No position is more unpredictable in fantasy football than kickers. Year after year after year, no position has a lower correlation between where they're drafted before the season and where they finish after the season. No position has a lower correlation between how they score in one week and how they score in the next. No position has a lower correlation between projected points and actual points.
In addition, placekicker is the position that has the smallest spread between the best players and the middle-of-the-pack players for fantasy. Finally, most fantasy owners will only carry one kicker at a time, which means there are a dozen or more starting kickers sitting around on waivers at any given time. Given all of this, it rarely makes sense to devote resources to the position. Instead, owners are best served by rotating through whichever available kicker has the best weekly matchup.
Every week, I'll rank the situations each kicker finds himself in (ignoring the talent of the kicker himself) to help you find perfectly startable production off the waiver wire.
Week 1 Results
First, a reminder of just how compressed kicker scoring is: of the 32 placekickers to suit up this weekend, 18 finished their games with between 6 and 10 points. In fantasy football, there might be a slightly larger spread as leagues give bonuses for distance or penalties for misses, but at the end of the day, any kicker above that range provided you an advantage, any kicker below that range was a disadvantage, and anyone within that range kept you competitive.
Wil Lutz (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Lutz was almost certainly rostered, but I mention him to show how important it is to avoid kickers who are losing big late in the game, and also to show how unpredictable kickers are. First: the six points Lutz scored were tied for 18th among kickers last week. But New Orleans passed up a 30-yard field goal and twice went for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point because they were down by 24 points in the fourth quarter. Had Lutz been given those opportunities, his 11 points would have tied for fourth. Second: The Saints were the biggest Week 1 favorite in the league, so the idea that they would be down 24 points heading into the 4th quarter was practically unfathomable.
Caleb Sturgis (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 0 XPs, 6 points)
Another victim of poor game scripts: San Diego scored three touchdowns on the day, but because they were trailing the entire game they attempted a 2-point conversion after every one. If Sturgis had been given those extra points or had he made a 48-yard attempt late in the game, Sturgis' nine points would have tied him for 9th last week.
Brandon McManus (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
Kicking at home in favorable conditions in a game that was competitive the whole way, McManus scored 9 points and finished tied for 9th at the position.
Randy Bullock (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)
Playing a close, high-scoring game in a dome, Bullock had plenty of opportunities to put up points, finishing the week tied for 7th.
Phil Dawson (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 0 XPs, 0 points)
It's hard to believe Vegas had the Arizona/Washington game was a pick-em given how different the two teams looked in week 1. Arizona is a friendly place to kick, but that doesn't matter if you don't get any attempts; Arizona's offense was so anemic it barely crossed midfield until the team was already down 24 in the 4th quarter.
Dustin Hopkins (1 FG attempts, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Playing on the other side from Dawson, Hopkins' team took a 21-point lead into halftime and cruised to the finish line. Hopkins finished tied for 18th.
Ryan Succop (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Succop demonstrates that trailing isn't a problem if you don't trail big; Outside of an early 3-0 lead, Tennessee was behind the Dolphins the entire game, but the team also managed to stay within striking distance, setting up Succop to score 7 of his 8 points in the fourth quarter.
Mike Nugent (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Unlike Succop, Nugent did all of his damage in the first half as the Rams took control of the game and the Raiders never got within 40 yards of the end zone after halftime. Nugent finished 17th.
Week 2 Situations
**Since streaming kickers is so popular and ownership can vary, here is a list of how favorable every kicker's situation is based on Vegas projected totals and stadium. Quality plays who are especially likely to be on waivers are italicized and will be highlighted in next week's column.**
Ryan Succop, Ten
Chandler Catanzaro, TB
Mason Crosby, GB
Josh Lambo, Jax
Daniel Carlson, Min
Mike Nugent, Oak
Randy Bullock, Cin
Zane Gonzalez, Cle
Ka'imi Fairburn, Hou
Aldrick Rosas, NYG
Jason Sanders, Mia