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 11 Results
Chase McLaughlin (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 1 XPs, 1 point)
The Rent-a-Kicker model is built with a focus more on minimizing bad games than hunting for good ones. This principle had served us well so far, as 26 of our 31 "great plays" scored at least 7 points, including all ten of our previous top recommendations. Alas, that streak has come to an end. The Detroit Lions came in allowing 10 points per game to opposing kickers, by far the most in the league, but Cleveland's offense had a bad game, McLaughlin missed a 46-yarder and had an extra point blocked, and our top pick scored just one point, tied for 25th on the week. Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.
Dustin Hopkins (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 5 XPs, 11 points)
The Chargers offense opened the season on fire before cooling off considerably. If this week's explosion is a sign that they're turning things back around, Hopkins will remain a mainstay in this feature. As it is, his 11 points were 7th among kickers and a nice boost to anyone who missed out on McLaughlin.
Robbie Gould (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 3 XPs, 12 points)
The 49ers offense with Jimmy Garoppolo under center looks a lot more like the unit we thought they'd be coming into the year. Gould scored 12 points in an easy romp against the Jaguars and finished the week ranked 5th.
Greg Zuerlein (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 0 XPs, 9 points)
I don't think anyone anticipated the Cowboys failing to reach the end zone against a vulnerable Kansas City Chiefs defense, but it worked in Zuerlein's favor as he capped the team's only three scoring drives off with field goals for 9 points, 11th among all kickers.
Greg Joseph (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XP, 8 points)
The Minnesota Vikings are another team with an offense that's looking lively recently. Joseph missed an extra point early which cost Joseph twice as the team attempted a 2-point conversion later to make it up. Regardless, he still produced a solid 8 points and ranked 13th.
Matt Prater Tracker
Last week I recommended tossing Prater back onto waivers and resuming streaming if Kyler Murray missed another game, especially with Arizona's bye week looming. Murray did indeed miss, which means the Matt Prater tracker is officially retired. He finished the stretch 9th among all kickers, though he was higher until Murray went out. (If you didn't toss him back, Prater got five points this last weekend and fell to 13th.)
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 55 weekly recommendations. Those 55 kickers have averaged 8.24 points, compared to 7.39 in 2020 and 7.65 in 2019. That average would currently rank 6th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 8.55 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 8.38, which would rank 2nd and 3rd, respectively, after giving every other kicker 7 points in their bye week.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (77 points), Justin Tucker* (88 points), Younghoe Koo* (69 points), Greg Zuerlein* (86 points), Tyler Bass* (94 points), Ryan Succop* (82 points), Jason Sanders (59 points), Rodrigo Blankenship* (82 points), Jason Myers* (57 points), Matt Gay* (90 points), Brandon McManus (79 points), and Matt Prater (82 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), none of these kickers are outperforming our top weekly streamer and only one is outscoring the average of all of our highlighted "Great Plays". The twelve kickers have scored an average of 78.8 points compared to 92.2 from the average of our available "great plays".
Week 12 Situations
**Here is a list of the teams with the best matchups based on Vegas projected totals and stadium, along with the expected kicker for each team. The top five players 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 specifically apply to situations; teams will occasionally change kickers mid-week, but any endorsements apply equally to whatever kicker winds up eventually getting the start.**
Patriots (Nick Folk)
Bills (Tyler Bass)
**Chargers (Dustin Hopkins)
**Colts (Mike Badgley)
**Bears (Cairo Santos)
Ravens (Justin Tucker)
**Bengals (Evan McPherson)
Broncos (Brandon McManus)
49ers (Robbie Gould)
Texans (Ka'imi Fairbairn)
Eagles (Jake Elliott)
Football Team (Chris Blewitt)
Packers (Mason Crosby)
Rams (Matt Gay)
Steelers (Chris Boswell)
Giants (Graham Gano)
Lions (Austin Seibert)
Browns (Chase McLaughlin)
Seahawks (Jason Myers)
Saints (Brian Johnson)
Raiders (Daniel Carlson)
Avoid at All Costs