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A Review of Place Kickers from 2002-2004
Do High-Scoring NFL Teams Produce Elite Fantasy Kickers?

When it comes to drafting kickers, most fantasy football veterans believe that it is in the best interest of their team to either take an elite kicker before a run on them begins or to simply wait until near the end of the draft and gamble on a kicker or two considered to be in the middle of the pack in preseason fantasy value. If a team owner is not able to secure one of the top 2 or 3 kickers in their league, it hardly matters if they end up with the guy that is considered to be around the 5th or 6th best kicker in the league or a guy nearer to being 10th. There typically is little difference between the 6th and 10th ranked kickers in fantasy football. Also, the fantasy values of most kickers are very unpredictable from season to season and because of this, kickers are not often worth using anything but very late draft picks on. After all, who knew Adam Vinatieri would have such a great fantasy football season in 2004? Nothing about any of his previous seasons indicated he would post such great numbers… and I bet that in the vast majority of leagues, Vinatieri was not one of the first 2 or 3 kickers selected in the 2004 draft. He was probably a great value pick in most leagues.

If it is one of your goals during your draft to snag one of the top 2 or 3 kickers for the upcoming season, you can often get a little separation from the pack at that position, likely 1.0 - 1.5 fantasy points per game (fppg) in basic scoring league… so there clearly seems to be some value in taking the right kicker. But if you do decide to target an elite kicker in your draft, how can you accurately decide who to take? A common fantasy football tenet is that high-scoring NFL teams often produce the best fantasy kickers. After all, kickers score fantasy points by kicking field goals and extra points, both of which are directly related to how many points their NFL teams are actually scoring. So if you want a top kicker in your fantasy football league, this tenet holds that you should simply estimate who the top scoring NFL teams are likely to be in the upcoming season and draft one of their kickers. If you believe the Chiefs are likely to lead the NFL in scoring in 2005, then Lawrence Tynes is your guy and should end up being one of the top fantasy kickers in 2005. Simple enough, right? Not exactly.

Upon studying the fantasy point production of kickers in the last 3 years, I discovered that not once did the top scoring team in the NFL produce the highest-scoring fantasy kicker. And one season (2002) the highest-scoring NFL team produced the 11th best fantasy kicker (using fppg). In 2003, the Broncos had the 9th highest scoring team in the NFL, yet Jason Elam (their kicker) was #2 in fppg for kickers. It seems there are no easy ways to project who the top fantasy kickers will be from season to season, but if we take a look at the fppg each kicker scores along with how his team ranks in points scored in the NFL, we might be able to uncover some interesting trends.

Below are tables that show how kickers ranked in fppg for a given season along with how each kicker's NFL team ranked in scoring that same season. There is one table for each of the past 3 seasons (2002-2004). Kickers were awarded 3 fantasy points for all field goals made and one fantasy point for each extra point made. In order to make any trends that may exist easier to see; the kickers from the top 7 scoring NFL teams each season are shown in blue text, the kickers from the bottom 7 scoring NFL teams are shown in red text, and all other kickers are in black text. Lets take a look at the tables below.

Place Kickers - 2002
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
1
Jay Feely
Atl
8.6
5
16
Rian Lindell
Sea
6.7
16
2
Morten Andersen
KC
8.2
1
17
Mike Vanderjagt
Ind
6.4
17
3
John Carney
NO
8.1
3
18
Matt Stover
Bal
6.4
23
4
Ryan Longwell
GB
8.0
6
19
Gary Anderson
Min
6.4
9
5
Martin Gramatica
TB
8.0
18
20
Jason Hanson
Det
6.3
26
6
Sebastian Janikowski
Oak
8.0
2
21
Phil Dawson
Cle
6.3
19
7
David Akers
Phi
8.0
4
22
Paul Edinger
Chi
5.9
27
8
Jason Elam
Den
7.5
7
23
Jeff Wilkins
StL
5.9
24
9
Jose Cortez
SF
7.4
14
24
Steve Christie
SD
5.6
20
10
Adam Vinatieri
NE
7.3
10
25
Shayne Graham
Car
5.0
30
11
Mike Hollis
Buf
7.2
11
26
Neil Rackers
Cin
4.7
28
12
Olindo Mare
Mia
7.1
12
27
Bill Gramatica
Ari
4.6
29
13
Joe Nedney
Ten
6.9
13
28
Kris Brown
Hou
4.4
32
14
Matt Bryant
NYG
6.8
22
29
James Tuthill
Was
3.9
25
15
John Hall
NYJ
6.7
15
30
Billy Cundiff
Dal
3.8
31
Note: Tm Scr is the ranking of the kicker's NFL team scoring totals for the year.
Place Kickers - 2003
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
1
Jeff Wilkins
StL
10.2
3
16
John Carney
NO
6.4
14
2
Mike Vanderjagt
Ind
9.8
2
17
Aaron Elling
Min
6.4
6
3
Matt Stover
Bal
8.4
8
18
John Hall
Was
6.3
22
4
Gary Anderson
Ten
8.2
5
19
Jeff Reed
Pit
6.3
18
5
John Kasay
Car
7.8
15
20
Olindo Mare
Mia
6.2
17
6
Jason Elam
Den
7.5
10
21
Sebastian Janikowski
Oak
5.9
26
7
Ryan Longwell
GB
7.5
4
22
Jason Hanson
Det
5.8
27
8
David Akers
Phi
7.1
11
23
Phil Dawson
Cle
5.7
28
9
Josh Brown
Sea
7.1
7
24
Seth Marler
Jac
5.6
25
10
Adam Vinatieri
NE
7.0
12
25
Jay Feely
Atl
5.6
20
11
Morten Andersen
KC
6.6
1
26
Steve Christie
SD
5.1
16
12
Shayne Graham
Cin
6.6
13
27
Martin Gramatica
TB
5.1
19
13
Doug Brien
NYJ
6.6
23
28
Kris Brown
Hou
5.1
29
14
Paul Edinger
Chi
6.6
24
29
Rian Lindell
Buf
4.7
30
15
Billy Cundiff
Dal
6.6
21
30
Matt Bryant
NYG
4.6
31
Note: Tm Scr is the ranking of the kicker's NFL team scoring totals for the year.
Place Kickers - 2004
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
Rk
Place Kicker
Tm
FPPG
Tm Scr
1
Adam Vinatieri
NE
8.8
4
16
Phil Dawson
Cle
6.3
28
2
Jason Elam
Den
8.1
9
17
Jason Hanson
Det
6.3
24
3
Mike Vanderjagt
Ind
7.9
1
18
Steve Christie
NYG
6.2
22
4
Jeff Reed
Pit
7.8
11
19
Morten Andersen
Min
6.2
6
5
Shayne Graham
Cin
7.6
10
20
John Kasay
Car
6.0
13
6
David Akers
Phi
7.6
8
21
Jay Feely
Atl
5.9
16
7
Ryan Longwell
GB
7.5
5
22
Neil Rackers
Ari
5.9
26
8
Rian Lindell
Buf
7.3
7
23
Gary Anderson
Ten
5.9
15
9
Matt Stover
Bal
7.3
20
24
Josh Scobee
Jac
5.8
29
10
Nate Kaeding
SD
7.1
3
25
Billy Cundiff
Dal
5.7
25
11
Josh Brown
Sea
6.8
12
26
Jeff Wilkins
StL
5.6
19
12
Lawrence Tynes
KC
6.8
2
27
Kris Brown
Hou
5.3
21
13
Sebastian Janikowski
Oak
6.6
18
28
Todd Peterson
SF
4.8
30
14
Doug Brien
NYJ
6.6
17
29
Paul Edinger
Chi
4.2
32
15
John Carney
NO
6.5
14
30
Martin Gramatica
TB
3.6
23
Note: Tm Scr is the ranking of the kicker's NFL team scoring totals for the year.

You should be able to see that the kickers from the top 7 scoring NFL teams in 2002-2004 (in blue in the tables) are generally in the top half of the kicker rankings for fppg and are, in most instances, ranked #10 or better. You should also notice that the kickers from the bottom 7 scoring NFL teams during this same time (in red in the tables) are generally in the bottom half of the rankings each year. No surprises there. However, 4 times from 2002-2004 did a top 3 scoring NFL team not place their kicker in the top 5 in fppg… that's 44.4% of the time! Also, analyzing the kickers from mediocre-scoring teams in the NFL (in black in the table) appears very tricky. These kickers seem to be all over the place each of these years. In fact, 4 times from 2002-2004 did kickers from NFL teams ranked 10 or higher in scoring place in the top 5 of all fantasy kickers. And kickers like Jason Elam ranking #2 in 2004, Matt Stover ranking #3 in 2003, and Martin Gramatica ranking #5 in 2002 help show that mediocre-scoring NFL teams can produce upper-tier kickers in fantasy football; this is not something exclusive to high-scoring NFL teams. But then there are also instances where kickers from mediocre-scoring NFL teams end up being very poor fantasy kickers (such as Gary Anderson in 2004 and Steve Christie in 2003). Much of the relationship between the fantasy point production of kickers and the point production of their NFL teams seems to be quite hazy, only generalities can be made using the tables above. So even if the Chiefs do score the most points in 2005, Lawrence Tynes may end up as the #8 fantasy kicker. All of that said, the above tables make one thing glaringly obvious. You do NOT want to get stuck with a kicker from one of the lowest-scoring NFL teams! No kicker from a bottom 7 NFL offense placed higher than #16 in fppg from 2002-2004. The 16th ranked kicker has minimal value in most leagues… and #16 is the best-case scenario for kickers from the bottom 7 scoring NFL teams.

The very elite fantasy kickers do not always come from the highest-scoring NFL teams, but it is true that the 7 highest-scoring NFL teams almost always produce kickers that place in the top 10 in fppg. I think that if you merely look at the color coding of the above tables, you will easily discover that you generally want to have kickers on your fantasy team that play for high-scoring NFL teams, this much is basically commonsense. But you should also see in the above tables, that no kickers are "sure things" as related to the scoring of their NFL teams. I believe that if you want an elite kicker for your fantasy team, then your best bet would probably be to draft a kicker from what you think will be a very high-scoring NFL team in the upcoming season. This will not guarantee that you have secured an elite kicker, but it will have increased your odds of having done so. However, projecting what NFL teams are going to be at the top of the scoring list in the upcoming season can be difficult. Because of this, it is my opinion that in most cases you should wait until late in your draft to select a kicker or two (just not one from a horrible offense). After all, one of them may end up panning out to be gold and you will have acquired this kicker very cheaply in the draft.

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