It has changed the Canadian game. It arguably is the most exciting play in football, bar none. When a kick/punt return is fielded, watching a specialist juke and jive through would-be tacklers all the way to the house. Even more exciting in the CFL without a “fair catch” rule.
In the context of fantasy football, the kick returner can be a risky pick. Because in some platforms, you don’t receive points for return yards. Which leaves you waiting for that all important major score. Very rarely do they factor in on the regular offense, which is why it almost requires brain surgery to come up with the right mix:
Kicker returner + fantasy gem = Fantasy win
We’ve had a number of requests over the last 48 hours for insight on who the top kick returners are in the CFL. We also want to make sure we highlight that we’re absolutely thrilled that Draft Kings has jumped on board with the Canadian Football League for 2016. We at the Onside CFL Fantasy Football Podcast welcome our new friends south of the border, and are here to equip you with everything you need to know!
Alright, lets get to it. Here are the top 10 fantasy football kick/punt retuners in the CFL (we realize there are 9 teams but one team has two):
10. Jamill Smith – Ottawa REDBLACKS
9. Larry Taylor – Toronto Argonauts
8. Roy Finch – Calgary Stampeders
7. Stefan Logan – Montreal Alouettes
6. Joe McKnight – Edmonton Eskimos
5. Quincy McDuffie – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
He’s not related to OJ McDuffie, we’ll get that out of the way first! However his gloves did burst onto the scene in 2014, plowing through opposing special teams units like a Ford Bronco (I couldn’t resist the pun!). He came in to Winnipeg training camp in 2016, surprised many by flat out stealing incumbent Justin Veltung’s job. He won’t see a regular rotation in the Bombers offense, but he’ll no doubt be sprinkled in here and there. And as long as Al Bradbury isn’t reffing one of their games (Labour Day Classic memories), McDuffie should take at least 3 to the house in 2016.
4. Nic Demski – Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Winnipeg native will see primary punt return duties in the green and white. He has great hands, and is very capable of busting one loose. His biggest problem will be finding the field in the regular offense, despite being a Canadian player (ratio). New Head Coach in Riderville Chris Jones loves his big, strong American Receivers. Demski has an incredibly high ceiling. But, he brought in another young man from his former team to do that role already. (see number 1 rank).
3. Chris Rainey – BC Lions
A perfect example of “hey I remember that guy!” The former Montreal Alouette landed in BC in 2015, when Keola Antolin went down with an injury. Boy oh boy did he ever impress, slamming down a pair of 103 yard kick and punt return TD’s in one game. He’ll rarely see the field in a regular rotation, but he’s easily as dangerous as our number 2 man in major score production. He’s worth stashing on your roster for his “wow factor” alone.
2. Brandon Banks – Hamilton Tiger Cats
“Speedy B” he is nicknamed. He loves him some Brandon Banks. He’s the CFL’s kick/punt return mouthpiece, and he can back it up. He found the end zone 5 times in the regular offense in 2014, leaving fantasy owners rushing to the waiver wire at break neck speeds. His contributions dropped in 2015, but still found the end zone 5 times on specials. He won’t be a 1,000 yard receiver, nor should you pick him high in your drafts. But if you want a fantasy sure thing at kick/punt return, he’s your guy.
- Kendial Lawrence – Saskatchewan Roughriders
He won’t be used as the primary return man on punts. He’ll split kickoff duties with a few other bodies, but Chris Jones absolutely loves this guy. The Riders new Head Coach used him during the last 2 seasons in Edmonton for everything under the sun. If he could pound away 3 steaks in one sitting, I’m sure CJ would have used him on the O line. He’ll get receiving yards on offense and red zone TD’s. He’ll turn a routine screen pass into a 50 yard gain. By the end of the season, he’ll be riding a combine all through Regina parades as the new favorite son in town. He’s the top option for return specialist, by far.
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Send me an email at Onsidepodcast@gmail.com