Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 6/22/12

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears waits to return a kick against the Green Bay Packers on September 13, 2009 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-15. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

One of the requests we received from our members for the fantasy football 2012 season was kickoff return and punt return rankings. We have provided those rankings in 3 different categories, so depending on your particular format you can find what you need.

Click here for our return specialist projections

Devin Hester doing his thing (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

If you were to ask the casual football fan who the best return men in the league are at this moment you would probably get one of two answers. Devin Hester or Desean Jackson. When you take a look at the return numbers from a year ago, you may be surprised to find out that those two are not #1 on either the kick returner or punt returner lists.

Top KR/PR men for 2012

For this category we considered all players who are expected to return 10 or more kickoffs and punts during the 2012 season.

At the top of our list of return men to target in 2012 are Brandon Tate and Darren Sproles. In 2011, Brandon Tate returned 42 kickoffs for 998 yards. Most return men struggled to return over 30 thanks to the new kickoff rules, he also returned 51 punts for 543 yards. Those gaudy numbers put Tate over 1,500 total return yards, and savvy fantasy owners in leagues that reward return yards reaped the benefits.

Darren Sproles is another great pickup in the return game as he returned 40 kickoffs for 1,089 yards, and 29 punts for 294 yards. When those numbers are combined with his numbers at RB, he could be a more desireable pickup in your fantasy league, depending on format.

Incredibly, Devin Hester comes in at #8 on our list in terms of return yardage. While he is still a top 10 pick, he is no longer the dominant force in the return game that he used to be, as opposing coaches decide not to kick to him.

Top kickoff return man

When we talk about players who only return kickoffs (fewer than 10 punt returns per year), there is only one that we expect to eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau. That is Richard Goodman of the San Diego Chargers. While Goodman isn’t an elite TD scorer like Hester, he is a hard runner that racked up 27.5 yards per return in 2011, and we expect him to maintain that same number in 2012.

Top punt returner for fantasy football 2012

The top punt returner for 2012 is DeSean Jackson right? Wrong, he is #3 as previously mentioned, #1 is actually Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals. Peterson is almost projected to put up 3 times the number that Jackson is, as we have DeSean projected at 281 and Peterson at 591. This category isn’t even close, and if you want the top punt returner in fantasy football that doesn’t return kickoffs, Peterson is your guy.

If there are any comments or questions please post them in the forums so the community can assist.

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Be sure to check out other great articles at Fantasy Team Advice.

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