries, it is incredible every time you get to watch a player battle back from some horrible rip or tear or break and subsequent surgery and get healthy enough to be productive on the gridiron again.

For other players it’s being able to come back after playing horribly for a season and re-establish their dominance, but however they might earn the honor, we take a look at and briefly analyze the top ten most likely candidates to be the 2019 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.  

What is the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award?

At the end of each NFL season, there are several organizations (AP, Pro Football Weekly / Pro Football Writers Association, Sporting News and United Press International) that award a player who has “shown perseverance in overcoming adversity”, but the most prestigious one is from the Associated Press (AP).

Whether that player has been out of the league due to a severe injury or suspension or is simply trying to follow up a season of poor play, the CBPOY is given to whichever man’s perseverance and return to the game outshines the others.

The first time the AP CBPOY award was given was in 1963, when two were handed out, one to the Baltimore Colts’ place kicker Jim Martin who returned to the game after coaching for a year and the other to San Diego Chargers’ running back Paul Lowe, who received the award once again in 1965.

There were no AP CBPOY Awards given out for the 1967 through 1997 seasons.

What position does the award winner typically play?

In the history of the AP NFL CBPOY Award, it has been given to 30 players in all.

There have been fourteen quarterback recipients, six running backs, three wide receivers and two linebackers, plus one kicker, defensive tackle, defensive end, a tight end and a safety.

Who won the award last season?

Last year the AP CBPOY Award was given to Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck didn’t play in 2017 due to a surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder and the subsequent recovery.

In 2018, Luck returned healthy and threw the ball 639 times, completing 430 of those passes for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns with 15 interceptions, leading his Colts to the Divisional Playoff round, the first time they had gone to the playoffs in four seasons.

Here are the current odds listed for the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2019:

If you live in New Jersey and want to bet on futures in the NFL you can do so on 888sport.

Check out the latest odds here.

Good luck!

10) David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals running back

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Current Age: 27

NFL Seasons: 4

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 224-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 16

2018 Rushing / Receiving Stats Line: 258 rushes for 940 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 50 receptions for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns with 3 fumbles.

Analysis: For the Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson to make a ‘comeback,’ he would have to get back to producing like he did in 2016, just his second NFL season, when for 15 games in a row Johnson put up at least 100 yards from scrimmage per game, ending up the year with 373 touches for 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns.

A dislocated wrist in Week 1 took Johnson off the field and onto the injured reserve list for the rest of the 2017 season, and in 2018 with a rookie quarterback, a healed up Johnson saw 65 less touches than in 2016 and he posted 1,386 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

Johnson’s healed wrist should help him hold onto the ball better in 2019 (he’s averaged 4 fumbles in each of his three healthy NFL seasons), but his true comeback will be manifested when he gets back to being that dual-threat back he was in 2016, this time with new head coach Kliff Kinsbury, the ideal goal being to post 1,000+ yards on both the ground and through the air.

9) Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback

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Current Age: 30

NFL Seasons: 8

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 245-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 14

2018 Passing Stats Line: Completed 320-of-471 for 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and a completion percentage of 67.9 while being sacked 29 times.

Analysis: There are those football fans who have whispered that Carolina Panthers’ run-heavy quarterback Cam Newton’s best days are behind him now, but chances are they are wrong about the big man who forever changed how his position was being played.

They have forgotten that Newton only looked fallible towards the end of last season because he was trying to play through an injured shoulder that subsequently required surgery, and despite that he was still able post career highs in both number of completions (320) and completion percentage (67.5).

For Newton to win the 2019 AP CBPOY Award, he will have to show that he is in no way finished as a player and return to the numbers he put up in 2015 when he was named the league MVP, although taking his Panthers back to the playoffs (and deeper than the Wild Card game) certainly wouldn’t hurt his chances either.

8) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver

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Current Age: 26

NFL Seasons: 2

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 208-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 8

2018 Receiving Stats Line: 40 receptions for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns for an average of 14.2 yards per reception.

Analysis: It was such bad news for the Los Angeles Rams when second-year wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s season ended in Week 10 after he tore his ACL, but now with his successful surgery behind him and his rehab setback-free, the 2019 table is set for a tremendous comeback from the former FCS All-American.

Kupp’s Rams went to the Super Bowl without him last year, but they sure could have used some of his offensive help during that 13-3 Big Game loss where they were held to just one field goal all game.

Thankfully, Kupp is young and knows that other players have fully recovered from a similar injury and gone on to be productive in the NFL again, so for Cooper to take home the CBPOY Award in 2019, he will only have to continue to play as he already was in 2018 when his completion percentage was 72.7 and he caught 6 touchdown passes in just 8 games played.

7) Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins running back

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Current Age: 22 

NFL Seasons: 1

Height: 5-foot-11 

Weight: 225-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 0

2018 Rushing Stats Line: N/A

Analysis: Talk about never even getting a chance, the highly touted rookie running back Derrius Guice tore his ACL in the first Washington Redskins preseason game, ending his first NFL season before it even got started.

Guice had been named to the First- and Second-team All SEC when he played football at LSU, and he was drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Redskins, who had hoped he would help to improve on their run game, ranked 28th at the end of the previous 2017 season.

It isn’t easy to come back when you were technically never there to begin with, but if Guice can have a healthy second-go at his rookie campaign in 2019 and prove he is every bit as good as general manager Bruce Allen had hoped he would be, the kid with the perfect last name for a running back stands a decent chance at being named the AP CBPOY.

6) A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver

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Current Age: 30 

NFL Seasons: 8

Height: 6-foot-4 

Weight: 210-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 9

2018 Receiving Stats Line: 46 receptions for 694 yards and 6 touchdowns for an average of 15.1 yards per reception.

Analysis: Hard to believe that a toe injury could take down such a talented wide receiver as A.J. Green, but that is exactly what happened to him in 2018.

After an incredible start to his season where he had his first three-touchdown game ever as well as set the Cincinnati Bengals’ franchise record by posting his 32nd 100-yard receiving game, Green suffered a toe injury in Week 8, sat out a few games and then when he returned in Week 13, injured the toe again.

Brown will be returning in 2019 to his first new head coach, Zac Taylor, in eight years of playing with the Bengals, so he will be making his comeback in the midst of an evolving game plan, but if he can stay healthy and catch for 1,200+ yards and 10+ touchdowns like he’s capable of, he makes a good candidate for the AP award.

5) Earl Thomas, Baltimore Ravens defensive back

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Current Age: 30 

NFL Seasons: 9

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 202-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 4

2018 Defensive Stats Line: 3 interceptions, 5 passes defended and 22 combined tackles.

Analysis: Free safety Earl Thomas only played in four games in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks and still managed to snag three interceptions and defend five passes until he was carted off the field in Week 4 after breaking a bone in his leg, ending his season.

Since then, Thomas has signed a four-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens for $55 million (with $32 million of that money guaranteed), so the table is set for him to make a comeback for the first new NFL franchise he has played for in his nine NFL seasons.

To be considered the comeback player of the year, Thomas will have to blend into a Ravens’ defense ranked first last season by doing what he does best when healthy – intercept balls (28 career interceptions), defend passes (67 career passes defended) and tackle the ball carrier (684 career tackles with 11 for loss).

4) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback

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Current Age: 26

NFL Seasons: 3

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 237-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 11

2018 Passing Stats Line: Completed 279-of-401 for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns with 7 interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.6 while being sacked 31 times.

Analysis: The main reason Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz made this top ten odds list is because he has been so injury prone in the last two seasons that if he can make it through an entire season (and postseason) healthy and be the player he has already proven he can be, it will be totally award worthy.

For the last two seasons, Wentz has gone down with injuries – 2017 and the first part of 2018 with a torn ACL and at the end of 2018 with a back injury – so for him to come back and have a healthy and complete 2019 will be impressive.

This time, however, Wentz doesn’t have his talented backup Nick Foles, who is now trying his luck starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars, so the pressure is on for Wentz to stay healthy and for 16+ games put up some numbers like he did his rookie season.

3) Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons running back

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Current Age: 27

NFL Seasons: 5

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 206-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 2

2018 Rushing / Receiving Stats Line: 14 rushes for 68 yards and 0 touchdowns with 0 fumbles, plus 5 receptions for 23 yards and 0 touchdowns.

Analysis: Atlanta Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman was one of seven starters whose 2018 season ended in serious injury, their team posting a 7-9 record as a result and missing the postseason for the first time in three seasons.

Last season in Week 1, Freeman hurt his knee and sat out for the next three games, but then in Week 5 when he returned he injured his groin and it was revealed later that he would require surgery, ending his season on injured reserve.

For Freeman to make an impressive comeback, he will not only have to stay healthy, he will also have to put up 1,000+ rushing yards and double digit touchdowns while catching 50+ passes, a few of those for touchdowns, accomplishments that he is entirely capable of.

2) Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets running back

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Current Age: 27

NFL Seasons: 5

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 225-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: N/A

2018 Rushing / Receiving Stats Line: N/A – sat out entire season

2017 Rushing / Receiving Stats Line: 321 rushes for 1,291 yards and 9 touchdowns with 3 fumbles, plus 85 receptions for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Analysis: Apparently, running back Le’Veon Bell finally got the dual threat love (read: $) he required from the New York Jets, the long term deal with a lot of guaranteed money that he had been hoping to get from his old team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The big question remains – can a man who has sat out an entire NFL offseason and season come back and pick up statistically where he left off? 

Because if Le’Veon can do that in 2019 with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold and together help make the Jets relevant in the NFL again, he will certainly be a highly qualified contender for the AP CBPOY Award this season.

1) Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback

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Current Age: 27

NFL Seasons: 5

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 225-pounds

Number of regular season games played in 2018: 3

2018 Passing Stats Line: Completed 53-of-89 for 718 yards and 5 touchdowns with 3 interceptions and a completion percentage of 59.6 while being sacked 13 times.

Analysis: The San Francisco 49ers haven’t had a winning season since 2013, which was coincidentally also the last time they have played football in January.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was brought in by general manager John Lynch to change all that, and that’s exactly what he started to do by winning the last 5 games of the 2017 season, but his heroism was stopped short in 2018 when in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs he tore his ACL, ending his season and the 49ers flight back to glory.

If a healed-up Garoppolo can lead his 49ers back to the postseason (or further) again in 2019, he will not only be considered a savior to the 49ers Faithful (or the 49ers’ nation, as he once mistakenly called them in 2017), he would also most certainly be named the AP CBPOY of 2019.