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 14 Results
Dan Bailey (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Against an overmatched Lions team, the Vikings staked out an early lead and then throttled the pace of the game as they cruised to a low-scoring but dominant victory. In a high-scoring week for kickers, Bailey's 8 points ranked 13th.
Jake Elliott (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
Elliott was the eighth kicker drafted this past offseason amid strong expectations for Philadelphia's offense, but he was quickly abandoned to the pool of potential streaming targets and has largely been ignored by our model as the Eagles' offense has continued to disappoint. Philadelphia was on their way to the most disappointing game in a disappointing season, but a late rally managed to preserve the win. Unfortunately for the newly-extended Elliott, a missed field goal in the fourth quarter and a touchdown in overtime cost him the chance to add to his total, and his five points ranked tied for 24th on the week.
Ka'imi Fairbairn (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
I mentioned last week the importance of avoiding teams that trailed big, as well as the difficulty of doing so. The Houston Texans, playing at home and fresh off the second-best offensive showing any team has put up against a dominant Patriots defense, were favored by eight over the Denver Broncos. In the most shocking result of the week, however, Denver raced to a 35-point third-quarter lead. In their scramble to mount a longshot comeback, the Texans passed up 49- and 32-yard field goal attempts on fourth down, and Fairbairn scored just 6 points, 19th-best among last week's kickers.
Austin Seibert (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
The Bengals have quietly joined the Dolphins among the ranks of terrible defenses that opposing kickers can rely on for solid weeks. The Browns offense (and, by extension, Seibert) has underperformed the lofty expectations they entered the year with, but Seibert's nine points against Cincinnati were enough to rank him 9th among kickers in Week 14.
Younghoe Koo (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 4 XPs, 16 points)
For the third straight week, our highlighted "good matchup" kickers have averaged more points than our highlighted "great matchup" kickers thanks to a huge game from one of our choices. This week, Younghoe Koo was the latest to reward our talent-agnostic approach to kicker picking with a whopping 16 points, the best game by any Rent-a-Kicker choice all season. For the full season "great matchup" kickers still outscore "good matchup" kickers by 0.65 points per game, but recent weeks just underscore how volatile the position really is. (Another reminder: Jason Myers, rostered in just 0.9% of NFL.com fantasy leagues, just had the highest-scoring day by a kicker all season with a matchup-tilting 21 points.)
RESULTS TO DATE
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 70 weekly recommendations. Those 70 kickers have averaged 7.76 fantasy points, ahead of last year's 7.38 point average. That 7.76 point average would currently rank 7th at the position (after giving an additional 7.76 points to any kicker whose team has had a bye). Top weekly recommendations average 8.00 points, which would rank 5th, while all highlighted kickers with great matchups combined average 8.11 (4th).
Our top recommendations have scored 112 points, while the average of our great recommendations scored 113.6. The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Greg Zuerlein (106.76 points), Justin Tucker (123.76), Harrison Butker (130.76), Wil Lutz (127.76), Stephen Gostkowski (32), Ka'imi Fairbairn (88.76), Robbie Gould (89.76), Jake Elliott (86.76), Mason Crosby (90.76), Mike Badgley (46), 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.**
Avoid at All Costs