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Rams have 3 viable candidates for Comeback Player of the Year

A lot is expected from them to keep LA afloat in 2023

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NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries were unforgiving to the Los Angeles Rams in 2022, especially to their core of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp. The trio combined to miss 22 games with Stafford and Kupp each missing half the season. A lot is expected from LA’s stars this year as they aim to help the Rams go from 5-12 to 12-5.

They’re all Comeback Player of the Year candidates according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Kupp has the best odds of the three at +2500 with Stafford (+3000) and Donald (+5000) following closely behind. That’s just according to the oddsmakers. Who would be my pick?

If I were to bet money (quite a dangerous way to start a sentence for me), I side with the oddsmakers here. The only worthy candidates between the three are AD and Kupp, even if Bleacher Report appears to be high on Stafford returning to form.

The only reason I’m not high on LA’s QB1 myself is based on the severity of his injuries suffered throughout last season. Even if he’s able to play a full campaign, how effective is he actually going to be? What Stafford needs is ample support and Donald hasn’t fallen out of favor with those in the media despite a “down” year by his lofty standards. One All-Pro on the Rams’ upcoming slate is already dreading their matchup with the defensive juggernaut.

Kelce isn’t the only one who recognizes Donald as the best at his position. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the top interior defender ahead of the 2023 season. Author Gordon McGinness writes why he gave the top spot to the Pittsburgh product:

“Despite posting his lowest PFF grade since his rookie year, Donald remains a dominant force on the defensive interior. In his nine-year career, he has produced 90.0-plus PFF grades in every season. Last year, he recorded 40 pressures on 396 pass-rushing snaps, so the production was still there even in an injury-marred season.” per Gordon McGinness of PFF.

Clearly no love has been lost towards Donald according to analysts everywhere as they aren’t holding those injuries against him. Should he continue his productive streak, one TST writer believes AD will have his sights set on more than just the CPOY award.

I never want to bet against Donald but my CPOY nod goes to Kupp. Two year’s ago, he won the receiving triple crown and basically most everyone has forgotten about it. Kupp has seemingly been punished for his injuries by the same analysts who’ve praised AD. Perhaps it’s not very wise to doubt someone who was on pace for 153 catches through 8 games and a player who is still one of the most productive players at his position.

If it weren’t for his injuries, Kupp likely would’ve either led or have been close to leading the league in all major receiving categories for the second-straight season. Funny what short memories sports fans and analysts tend to have. Vikings superstar Justin Jefferson has been deemed the NFL’s best wide receiver but in all honesty, Kupp bests him in numerous categories when he’s been on the field.

Everyone has a right to their opinion on the subject, but my bet is on Cooper Kupp to be the Rams’ Comeback Player of the Year winner even if he doesn’t win the league award.