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 13 Results
Dan Bailey (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Last week, I pointed out how lucky we'd been that our highlighted kickers made such a high percentage of their attempts. This week, Dan Bailey tried to correct that single-handedly. A missed 51-yard field goal attempt is not necessarily a glaring error, but Bailey added two missed extra points, turning a potential 12-point outing into a 7-point affair, ranking 10th at the position.
Jason Myers (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 2 XPs, 11 points)
We're reaching a point where one begins to wonder if the high-flying Seahawks from September are merely regressing, or if they're gone forever. In a matchup that looked great on paper against the 4-7 New York Giants, Seattle's offense scored just a touchdown and a field goal, leaving Myers with just four points, 17th among kickers. Seattle has a get-right game this week against the winless Jets; if the offense doesn't put up a whole bunch of points it's officially time to start worrying.
Stephen Gostkowski (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
One of the most surprising entries in the "this is why we try to avoid underdogs" files, but also one of the most dramatic. Gostkowski's Titans fell behind 38-7 against the Browns. From that point on, they (a) twice passed up extra points in favor of two-point conversions, (b) passed up a 50-yard field goal attempt to go for it on 4th-and-12, (c) passed up a 39-yard field goal attempt to go for it on 4th-and-4, and (d) passed up a 15-yard field goal to go for it on 4th-and-5. That's maybe eight extra points in expectation that Gostkowski could have had if Tennessee wasn't already in desperation mode. Instead, he finished the day with just three points and a 23rd-place finish.
Ka'imi Fairbairn (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Fairbairn's lone miss came from 53 yards out, but otherwise, he turned in a fairly solid, workmanlike day, finishing tied for 8th on the week.
Matt Gay (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 5 XPs, 8 points)
Gay hit the upright from 37 yards out but, otherwise, had a solid showing, with his eight points tying Fairbairn for 8th among kickers.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 65 weekly recommendations. Those 65 kickers have averaged 7.42 points, compared to last year's 7.65 weekly average. That average would currently rank 10th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 7.85 points and the average of all highlighted kickers with great matchups is 7.69, which would rank 5th and 9th, respectively.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Justin Tucker (95 points*), Harrison Butker (109 points), Wil Lutz (108 points), Greg Zuerlein (88 points*), Robbie Gould (88 points), Matt Gay (cut before the season), Zane Gonzalez (93 points), Younghoe Koo (126 points), Matt Prater (91 points), Dan Bailey (70 points), Jake Elliott (58 points), and Ka'imi Fairbairn (95 points) (giving an extra seven points to any kicker who has had his bye). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only three of these kickers have outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays"... and as we've been noting, one of those three (Koo) is a Rent-a-Kicker alum.
*At the time of publishing, Tucker and Zuerlein still have not played their Week 13 game. Tucker needs five points to pass the "great play" average, while Zuerlein needs 12.
Excluding Gay and giving an extra 7 points to Tucker and Zuerlein as a placeholder, the remaining kickers average 94.1 points, which trails the average of "Great Plays" that were available on waivers (99.9 points).
The fact that Younghoe Koo is well on his way to posting one of the most valuable kicker seasons in fantasy football history makes him the poster-child for why you shouldn't spend draft capital on kickers. Not only was Koo the 8th kicker off the board, but he started the season slow and spent three weeks on waivers in more than half of the leagues on NFL.com (two weeks on waivers in two-thirds of the leagues or more). Projecting kickers is not an exact science, so there's no need to pay a premium for the right to guess first when those early guesses provide virtually no advantage anyway.
(Koo also illustrates why these rankings are talent-agnostic. Koo was an undrafted free agent who was cut by the Chargers after four games in 2017, spent all of 2018 out of football, opened 2019 kicking in the AAF, was brought in for a workout by the kicker-needy Chicago Bears but ultimately passed over, signed to the Patriots practice squad before ultimately getting cut, and closed out the season with the Atlanta Falcons. He entered 2020 playing on a 1-year contract. There is absolutely no reason to believe Koo is an especially good kicker, nor was there any reason to suspect he'd be the top fantasy kicker of the season.)
Week 14 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 on waivers in over 50% of leagues 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