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 GMs 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, GMs 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 11 RESULTS
Graham Gano (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 1 XPs, 1 point)
Gano had a game where bad results compounded and things spiraled out of control. A short field goal attempt hit the upright and he missed an extra point. Had he made either of those kicks, after scoring a touchdown with a minute left Carolina surely would have attempted an extra point; instead, they opted for a potential game-winning two-point conversion, costing their kicker yet another point. Gano finished the week with one point, tied for 25th among kickers.
Mike Badgley (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
Badgley missed an extra point in a game that the Chargers ultimately lost by one, because I think there's some ironclad law of football somewhere that says that the Chargers have to get screwed by their kicker at least eight times a season. Despite that, Badgley had a strong fantasy day; his 10 points ranked him 6th at the position last week.
Matt Bryant (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 1 XPs, 13 points)
Bryant returned from injury and immediately made his presence known in a field-position slugfest against the Cowboys, finishing a perfect 5-for-5 on placekicks and leading all kickers with 13 points scored.
Sebastian Janikowski (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
Janikowski is the perfect example of how you can get quality production from the kicker position just by choosing your matchups carefully. Per NFL.com ownership data, Janikowski was the 19th-most-owned kicker in fantasy heading into last week's matchup, available on 85% of waiver wires. He ranked 19th in scoring so far this season, too. But with a solid matchup against the Packers, he scored 9 points, which ranked tied for 9th at the position. Meanwhile, the three highest-owned kickers in fantasy, (Harrison Butker, Cody Parkey, and Mason Crosby), scored 9, 9, and 6 points respectively.
Adam Vinatieri (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 5 XPs, 8 points)
Vinatieri has to some extent been a victim of the Colts surging offense; he gets lots of kicks, but most of them are extra points, which leaves him in the middle of the pack for fantasy purposes. Vinatieri's 8 points were a solid day, ranking 14th at the position and keeping you competitive at the position— only five kickers scored more than 10 points last week. When the Colts offense starts stalling out in the red zone, (as it inevitably will), some of those extra points will turn into field goals and he'll really take off.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 58 weekly recommendations, (eight in Week 1 before settling on the current five-per-week format). Those 58 kickers have averaged 7.33 fantasy points per game, which would rank 14th at the position among regular starters.
A 14th-place finish is misleading, however, because many of the kickers ahead of our amalgam were likely not actually used in fantasy for much of the year.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Stephen Gostkowski, Greg Zuerlein, Justin Tucker, Harrison Butker, Wil Lutz, Jake Elliott, Matt Bryant, Chris Boswell, Robbie Gould, Dan Bailey, Matt Prater, and Mason Crosby. Of those 12, just seven, (Gostkowski, Tucker, Butker, Lutz, Crosby, Gould, and Prater), have outperformed our Frankenkicker. Meaning someone who streamed kickers has probably gotten league-average results without investing a single resource at the position.
WEEK 12 SITUATIONS
**Since streaming kickers is so popular and rostered players can vary across leagues, 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 based on NFL.com roster percentages are italicized and will be highlighted in next week's column. Also, note that these rankings are kicker-agnostic; teams will occasionally change kickers mid-week, but any endorsements apply equally to whatever kicker winds up eventually getting the start.**
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