There is no more maligned position in fantasy football than that of the kicker. Yearly, we hear the drumbeat to get rid of kickers from your league altogether. But, if you’re reading this, you have clearly resisted! Kickers have been a part of our rosters for so long; we cannot imagine life without them. They are a gamble, they are inconsistent, and routinely, they are an afterthought. But kickers are also a part of the game and, therefore, a part of fantasy football.
Before we dig into the tiers, let’s address the elephant in the room: When should you draft a kicker? Ideally, never. If your league rules allow you to skip the position, do so in favor of an extra running back or wide receiver. Build depth to survive any preseason injuries. If you must draft a kicker, never do so before your last two rounds.
Unless you secure one of the top-tier kickers, it’s a weekly game. You’re not necessarily playing matchups because facing a subpar defense could be bad for the kicker, and the opposite is also true. Weather plays an important role; look for dome games if you can, and so does the injury status of other players on the team.
Choosing your kicker can be as easy or complex as you want it to be, but there are a lot of fantasy points to be had every week. Sometimes, those points are on waivers, so don’t be afraid to switch kickers and stream the position all season long. And never keep any kicker through his bye week. Your roster spots are more important than that!
The Best of the Best, still only worth your second-to-last pick
Traditionally, the easiest way to find a good kicker is to look for good offenses. This strategy was exemplified in 2019, when the top-five kickers were tied to Patrick Mahomes II, Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, and Kyler Murray. All five of those quarterbacks were ranked in the top-12 in fantasy points per game.
Last year bucked that trend. The top kickers, Younghoe Koo, Jason Sanders, Daniel Carlson, Tyler Bass, Greg Zuerlein, and Rodrigo Blankenship, were tied to middle-of-the-road offenses, except Bass in Buffalo. These kickers benefited from the shortcomings of their team’s quarterbacks.
Predicting the top kickers for 2021 will take a little from both worlds.
Sanders and Koo find themselves in very similar situations to both each other and to last season. Both are on offenses that will move the ball but don't quite have the firepower to score a lot of touchdowns. It's the perfect recipe for a lot of kicker fantasy points. Tucker and Zuerlein represent two of the predicted best offenses in 2021. They may hit more extra points than field goals, but the thought is that they will be scoring plenty of fantasy points every week. If your league gives more points for longer field goals, Koo and Sanders were tied for #2 in 50+ field goals last year, while Zuerlein and Tucker were among the league leaders in 40+ yard kicks. Greg Zuerlein is recovering from a back injury. He is on track to play Week 1, but there is a risk.
Good Enough, burn your last pick on them.
This group represents the bulk of the kickers that your league will draft in 2021. They will get the job done but will also have enough bad weeks that you shouldn't hesitate to move on from them.
- Jason Myers, Seattle
- Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay
- Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas
- Harrison Butker, Kansas City
- Dustin Hopkins, Washington
- Rodrigo Blankenship, Indianapolis
- Tyler Bass, Buffalo
- Matt Prater, Arizona
- Brandon McManus, Denver
- Tucker McCann, Tennessee
Myers, Succop, Butker, and Bass represent four of the best offenses in football. It also helps that Myers tied for the league lead (with Dustin Hopkins) for 40-49 yard field goals last year. Those guys, along with Brandon McManus, should be your pick if your league awards more points for longer kicks. Tucker McCann is worth noting because the Titans’ offense should lead to many scoring opportunities, but his job is not yet secured.
I’ve listed 14 kickers worth drafting; the rest are not. So if you play in a 16-team or an insane two-kicker league, take a flyer on whoever you like. Or close your eyes and throw that dart.
Graham Gano from the Giants hit 14 total kicks from 40+ last year. Nick Folk from New England and Cody Parkey from Cleveland might be worth a flyer, but both have had consistency issues. One player to actively avoid is New Orleans’ Wil Lutz. Lutz will be high on many default rankings lists, but he will miss time early in the season with an injury.