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 15 Results
Robbie Gould (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
We've written already this year about how Gould is one of the best representations of our talent-agnostic approach to kickers. Over the last three years combined Gould missed just three field goal attempts (out of 85 total attempts). Over that same span, he went just 75-of-82 on extra point attempts. This year, Gould has already missed eight field goals (on 27 attempts, giving him the worst field goal percentage of his career), but he was a perfect 35-of-35 on extra point attempts before missing his last try against Atlanta. At the end of the day, unless a kicker is Justin Tucker we simply don't have enough evidence to tell with any confidence whether he's good or not. (Tucker, on the other hand, is probably the best kicker in NFL history.) And including a variable for "quality" in our model is going to hurt our accuracy more than it helps. Instead, we just continue to target kickers with favorable matchups, such as Gould, whose ten points last week tied for third at the position.
Jason Myers (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Like Gould, Jason Myers is a kicker who many thought was good after a strong performance in a small sample in recent years. Seattle gave him a big deal (for a kicker) to shore up a struggling kicking game. Their return on investment to this point has been poor; according to Football Outsiders the Seahawks rank 20th in points relative to expectation on field goals and extra points, exactly where they ranked in 2018, while Myers' six points last week ranked 16th among all kickers.
Daniel Carlson (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
My favorite part of the Rent-a-Kicker model is when a bad team winds up with a great matchup and we wind up featuring a kicker that has spent most of the season on the "Avoid at All Costs" list. Actually, my favorite part is when that featured kicker actually comes through and vindicates his selection. Carlson didn't have a great game from an NFL standpoint; he missed a 50-yard field goal with under two minutes left, a penalty gave him another chance to kick, and he missed again from 45 yards out. But Carlson still scored 10 points, tying for third-best at the position.
Ryan Succop (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
Another entry in the "kickers are basically interchangeable" file: Tennessee's preferred kicker, Ryan Succop, entered the season on IR after a preseason surgery. In his absence over the first eight games, Tennessee's kickers made 7 of their 12 attempts. After a blocked kick this last week, Succop has made just 1 of 6 attempts in the six games since he returned. Clearly Tennessee preferred Succop to Cody Parkey or Cairo Santos, but is he actually a better kicker than those two? Or are all three really just interchangeable legs and any short-term differences in performance most likely the result of tiny sample sizes? Either way, Succop's three points last week ranked just 27th among all kickers.
Nick Folk (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)
It feels like we've been waiting all season for New England's kicker to deliver on his promise and put up a strong game. Instead, we've been treated to week after week of middling performances. Folk picked a decent time to finally come through, though; with ten points, he tied for third among all kickers last week.
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 75 weekly recommendations. Those 75 kickers have averaged 7.76 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.76 point average would currently rank 6th at the position (after giving an additional 7.76 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.13 points, which would rank 4th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.16 (also 4th).
Our top recommendations have scored 122 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 122.4. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (107.76 points), Justin Tucker (127.76), Harrison Butker (139.76), Wil Lutz (137.76), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (94.76), Robbie Gould (99.76), Jake Elliott (93.76), Mason Crosby (93.76), Mike Badgley (50), Brett Maher (103.76), and Adam Vinatieri (80.76). (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 15 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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