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 4 Results
Ty Long (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 3 XPs, 12 points)
Nobody embodies the "talent agnostic" ethos of Rent-a-Kicker better than Ty Long. This preseason, Chargers' kicker Mike Badgley was drafted as the 9th kicker off the board on average, but Badgley suffered a groin injury on the eve of the season. All Chargers' head coach Anthony Lynn said at the time was "It just happened in practice. Just got a little tight." Well, that little bit of tightness has sidelined Badgley for four weeks now and made Long— San Diego's punter— a regular option in this space. And Long has responded by... producing about how we expected Badgley to produce, ranking 11th in points scored all season and 3rd in points scored in Week 4. We still have no idea when Badgley will return, but until then Long will probably remain a solid option. And when Badgley does return, expect to see him featured in this space, instead. Because as players like Ty Long keep demonstrating, pretty much anyone who gets a job kicking in the NFL is good enough to score points in the right situation.
Jason Myers (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
Myers had been struggling through three weeks from a fantast standpoint because, incredibly, his team had scored ten touchdowns but only attempted one field goal (which Myers missed). Our model considers the past to be water under the bridge and anticipates regression for anyone with extreme splits like that. Myers rewarded us for our patience with his first two field goals of the season; his nine points tied for 11th-best at the position.
Matt Bryant (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 1 XP, 4 points)
To date, Bryant has been the victim of a Falcons offense has plenty of talent and has gained plenty of yards (currently ranked 11th in the league), but has struggled to convert that into points (26th in the league). Better days are likely ahead, but Sunday was not one of them; Bryant's four points tied for 20th in the league.
Aldrick Rosas (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Scoring too many touchdowns wasn't the kind of problem many were anticipating for the Daniel Jones / Wayne Gallman Giants, but somehow here we are. Rosas continues to have more extra point attempts than you'd expect (relative to his field goal attempts), which results in consistent production but definitely caps his weekly upside; last week his six points ranked 15th at the position. That ratio will probably even out over time.
Brett Maher (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 1 XP, 4 points)
The Dallas Cowboys and their surprisingly high-flying offense ground to a halt in week 4, scoring just ten points against the Saints with four coming from kicker Brett Maher. Those four points tied Maher for 20th in the league in Week 4.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 20 weekly recommendations Those 20 kickers have averaged 7.05 fantasy points, which trails last year's 7.38 point average but performs better because kicker scoring is down across the board. That 7.05 point average would currently rank 13th at the position. Top weekly recommendations average 9.0 points, which would rank 5th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.33 (8th).
A 5th- or 8th-place finish is impressive enough already, but these finishes are still misleading 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. Of the four kickers to outscore our top weekly recommendation, two (Butker and Zuerlein) were drafted, and two (Syle and Gay)... were former top weekly recommendations. Looking at the eight kickers who have topped our highlighted "Great Plays" adds two more drafted kickers (Wil Lutz and Stephen Gostkowski) and two more Rent-a-Kicker alums (Josh Lambo and Zane Gonzalez).
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (39 points), Justin Tucker (31), Harrison Butker (39), Wil Lutz (36), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (18), Robbie Gould (36.33*), Jake Elliott (22), Mason Crosby (25), Mike Badgley (0), Brett Maher (23), and Adam Vinatieri (20). (For kickers who are past their bye I have added one week's worth of Rent-a-Kicker's Great Play average.) Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only five of these kickers are outperforming our streamed kickers by even a marginal amount.
WEEK 5 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.**