Many leagues give points for return yards, which I can get behind, but only to a point, and really this has nothing to do with this post so I will continue. Points for punt and kick return yards are all over the place in the leagues I sampled. There really is no consistent league setting out there for return points per yards so it is difficult to rank these players and also, return men come and go at the drop of a hat and there are only a few that you can rely on and then of course, if they get good enough to start on offense consistently they are often eased out of returning roles.
If you are looking to add return points to your league it seems like 1 pt for 25 kick return yards and 1 pt for 10 punt return yards is about the highest I would go. I also saw quite a few leagues with 1 pt per 50 yds, and so on. If you are in those leagues the impact return men have on overall points isn’t as great. In researching return men to draft make sure you aren’t just picking them because you are in a “return yardage” league. Make sure you research your settings. Are punt returns worth the same as kick returns, more? Does the amount of points added to a a 3rd/4th WR/RB make enough of an impact for them to even be draftable? Are defensive backs who return kicks and do nothing at all on offense worth drafting? Can you draft them? Are you in an IDP league that allows a player like Daniel Manning to get points for tackles and return yards? You get the point.
For those in leagues where return yards are very important, you need to pay close attention to what is happening in preseason. Often rookies get a shot at returning kicks, and usually rookies who are extremely quick, skillful, bad ass, etc… But more than those attributes, a coach wants the return man not to eff things up. So, unless the player has the job sewn up, don’t reach for someone who might not even return kicks.
Here is a Merrill hodge podge list of return men who will also be used on offense to one degree or another.
Danny Amendola: Last season he led the league in total kick return yards with 1,618 and also had 360 punt return yards. He didn’t get into the end zone which hurt, but he also had 43 receptions. He’s one of those poor man’s Wes Welkers and has been touted as the best receiver in camp this season. If you are in a PPR and return yardage league he is a good bet for production as long as Gilyard doesn’t take away any return duties. So keep an eye on that guy!
Josh Cribbs: Well, you know what he can do. He’s the total return package that you don’t want to return. I’m not high on him at all in non-return yardage leagues, but he will be used at least some in the offense as a hybrid type. Sadly he is so well known as a returner it will be hard to get him at value in a return yardage league, but in some leagues I saw him as the #1 overall receiver and I don’t see any reason he couldn’t do that again in those heavily return laden leagues.
Percy Harvin: He only had 42 kick returns last season, but made the best of them, averaging over 27 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns. Of course you have to worry a little bit about his health. Just today he had to be hauled away in an ambulance for migraines. It’s sad to see such a talented player have to deal with these issues, but it’s there and we have to take into account.
C.J. Spiller: A lot depends on how quickly Lynch and Jackson return. If he were the Bills only running back I doubt you would see him returning too many kicks, but eventually (maybe even week 1) he will be returning kicks and he is a special talent. As rookies go he should be high on your return league draft board.
Johnny Knox: Knox and Manning split kick returns last season and with the very likely likelihood that Knox is the defacto #1 receiver in Chicago it will be hard to give him a lot of return work. I do not know definitively either way, but that would be my best projection. Don’t overvalue him in return leagues.
Devin Hester: He should continue to handle punt returns, but unless he somehow returns to his “ridiculous” standing, his yardage is capped by not returning kicks. If your point system favors punt returners he is your man. His role in the offense seems to be a big one at this point unless he eventually gets moved to the slot.
Eddie Royal: Eddie Royal Tea could be a nice return yardage sleeper this season as well as a good name for a hot cup of Earl Grey. I am still on the fence on how much he will be used in the offense, but I think everyone and their dog is as well. It’s looking like he could be used in the slot which in McDaniels’ offense can be productive, and really anything is better than how he was used last season. Add to that his status as both the kick and punt returner and you have a recipe for some decent point production.
Dez Bryant: His injury really hurts his return status for this season since we won’t get to see much out of him before the regular season. But he in all likelihood will return kicks at some point. His role on the offense is still up in the air, but it’s not hard to see him taking down Roy Williams at some point in the name of skill and upsidability.
Jacoby Jones: I am hoping Jones isn’t returning kicks this season and instead is catching TD passes. Trindon Holliday has looked good on returns this preseason so I would be leery of Jones if you are wanting him for return yardage production.
Dexter McCluster: The buzz is mad bumble bee frenzy at this point. He has looked good in camp and as long as he is in the slot and his big play ability out distances Javier Arenas’ he could also be returning kicks. But for now I am in wait and see mode to make sure he will be a factor in the return game.
Davone Bess: There are a lot of return men in Miami, but Bess should get some punt returns at least. I wouldn’t move him up too much though.
Julian Edelman: Edelman looked great in the first preseason game in the return role, which is a very good sign and makes him one of my favorites in return yardage/ppr leagues. If Welker is completely back week one it hurts him of course, but he has shown enough that it will be hard to keep him off the field.
Desean Jackson: You know what he can do with the ball. He’s really the only elite player who returns anything at this point (oh MJD, how we miss you). If you get good points for punt returns he moves up a WR tier.
Ted Ginn: The one thing he can do decently is return kicks and right now he is also the #3 receiver in Frisco. He won’t be a big presence on offense, but any little bit helps in leagues heavily weighted for return yards.
Darren Sproles: Like Cribbs you know what Sproles is up to. He’s gold in return yardage leagues Jerry! Gold!
Golden Tate: You know he’s gold as well, and Tate. And thankfully not Ben. He’s a bit of a wild card this season. On a crappy team, not sure how he’ll be used in the offense and has Leon Washington to compete with for returns. I could see Washington returning kicks and Tate returning punts, but at this point we are in a holding pattern.
Leon Washington: See above. Also read: If the Seattle backfield becomes a committee and Washington is returning kicks and you’re in a PPR league there is a lot of upside and of course a big helping of ifs and buts. No, not sniffs and butts.
Damian Williams: He’s been on the PUP list with a hamstring issue, but is now off and should end up handling both punt and kick returns, but of course his absence from camp has made it very tough for him to find a place in the offense. He coul work his way up the depth chart so might be worth a flier.
LeRon-Stephens Howling: Lersh is also buried on the depth chart, but will be used at least a bit on offense and is the primary kick returner. He has upside if Timmy or Beanie get hurt on the monkey bars.
Deji Karim: He has looked good in preseason and is for sure worth a pickup if you need a MJD handcuff and are in a return yardage league.
Armanti Edwards: He is a bit of a project for Carolina, being converted from QB to wide receiver, but he has flashed some things in camp and could be used in return duties. He’s worth keeping an eye on.