Rent-a-Kicker: Week 3

Finding startable kicker production on your fantasy waiver wire.

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 2 Results

Joey Slye (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 0 XPs, 12 points)

Perhaps you did a double-take upon seeing Joey Slye as the top weekly recommendation last week. I certainly did. The undrafted rookie was listed as merely a neutral play in Week 1 and had three career field goal attempts heading into week 2. Per NFL.com, Slye was the 23rd-most-owned kicker, on the street in 96.6% of fantasy leagues. (Most people must not be reading Rent-a-Kicker; according to NFL.com, Slye is still unrostered in 96.5% of fantasy leagues, meaning virtually nobody picked him up and played him despite his juicy matchup.)

But the model is talent-agnostic and the model loved Slye's situation this week, kicking for a favored team with a good matchup in a friendly venue. And the model, it turns out, was right; Slye's 12 points led all kickers in Week 2. Two of his four makes came from 50+ yards, leaving his week especially strong in leagues that award distance bonuses for made field goals.

Ty Long (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 1 XP, 4 points)

With Mike Badgley still rehabilitating an injury, the Chargers pressed their punter into placekicking duties for the second consecutive week. A field goal attempt that bounced off the upright was all that stood between Long and a top-12 weekly finish, but such is the tightly-clustered nature of kickers in the league today that Long finished tied for 20th, instead.

Matt Bryant (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)

The venerable (read: old) Bryant was released and all-but-retired this year until the Falcons brought him back on the eve of the season. This week, the ageless (read: old) Bryant showed the younger guns how it's done, finishing tied for 14th at the position.

Matt Prater (0 FG attempts, 1 FG, 1 XP, 1 point)

I've mentioned several times that my model doesn't consider player talent because, outside of maybe the top one or two guys and the bottom one or two guys, NFL kickers are largely interchangeable. Matt Prater gives me the perfect opportunity to make that point this week. If you weren't comfortable with trotting out an unknown like Slye, perhaps you would have given Bryant or Prater a shot. But Slye made all of his kicks while Prater missed a field goal and an extra point. In fact, there were six missed extra points this weekend: in addition to the one by Prater, there was one by Dan Bailey (who was the most accurate kicker in history through 2015, the 2nd-most-accurate kicker through 2017, and still stands as the 7th-most-accurate kicker in history). Then there were two missed extra points each by Adam Vinatieri (the leading scorer in NFL history) and Stephen Gostkowski (the 3rd-most-accurate kicker in history). Not to put too fine a point on it, but whether a kicker makes or misses his kicks on a weekly basis is basically random; the best process is betting on guys who are likely to get lots of attempts in the first place. (Prater, by the way, finished tied with Vinatieri for 30th last week.)

Cairo Santos (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)

Santos finished Week 2 with a fairly generic day. A couple of attempts, a couple of extra points, one miss, and five points. This was good enough to finish tied for 18th at the position.


RESULTS TO DATE

To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 10 weekly recommendations Those 10 kickers have averaged 6.2 fantasy points, which trails last year's 7.38 point average but performs better because kicker scoring is down across the board. That 6.2 point average would currently rank 15th at the position. Top weekly recommendations average 8.5 points, which would rank 9th. Highlighted kickers with great or good matchups average 6.6 points, which would rank 12th.

These finishes are misleading, however, because many of the kickers ahead of our amalgam went undrafted and put up their points on the bench or on the street in most fantasy leagues. Rent-a-Kicker alum Zane Gonzalez is tied for the most points scored to date. Last week's hero Joey Slye is 7th.

The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (21 points), Justin Tucker (22), Harrison Butker (20), Wil Lutz (21), Stephen Gostkowski (22), Ka'imi Fairbairn (11), Robbie Gould (22), Jake Elliott (12), Mason Crosby (7), Mike Badgley (0), Brett Maher (12), and Adam Vinatieri (5). Only six of those twelve players outperformed any of our Frankenkicker averages, meaning the owner who streamed kickers off of the waiver wire since week one probably achieved results somewhere around the middle of the league, on average.


WEEK 3 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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