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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 7 Results
Matt Prater (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 4 XPs, 7 points)
The Cardinals offense got off to a slow start, failing to score any points until halfway through the second quarter and falling behind 0-5. They made up lost time from there, scoring 31 unanswered to win by 26. Prater's 7 points tied for 10th in a down week for the position.
Matt Gay (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Gay did miss out on a potential point when the Rams elected to go for 2 with a 4-point lead, but overall he became the latest in a string of kickers to put up a solid day against a terrible Lions defense. Gay's 8 points ranked 8th among kickers.
Nick Folk (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 6 XPs, 12 points)
The Patriots poured it on against the overmatched Jets and kicker Nick Folk came along for the ride. The team scored seven touchdowns and even with a missed extra point, Folk's 12 points were the 2nd-most of any kicker.
Brian Johnson (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
The Saints didn't finalize their kicker position until later in the week, but fortunately for us, we care about teams and not kickers, so it's to our benefit that Johnson was virtually guaranteed to be available in every league. His 7 points were good enough for a 10th-place finish.
Randy Bullock (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
The Titans offense has been on fire so far, averaging 30 points per game over their last six games and topping 24 points in all of them. Bullock has been one of the main beneficiaries, including this week when his 9 points were 6th-most at the position.
Matt Prater Tracker
I mentioned heading into Week 3 that if anyone wanted off the streaming kicker carousel, Matt Prater looked like a fantastic off-ramp. He was available in 82% of NFL.com fantasy leagues, he was the #2 recommendation the week before so plenty of readers likely already had him rostered, the Cardinals offense was looking like a potential powerhouse, and their head coach was giving Prater a green light to kick from some truly absurd distances. Since the recommendation, Matt Prater has been the #3 fantasy kicker behind Tyler Bass and Mason Crosby.
Unfortunately for our purposes, Prater's rise has finally been noticed; as of Week 8, he's rostered in 84.1% of NFL.com fantasy leagues, 4th among all kickers. This means he's no longer available for our use during the column, but I'll continue to track his progress for our readers who grabbed him early and held.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 35 weekly recommendations. Those 35 kickers have averaged 8.31 points, compared to 7.39 in 2020 and 7.65 in 2019. That average would currently rank 8th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 9.00 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 8.54, which would rank 2nd and 7th, respectively.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (44 points), Justin Tucker (57 points), Younghoe Koo* (50 points), Greg Zuerlein* (62 points), Tyler Bass* (70 points), Ryan Succop (53 points), Jacob Sanders (35 points), Rodrigo Blankenship* (54 points), Jason Myers (36 points), Matt Gay (61 points), Brandon McManus (50 points), and Matt Prater (63 points) (after giving each starred kicker 7 points for every game he missed). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure (and the relatively generous bonus for missed games), only one of these kickers is outperforming our top option and only four are beating the average of all great plays. (One of those five is Prater, who was discussed above.) The twelve kickers have scored an average of 52.9 points compared to 59.8 from the average of our available "great plays".
Week 7 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