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 16 Results
Jason Myers (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Rent-a-Kicker recommended grabbing Myers before the playoffs in anticipation of his fantastic Week 16 matchup when mid-season MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the potent Seahawks passing game faced Arizona and one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in their home stadium. Vegas oddsmakers agreed, projecting Seattle as one of the highest-scoring teams of the week. So, of course, it makes perfect sense that Wilson continued his mini-slump and the Seahawks scored just 13 points. Myers at least managed to contribute 7 of those points, finishing 14th at the position, but it was a disappointing showing in a big spot.
Chase McLaughlin (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 5 XPs, 8 points)
If you didn't stash Myers ahead of time, Chase McLaughlin of the Colts was likely the top option available to you in your championship game. The Colts lived up to their promise, scoring the most points in regulation of any team all week, but McLaughlin suffered from "Too Many Touchdowns" syndrome with five extra points against just one field goal. Still, his 8 points were a marginal improvement over Myers' and ranked 9th on the week.
Younghoe Koo (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
In the most accurate week of the season for kickers, Koo's one miss (from 42 yards) was costly from a fantasy perspective. With kickers bunched up so tightly, the difference between nine points (if he'd made it) and six points (with the miss) was the difference between finishing the week tied for 5th and finishing the week tied for 17th.
Mike Badgley (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
Speaking of disappointments, the Oakland Raiders entered last week reeling after a four-game losing streak that included a 31-point loss to the hapless Jets and a home loss to the rudderless Jaguars sandwiched around losses by 52 combined points to the Chiefs and Titans. But they came alive during a "road" game against the Chargers to keep their (slim) playoff hopes alive, holding Los Angeles to seventeen points and kicker Mike Badgley to five, 21st among all kickers.
Dan Bailey (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 1 XP, 4 points)
Speaking of suddenly-impenetrable defenses, the Vikings averaged 392 yards per game over their last ten matches heading into a divisional showdown with Green Bay, but the Packers defense shut them down cold to the tune of 139 yards, their fourth-lowest total of the 16-game era. (The three lower: Teddy Bridgewater against the 2015 Seahawks defensive dynasty, plus games by Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Johnson.) Bailey scored just four points, 27th among kickers.
This season, Rent-a-Kicker has made 80 weekly recommendations. Those 80 kickers averaged 7.65 fantasy points, which topped last year's 7.38 point average despite a rough year for kickers overall. That 7.65 point average would currently rank 6th at the position (after giving an additional 7.76 points to every other kicker to account for bye-week fill-ins). Top weekly recommendations average 8.06 points, which would rank 5th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.00 (6th).
While I would have liked to close the season a bit stronger, the truth is that our streaming kickers weren't the only ones to struggle down the stretch; top-owned kickers likewise turned in lots of dud performances and most of the big games came from complete out-of-nowhere players who were virtually unrostered.
A 5th or 6th place finish is misleading, too, because two of this season's top five kickers were Rent-a-Kicker alums Matt Gay and Zane Gonzalez, neither of whom were among the 23 kickers drafted this preseason according to our ADP data.
Our top recommendations have scored 129 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 128. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (114.65 points), Justin Tucker (134.65), Harrison Butker (147.65), Wil Lutz (145.65), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (105.65), Robbie Gould (109.65), Jake Elliott (98.65), Mason Crosby (102.65), Mike Badgley (55), Brett Maher (103.65), and Adam Vinatieri (80.65). (For all healthy kickers I have included one week of Rent-a-Kicker average production to account for their bye week.)
Let's break this down by round. Here are average points by round drafted. I've excluded kickers who missed more than a week so they don't tank the averages:
- 10th-12th: 132.3
- 13th-15th: 120.3 (plus Gostkowski, lost for the year in Week 5)
- 16th-18th: 101.7 (plus Badgley, who missed Weeks 1-8)
- 19th-21st: 100.7 (plus Bryant, cut after Week 8)
- Streaming: 128-129
If you drafted a kicker in the 10th-12th round, you gained about three points over streaming, on average. If you drafted a kicker in the 13th-15th round, you lost eight or nine points. If you drafted a kicker in the 16th or later, you lost nearly thirty points compared to just grabbing whoever had the best matchup on waivers every week. Thirty points! (Technically, 27.3-28.3.) And this is after excluding guys who got hurt or got cut (not an issue for streamers since everyone is a one-week rental, anyway).
Now, granted, the vast majority of picks in the 10th-12th range will bust. The name of the game in that round is upside; hits will be rare, but the ones you find will disproportionately impact a team's fortunes. Spending a pick for a three-point gain at the kicker position is not a great use of resources. And spending a pick in the 13th or later was just wasting a pick entirely.
WEEK 17 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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