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 14 RESULTS
Mike Badgley (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 2 XPs, 14 points)
In Week 14, Badgley reinforced the wisdom of simply getting a kicker on the best offense you can find and also epitomizes why it's often unwise to invest resources in the position. During fantasy drafts, Badgley was backing up Adam Vinatieri on the Indianapolis Colts. He was unsigned until October 11th and was cut again on October 30th before finally earning a long-term roster spot. He's shaping up to be one of the top kickers for the fantasy playoffs and he still isn't owned in 50% of fantasy leagues. Badgley also demonstrates how fungible kickers really are; you'd think a player who spent so much of the season unsigned would be bad, but he ranks 7th in the league in FG% and just set a franchise record with a 59-yard kick this week. He also led all kickers in fantasy scoring in week 14.
Chris Boswell (2 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
Boswell had a promising day derailed by a pair of short field goal misses, hindered in part by the terrible field in Oakland Coliseum. Just like that, a potential 6th-place finish instead winds up at 24th for the week.
Sebastian Janikowski (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Janikowski's Seahawks attempted a rare 2-point conversion while leading, costing him potentially one more point, but his seven points for the week were still good enough to finish 14th at the position.
Chandler Catanzaro (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Originally Rent-a-Kicker recommended Graham Gano in this space last week, but Gano suffered a knee injury during mid-week practices and the Panthers signed Catanzaro to kick in his place. Since our rankings are team-based, (and kicker-agnostic), and since Catanzaro was available in virtually all fantasy leagues, we evaluate him instead. The Panthers as a team may have disappointed in week 14, but their kicker scored 8 points and finished the week 10th at the position.
Brandon McManus (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 2 XPs, 2 points)
McManus tied the lowest score of the season by a recommended kicker with a good or great matchup, and his day was a perfect case study in why we avoid kickers who are big underdogs. Denver unexpectedly fell behind by 20 points in the first half of a game where they were favored by 5.5. As a result, the team ran six plays in the second half where they kept the offense on the field on 4th down once they were already in field goal range. Potentially as many as three field goal attempts and nine points turned into two extra point attempts, two points, and a 27th-place weekly finish.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 73 weekly recommendations, (eight in Week 1 before settling on the current five-per-week format). Those 73 kickers have averaged 7.36 fantasy points per game, which would rank 13th at the position among regular starters.
A 13th-place finish is misleading for numerous reasons, however. For starters, early in the season before I had a good source for roster data I was highlighting even neutral recommendations to ensure that the players were available. Available players who I rated with a "great" or "good" matchup have averaged 7.58 points per game, which would rank 11th. My top kicker of the week has averaged 7.78 points per game, which would rank 10th.
The top 6 kickers by preseason ADP were Stephen Gostkowski, Greg Zuerlein, Justin Tucker, Harrison Butker, Wil Lutz, and Jake Elliott. The top 6 drafted kickers average 8.25 points per game, five have outperformed our average streaming options, and four have outperformed our top weekly streamer. Teams that drafted a kicker early have had a very slight advantage over teams that just grabbed a kicker off of waivers every week.
Kickers 7-12 by preseason ADP were Matt Bryant, Chris Boswell, Robbie Gould, Dan Bailey, Matt Prater, and Mason Crosby. These kickers collectively average 6.98 points per game, and only one of them, (Crosby, selected 12th of the bunch), has managed to outperform even our average streaming option, to say nothing of our best.
A case could be made for grabbing a kicker on an explosive offense early and hoping that you wind up with someone like Gostkowski, Butker, or Lutz (and not, say, the injured Zuerlein or the disappointing Elliott). But if you didn't gamble on one of the top four or five kickers, you would have been much better off just ignoring the position entirely in your draft and streaming based on matchups.
WEEK 15 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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