2021 Comeback Player of the Year Odds: Dak Prescott Leads the Field

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the New York Giants. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP
Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the New York Giants. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP


Dak Prescott is heavily favored for the Comeback Player of the Year (CPOY) award, but is he really the best bet as the markets would have it?

On the heels of signing a mega contract with the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason and ending in one stroke of the pen years of haggling with the franchise including any speculation the starlet’s future might lie outside of Jerry World, Dak Prescott’s odds surged in various NFL futures betting markets. And nowhere more so than in the betting on the ‘AP Comeback Player of the Year’ market.

The list of players earmarked for the 2021 CPOY Award is extensive and includes several standout names beyond Prescott. As per top sportsbooks, Saquon Barkley (+600), Joe Burrow and Nick Bosa (both at +750) are amongst the top bets in this market after Dak Prescott (+250). And yet, clearly, as the NFL odds illustrate, there’s a big gap between the aforementioned triplet and Prescott in the eyes of bookmakers.

Rounding out the top faves are Carson Wentz (+800) and Christian McCaffrey (+850), the last two players in triple-digit favor (odds under +1000) at this point in time. The rest of the field, which includes standouts such as Jimmy Garoppolo (+1600) and Odell Beckham Jr. (+2000), features contenders priced in quadruple digits.

Most players on the list fit the criteria to win this award one way or another. However, not all are exactly a shoe-in for the honor. The criteria loosely interpreted requires a player to have shown perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance.

Last season, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger and Rob Gronkowski emerged as the top three bets to win the CPOY Award. Tale told, Alex Smith, who was priced as a longshot at +2000 (or thereabouts depending on the choice top sports betting site), emerged triumphant. Quite deservedly, so.

Smith returned to football two years after suffering a horrific leg injury that very nearly ended his career. He wasn’t Washington’s automatic starter upon his return, but he won the job midway through the season and navigated the Washington Football Team to the NFC East crown and into the playoffs,

Obviously, Prescott’s story isn’t dissimilar to Smith’s. Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury early last season and the image as he was carted off the field in floods of tears left an indelible impression on Dallas Cowboys fans and neutrals alike. It was gut-wrenching awful.

It was impossible not to feel for the guy, the agony that he must have been in, the initial fear he must have felt wondering if it would be a career-ending injury. Afterwards, even when it was reported he’d had successful surgery, one still feels somewhat apprehensive for the guy as his future is still uncertain. There are no guarantees, after all. Contract or no contract, everything depends on his performance next season. It’s a long road back to top NFL form and while his recovery and rehab is purportedly on track, it remains to be seen whether he can reclaim the form of his heyday.


Is Prescott the Best Bet?

The widespread assumption – as the NFL odds underline – is that Prescott is set up perfectly in Dallas for a comeback season in 2021. This market outlook must presume McCarthy’s second-year in Dallas will be a screaming success. But what if it isn’t? Let’s face it, 2020 was a shambles that ended on a woeful 6-10 SU record. No team struggled more than Dallas to win games last season. The defense was horrendous, special teams were ineffective, offense was erratic and coaching was all over the place. That was the case even while they had Prescott as the starter. The Cowboys went 1-3 SU in the first four games of the season before Prescott was injured in week 5 against the Giants.

In order to actually win the award many things would have to align in Dallas for Prescott, not least of all his relationship with Mike McCarthy. Not surprisingly McCarthy’s first year on the job earned mixed reviews. Those charitable analysts who gave him some leeway when he lost Prescott for the better part of the season aren’t writing him off. Others aren’t holding out much hope for McCarthy after what was a down year of historic proportions, pointing at poor coaching behind Dallas’ forgettable season as the reason behind Dallas’ titanic demise – and under the circumstances one kind of gets their point.

So, if 2020 was purely a reflection of what a McCarthy-inspired Dallas team amounts to, betting on Prescott in this market would be ill-advised because it’s impossible to see how Prescott would win a game at all never mind the CPOY Award.

Thus, other contenders in this market are more attractive for NFL picks, especially those that are coming off an injury and are returning to an established squad and coaching regime that is largely intact. Players such as Nick Bosa or Jimmy Garoppolo for example fir the bill, a couple of Niners that are set to return in 2021 after an injury absence and return to a squad that not so long ago competed in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo is of particular interest here as the Niners drafting Tray Lance at No.3 in the 2021 NFL draft could provide the requisite impetus for a standout 2021 campaign. Not unlike Aaron Rodgers, who enjoyed an MVP season last year after the Packers surprisingly drafted his heir apparent Jordan Love in 2020.


2021-22 Comeback Player of the Year Odds

  • Dak Prescott +250
  • Saquon Barkley +600
  • Joe Burrow +750
  • Nick Bosa +750
  • Carson Wentz +800
  • Christian McCaffrey +850
  • Jameis Winston +1200
  • Sam Darnold +1200
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif +1400
  • Jimmy Garoppolo +1600
  • Derwin James +1800
  • Von Miller +1800
  • Odell Beckham Jr. +2000
  • Tim Tebow +2000
  • Tyrod Taylor +2500
  • Joe Mixon +2800
  • Danielle Hunter +3300
  • Dont’a Hightower +5000
  • Kyle Long +5000