2013 Punt & Kick Return Studs, Depth Charts

By Matt De Lima (4for4 Scout) on Jul 15, 2013

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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. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mattkdelima.

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. We recommend noting the top few returners on your cheat sheet with a willingness to select them a round or two earlier in 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.

DEPTH CHART BELOW UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 4

Fantasy leagues which include return yardage in their scoring system provide a unique bonus to a handful of select players. Return duties are typically limited to younger players or sometimes a guy who earns his keep through multiple special teams contributions. Rather than draft a player based solely on his returner prowess, it is usually best to identify players who already score a significant number of fantasy points and bump them up a bit on your cheat sheet. This allows you to find great value selections in your draft as many owners may not fully realize the scoring potential of a player who is already a starter in standard and PPR leagues.

Like we always preach around here, it's paramount you know your league's scoring rules. The difference between one point for 10 return yards and one point for 50 return yards is huge. Take a look at last year's top performers in your league to get an idea of how much additional value the return stats are adding. 

Before I share the punt and kickoff return depth charts for every team in the NFL, allow me to first highlight some of the best fantasy scenarios. Please keep in mind, return depth charts are fluid and often change weekly or even in-game. A player with no starting responsibilities and a large role in the return game may even see fewer returns if their offensive or defensive role expands.

 

Wilson!!!
By the end of this season, you might be screaming David Wilson's name like Tom Hanks in Castaway if you pass up the second-year back in your fantasy drafts. Not only is Wilson the early favorite to start in New York's backfield, he is penciled in as the team's primary kickoff returner. Blessed with excellent speed, Wilson gained 1,533 kickoff return yards and a touchdown in 2012.

Bank On It
New Orleans running back Darren Sproles saw a significant drop in his kickoff return duties, returning 40 in 2011 down to just 18 in 2012. Even if his role remains limited, he still managed to accumulate 666 total return yards. Assuming that's not a scary omen, Sproles should see that many yards again, adding to his total fantasy value.

Back Again
Randall Cobb blew up in a big way last season, not only as a wide receiver, but as a kick and punt returner. He finished ahead of the one and only Adrian Peterson in all-purpose yards by gaining 2,342 yards. 1,256 of those yards came via the return game and Cobb is currently the projected starter on both the kickoff and punt return teams.

Hilton Rewards
With 418 total return yards last season, T.Y. Hilton could provide fantasy owners with some added points. The second-year Colts receiver is a hot commodity as a potential sleeper. He had a strong finish to his rookie campaign and looks to be locked-in as Indianapolis' No. 2 receiver.

'Boys are Back
Although he only managed 66 punt return yards, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is listed as a candidate for punt returns again this year. Given his importance to this offense, it's unlikely that Bryant will be a major factor on special teams as well, but anything's possible if there is an untimely injury.

Get Down With Brown
Another example of minimal punt return contributions was made by Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. He added 183 punt return yards a year ago. Now the team's No. 1 receiver due to the free agent departure of Mike Wallace, Brown could give up his returner role to his teammate Emmanuel Sanders. This situation is worth watching though since Brown is projected to have a big year.

Don't Sleep On 'Em
The No. 3 wide receiver spot with the New York Giants has been known to produce some viable fantasy playmakers. Just a few years ago, Hakeem Nicks emerged and then Victor Cruz followed. Now second-year wideout Rueben Randle is poised as a deep sleeper in some leagues, especially when factoring in the injuries that have followed Nicks. Randle has the early lead for the punt returner gig. Another so-called sleeper to watch in the return game is St. Louis running back Isaiah Pead. After taking a redshirt year as a rookie, Pead is among a trio of backs who could emerge as the featured back. It's an especially juicy opportunity since he could return kickoffs, which tend to yield far more yards than punts.

You Down With IDP?
In leagues with an IDP slot or three, grabbing an individual defensive player who also handles return duties can give you a huge advantage week in and week out. Consider DBs Patrick Peterson, Devin McCourty and Marcus Sherels towards the end of your draft.

 

 

2013 NFL Punt & Kick Return Depth Charts
Bold: "Draftable" in standard leagues (Top 200 player)
Updated: September 4, 2013

 

Punt Returner

Kickoff Returner

ARI

CB Patrick Peterson, CB Javier Arenas, FS Tyrann Mathieu

CB Javier Arenas, RB Alfonso Smith, RB Andre Ellington

ATL

WR Harry Douglas, CB Robert Alford

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

BAL

WR Jacoby Jones

WR Jacoby Jones, WR Deonte Thompson

BUF

CB Leodis McKelvin, WR T.J. Graham

WR T.J. Graham, WR Marquise Goodwin

CAR

WR Ten Ginn, WR Armanti Edwards

WR Ted Ginn, RB Kenjon Barner, RB Armond Smith

CHI

WR Devin Hester, WR Earl Bennett, WR Eric Weems

WR Devin Hester, WR Eric Weems, RB Michael Ford

CIN

CB Adam Jones, WR Brandon Tate, RB Giovani Bernard, WR Marvin Jones, WR Dane Sanzenbacher

WR Brandon Tate, CB Adam Jones, RB Giovani Bernard, WR Marvin Jones

CLE

WR Travis Benjamin, WR Davone Bess, WR Josh Cooper

FS Johnson Bademosi, RB Bobby Rainey, RB Dennis Johnson

DAL

WR Dwayne Harris, WR Cole BeasleyWR Dez Bryant

RB Lance Dunbar, WR Dwayne Harris

DEN

WR Trindon Holliday, WR Wes Welker

WR Trindon Holliday, CB Omar Bolden

DET

WR Micheal Spurlock, WR Patrick Edwards

WR Micheal Spurlock, WR Patrick Edwards

GB

WR Randall Cobb, WR Jeremy RossRB Johnathan Franklin, CB Micah Hyde

WR Randall Cobb, WR Jeremy RossRB Johnathan Franklin

HOU

WR Keshawn Martin, FS Shiloh Keo

WR Keshawn Martin, FS Shiloh Keo

IND

WR T.Y. Hilton, WR Griff Whalen

WR David Reed, CB Cassius Vaughn, SS Joe Lefeged

JAC

WR Ace Sanders, CB Will Blackmon

RB Jordan Todman, RB Denard Robinson, CB Will Blackmon

KC

WR Dexter McCluster

WR Dexter McCluster

MIA

RB Marcus Thigpen

RB Marcus Thigpen

MIN

CB Marcus Sherels, WR Jarius Wright, CB Josh Robinson

WR Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Marcus Sherels, CB Josh Robinson, CB A.J. Jefferson, WR Joe Webb, WR Jarius Wright

NE

WR Julian Edelman

FS Devin McCourty

NO

RB Darren Sproles, RB Travaris Cadet, WR Lance Moore

RB Darren Sproles, RB Travaris Cadet, RB Pierre Thomas

NYG

WR Rueben Randle, WR Jerrel Jernigan, RB David Wilson, CB Jayron Hosley, CB Aaron Ross, WR Victor Cruz

RB David Wilson, WR Jerrel Jernigan, RB Da'Rel Scott, RB Michael Cox

NYJ

WR Jeremy Kerley, CB Kyle Wilson

WR Clyde Gates, CB Kyle Wilson, CB Antonio Cromartie

OAK

CB Phillip Adams, WR Jacoby Ford

WR Jacoby Ford, CB Taiwan Jones

PHI

WR DeSean Jackson, WR Damaris Johnson

WR Damaris Johnson, CB Brandon Boykin

PIT

WR Antonio Brown, WR Markus Wheaton

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB Felix Jones

SD

WR Eddie Royal, WR Keenan Allen

WR Eddie Royal, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Keenan Allen

SEA

WR Golden Tate, CB Walter Thurmond

WR Jermaine Kearse, CB Jeremy Lane

SF

RB LaMichael James, WR Kyle Williams, CB Perrish Cox

RB LaMichael James, WR Kyle Williams, CB Perrish Cox

STL

WR Tavon Austin, WR Austin Pettis

RB Benny Cunningham, WR Tavon Austin, CB Janoris Jenkins

TB

WR Eric Page

WR Eric Page, RB Mike James

TEN

RB Darius Reynaud, WR Damian Williams

RB Darius Reynaud

WAS

RB Chris Thompson, WR Santana Moss, WR Josh Morgan

RB Chris Thompson, TE Niles Paul, WR Aldrick Robinson

Filed Under: Preseason, 2013