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 11 Results
Daniel Carlson (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
For the first time our season we had four available kickers that our model rated as "great plays", but Week 11 turned into the worst week all year not just for our selections, but for kickers in general. Carlson's quiet day was emblematic of this; the Raiders have surprisingly had one of the best offenses in the league, while Cincinnati has been the worst team to this point, yet Oakland struggled all afternoon to put the Bengals away. Carlson only scored five points, but with production down across the league that still tied him for 13th at the position.
Chase McLaughlin (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
When your kicker played on the third highest-scoring team of the week that's usually a positive sign, but McLaughlin didn't receive an opportunity after two different touchdowns (San Francisco opted to go for a two-point conversion after the first, and the second came on the last play of the game) and only scored six points. This still ranked 11th at the position for the week.
Joey Slye (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 0 XPs, 3 points)
In yet another surprising development, early-season streaming savior Joey Slye and the Carolina Panthers managed just three points against a previously atrocious Atlanta defense that gave up an average of more than thirty points per game over eight weeks before their bye, but just nine total points in the two weeks since. Slye finished the week 19th among kickers.
Dan Bailey (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
Dan Bailey gave a perfect example of why we try to avoid kickers who are large underdogs in our weekly recommendations; while the final score of the Minnesota / Denver game was quite close, the Vikings fell behind by 20 points in the first half and kept their foot on the gas throughout the second. Bailey lost out on an extra point attempt after one touchdown and the Vikings' aggressiveness (prompted by their large deficit) meant they were unwilling to settle for field goals once they reached scoring position. Bailey tied for 19th among kickers.
Mike Badgley (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 0 XPs, 9 points)
In a week with four "great plays", of course, our lone "good play" was the only one to come through. Badgley missed a 40-yard field goal attempt and lost out on a potential extra point because the Chargers went for two, but still, Los Angeles' offense stalled out in the red zone enough times for Badgley to hit three field goals, score nine points, and finish the week tied for 6th at the position.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 55 weekly recommendations. Those 55 kickers have averaged 7.62 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.62 point average would currently rank 10th at the position (after giving an additional 7.62 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.45 points, which would rank 5th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.33 (6th).
A 5th or 6th place finish is impressive but still understates the matter. Many of the kickers ahead of our amalgam went undrafted and put up their points on the bench or the street in most fantasy leagues. Our top recommendations have scored 93 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 91.7. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (86.62 points), Justin Tucker (100.62), Harrison Butker (104), Wil Lutz (93.62), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (70.62), Robbie Gould (72.62), Jake Elliott (67.62), Mason Crosby (75.62), Mike Badgley (29), Brett Maher (87.62), and Adam Vinatieri (70.62). (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 three of these kickers have outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays".
WEEK 12 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.**