2012 Punt & Kick Return Studs, Depth Charts

By Matt De Lima (4for4 Scout) on Jul 27, 2012

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Matt is an experienced sports writer and fantasy football expert. He contributes his opinions and insights across multiple sports to numerous sites, including here at 4for4.com.

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Note: 4for4.com does not project return yardage across the board. Due to position turnover and the unpredictability of return yardage on a weekly basis, projecting return stats will add noise and may actually hurt your draft. If you really want to estimate projected return yardage and TDs, you can check out PC Drafter which comes free with your 4for4 subscription. It allows you to enter return forecast numbers. Be very careful here, perhaps do only a minimal edit on a few of the top return men noted below.

 

Although there are more than 50 returners in the league, only a select few are worthy of draft consideration outside of extreme scoring formats. In each case, the player in question should receive a small bump on your draft board.

Below I highlight the top fantasy options worthy of a bump in return yardage leagues. At the bottom is a table containing current punt and kick return depth charts for all 32 teams. Keep in mind, return depth charts are fluid and often change weekly or even in-game. A player with a small role on offense and a large role in the return game may even see that role lessened as their offensive role expands.

 

The Best of the Best
New Orleans running back Darren Sproles could provide you huge numbers in a PPR league that also includes return scoring. He's projected as the Saints' kick and punt returner, which will allow him to pile up yardage and opportunities to take it to the house. Sproles broke a NFL record with 2,696 all-purpose yards last season.

 

Pittsburgh Sleeper
Keep an eye on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Not only is he currently pegged as the team's No. 2 wideout, it looks as though he will be handling kickoffs and punts as well. Brown is already considered a potential sleeper by many now that Hines Ward has retired and his return duties only add to his value. Brown had 2,211 all-purpose yards in 2011 and that number should climb next season. (Update 8/29): It's looking like Emmanuel Sanders will return both kicks and punts. Brown is currently listed as the No. 3 kick returner and punt returner)

 

Sophomore Secret
It's easy to remember the first game of 2011 when Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees put on a scoring clinic. It was also a coming out party for Randall Cobb. Not only did he catch a 32-yard touchdown, he housed an 108-yard kickoff. Cobb has a great opportunity to overtake James Jones as Green Bay's No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart. Given his ceiling and returner status, he makes for a nice pickup toward the middle rounds of your draft.

 

A Small Scoring Bump
Most returners don't handle their team's full slate of both kickoffs and punts. This allows some great players across the league to see the field a few extra times per game. Bills' running back C.J. Spiller finished strong last year after Fred Jackson was injured and he is penciled in as the punt returner. Oakland wideout Denarius Moore was a popular sleeper candidate last summer and he managed to put together a solid campaign. He appears to be the early favorite at punt returner for the Raiders. If your league includes IDP, consider Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb. He came out of nowhere to have a strong IDP season and will likely return punts for the Ravens.

 

2012 NFL Punt & Kick Return Depth Charts

Bold: "Draftable" fantasy player
Updated: October 1, 2012

 
Kick Returner Punt Returner
ARI
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, WR Andre Roberts CB Patrick Peterson, WR Andre Roberts
ATL
RB Jacquizz Rodgers CB Dominique Franks, WR Harry Douglas
BAL
WR Deonte Thompson, WR Jacoby Jones, CB Asa Jackson, RB Anthony Allen WR Jacoby Jones, CB Lardarius Webb, CB Asa Jackson
BUF
CB Justin Rogers, CB Leodis McKelvin, QB Brad Smith CB Leodis McKelvin, RB C.J. Spiller
CAR
WR Kealoha Pilares, WR Armanti Edwards, WR Brandon LaFell WR Joe Adams, WR Armanti Edwards, WR Kealoha Pilares
CHI
WR Devin Hester, WR Eric Weems WR Devin Hester, WR Earl Bennett, WR Eric Weems
CIN
WR Brandon Tate, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Marvin Jones WR Brandon Tate, CB Pacman Jones, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Marvin Jones
CLE
WR Joshua Cribbs, CB Buster Skrine, WR Travis Benjamin WR Joshua Cribbs, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Jordan Norwood
DAL
RB Felix Jones, WR Dwayne Harris, WR Kevin Ogletree WR Dez Bryant, WR Dwayne Harris, WR Cole Beasley
DEN
CB Omar Bolden, WR Andre Caldwell FS Jim Leonhard, WR Eric Decker
DET
WR Stefan Logan, WR Titus Young WR Stefan LoganWR Titus Young, WR Ryan Broyles
GB
WR Randall Cobb, CB Sam Shields, WR Jordy Nelson WR Randall Cobb, CB Tramon Williams, WR Jordy Nelson
HOU
WR Trindon Holliday, WR Keshawn Martin, RB Justin Forsett, SS Shiloh Keo WR Trindon Holliday, WR Keshawn Martin, RB Justin Forsett, SS Shiloh Keo
IND
WR LaVon Brazill, WR T.Y. Hilton, FS Joe Lefeged WR LaVon Brazill, WR T.Y. Hilton, SS Tom Zbikowski
JAC
RB Rashad Jennings, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Mike Thomas WR Mike Thomas, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, CB Aaron Ross
KC
CB Javier Arenas, WR Dexter McCluster, WR Devon Wylie CB Javier Arenas, WR Dexter McCluster, WR Devon Wylie
MIA
RB Marcus Thigpen, RB Lamar Miller RB Marcus ThigpenWR Davone Bess, WR Rishard Matthews
MIN
WR Percy Harvin, CB Marcus Sherels, CB A.J. Jefferson, CB Josh Robinson CB Marcus Sherels, WR Jarius Wright, CB Josh Robinson
NE
CB Devin McCourty, RB Danny Woodhead, WR Julian Edelman WR Julian Edelman, WR Wes Welker
NO
RB Darren Sproles, RB Travaris Cadet RB Darren Sproles, RB Travaris Cadet
NYG
RB Andre Brown, RB David Wilson WR Domenick Hixon, , WR Rueben RandleWR Victor Cruz, CB Jayron Hosley
NYJ
RB Joe McKnight, CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Kyle Wilson WR Jeremy Kerley, CB Kyle Wilson, CB Antonio Cromartie
OAK
RB Taiwan Jones, RB Mike Goodson, CB Coye Francies CB Phillip Adams, WR Denarius Moore
PHI
CB Brandon Boykin, WR Damaris Johnson, RB Bryce Brown WR Damaris Johnson, CB Brandon Boykin
PIT
RB Chris Rainey, WR Emmanuel Sanders RB Chris Rainey, WR Antonio Brown
SD
WR Richard Goodman, WR Micheal Spurlock WR Eddie Royal, WR Micheal Spurlock
SEA
RB Leon Washington, WR Ben Obomanu RB Leon Washington, WR Golden Tate
SF
WR Ted Ginn, RB Kendall Hunter, RB LaMichael James WR Ted Ginn, WR Kyle Williams, RB LaMichael James
STL
RB Isaiah Pead, WR Chris Givens, CB Janoris Jenkins WR Danny Amendola, CB Janoris Jenkins
TB
RB Michael Smith, WR Arrelious Benn WR Roscoe Parrish
TEN
RB Darius Reynaud, WR Lavelle Hawkins RB Darius Reynaud, WR Damian Williams
WAS
WR Brandon Banks, TE Niles Paul, WR Aldrick Robinson WR Brandon Banks, WR Santana Moss, CB Richard Crawford

 

Filed Under: Preseason, 2012