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 9 Results
Mike Badgley (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 6 XPs, 9 points)
The pieces were all in place for Badgley to go nuclear this week as the Colts had an NFL-high seven scoring drives, but the Jets defense couldn't keep the Colts out of the end zone and Badgley largely had to score his points one at a time. He still finished 9th among kickers.
Jason Sanders (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
The Dolphins' offensive performance against Houston was a classic example of the stoppable force meeting the moveable object. Sanders had five points in the first half, but the Dolphins had just 102 yards after halftime and didn't score again. Sanders' 5 points tied for 22nd.
Brian Johnson (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Johnson had a solid day but fell victim to the Saints chasing scores late in the game, as they scored a touchdown with less than five minutes left, opted for a 2-point conversion, missed it, and then went for (and missed) another 2-point conversion on their next touchdown to try to get those points back. Those two points wound up being the difference in the game, but Johnson still finished 13th on the week.
Jake Elliott (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Elliott had a fairly serviceable outing against the Chargers; his 6 points tied for 18th among all kickers.
Dustin Hopkins (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 1 XP, 7 points)
Hopkins missed an extra point early in the contest, but it wound up working to his benefit as it left the Chargers tied on their final drive and playing for a game-winning field goal (which Hopkins made). His seven points tied for 13th.
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. Even without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals offense kept rolling and Prater scored 7 points. After giving everyone else a 7-point bonus for any missed games, Prater is tied for 6th since the recommendation.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 45 weekly recommendations. Those 45 kickers have averaged 8.20 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 9.11 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 8.38, which would rank 2nd and 6th, respectively.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (59 points), Justin Tucker* (74 points), Younghoe Koo* (66 points), Greg Zuerlein* (70 points), Tyler Bass* (84 points), Ryan Succop* (63 points), Jason Sanders (43 points), Rodrigo Blankenship* (68 points), Jason Myers* (50 points), Matt Gay (79 points), Brandon McManus (65 points), and Matt Prater (73 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 two are beating the average of all great plays. The twelve kickers have scored an average of 66.1 points compared to 75.4 from the average of our available "great plays".
Week 10 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