Punt & Kickoff Return Depth Charts and Players to Target
With a well-timed touchdown, a kickoff or punt returner can provide the key points that push your fantasy team over the top. Some returners are better than others, so it’s important for fantasy owners to keep an eye on depth charts to see which players will return kicks and punts for each team. Below you will find kickoff and punt return depth charts. They will be updated at least weekly, through the seemingly endless amounts of drops, pickups, and training camp battles. Keep in mind, return specialists are often some of the most vulnerable personnel to final cut-downs and roster moves, so things will change heavily between now and the start of the season, then will further change as the season progresses.
Last Update: September 10, 2020
With the clear attempt by the league to reduce the number of kickoffs, it’s worth checking in on whether or not the steep decline since 2013 has continued.
|Year||Total Punt Returns||Total Kick Returns||PR Change from Previous Year||KR Change from Previous Year|
Last year, the league made permanent the rule changes from the previous year, but did not introduce any new rules to further limit returns. So there was less decrease than the previous season, but still a decrease of 3.3% in kick returns. I added the punt return numbers to the table as well, but clearly, the changes are not consistent enough to make a predictive trend. However, the kick return numbers have seen a steady decline.
This year, the only rule change affecting return specialists was the defenseless receiver rule extended to cover returners. This applies to players who have possession of the ball but haven’t had time to protect themselves from opponent contact. I suppose this has the chance to increase punt returns and potentially reduce fumbles but is likely not going to have a big fantasy impact overall.
Still, with a small decline last season, I would expect similar numbers to 2018 and 2019, given no additional rule changes. Interestingly, last year we didn’t have a player gain more than 1,000 kick return yards. Despite the rule changes, the league-leader didn’t change tremendously until last year. The best returners have typically found a way to produce. Devin Hester led the league with 1,128 kick return yards in 2014, and Andre Roberts led in 2018 with 1,174 yards. Last season, however, Cordarrelle Patterson led the league with just 825 yards. This could be an anomaly, but it’s worth noting for the future.
Double Dip: Fantasy Studs Who Return Kicks
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