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.
S Danieal Manning (KR)*
CB Patrick Peterson (PR)*
CB Lardarius Webb (PR/KR)*
CB Aaron Ross (PR)*
CB Antonio Cromartie (KR)*
CB Javier Arenas (KR/PR)
S Joe Lefeged (KR)
CB Marcus Sherels (PR)
*Signifies a defensive starter
The two players that have the most value on this list are Patrick Peterson and Lardarius Webb. So far this season, Webb has put up outstanding tackle numbers and has been a part of both kick and punt returns. Peterson has posted solid numbers through the first three games and has a punt return for a touchdown to boot.
Danieal Manning has been the primary kick returner for Houston but hasn't put up the tackle numbers we expected after watching him in the preseason. With all of the injury problems the Giants have had on the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Ross was pushed into the starting lineup and has been handling some punt return duties as well.
Antonio Cromartie has put up better than expected fantasy numbers so far this season and has also been the Jets primary kick returner.
Chiefs CB Javier Arenas remains unrosterable in most leagues as he has remained on the bench in most defensive packages thereby limiting his tackle opportunity. He is however heavily involved in both the kick and punt return packages and may therefore be worth a look in deep IDP leagues that reward heavily for return yardage.
The season-ending injury to Colts starting strong safety Melvin Bullitt, may open up the door to rookie Joe Lefeged to some more playing time. He's currently handling the kickoff return duties and is a guy to keep your eye on.
Marcus Sherels has really done nothing for the Vikings outside of returning punts. He probably isn't worth a pickup even in leagues that reward for return yards.
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 types of leagues.
Last Updated: October 2, 2011