Mid-Season Report: Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

With Week 9 over and done with, the NFL is officially halfway through the 2022 regular season. That means it's time to check in on the progress of various teams and players. Here are three stars who have overcome tremendous adversity to position themselves for a chance at the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Running back Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Few players burst onto the NFL landscape with as much promise and excitement as Saquon Barkley did in his sensational rookie season. The former second-overall pick totalled an amazing 2028 yards from scrimmage in his first year, but that unfortunately would turn out to be a career-high. Barkley has failed to top even 1000 yards from scrimmage in 2020 and 2021 due to a series of injuries, but he finally appears back on track this year. With 968 yards from scrimmage through eight games, Barkley has a shot to actually exceed that amazing first year.

Quarterback Geno Smith, New York Jets

The Seattle Seahawks may have pulled the biggest trade heist since Hershel Walker when they sent Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Geno Smith has thoroughly outplayed Wilson through nine weeks of the regular season after toiling in relative obscurity as a backup for six seasons.  Smith has led the Seahawks to a 6-3 record and the fourth most points scored in the league while tabulating a 107.2 passer rating, the second-highest in the league.

Running back Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49er made one of the biggest moves of the trade deadline when they acquired running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers, and he appears well on his way to rewarding their gamble. After missing 17 games from 2020 to 2021, McCaffrey has reemerged as perhaps the league's premier two-way back, rushing for 525 yards and adding another 356 through the air. If he builds on his spectacular first start with the 49ers (149 yards from scrimmage and a 34-yard touchdown pass), McCaffrey could end the season as the premier offensive player on one of the league's best teams.
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