With the 2017 NFL season officially coming to an end, it’s time to look back on which players will most likely be the top contenders for this year’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award, whether it be from injury or just simply a bad season.
This season was filled with tons of twists and turns ̶ one of them being that the beloved Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt fractured a bone in his left leg, after just five games into the season. Watt was, up until his injury, a sure contender for the Comeback Player Award. There are numerous players who have shown that they can preserve despite an injury or a lull in their stats, but it would be ridiculous not to have these five players in the conversation when discussing the Comeback Contenders.
#5: Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots
While it honestly feels like Rob Gronkowski never cools off, he did miss 8 games last season due to injury ̶ as well as the playoffs, and the Super Bowl appearance where his team, the New England Patriots, came back from a 25 point deficit to win the game. But when the 2017 season started, Gronk acted as if he had never missed a beat. He finished his season with 69 receptions, having had no targets or catches in the last game of the season against the New York Jets. But while he ranks 5th in the league this year in receptions, he led the tight end pack in yards with 1,084 yards, averaging 77.4 yards a game.
#4: Justin Houston, LB Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Houston was placed on the PUP list at the start of last season, after a knee injury that took place in late 2015. Houston returned to the field later in the year, but experienced swelling in the same knee, and sat out the final two games of the season. He only played in five games last season. With him fully healthy this year, Houston lead his team in sacks with 9.5 overall. It’s not the 22 sacks that he had back in 2014, but it’s a hell of a comeback after how slow he was to recuperate after his injury.
#3: Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings
When Case Keenum got signed by the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason, it was as a backup to not only Sam Bradford, but for the recovering Teddy Bridgewater as well. When Bradford went down with a knee injury, and Bridgewater still wasn’t medically cleared to enter the game, Keenum took over, and took over he did. Keenum came in 12th in the league this year in passing yards with 3,547 yards, leading his team to a 13-3 season, and clinching the NFC North Division.
#2: Keenan Allen, WR Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen has been hit with the injury bug on more than one occasion. In 2015, Allen missed the last eight games of the season due to a kidney injury, and most of the 2016 season due to an ACL tear. He bounced back, helping lead the LA Chargers to a 9-7 season. They beat the Raiders in their final game of the season, but were eliminated from playoff contention due to a Titans win. Over this season, Allen became the number one wide out on third down, ending his season with 159 targets, 102 receptions, and 1,393 receiving yards ̶ 3rd most in the league this year.
#1: Todd Gurley, RB Los Angeles Rams
After a lackluster year last season, Todd Gurley has been a huge asset to the LA Rams on their road to their first playoff appearance since 2003. The former Offensive Rookie of the Year Award winner rushed for 1,305 yards, with 13 touchdowns. His rushing yardage is 2nd in the league this year ̶ only behind Kareem Hunt, the rookie from the Kansas City Chiefs by 22 yards. The Rams are hosting the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday, and since they sat Gurley for rest during the last game of the season, it’s safe to guarantee that he plans on being utilized to the full capacity for the playoff game.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award will be announced February 3rd, 2018 during the NFL Honors ceremony on NBC.|