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2021 Comeback Player of the Year

Betting a single game often requires hours of objective data analysis.  When you are betting a subjective, season-long award dictated by NFL writers, I think the data can be thrown out the window.  I think there’s a great name to bet to win the Comeback Player of the Year in 2021.  First, let’s look at the top names on the board and their current odds:

Dak Prescott +200
Joe Burrow +700
Saquon Barkley +700
Christian McCaffrey +800
Nick Bosa +1000
Carson Wentz +1000

 

Comeback Player of the Year (Odds per Draftkings)
Dak Prescott +200
Joe Burrow +700
Saquon Barkley +700
Christian McCaffrey +800
Nick Bosa +1000
Carson Wentz +1000

Arguing Prescott over Burrow:

There’s no need to look any further than the first name on the board.  Dak Prescott checks off all the boxes when it comes to fulfilling the requirements to win the award.  You have to remember that it is the writers that vote for this award.  The most important thing to the writers is that there is a compelling, familiar narrative tied to the award.  The on-field success is only a minor component to the award.  Last season was a perfect example of this theory coming to fruition.  Alex Smith was knocked out of football by one of the most gruesome injuries we have seen over the past decade.  There wasn’t a single game played by Washington where his rehab or how his family handled the situation wasn’t brought up.  His play on the field was an after thought as he finished the season with 6 TD’s 8 INT’s and a QB rating of 78.5.

Dak Prescott’s situation in 2021 will be almost identical to Alex Smith’s.  He suffered a devastating foot injury on National TV in a high profile game in which everyone will certainly remember.  Prescott has had the surgeries and completed his rehab and is expected to be ready to go for training camp.  With the Cowboys offense loaded back with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Zeke Elliott, I’d expect Dallas to be back at the top of the NFL in points per game.  Prescott should also benefit from playing in probably the worst division in the NFL.  This is an area where he has a major advantage over Joe Burrow.  Here are their divisional opponents and how they rank in passer rating defense:

NFC East AFC North
Washington (3rd) Pittsburgh (1st)
NY Giants (18th) Baltimore (5th)
Philadelphia (28th) Cleveland (19th)

Coming off a torn ACL, Burrow is a compelling candidate, but he has far more roadblocks to overcome than Prescott to win the award.  He had a very flashy rookie campaign, but he has to face 3 of the better pass defenses in the NFL in his 5 divisional games.  Although his injury was season ending last year, it is a far more conventional injury by NFL standards, and I don’t think that would excite the writers as much.  This is clearly priced in to his +700 betting odds.  In order for Burrow to win, I think he would have to drastically outplay Prescott in either the W/L column or through passing statistics.  Given Dak’s offensive weapons and Burrow’s poor offensive line, I find it highly unlikely that Burrow would have a noticeably more productive season than Dak.

The Others:

I think the only other name worth a glance is Carson Wentz.  He’s coming off a dreadful 2020 season, and is being thrust into one of the better situations in the NFL from a coaching/offensive line perspective.  However, I think the Colts are built around a more conservative, running offensive approach which might limit his upside in putting up the huge numbers that would be required to beat Prescott.  Again, I don’t think Wentz’ story fits the narrative that the media likes to look for in this award.

I think Barkley and McCaffrey are long shots, and that is not reflected in their current odds.  The last running back to win this award was Willis McGahee in 2004, and you guessed it, there was a well known storyline surrounding his gruesome injury that was suffered in the NCAA  National Title game 2 years prior to his NFL debut.

Nick Bosa doesn’t jump out to me much either.  He’s a very good player, but I think he would have to lead the league in sacks to garner the type of attention to be mentioned with the Prescott Hype.  Defensive end is a difficult spot to gauge if the sack totals and turnovers aren’t there.

Conclusion:

Sometimes the easy, square play is the right play.  There’s clearly a compelling story here with a well known rehab/recovery.  Dak should have no problem putting up big numbers with a dynamic offense in a bad division.  No need to overthink anything here.

Shorestein Says Bet Dak Prescott to win 2021 Comeback Player of the Year!

Checkout Shoresteinsays.com to get your 2021 Season Pass Now!

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