Return leagues are the shady underworld of the fantasy football universe. So tricky, they can make the most seasoned fantasy player look like a novice. So unpredictable, they can make the most confident statistician throw his hands in the air.
There are only so many players that are helped by return league stats. Some become incredibly productive while others see their value increase ever so slightly. It’s a murky landscape to endure but we’ll try to make the most of it with the return league big board. All season, XN Sports will provide updated return league rankings to guide you through the precarious world of return leagues, adding players as they become relevant and subtracting as they stop contributing on special team. There’s just two things I’d like to note.
1. I don’t trust kick returners who become full-time players. You’ll notice that Randall Cobb, David Wilson, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are highlighted in red. Although all four have fairly modest projections, most coaches aren’t comfortable putting full-time players in kick return jobs. These are the four I feel are most likely to disappoint in return leagues though I believe all four should have good seasons at their positions. I’m also not too certain about DeSean Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, and Jeremy Kerley but we’ll see how things go. At the same time, full-time players will keep themselves relevant with running and receiving stats so they don’t need a ton of return yards to get a nice boost.
2. We don’t have any 2013 stats so I’ve included projections until we have real stats to look at. Some leagues make returning a big part of the scoring at 10 yards per point while other leagues mitigate the impact somewhat but keep returners relevant with 25 yards per point. I’ve also separated the projections to account for the large differences in return league scoring. I’ve used the Yahoo scoring and projections because that’s what most people seem to play but the rankings aren’t based on them.
I’m concerned that Cobb’s full-time role will lead coaches to decrease his returns but if he continues to bring the ball back he should be a return league juggernaut.
Yahoo projects a huge spike in return yards and while I’m not comfortable expecting that large an increase, Sproles remains a return league must-own.
With Andre Brown out, Wilson is more or less a full-time back so I’m worried about the amount of returns. Still, his projected 560 yards isn’t that much but would give him a big value boost in return leagues.
He’ll be a full-time number two receiver but if he can come close to the numbers he put up returning last season, he can be a return league monster.
Yahoo is liberal with their Austin projections but if he can put up 1000+ return yards on top of a promising season he’ll be much more valuable in return leagues than standard leagues.
McCluster can make up for his lack of standard production as the full-time kick and punt returner for the Chiefs. But, if you’re not in a one point per 10 return yards league or a particularly deep one, he’s probably not worth owning.
With Mike Wallace gone, I doubt Brown will get many return yards but the projected 340 isn’t a huge amount and it could give him a nice boost in contrast to standard leagues.
Like Brown, Sanders moves up a spot on the depth chart and with other experienced kick returners on the roster I worry Sanders won’t get enough touches to get 650 yards. Stay tuned.
I think DeSean should have a much better season in 2013 and if he can get 230 yards as a punt returner, he’ll look even better than in standard leagues.
It’s tough to project rookie receivers but a strong kick return game can make Patterson very relevant in return leagues. Wait and see how the Vikings return picture shapes out.
I like Rodgers to put up a better offensive game but if he can improve on his return game as well he’ll be a force to reckon with. I don’t trust Steven Jackson in Atlanta and I like Rodgers as a massive sleeper in return leagues.
He won’t do much on offense but if your league scores a point per 10 return yards, he’s hard to bet against.
I think Kerley is one of the more underrated receivers, regardless how ugly the QB picture may be. He’s an iffy pick in most leagues but could be propelled much higher in a part-time returning role in return leagues.
Like Thigpen, he won’t do much on offense but is capable of producing enough return yards to stay very relevant.
I think Hilton has a big year as a receiver but if he can come close to last season’s return totals he will be considerably better in return leagues.
|16||Ted Ginn Jr.|
If he can touch the numbers that Yahoo has him at, he’ll be a regular starter in return leagues. I think he may surprise some people in the passing game as well.
A pure returner, I don’t trust Royal enough to have him on my team but I realize his potential as a returner. He’s one to watch.
Many are calling for a Randle breakout season and while I’m not sold, 230 return yards would add 23 points to his totals in 10 yard leagues.
I don’t typically like punt returners in return leagues but Tate has the potential to shine in Pete Carroll’s offense and an extra 16 points can make a significant difference.
*- Based on Yahoo Projections
**- Based on Yahoo standard scoring plus points per return yards.