Each season, the Associated Press gives out multiple awards to NFL players. One of the more interesting award races is the Comeback Player of the Year Award. We are used to seeing this award go to a player that suffered a season-hindering injury the year prior and has come back from the recovery and put up impressive stats. This season, several of the front runners for the award are players that were just previously bad and are less bad this year. Of the awards, the CPOY Award could end up being the most scrutinized.
Favorite entering Week 1: Derrick Henry (+400)
Henry didn’t fall into the category of being bad in the past. He was coming off a season where he could only play in eight regular season games. Henry was still able to carry the ball 219 yards for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing in less than half of the 2021 season. Expectations were high for Henry, with another season of being the lead back for the Tennessee Titans.
Favorite entering Week 5: Saquon Barkley (+100)
Barkley played in 13 games in the 2021 season, but at a level well below what we were used to seeing from him. The New York Giants' offense had a plethora of issues up and down the roster. Regardless, Barkley only had 162 rushes for 593 yards and two touchdowns in the time he played. Through the first four weeks of the 2022 season, we saw glimpses of the Barkley of old. He had 84 rushes for 463 yards and two touchdowns while adding 15 receptions for another 107 yards.
Favorite entering Week 9: Geno Smith (-125)
The Seattle Seahawks moved on from Russell Wilson and entered the Geno Smith era as he beat out Drew Lock in training camp to earn the starting nod. Smith hadn’t been a consistent starter since 2014, in his second year in the league with the New York Jets. Through Week 8, Smith had led Seattle to a 5-3 record. He was completing 72.69% of his passes for 1,924 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. He even showed off some dual-threat ability scrambling for an additional 158 yards and a score on the ground.
Favorite entering Week 14: Geno Smith (-900)
Smith continued playing well as the Seahawks had a 6-4 record heading into Week 14 and were starting to make a playoff push. He had thrown for 3,169 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions. While the team record may not have reflected it, Smith’s play was certainly enough to make Seattle consider bringing him back to be their quarterback in 2023.
Favorites entering Week 18: Geno Smith and Christian McCaffrey (+165)
Heading into the final week of the season, Smith and Seattle were sitting at 8-8 with a shot at the playoffs on the line if they could beat the Los Angeles Rams. He had thrown for 4,069 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. McCaffrey found himself away from the Carolina Panthers and with his new team, the San Francisco 49ers. He was acquired at the trade deadline and was able to stay healthy and show off his dual-threat running back ability. CMC only played in 10 total games between 2020 and 2021. Going into the final week of the regular season, he had 1,094 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 234 carries. McCaffrey added 83 receptions for 707 more yards and four additional scores.