Gronk, Big Ben favourites for come­back player

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - SPORTS -

Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers tight end Rob Gronkowski is a trendy favourite to win NFL come­back player of the year hon­ors now that he's ended his re­tire­ment to play along­side Tom Brady.

The Bucs ac­quired Gronkowski, who is listed at plus-300 on Draftkings and plus-400 on BETMGM Sports­book, along with a sev­en­thround draft pick from the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots last month for a fourth-round pick from the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots.

A five-time Pro Bowl se­lec­tion and a four-time first­team All-pro, Gronkowski to­talled 521 re­cep­tions for 7,861 yards and 79 touch­downs across nine sea­sons for the Pa­tri­ots from 201018. Along with one rush­ing touch­down, Gronkowski's 80 scores are the most in Pa­tri­ots his­tory.

Pitts­burgh Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger (Draftkings: plus-400; Bet MGM: plus-400) also could be in line for a strong re­turn af­ter play­ing just two games last sea­son be­fore un­der­go­ing el­bow surgery on Sept. 24. Roeth­lis­berger, 38, said last month he was throw­ing "pain free" for the first time in years.

Detroit Lions quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford, Washington Red­skins QB Alex Smith and Hous­ton Tex­ans de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt are all listed at plus-700 by Draftkings. Watt is plus-600 while Stafford and Smith are plus-1,400 on Bet MGM.

Stafford, 32, started 136 con­sec­u­tive games be­fore miss­ing the fi­nal eight last year with an ail­ing back. He won the same award in 2011 af­ter play­ing just three games in 2010.

Smith has been side­lined since Novem­ber 2018 af­ter sus­tain­ing a com­pound frac­ture of the right tibia and a frac­ture of the right fibula in a game against the Hous­ton Tex­ans.

Smith, who turns 36 on Thurs­day, also suf­fered a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion that caused ma­jor com­pli­ca­tions. He had 17 surg­eries.

A three-time NFL De­fen­sive Player of the Year, Watt un­der­went surgery on a torn pec­toral mus­cle sus­tained in a game against the Oak­land Raiders on Oct. 27. Watt, 31, re­turned for an AFC wild­card game against the vis­it­ing Buf­falo Bills on Jan. 4.

If you're look­ing for long shots, Draftkings listed new Tex­ans run­ning back David John­son at plus-3,300, Cleve­land Browns quar­ter­back Baker May­field at plus-5,000 and Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Tru­bisky at plus-10,000.

BETMGM had Tru­bisky at plus-8,000, while re­tired quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning came in at plus-15,000.

MARIO ANZUOMI • REUTERS

Rob Gronkowski re­acts dur­ing the Nick­elodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports Awards 2019 in Santa Mon­ica, Calif.

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