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 12 Results
Younghoe Koo (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
Koo had a strong showing against a vulnerable Buccaneers defense despite paying a little bit of a blowout penalty (the tendency for kickers on teams that are trailing big to lose out on opportunities). Atlanta's last offensive play of the game was a 4th-and-7 attempt in what would ordinarily be field goal range, costing Koo an opportunity for three points. The attempt converted for a touchdown but Atlanta went for the two-point conversion, costing Koo the opportunity for one more point. Nevertheless, the ten points Koo did score tied for 4th among all kickers last week.
Nick Folk (4 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
It seems like New England's kickers are a bit star-crossed this year, always poised for huge days and settling for a decent performance instead. In Folk's case, awful weather conditions contributed to two missed field goals in a day that could have been so much more productive. On the one hand, one of the drawbacks of publishing Rent-a-Kicker early enough in the week for waiver claims is that at the time we simply don't have a great idea what weather will look like on game day. On the other hand, weather effects on kicking are often overstated anyway; one of the co-leaders in kicking scoring last week played in the windiest game of the week. And despite the weather, Folk's seven points still ranked 13th at the position for the week.
Austin Seibert (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 5 XPs, 11 points)
Further evidence that defense actually matters, Browns kicker Austin Seibert (17th in fantasy points through eleven weeks) becomes the latest kicker to have a monster game the week he just happens to face the Dolphins. Seibert led all kickers in opportunity and even with a miss from 46 yards finished third among all kickers in scoring.
Ka'imi Fairbairn (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs 8 points)
A classic example of why you shouldn't draft kickers high, Fairbairn was on average the sixth kicker drafted this August, but he (and Houston's offense) has struggled so much to this point that he was on waivers in enough leagues to qualify for Rent-a-Kicker. Fairbairn's 8 points ranked 11th among all kickers.
Chase McLaughlin (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 4 XPs, 13 points)
McLaughlin demonstrates the power of a good (but not too good) offensive showing. San Francisco joined Cleveland and Baltimore as the only teams with seven scoring drives in Week 12, but Baltimore scored 6 touchdowns vs. 1 field goal, Cleveland scored 5 touchdowns vs. 2 field goals, and San Francisco scored 4 touchdowns vs. 3 field goals (after stalling out twice in the red zone), so McLaughlin finished as the week's top overall scorer.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 60 weekly recommendations. Those 60 kickers have averaged 7.80 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.80 point average would currently rank 12th at the position (after giving an additional 7.80 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.58 points, which would rank 5th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.43 (also 5th).
A 5th-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 103 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 101.2. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (92.8 points), Justin Tucker (109.8), Harrison Butker (111.8), Wil Lutz (103.8), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (78.8), Robbie Gould (72.8), Jake Elliott (70.8), Mason Crosby (75.8), Mike Badgley (29), Brett Maher (96.8), and Adam Vinatieri (75.8). (For all healthy kickers I have included one week of Rent-a-Kicker average production to account for their bye week.) Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only three of these kickers have outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays".
WEEK 13 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.**