As we discussed in my offense return specialist rankings, more leagues have begun to use return yardage as another scoring category. The value of this added stat is based largely on the points allotted by yardage, with 1 point per 25 yards being the standard, and more aggressive leagues using as much as 1 point per every 10 yards.
In standard Team defense based leagues, if you had a player like Percy Harvin, who is a wide receiver, but he were to score a kick return touchdown, you’d get no points for that TD as it would go to the Minnesota Defense.
In IDP leagues, return yardage can be a sneaky, or strategic way to improve your points each week. Many teams use defensive backs as return men. The hard part is knowing which players and which teams. They’re not as easy to find as guys like Darren Sproles or Joshua Cribbs on the offense. Many times teams try out rookie DBs to see how they’ll perform.
With IDP return men you want guys who also get regular playing time on defense, or guys that handle both punt and kick returns. Below is our list of your best IDP bets for 2010. All of these guys are DBs.
- Danieal Manning, CHI ~ Manning is the starting Strong Safety for the Bears defense, so he gives you tackles, pass defenses and potential interceptions as well as any return yardage he may rack up. He’s the most versatile DB on this list.
- Javier Arenas, KC ~ Arenas was the second or the Chief’s 2nd round picks in this year’s draft. While he won’t be a starter, he’s slated to handle primary return duties for the team. Fellow rookie Dexter McCluster may steal some of his returns, but Arenas should get the bulk.
- Perrish Cox, DEN ~ Many are assuming that 2nd year back-up corner back Alphons Smitho will be handling return duties for the Broncos this season, but Cox has already overtaken him on the team’s depth chart, and he’s returned most of the kick-offs and punts. Smith has returned none. Cox has also been great so far in preseason action.
- Leodis McKelvin, BUF ~ McKelvin was pegged to be an IDP return dynamo in 2009 and then he got hurt early on and washed all those fantasy hopes away. This year he’s slipped off most people’s radar, but he has the chance to be a boon in IDP leagues with return yardage.
- Josh Wilson, SEA ~ It was just a couple of season’s ago that Wilson blew up IDP leagues with his return yardage numbers, but 2009 saw him relinquish much of his duties to other players. He will split return carries with Cord Parks and Leon Washington most likely, but as a starter at CB, he adds value with those returns he does get.
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, DAL ~ AOA as we call him was tabbed in the 4th round of this years draft by the Cowboys. Barring injury to other players, he will be the team’s back-up free safety. More important for us, he will handle the majority of kick and punt return duties for the team. WR Patrick Crayton will steal some, but overall AOA is a nice name to pencil in at the bottom of your sheet.
- Nolan Carroll, MIA ~ While RB Patrick Cobb has been considered the team’s return specialist Carroll has reportedly nailed down the kickoff return job. Miami’s nickel back of the future, Carroll has averaged 23.6 yards on 7 preseason returns. The coaches are leery of putting too much on Patrick Cobbs’ plate in his return from reconstructive knee surgery. Chalk one up for IDP owners.
- Jim Leonhard, NYJ ~ Starting free safety, Leonhard will handle a good chunk of the Jets return duties in 2009. Especially if rookie running back Joe McKnight gets cut from the team. So far he has not impressed coaches. Like Wilson and Manning, return yardage is icing on the cake.
- Justin Miller, ARI ~ Miller will split return duties with RB LaRod Stephens-Howling. He played one game for the Jets in 2009 before getting cut. He’s looked solid this preseason, but at this point, unless your IDP draft is quite deep, you’ll probably pass on him unless LSH gets hurt.
- Quentin Demps, PHI ~ Like Miller above, Demps will be splitting the returns with others and this will dilute his value since he is not a starter at his position
Other names to keep an eye on include Terrence McGee for the Bills, Captain Munerlyn for the Panthers, and Devin McCourty for the Patriots. Since preseason is only midway done, some things could change. If they do i will update these rankings appropriately.