Listed below are defensive players who have a possibility to return either kicks, punts, or both this season. Most of these players are backups on most defensive packages, however, there are a few who actually start on defense as well. I've notated which players are starters and which players are bench players.
This list will continually be updated throughout the season.
*Starting SS - Danieal Manning CHI
*Starting CB - Ellis Hobbs PHI
Backup CB - Javier Arenas KC
Backup FS - Akwisi Owusu-Ansah DAL
Backup CB - Perrish Cox DEN
*Starting CB - Tramon Williams GB
*Starting SS - Jim Leonard NYJ
*Starting FS - Tom Zbikowski BALT
Backup CB - Javier Arenas KC
Backup CB - Captain Munnerlyn CAR
The player with the best chance to serve as a multi-faceted fantasy player is Danieal Manning. He's the current starter at strong safety in Chicago and gets a good amount of kickoff return attempts. He has Major Wright looking over his shoulder, however.
A player that I really think is going to have a great year in return yardage leagues is Javier Arenas. Not only is he likely to be the primary kick returner and punt returner, but he will play a decent amount in nickel packages as well. He was a great returner in college and it seems as though that quickly carried over to the NFL.
Eagles coach Andy Reid has declared Ellis Hobbs as the starting kickoff returner. Hobbs is also the starting cornerback for the Eagles and therefore had pretty darn good value in IDP leagues that reward for return yardage.
Other backup defensive players I like include are cornerback Perrish Cox from the Broncos and free safety Akwisi Owusu-Ansah ("AOA") from the Cowboys. Cox is currently returning both kicks and punts. AOA is primarily returning kicks, but gets an occasional punt return attempt as well.
Adam "Pacman" Jones played surprisingly well this preseason especially in the return game. In the week 3 preseason game against the Bills, he returned three kicks for 116 yards, highlighted by a 52-yarder. In the regular season, he returned punts in Week 1, but didn't see any action in the return game in Week 2. It's still unclear if he's the clear cut punt returner.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is currently returning punts and the occasional kickoff in Carolina and is also playing in some nickel packages. Decent value to be had here in return yardage leagues.
Starting Packers cornerback Tramon Williams has value in CB-required based on his non-return game merits alone. Now that he is (surprisingly) being used as Green Bay's primary punt returner, he becomes one of the best IDP return men in the league.
Tom Zbikowski is returning points while filling in at the free safety position for Ed Reed. Zbikowski made a bonehead play on a punt return in Week 1 that has him in some hot water and he may not hold onto the position. I would hold off on grabbing him for now.
Last but not least, Jim Leonard of the Jets is turning into an interesting IDP return man prospect. He's the starting SS in New York and is the primary punt returner as well. He should be rostered in leagues that award significant points for return yardage.
I've had quite a few requests via email and through the forums for further information on this topic. I hope this article helped all of you owners that are in these type of leagues.
Last Updated: September 21, 2010