02 Sep Stromme’s Takes: Fantasy Kicker Rankings
By: Mike Stromme
Okay, so there’s three hard and fast rules every fantasy owner NEEDS to follow in order to be successful in standard or PPR formats that don’t have any special emphasis on kickers. And, if you do, you’re probably playing in a league with Taco from The League.
Rule 1: NEVER take a kicker before the LAST ROUND.
Rule 2: See Rule 1.
Rule 3: Refer to the first two rules.
Every damn year I see a kicker, whether it’s Vinateri or Gostkowski in year’s past (Graham Gano seems to be this year’s darling), go well before the last round. It honestly baffles me. It’s honestly like you’re telling the rest of your league “I’ll sit this round out guys, help yourself to that late-round flyer who’s just waiting to break out”. It’s just asinine!
Reaching for a kicker doesn’t give any team a leg-up on the competition. If you don’t believe me, just look at the numbers.
Last year’s number one fantasy kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, finished the season with 171.00 points in standard Yahoo scoring. Kicker number 12 on that list, Mike “Ted’s not my uncle” Nugent finished with 131.00 points.
The GIF above is the fantasy equivalent of taking a kicker before the last round.
Essentially, the difference between the best and the best above-replacement level kicker is 40.00 points. Over the course of 16 games (take away one week for the bye), that’s an average of 2.5 extra fantasy points a week. Do you really want to miss out on guys with legitimate upside (Will Fuller, Tevin Coleman, Charles Sims, Willie Snead, etc.) for an extra 2.5 points; if that? Think before you reach, ladies and gentlemen. Think before you reach.
Now, since the difference between a good fantasy kicker and a kicker that’s a little better is hard to decipher, here’s a mental trick that I like to use. A hierarchy of criteria that I used to pin the remaining kickers against each other.
1)Higher team scoring percentage: Most immediately take the kicker on the team that scores the most. While that’s sound logic, it doesn’t quite translate to fantasy success from a kicker. Scoring percentage is a little easier to gauge, as it calculates the percentage of offensive drives that end in points. Touchdowns skew point totals and those who want high-scoring kickers want field goals, not touchdowns. Last I checked, three points is more than just one point.
2)Higher team point total: Yes, scoring percentage is important. But, if the numbers are pretty even, take the guy with the higher team point total. A few extra PATs could be the difference.
3)Total field goal attempts: Just like any other position in fantasy, a good fantasy kicker’s value is derived from opportunity.
4)Field goal percentage: You want a kicker who makes the most of those opportunities, don’t you?
5) Attempts from 40+ yards: There’s usually bonus points for distance in most formats. Having a leg can help.
6) Field Goals made from 40+: Making the most of those long-shot opportunities ALSO helps.
7) Running game/offensive short-yardage percentage: Normally when factoring in a fantasy player’s fake pigskin impact, making the short-yardage situations help. Not when taking kickers. Teams that fail a little more often on third-down are more likely to kick and take the points. Kicker enthusiasts love this.
For what it’s worth, here are my kicker rankings while weighing in my kicker criteria:
- Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
- Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers
- Stephen Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
- Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs
- Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
- Brian Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
- Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
- Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
- Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
- Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
- Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
For more fantasy analysis, football chatter and picks against the spread, follow @stromme_93 on Twitter!