UPDATED: October 9, 2010
Each year as the regular season approaches, coaches tease us with depth charts and line-up expectations, and when it comes to return men, (especially IDP) they often change it all around at the last minute. This season is no exception.
In Denver, Perrish Cox was expected to be the primary return man for the Broncos, but despite Coach McDaniels' statements to the contrary, Eddie Royal once again got the nod. In Philly, the Eagles plans were never quite solidified, but the buzz was all about Quinten Demps, and in the end, veteran Ellis Hobbs got the gig. In Miami the team announced DB Nolan Carroll had won the job from Patrick Cobb, then they gave it to Cobb anyway.
So let's updates the way things are shaking out. So far in 2010 very few IDP guys have had a real shot, so this list has been trimmed from 10 to 5.
As we discussed in my offense return specialist rankings, more leagues have begun to use return yardage as another scoring category. The value of this added stat is based largely on the points allotted by yardage, with 1 point per 25 yards being the standard, and more aggressive leagues using as much as 1 point per every 10 yards.
In IDP leagues, return yardage can be a sneaky, or strategic way to improve your points each week. Many teams use defensive backs as return men. The hard part is knowing which players and which teams. They're not as easy to find as guys like Darren Sproles or Joshua Cribbs on the offense. Many times teams try out rookie DBs to see how they'll perform.
With IDP return men you want guys who also get regular playing time on defense, or guys that handle both punt and kick returns. Below is our list of your best IDP bets for 2010. All of these guys are DBs.
- Danieal Manning, CHI ~ Manning is the starting Strong Safety for the Bears defense, so he gives you tackles, pass defenses and potential interceptions as well as any return yardage he may rack up. He's the most versatile DB on this list.
- Javier Arenas, KC ~ Arenas was the second or the Chief's 2nd round picks in this year's draft. While he won't be a starter, he's slated to handle primary return duties for the team. Fellow rookie Dexter McCluster may steal some of his returns, but Arenas should get the bulk.
- Perrish Cox, DEN ~ Many are assuming that 2nd year back-up corner back Alphons Smitho will be handling return duties for the Broncos this season, but Cox has already overtaken him on the team's depth chart, and he's returned most of the kick-offs and punts. Smith has returned none. Cox has also been great so far in preseason action.
- Ellis Hobbs, PHI ~ It's still early in the season, but so far the former KR stud has managed to take the reigns on return duties for the Eagles. At least among defensemen. He's off to a solid start, so he should hold onto the job.
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, DAL ~ AOA as we call him was tabbed in the 4th round of this years draft by the Cowboys. Barring injury to other players, he will be the team's back-up free safety. More important for us, he will handle the majority of kick and punt return duties for the team. With Patrick Crayton gone, he's the guy.