Update: 8/25

Many of us play in leagues where kick and punt return yards count for fake points that could translate into real money or a false sense of happiness.  But how much stake do you put into return ability?  Last year many jacked Devin Hester’s value up thinking that since he was becoming a bigger part of the offense, coupled with the insane return numbers he had the year before, he would be a monster in return yardage leagues.  Well, as you know Hester’s production fell mightily with the additional wide receiver duties he had to hold in.  I know how that feels, umph.  So there is a balance between offensive production and return production.  There are very few #1 RB’s or WR’s who also produce top 10 return numbers.  Only three of the top 10 kick returners were also offensive threats, but still not starters: Darren Sproles, Jerious Norwood and Leon Washington.  Four of the top 10 punt returners were threats: Johnnie Lee Higgins, DeSean Jackson, Leon Washington, and Reggie Bush.

A lot of kick and punt returners value comes from your league’s set up.  If you get points for return yards and there is a starter out there who also returns kicks or punts then his value goes up, but say you have a 3rd down back or a 3rd or 4th receiver that also returns, then you have to do a little more calculating. Does a 3rd WR who returns kicks have the same value as a #2 WR who doesn’t?  Does he have potentially more value?  In deep leagues this is much easier.  You get those players who are most versatile in your scoring system.  Or say you are in a salary cap league like TSN’s Salary Cap Football and you need a player who has upside, but isn’t too expensive, you grab these guys up. Always know your scoring system in and out.  People don’t like to read the details so when you do you can take advantage.

It is impossible to know for 100 percent certainty who will fill the PR/KR roles at this point in the preseason, but here are some duel threats worth looking at:

1. Darren Sproles: It looked like Sproles could really cut into LT’s production after last season, but it now looks like he’ll stay a return man and a change of pace back.  Of course you have to try to get him if you draft LT, but in return yardage leagues he is worth much more than just a handcuff.

2. Josh Cribbs: This versatile player will see more work as a WR this year, but will continue to return punts and kicks.  And you could also see him behind center in the Wildcat or the Tame Dog or something.

3. Leon Washington: He will continue to get kick return duties while also getting more touches in what looks like a rbbc.  Sanchez will need to check down quite a bit and I see Washington getting checked down a lot.

4. Reggie Bush: With him already getting tweaked and yinked and crinked in training camp he is of course a huge injury risk, but if you are going to risk a pick on him, a return yardage league is where to do it.

5. Percy Harvin: If he fields kicks and punts, is a wide receiver, and walks on water he could be Purple Shiva.

6. Steve Breaston: He gets a lot of looks from the Power Chair, but since he’s a third WR he still gets return work.  And a Breaston the hand is better than two in the bush.  Wait, is that right?

7. Johnnie Lee Higgins: The three-named player also has three tools, but thankfully only takes one out at a time and never in front of children. He will continue to get work in the return game where he is elite and also should be more involved in the passing game especially with Chaz Schilens breaking his foot.  Yes, he plays for the Raiders, but NFL games last a long time and some yards have to be gained by the Raiders this year, at least a couple.

8. Felix Jones: Jones is already going as a flex option in many drafts so his return yardage bumps him up a few notches.   He can do things with just a few touches on offense, but when he doesn’t he’ll still grab you a few positive points from the return game.

9. Jerious Norwood: He will continue to get 3rd down work and kick returns.  Plus he will see more touches this year to keep Turner from running out of nickname fuel.

10. Davone Bess: How much his starting status effects his return status is yet to be seen, but I believe he’ll continue to some degree.  I continue to find positive fantasy tid-bits from this guy.  Grab him before Davone Fever catches!

11. Ahmad Bradshaw: The Pepper in the Grind and Pepper duo.  Or the Spit in the Chew and Spit.  Or Dash in the Dine and Dash, anyway, he’s the quick little scrappy fella and Jacobs is the monster who will break your face.  Bradshaw should get kick returns.

12. Lance Moore: Any starting WR for the Saints who also returns punts is worthy of some consideration. I really don’t see Meachem doing anything to hurt his value so this is another added bonus.

13. Devin Hester: Hester’s adp has dropped like a turd in a punch bowl in the last few months after the Cutler shine wore off him.  He still will return punts and there really was good reason for the hype.  He has a year as a WR under his belt and a MUCH better QB throwing to him.  As long as Jay Cut doesn’t throw him under the bus again he’s worth a hard look in return yardage leagues.

14. Patrick Crayton: He will receive punt return duties because Felix Jones couldn’t do it.  Crayton has pretty much won the #2 WR position across from Roy Williams and will get plenty of looks this year.  Bump him up like he’s Women’s Softball on ESPN when Favre unretireretires.

15. Wes Welker: He returns punts, but isn’t spectacular at it.  It gives him a minuscule boost. But if you are in a ppr league and a return yardage league, that is what we call Dubya Dubya double dip!

16. Santana Moss: He is head-noddingly yawnstipating, but he does gain a little value here.  When he gets 0 to 1 receptions he at least will get half a point on punt returns.

17. Roscoe Parrish: Roscoe, he sounds like an old hound who likes to spend all day sleeping on the porch dreaming of chasing rabbits and . . . wait, no this Roscoe plays for the Bills and is one the best return men in the league, but that’s about all your going to get from him unless a receiver gets injured in front of him and he turns away and lets a truck run over him.

18. Jacoby Jones: A great return man, but doesn’t get much time on the field otherwise. Similar to Roscoe, but with a completely different name.

19. DeSean Jackson: DJax will have to take on a much bigger role this season if the Eagles want to win so I believe he won’t see as much work in the return game. Maclin is getting the preseason work as the return man, but doesn’t look ready for a big role as a WR just yet.  Keep an eye on DJax this preseason if his return yardage is the deciding factor for you.

EDIT: Keep an eye on these guys during the preseason.  If they get full time return positions they are very much worth consideration in return yardage leagues: Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Deon Butler, Mike Wallace, Shaun McDonald,  Andre Davis, Ted Ginn Jr, Jamaal Charles, and Jeremy Maclin

  1. David says:

    Trade Bowe and Barber for D. Williams and Lee Evans?

  2. Cheese

    Cheese says:

    Great post Doc! What do you think of these guys (current KR on depth charts)

    Shaun McDonald
    Percy Harvin (what can’t he do?)
    Andre Davis
    Ted Ginn Jr
    Jamaal Charles (will Dantrell Savage post a threat?)
    Ahmad Bradshaw

    I like all of those guys for KR/PR leagues (except maybe McDonald and Davis). What do you think?

  3. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Cheese: They all look good. I think I’ll add them to the post. Finding correct info on Returners is difficult! I’m finding conflicting info all over the place!

  4. Doc

    Doc says:

    @David: It’s a fairly even trade, but I’d take D. Williams.

  5. Doc

    Doc says:

    I updated the post and removed Berrian, but added Harvin and Bradshaw. With a little more research it looks like they should be returners.

  6. CKR says:

    Higgins is going to get a chance to start. If he is the play maker he was at the end of last season the Raiders will have to get him more than return touches even after Schilens returns.

    You’d have to think that the Eagles are going to try and get Maclin involved early like they did with Jackson last year. Returns may be the ticket especially if they want to keep Jackson fresh for his receiver duties.

  7. Cheese

    Cheese says:

    Now, is this list strictly a list based on KR/PR skills? Or does this combine their original value with their KR/PR status. By personal judgment, it looks like a list just based on KR/PR ability.

  8. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Cheese: Yeah, it’s based on how much a guy will benefit from being in a return yardage league. Someone like Welker is great, but he doesn’t get many return yards so it’s not worth bumping him up too far in return leagues.

  9. Doc

    Doc says:

    @CKR: Agreed, but reports are saying he’s not going to get much work on the offense yet.

    Yeah, I like Higgins.

  10. danimal35 says:

    Update: well my draft was last night in the .5pt/carry + PPR league. I punted receivers and QB mostly because of some runs that I didn’t want to get caught up in. Drafting on the turn, the 4th round saw 5 QBs go before me and I just didn’t see value in the 9th ranked QB in round 4/5.

    Anyways, picks (12-team):
    1. Adrian Peterson
    2. Clinton Portis (wanted Kevin Smith here but he didn’t fall, couldn’t pass up a back with his pedigree at the end of the 2nd)
    3. Ronnie Brown (LOVE this pick)
    4. Ray Rice (Wanted Marshawn Lynch but he didn’t fall. I know I would probably not take him if I had to do it over but I couldn’t pass up the possibility of him getting starter’s workload. D-Mac was available too and the QB run ahead of me was a killer)
    5. Tony Gonzalez (figured with all desirable QBs/WRs gone I would try to make up for my lack of WR by getting top numbers from the TE spot)
    6. Derrick Mason
    7. Torry Holt (had to take some receivers so I took veterans who will get theirs in a PPR)
    8. Felix Jones
    9. Donald Brown (both have too much upside to pass up)
    10. Percy Harvin (We get return yardage too so I think he will get some points and I need receivers)
    11. Joe Flacco (we’ll see but has a good team around him and tons of talent…year two he could step up and explode)
    12 David Garrard (solid QB…the run on QBs left me with little choices later)
    13. Packers D (best D on board)
    14. Kevin Faulk (PPR guy who I plan on using in a trade later when RB challenged teams are getting beat up)
    15. Chris Henry (talent and neede something for my WR depth)
    16. Devin Thomas (flier/flyer…has a chance to do something)
    17. James Davis (didn’t have a kicker but I figured I could pick one up before the season starts and thought there might be some injuries in preseason…Hartley is still available)

    All in all I am pretty happy with this…I have weak spots but my RB depth is so good that I think during the season I will be able to shore those up and that .5 pt per carry is gonna be so underestimated by many)

    Whattaya think?

  11. Doc

    Doc says:

    @danimal35: Looks good. Your RB’s are great, which was your plan and it worked. Of course this leaves you lacking in QB and WR, but you knew that. I do like your late round picks in those positions though. And you should have some nice RB chips to trade if your WR/QB picks just aren’t working out.

  12. Doc

    Doc says:

    If any of you see or read about a change in return men then let me know in the comments here.

    Just found out Felix Jones isn’t handling punt returns and Crayton will be. I’m adding Crayton in a bit.

  13. I think I did pretty damn well in my money league. Some of was just guys falling gift-wrapped to me for various reasons.

    QB Kurt Warner
    RB B Westbrook
    WR L Fitzgerald

    01.37 RB Ronnie Brown
    02.44 RB Ryan Grant
    03.57 WR Anthony Gonzalez
    04.64 RB Larry Johnson
    05.77 TE Greg Olsen
    06.84 WR Donald Driver
    07.97 QB Jay Cutler
    08.104 WR Steve Breaston
    09.117 RB Leon Washington
    10.124 RB Tim Hightower
    11.137 Titans Defense
    12.144 RB Shonne Green
    13.157 K David Akers

  14. .5 PPR league 10 teams.

  15. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Elijah: Looks like you have some good depth with some nice late round picks. Not a fan of Hightower, but he should start. If he does something early I think i’d shop him for another WR.

  16. Doc says:

    @Cheese: Thanks. Good info. I’ll add him.

  17. Randy says:

    I have a question. My draft is coming up. RB’s and WR’s get 1 point for every 10 yards but also get 1 point for every 20 return yards. Should I be thinking about taking Sproles, Cribbs, Washington,etc early?

  18. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Randy: Yeah, I think those guys move pretty far up in that league. Take a player like LenDale White who is going adp 65 to Sproles 95. Factor in return yards with that scoring and Sproles ended the season much higher in total points. You should figure a few of those guys to your scoring system and see where they fall at least from last years stats.

  19. Tom says:

    Doc, thanks for this list.

    One of my leagues is 1 point per 20 return yards, with cumulative bonuses of 3 points at 75 yards, 7 points at 150 yards, and 10 points at 200 yards. It’s also a PPR league.

    In this scoring, Leon Washington was a solid #1 RB and Jerious Norwood was a borderline #2 last year. Where you draft a guys like Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson is impacted by what their return duties are likely to be.

    We also start 4 IDPs in this league, and the DBs who have KR and PR duties also get return points. This really affects the rankings for DBs–Will Blackmon, Josh Wilson, and Ellis Hobbs were all near the top last year.

    We draft this league next week. What would really be useful is an updated list of KR/PR duties by team. If I can’t find one I would put it together myself anyway.

  20. Game says:

    Am I missing something? I am thinking about dropping Hixon for Bess or derek stanley – who isn’t on your list – but he had a great average last year, and is one of only 5 WR on the rams roster – is there a reason to avoid him?

  21. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Game: Well, Stanley is officially the Rams 4th receiver right now and I would have to see him do something before I dropped anyone for him. Bess looks like he didn’t win that #2 spot over Camarillo so I would stick with Hixon who is pretty much the Giants #1 receiver.

  22. Game says:

    yeah, I notices the Rams cut another WR after I wrote that – in other news…
    “With the addition of Peerman, expect Cribbs to focus more on receiving as the number two option, leaving return duties to Gerard Lawson and Cedric Peerman.”
    a huge hit to Cribbs owners, and Mark Jones was picked back up by the Panthers.
    So far just good news for my top guys (Higgins, Sproles, Hester) but things can change quick on special teams.

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