The average Defense/Special Teams unit (DST) in Fantasy last year with basic scoring (no points for yardage) was 8.7 points per game, but that included DSTs you may have rarely used like Washington. The average of the top-15 DSTs in those same leagues was 10.1, or about the same average as Dalton Schultz or Rashid Shaheed in full PPR. And no DST averaged more than 12.1 points per game in that format.

You might be OK with that kind of scoring from your DSTs. If you are, the league's rule change for kickoffs probably won't warrant a shift in your Fantasy Football league's scoring system.

But the NFL has changed the kickoff from the traditional play we've seen for years to the kind implemented by the XFL. It should mean fewer injuries, more excitement, and perhaps more stats we could use for Fantasy if we so choose.

Should we leave this fresh opportunity for more Fantasy points on the table?

CBS Sports NFL writer John Breech, the son of a former NFL kicker, did an excellent job reviewing the rule changes. For those who would prefer a video explanation, the NFL provided one below.

Here are some of the changes that this rule could lead to:

Slightly bigger return men. There will still be an emphasis on speed, but because the returner will face more opposing players and potential contact much sooner, there will be an emphasis on guys who can find creases and get through them with or without contact. Bigger returners (think closer to 200 pounds) should be able to maneuver in tighter space and pick up chunks of yardage compared to leaner returners who have the speed but could get knocked down much easier in tighter spaces. You've already seen the Steelers sign Cordarrelle Patterson -- expect to see teams rely on more prominent players for kick-returns.

More fun. Teams may try more trick plays in an attempt to get a coverage unit unbalanced. This could be as simple as a reverse or something more complex like a throwback lateral sort of like the Music City Miracle.

Fewer touchbacks ... but still touchbacks. This would be a bad result. Teams might order their kickers to boot the ball through the end zone and just be indifferent to the five extra yards an opponent would get on a touchback compared to 2023. The opposing team would get the ball at the 30, no time would get taken off the clock, no players get hurt and no explosive return takes place. And if the ball were to bounce inside the 20 and is downed in the red zone, the touchback goes to the 20, an even better result for kicking teams.

Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay thinks it's possible the ball could come out to the 35 on touchbacks through the end zone starting in 2025. That might change how teams view the touchback, but that's not happening in 2024.

More stats? Yeah, probably. Last year the XFL saw 97% of its kickoffs returned for a league-wide average of 21.3 yards per return. Meanwhile, the NFL had 22% of its kicks returned for an average 23.0 yards per. McVay hopes at least 50% of kickoffs are returned.

More touchdowns? Probably, but not by a whole lot. Last year the XFL had one return for a touchdown out of 341 kickoffs. That's not great, but there are caveats: The NFL probably figures its players will be better trained and more polished on these returns, and the NFL rule states that two returners will be back for each team instead of one for the XFL. The NFL had four kick returns for touchdowns over 587 returns last season. Also, if the new kickoff rule results in a bunch of touchdowns early in the season then you can be sure the touchbacks will go way, way up by the time we get to Halloween.

How should Fantasy commissioners adjust?

Most Fantasy leagues still use a DST unit as part of their roster requirements. That shouldn't change.

But the more a Fantasy league alters the scoring for the special teams, the more random that part of a Fantasy lineup will be. And yeah, I know nearly all parts of Fantasy Football are random, but now we're not only making DSTs more random but also much more potent. There's a path where they potentially become one of the highest-scoring parts of everyone's lineup if there's too much scoring added.

Consider the scoring options one piece at a time:

Touchdowns: Of course kick-return touchdowns should count for the DST. Six points. Duh. And you can be sure that kick-return touchdowns allowed by a special-teams unit should count as points against a DST. This is an easy thing to keep in Fantasy league scoring.

But, if we're going to start seeing more prominent players returning kickoffs, should they get individual points for a touchdown too? That's one that each league could decide on, but I think I'd keep the scoring to the DST only. I know it's true that when a quarterback throws a touchdown, both he and the guy who catches it each get Fantasy points. But this isn't two people doing something good on the same play, it's one person doing something good.

If you're going to use special teams, my recommendation is to let the points count for the unit and not the player. And that goes for every stat, not just touchdowns.

Returns: Should DSTs earn a full point just for returning a kick? That could lead to an extra six or so points unless teams boot touchbacks more often. If we use McKay's average of 50% of every kickoff getting returned, that's at least three points per week for every DST just for the action of a return.

Yardage: We don't hear much about kick- and punt-return yardage being scored in Fantasy leagues. When we do, sometimes it's cringey as leagues will give a point for every 10 return yards (just like a point for every 10 rushing or receiving yards). Go back and look at last year's averages for NFL and XFL kick returns -- both were over 20 yards per return each. I guess I don't mind one full point for every 20 yards, but that will increase the value of touchdown returns from six points to 10 points since a touchdown would cover at minimum 80 yards. Your league needs to be OK with that.

And now we're talking about adding maybe three points per week for returns and another three points per week for return yardage (an average of over 20 yards per kick return) to DSTs. That would juice up DST scoring quite a bit -- now the 10.1 average from the top 15 last year would be around 16.1 -- an average higher than any tight end in PPR scoring last year.

I don't know about you but I'm not ready to make DSTs as valuable of a onesie position as tight end. But I do know that if I did play in a league like this I'd prioritize getting a good DST with what I would think would be a good kick-return game. Pittsburgh is already one of those teams with the Patterson signing.

A not-so-special recommendation

The NFL is using the new kickoff on a one-year trial basis. Because the league isn't making any long-term commitment to the kickoff, I don't think Fantasy Football commissioners should make sweeping changes to their special-teams scoring.

Touchdowns have to stay but that's obvious. I know the league is trying to make the kickoff more exciting, but I don't plan on making significant special-teams scoring changes in the leagues I commish. I think you should do the same.

That said, if your league did want to implement changes, I would keep the scoring changes low so as to not tip the scales in favor of DSTs too much. It's reasonable if you wanted to spice things up and use half-points for every kick-return as well as for every 20 yards returned (0.025 for every kick-return yard if you dig decimals).

Ultimately I would expect DSTs to get just a little more attention on Draft Day this fall, then be a little bit more productive than they have been in 2024. Not a lot, maybe not even by 10 percent. 

I think the NFL's decision to make the kickoffs fun will lead to a little bit more excitement in the game, but not enough to overhaul how we view the ST in DST.