Rent-a-Kicker: Week 7

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 6 Results

Mike Nugent (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 5 XPs, 5 points)

There were some concerns that the weather in New England would be a problem for kickers. New England did go for it three times on 4th down when already in so-called field goal range, and the weather might have been a factor in their decisions, (though New England always tends to be aggressive in those situations). But the Patriots scored plenty of points and Nugent still would have had a fine afternoon had his lone field goal attempt not hit the left upright from 40 yards out. Instead, he finished with five points, good for 18th at the position.

Matt Bryant (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)

Rent-a-Kicker recommended both sides of the Cardinals/Falcons matchup this week, and the teams obliged by staging an offensive shootout with plenty of placekicks. Bryant finished 8th on the week with nine points with the only blemish a missed extra point after his team scored a potential game-tying touchdown with under two minutes remaining.

Brett Maher (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)

Brett Maher probably isn't one of the first names you'd think of if you started listing the best kickers in the NFL, and he probably shouldn't be. He's a fine kicker, but no more or less fine than most of the kickers in the league. Nevertheless, Maher made the second 62-yard field goal of his career (and added another from 50 yards) and finished the week with ten points, good for fifth at the position.

Zane Gonzalez (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)

Gonzalez essentially matched rival Matt Bryant kick for kick in the 34-33 shootout between the Cardinals and Falcons, with the margin of difference that Gonzalez made all of his extra points and Bryant missed one. Gonzalez finished tied for 5th at the position for the week.

Jason Myers (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 8 points)

Jason Myers came into Week 6 ranked 23rd at his position in points (24th if you combine the Chargers' kickers together), but Rent-a-Kicker has a short memory and the Seahawks had a good matchup against the struggling Cleveland Browns. Myers missed an extra point and then lost another opportunity as the Seahawks attempted a two-point conversion to get that point back, but despite this, his eight points still finished 9th for the week.


RESULTS TO DATE

To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 30 weekly recommendations Those 30 kickers have averaged 7.43 fantasy points, just ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.43 point average would currently rank 13th at the position (after giving an additional 7.43 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.00 points, which would rank 11th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.21 (10th).

A 10th- or 11th-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. Our top kickers have scored 48 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 49.3. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (51 points), Justin Tucker (56), Harrison Butker (52), Wil Lutz (50), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (34), Robbie Gould (50.43*), Jake Elliott (37), Mason Crosby (46), Mike Badgley (0), Brett Maher (39), and Adam Vinatieri (33). (For kickers who are past their bye I have added one week's worth of Rent-a-Kicker's average results.) Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only 5 of these kickers are outperforming our top weekly option by even a marginal amount.

A special note on Robbie Gould. In 2018, Gould converted on 33 of his 34 field goal attempts, the fourth-highest percentage by any kicker with at least 30 attempts in NFL history. So far in 2019, he's converting 60% of his kicks, which ranks 33rd out of 34 kickers with at least three attempts. Turnarounds like this are exactly why Rent-a-Kicker's model doesn't include a variable for kicker talent. Outside of Justin Tucker and perhaps Greg Zuerlein, there's not a kicker in the league who I am confident is significantly better than league average. There's just a lot of Robbie Goulds on hot streaks or cold streaks.

(Gould still ranks tied for second in field goal attempts per game and, if you give him replacement points for his team's bye week, 9th in fantasy points so far, proving that as always opportunity is king.)


WEEK 7 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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