Most of the time it is pretty easy to figure out who the best Comeback Player of the Year (COPY) candidates are. All you have to do is keep an eye on whoever suffered a season-ending injury the year before. Whichever player had the best season was the winner. Easy, right?
Since there are always a handful of guys coming back from significant injuries, there usually isn’t a shortage of candidates. However, to be considered for the award, a player does not necessarily need to be coming back from injury.
To be up for the award, a player just needs to overcome whatever adversity caused him to miss the season (or most of it) or play poorly.
Injury guys are the easiest candidates to recognize. Contract holdouts (like Le’Veon Bell) qualify. Retired players making a comeback (like Jason Witten) do as well. Guys that just had a bad year (like Derek Carr, Eli Manning, or David Johnson) could also win.
Bovada.lv recently posted odds on many of the potential candidates:
- Jimmy Garoppolo +350
- Le’Veon Bell +400
- Devonta Freeman +800
- Derrius Guice, Earl Thomas, Cam Newton +1500
- Jason Witten, Carson Wentz, Cooper Kupp, David Johnson, A.J. Green +1600
- Greg Olsen, Everson Griffen +2200
- Hunter Henry, Jerick McKinnon, Marcus Mariota, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown +2500
- Josh Rosen, Travis Frederick +3000
- Keanu Neal, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Deion Jones, Derek Carr +3300
- Delanie Walker, Jake Butt, Marqise Lee, Tyler Eifert, Carl Lawson +5000
Like the MVP (but not as bad), this one tends to favor quarterbacks. Since 1998, the award has been won by a quarterback 12 times (55 percent), a defensive player five times (23 percent), and a running back just once.
A good candidate needs to be someone who missed all or most of last season and has a great year this season. With the understanding that a player doesn’t necessarily have to be coming back from an injury, there are several excellent candidates among the group.
Jimmy Garoppolo and Le’Veon Bell are the understandable favorites. Garoppolo went down early last season with a knee injury, and Bell missed the whole season with a contract dispute. Both could have award-worthy seasons if they remain healthy.
Jason Witten certainly fits the definition since he is coming out of retirement.
Cooper Kupp’s knee injury makes him a good candidate, but he will probably not see the ball enough with all the weapons the Rams have. If Travis Frederick were to return and the Cowboys offensive line becomes a dominant unit again, a good case could be made for him.
Next to Garoppolo, the three best candidates are probably Eli Manning, Derek Carr, and David Johnson.
Manning hasn’t played well for a few years. If he could shine without Odell Beckham Jr. making him look better, he would deserve some consideration. Carr looked like a superstar in the making a couple of years ago. With all of the weapons at his disposal this season, if he can regain that form, he should be in the conversation as well.
But the best value is David Johnson.
For the last two years, he has been talking about going for 1000+ yards rushing and receiving. An injury stopped him two years ago; last year, the Cardinals were simply a bad team. But in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and with everyone worried about Kyler Murray, Johnson may have a shot at living up to his potential.
If he does, he should absolutely win COPY.