Many Happy Returns—Does Your League Count Return Yardage?

Rustyn RoseContributor IAugust 12, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - 2009:  Leon Washington of the New York Jets poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by NFL Photos)

Non-standard scoring leagues are becoming more and more popular in fantasy sports, especially football. People are getting bored with Defense and adding IDP (individual defensive players), and PPR (points per reception) is becoming huge as well. One stat that’s often included in the scoring but overlooked is points for return yardage. If your league includes return yardage into the scoring equation, a smart manager has just opened a world of fantasy rewards that others in the league may be blissfully unaware of.

Example 1: In a league which awards 1 point per 10 yards returned on punts and kicks, Leon Washington would have been the 5th highest scoring RB last season, Darren Sproles would have been 11th and Jerious Norwood 14th. That’s higher than Steven Jackson, Brandon Jacobs, Ryan Grant, Kevin Smith, Pierre Thomas, Marion Barber and many other top RBs. If I’d have had those three last season, without one first round running back, I’d have dominated my league.

Leon Washington

Leon Washington


Example 2: In a league that allots 1 point per every 25 yards, they still would have ended the season in 16th, 23rd, and 25th places respectively. This was still a higher point total then Jonathon Stewart who had 10 TDs and 900 rushing and receiving yards. They would also have bested Reggie Bush, Jamal Lewis, Lendale White and Larry Johnson, to name but a few.

Likewise, return yards boost many wide receivers.

In Example 1 above, Eddie Royal and Steve Breaston would have finished 3rd and 4th in scoring at the WR position. Oakland’s Johnnie Lee Higgins would have been the 14th in total points beating out Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. All he does is return kicks!

In Example 2 above, Eddie Royal would have been the 5th overall wide receiver, just from adding 740 return yards. Likewise Steve Breaston, DeSean Jackson, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Ted Ginn would all have been top 35. Ahead of guys like Marques Colston and Braylon Edwards.

This works even in IDP leagues too, because NO ONE seems to know who the returners are on defense.

In Example 1 above, Seattle’s cornerback Josh Wilson only had 69 solo tackles, one sack and a few interceptions. But he also had 1753 return yards and a TD. That earned him 374.3 fantasy points. A cornerback. That’s better than all but 11 other offensive players last season, and only 30 points less than Adrian Peterson, the consensus number one pick. He’d have been a second round selection.

In Example 2, Wilson would have scored 269.12 fantasy points, still making him the top defensive player and a top 60 pick, which still put him ahead of Reggie Wayne, T.O., Ryan Grant, Randy Moss, Dwayne Bowe, and so many others.

So first and foremost, always be sure to understand your scoring set up. Second, do the research ahead of time to know what shockers you might steal in the draft while other people are stocking up on fantasy driftwood. One thing I like to do each year is create a Yahoo league, and enter my upcoming league/drafts scoring set up. That way I can gauge sleepers others may overlook due to scoring anomalies, like return yards, or heavy penalties for interceptions. If you’re in a league where TDs are only worth 4 points, and interceptions are -2, and you get a guy who throws a lot of interceptions you could be breaking even some weeks. Let’s take player A and B for a ride, where TDs are worth 4 points and interceptions negative 2 points:

Player A 34 TDs less 11 INTs 136 – 22 = 114 points
Player B 34 TDs less 17 INTs 136 – 34 = 102 points

Player A was Philip Rivers. Player B is Drew Brees. Mind you this is just TD vs INT scores. Brees did have 1000 more passing yards. My point is simply to know what can hurt you and what can help you, and keep such things in mind as you prepare yourself for the draft.

Let’s say last season your draft went something like this: 1) Peyton Manning, 2) Marion Barber, 3) Reggie Wayne, 4) Antonio Gates, 5) Reggie Bush, 6) Kevin Smith, 7) Braylon Edwards and because you have a crush on kickers you took Stephen Gostowski in the 8th round. Then let’s say I was busy getting drunk in a strip club in Tijuana and blew off my draft and got left with computer picks. Based on the Example 2 scoring settings above, let’s see how that might have turned out:

Your Team:

QB ~ Peyton Manning- 425.93
RB1 ~ Marion Barber- 309.20
RB2 ~ Kevin Smith- 279.70
WR1 ~ Reggie Wayne- 251.00
WR2 ~ Braylon Edwards- 183.30
TE ~ Antonio Gates- 177.90
Flex ~ Reggie Bush - 231.70
K ~ S. Gostowski- 161.50
Total Points: 2020.23

My Team:

QB ~ David Garrard- 359.40
RB1 ~ Leon Washington- 284.66
RB2 ~ Darren Sproles- 251.45
WR1 ~ Eddie Royal- 286.75
WR2 ~ Steve Breaston- 260.06
TE ~ Owen Daniels- 173.70
Flex ~ Jerious Norwood- 247.39
K ~ Rian Lindell- 146.00
Total Points: 2009.41

Wow, a 10 point difference between a dream draft and a nightmare, and the nightmare almost won. Imagine a normal draft where you just steal one or two of these guys with return yardage. I can’t stress enough– know your league settings and take advantage!