Posted on July 22, 2018, by Travis Pulver

When it comes to the NFL’s end of season awards, there are usually a few names at the beginning of each season that fans can count on being in the conversation. Throughout the season, few more potential candidates will pop up. But by season’s end, there will be a few. However, for Comeback Player of the Year this coming season, the discussion is going to be a little different.

There are a number of strong candidates on the board to start the season. They will all likely still be strong candidates at the end of the season.

Via transgriot.blogspot.com

According to Betway.com (as of July 22), there are at eight guys with 12/1 odds or better and seven whose odds are 6/1 or better:

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  • Aaron Rodgers: 5/2
  • Carson Wentz: 4/1
  • David Johnson: 5/1
  • Deshaun Watson: 5/1
  • J. Watt: 5/1
  • Odell Beckham Jr.: 5/1
  • Andrew Luck: 6/1
  • Dalvin Cook: 12/1

Each player is coming off a major injury, and each was a major contributor before his injury. Some of the teams are considered bigger contenders than others. But if each plays up to his ability, he should be in the conversation at the end of the season.

So—who has a leg up on the competition? It may be easier to cross a few names off the list first.

Don’t count them out but don’t bank on them

The Vikings were still figuring out how good Cook is when he went down last season. The fact he has more to learn and will get overshadowed by Kirk Cousins this season will keep him from becoming a serious candidate.

Andrew Luck, on the other hand, will be in a position to make himself the frontrunner. But to do so, he’ll have to take an offense short on talent and turn it into a juggernaut. That isn’t going to happen. The Colts will be better this season with Luck back behind center, but they will be the worst team in the AFC South.

Odell Beckham Jr. is in a great position to contend for the honor. But it will all depend on whether the improved offensive line can protect Eli Manning, if Saquon Barkley can live up to the hype, and if the rest of the Giants receivers can play well. If all three ‘ifs’ work out, he should see quite a bit of soft coverage giving him the opportunity to make a lot of plays.

But, at the same time, it could become the Saquon Barkley Show. If Barkley plays as well as the Giants hope, Beckham could end up becoming less important.

As much of a force as J.J. Watt can be, with the offensive firepower also in the running, he doesn’t stand a chance. It will be too easy for voters to give credit to other players on the Houston defense and diminish Watt’s impact.

The True Contenders for the Comeback Player of the Year are…

More than likely, the winner is going to be Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, David Johnson, or Deshaun Watson. It’s not hard to understand why Rodgers has the best odds since he is widely considered the best quarterback in the NFL. Had he not gone down with an injury last season, Carson Wentz would have probably been the MVP.

David Johnson will be an interesting player to watch. Whether the Cardinals start Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen, Johnson will likely see as many touches as his body can handle. He’ll get the opportunity to produce at an award-worthy level. But will he?

But the winner is going to be Deshaun Watson.

While his play in the first two weeks last season wasn’t dazzling, his play over the next five certainly was. He would have easily been the Offensive Rookie of the Year had he been able to finish out the season. Should he play as he did in those five games upon his return, he’ll move to the front of the conversation for sure.

Heck—if he can play as he did in those five for a 16-game regular season the Texans could have the MVP on their hands as well as Comeback Player of the Year.

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