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 13 Results
Brett Maher (2 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 1 XP, 1 point)
Our kicker model includes a variable designed to help us avoid kickers on the losing end of a blowout. The reason for this is largely to mitigate our downside risk; plenty of kickers on losing teams have perfectly fine days. But on occasion, a losing kicker has a day like Maher's. Maher hit an extra point as Dallas took an early 7-0 lead, but from there nothing went wrong. A 35-yard field goal just before the half was blocked. Then Maher missed a 47-yarder. By the next time Dallas had the ball, they were down by 16 and no longer willing to attempt field goals. Dallas passed up a 23-yard attempt to go for it on 4th-and-6, passed up a 39-yard attempt to go for it on 4th-and-4, then passed up an extra point to go for a 2-point conversion. Of course, trying to avoid blowouts is one thing, successfully avoiding them is another; Dallas was favored by 6.5 points and on paper Maher seemed like a safe play. Indeed, Maher potentially had an 11- or 14-point day in front of him, but instead scored just one point and finished 31st among all kickers.
Jake Elliott (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 2 XPs, 11 points)
Top pick Brett Maher was rostered in very close to the 50% league cutoff, so there's a good chance he wasn't available for you in your particular league. I certainly hope that was the case because our 2nd and 3rd choices both had tremendous weeks. In Elliott's case, he's the latest in a pretty long string of otherwise-unremarkable kickers to put up big points against the hapless Miami Dolphins defense; even with a missed field goal, his eleven points ranked 3rd this week.
Jason Myers (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 4 XPs, 13 points)
Officially, our kicker model can't make predictions two or more weeks out. Unofficially... if you want a kicker to ride through the fantasy playoffs, Myers is probably the top pick. The Seahawks offense is playing very well this year, their defense is bad enough to force them to keep their foot on the gas pedal, and their matchups over the next three weeks are favorable. Their matchup last week was favorable, too, and Myers' thirteen points ranked second at the position.
Joey Slye (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
Just about the worst "good process, bad outcome" situation when streaming kickers is stumbling on a kicker whose team scores 21 or 28 points and kicks nothing but extra points. Slye's Panthers underperformed expectations against a bad Washington defense but still managed to put points on the board, those points just didn't translate into production for their kicker and Slye's three points ranked 28th for the week.
Josh Lambo (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 0 XPs, 3 points)
Lambo finished with three points like Slye, but his came on a single field goal. Again, to some extent, a large deficit played a role in his anemic output. Jacksonville passed up a 36-yard and 22-yard attempt (on the same drive) to keep the offense on the field for fourth down, and attempted a 2-point conversion after their final touchdown instead of an extra point. Lambo's three points also tied for 28th on the week.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 65 weekly recommendations. Those 65 kickers have averaged 7.68 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.68 point average would currently rank 8th at the position (after giving an additional 7.68 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.00 points, which would rank 6th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.28 (4th).
A 4th- 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 104 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 107.7. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (102.68 points), Justin Tucker (117.68), Harrison Butker (119.68), Wil Lutz (117.68), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (82.68), Robbie Gould (77.68), Jake Elliott (81.68), Mason Crosby (82.68), Mike Badgley (37), Brett Maher (97.68), and Adam Vinatieri (80.68). (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 14 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.**