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.
Two Notes Before We Begin
First, I often say these rankings are "kicker-agnostic". What I mean by that is that I don't care who the placekicker is, but I still very much care that he's a placekicker. When 49ers kicker Robbie Gould was injured in pregame warmups the team didn't have time to sign another kicker and instead had to rely on their emergency backup, punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Wishnowsky missed a 42-yard field goal and an extra point and saw the team opt for an early 2-point conversion rather than relying on him again. Which is understandable; just because all placekickers who get to the NFL are roughly interchangeable doesn't mean anyone could do it.
In situations in the future where I recommend a team and a non-placekicker winds up kicking for them, I'll go back and find the 6th-best recommendation and feature them instead. This means we won't be forced to count punters in our totals. (It also means we won't be able to pad our fantasy point totals in situations like when Wes Welker was forced into service as his team's emergency kicker.)
Second, I've had several people ask me whether my recommendations were in any given order. Theoretically, they are, but the reality is that the model is fairly coarse-grained and produces a lot of ties, so that the order within each tier is far less important than the gaps between the tiers. To put it into perspective: I've been tracking the results of the top recommendation and the average of all great recommendations since 2019. Over that span, I've made 180 total recommendations over 36 weeks.
If you started my top recommendation every week you would have scored 288 points, or exactly 8 points per game. If you picked randomly among all of my recommendations with a great matchup, you'd instead have scored about 284.4 points, or 7.9 points per game. At best, differences within a tier are worth maybe a tenth of a point per game, so feel free to grab anybody within a given tier without giving it much thought.
Week 4 Results
Randy Bullock (4 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
Bullock was the beneficiary of a Titans offense that struggled finishing against the New York Jets, scoring all nine of the team's first-half points. He was close to an even more impressive day, missing a 49-yard attempt to tie at the end of overtime, but his 10 points were still good for 6th last week.
Tristan Vizcaino (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 4 XPs, 4 points)
Vizcaino was unfortunately our first "too many touchdowns" kicker of the year, as an otherwise promising offensive day resulted in a poor fantasy showing because every scoring drive reached the end zone and the kicker had to settle for extra points. Vizcaino's 4 points ranked 20th at the position.
Matt Gay (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Gay missed from 46 yards but otherwise had a solid afternoon, finishing with 8 points, which was good for 9th place in an overall down week for kickers.
Aldrick Rosas (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 3 XPs, 3 points)
The Saints offense has been a disappointment since a Week 1 explosion against the Packers, as Rosas' 3 points against the Giants could attest. He can't really be blamed for the missed kick, which was from 58 yards, nor for the fact that he didn't even get an attempt in overtime as the Saints gave up an opening-drive touchdown. Nevertheless, his 3 points were 24th for the week.
Evan McPherson (2 FG attempts, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
A 35-yard game-winner as time expired salvaged a decent day for McPherson, who missed from 43 yards on his other field goal attempt. His 6 points actually tied for 11th as kickers across the league had an off week.
A note on Matt Prater: while he wasn't officially one of our recommendations, after Week 2 I mentioned him as a candidate to hold on to and play for a while. His 13 points were second-most in the league last week and the Cardinals let him attempt a field goal from 55 yards, which suggests they aren't worried about distance kicks after his 68-yard attempt was returned for a touchdown against the Jaguars. Since singling him out he's been the #4 fantasy kicker. He remains a quality candidate to hold and play the rest of the season and is still available in 86% of NFL.com fantasy leagues.
I'd have no qualms about playing him in any week where he has a good matchup even if there are available kickers with a great matchup. At the same time, I'd have no qualms about cutting him and grabbing another kicker with a better matchup, instead. Ultimately, go with whichever strategy makes you feel more comfortable.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 20 weekly recommendations. Those 20 kickers have averaged 8.20 points, compared to 7.39 in 2020 and 7.65 in 2019. That average would currently rank 9th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 8.75 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 8.73, which would rank 6th.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (26 points), Justin Tucker (39 points), Younghoe Koo (22 points), Greg Zuerlein (30 points), Tyler Bass (44 points), Ryan Succop (32 points), Jacob Sanders (18 points), Rodrigo Blankenship (33 points), Jason Myers (19 points), Matt Gay (37 points), Brandon McManus (35 points), and Matt Prater (38 points). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only four of these kickers are outperforming the average of our highlighted "Great Plays", and two of them are currently on waivers in two-thirds of NFL.com leagues (including Prater, who has been highlighted as a potential free buy and hold). The twelve kickers have scored an average of 31 points compared to 34.9 from the average of our available "great plays".
Week 5 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