Return yardage leagues pose different options

Maurice Jones-Drew has the added dimension of returning kicks.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Almost every league gives points to players for yards gained via passing, rushing and receiving, but there are more ways to score than that and some leagues have added punt return yards and kickoff return yards.

The addition of kick return yardage, usually one point for every 25 yards, can change rankings significantly.

For example, in our running back rankings we list Maurice Jones-Drew as the No.11 rusher, just behind Clinton Portis and just ahead of Willis McGahee. But Jones-Drew is also a kick returner for the Jaguars. Last year the former UCLA Bruin returned 31 kickoffs for 811 yards and one score and took back three punts for 28 yards. The 839 yards and one TD would be worth an additional 38 fantasy points. The added points would push Jones-Drew ahead of Portis, Marshawn Lynch, Larry Johnson and Ryan Grant.

Jerious Norwood is ranked 40th, but with the addition of 1,317 kickoff return yards (52 points) his value goes up significantly.

Or think about Devin Hester, the kick return specialist for the Chicago Bears, who has been taking reps at wide receiver. If he is only an average wide receiver he will become a viable and valuable asset to your team. In 2007 his kickoff and return yards alone were worth 99 points (1,585 combined return yards and 6 touchdowns). Last year, the Bears threw him the ball just 39 times and he caught 20 of them for 299 yards and two scores. And he is expected to play a bigger role at wide receiver in 2008 with Bernard Berrian leaving town.

If Hester were to catch just 50 balls for 750 yards and four scores to go along with his return yards, his fantasy value would be almost 200 points for the season. He would be a top-five wide receiver slotted just between Reggie Wayne, (205 points in 2007) and Larry Fitzgerald (195 in 2007).

Miami Dolphins wideout Ted Ginn Jr. is also a dual threat receiver. In 2007 Ginn caught 34 passes for 420 yards and two touchdowns despite all the quarterback problems in Miami. He also accumulated 1,660 return yards and another score. Instead of a 56th ranking, Ginn Jr. would qualify in the top-25.

Another valuable property might be Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver/kick returner DeSean Jackson. With the lack of quality receivers in front of him, Jackson figures to be a big part of Donovan McNabb's passing offense. He has already proven his worth on special teams, taking a punt back 76 yards in the Eagles' preseason win over the New England Patriots on Friday night.

A case can be made that Joshua Cribbs, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver who rarely gets on the field except for the kicking game, should be drafted. In 2007, Cribbs led the NFL with 2,214 yards combined punt and kickoff returns. He scored three times. Although he had less than 100 yards from the line of scrimmage, his fantasy value would be 116 points or equal to Donald Driver's 2007 performance.

Shocking isn't it?

If you are in a kickoff and return yardage league, you have a lot more work to do to get ready for this year's draft. Better hit the books!

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at
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