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 9 Results
Jason Myers (4 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Our model is trying to estimate kicker opportunity and assuming each kicker is roughly equally likely to convert on that opportunity. With four field goal attempts and four touchdowns in regulation, there were potentially as many as sixteen points available to Seattle's kicker, which tied the highest mark in the league last week. Myers missed two of those field goals and one extra point, which prompted his team to attempt a 2-point conversion on another TD to earn that point back, meaning he only earned 8 of those 16 potential points. Was this an issue of Rent-a-Kicker betting on good results from a bad kicker? Not really; Myers was a pro bowler last year who signed a big contract this offseason to "solve" Seattle's kicking issues. He's just the latest in a long line of examples of how random kicker performance really is. He finished the week tied for 11th, but we're marking this down as "good process, mediocre outcome".
Brett Maher (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 4 XPs, 13 points)
Maher was our other "great play" last week and was the player who tied Myers for the league lead in kicker opportunity (16 potential points). Great job, model! Maher was much more successful than Myers, converting 13 of those 16 potential points and finishing 4th for the week.
Daniel Carlson (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 4 XPs, 7 points)
Don't look now, but is the Oakland Raiders offense... actually pretty good? The Raiders have topped 24 points in five straight games and seem to be heating up. If true, expect to see Carlson's name more often around these parts. As for this week, a case of "too many touchdowns" and a missed 45-yarder kept him from a very good day, but Carlson's 7 points still finished 14th at the position.
Dan Bailey (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
A hot Minnesota Vikings offense headed out to play a beatable Kansas City defense and... spluttered about a bit. Thanks to a missed extra point, Bailey finished the week with only 5 points, which ranked 22nd at the position. Thanks to byes and ties he only outscored three kickers.
Nick Folk (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Despite tying Jason Myers with 8 points last week, Folk did so on much less opportunity. In fact, Folk converted 100% of his potential points compared to just 50% for Myers. Folk and the Patriots have a bye next week but should find themselves with much more opportunity down the stretch.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 45 weekly recommendations. Those 45 kickers have averaged 7.84 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.84 point average would currently rank 13th at the position (after giving an additional 7.84 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.44 points, which would rank 6th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.75 (4th!)
A 4th-place or even 6th-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 recommendations have scored 76 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 78.8. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (77.8* points), Justin Tucker (82.8*), Harrison Butker (84), Wil Lutz (74.8*), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (62), Robbie Gould (72.8*), Jake Elliott (56), Mason Crosby (62), Mike Badgley (14), Brett Maher (72.8*), and Adam Vinatieri (57.8*). (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 two of these kickers have outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays".
WEEK 10 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.**