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 15 Results
A note: because of Covid delays, Rent-a-Kicker is publishing this week with two games yet to play. All positional rankings below are with four kicker scores still outstanding. However, waiver runs wait for no one.
Matt Prater (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 0 XPs, 6 points)
Prater's week underlines the unpredictability of the kicker position as a whole. Heading into the week, Prater was the 7th-highest-scoring kicker in football and no team had allowed more points to the position than the Detroit Lions. My model tries to avoid games where teams get blown out, but the 10-3 Cardinals facing the 1-11-1 Lions seemed like the safest play of the week. The result? Detroit raced out to a 17-0 halftime lead, and Arizona passed up field goal attempts from 20, 26, and 47 yards to go for it on 4th down and attempted a 2-point conversion after their lone touchdown of the day. Prater's 6 points rank 17th on the week.
Robbie Gould (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 4 XPs, 7 points)
Gould had a workmanlike performance, scoring 7 (mostly on extra points) in a 31-13 win against the Falcons. He's currently tied for 11th among all kickers.
Greg Zuerlein (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 0 XPs, 9 points)
Zuerlein scored 9 points the hard way, making all three of his field goal attempts but missing both of his extra points. Since field goals count for so much more than extra points, Zuerlein still finished tied for 6th.
Jason Sanders (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 4 XPs, 7 points)
Sanders, like Gould, had another bog-standard day, scoring 7 of his team's 31 points as the Dolphins beat up on one of the worst defenses in the league and tying for 11th.
Mike Badgley (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 3 XPs, 9 points)
Badgley was probably the kicker I felt least comfortable with among the five recommendations last week since his team was an underdog to the red-hot Patriots, who had won seven straight and given up just 10 points per game to opposing offenses over that span. But that's why the model makes the picks and I don't, as Badgley finished tied for 6th and was a missed 49-yard attempt away from a 2nd-place finish.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 75 weekly recommendations. Those 75 kickers have averaged 8.39 points, compared to 7.39 in 2020 and 7.65 in 2019. That average would currently rank 4th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 8.53 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 8.66, both of which would rank 3rd after giving every other kicker 7 points in their bye week.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (114 points), Justin Tucker (121 points), Younghoe Koo (95 points), Greg Zuerlein (124 points), Tyler Bass (121 points), Ryan Succop (105 points), Jason Sanders (90 points), Rodrigo Blankenship (110 points), Jason Myers (76 points), Matt Gay (130 points), Brandon McManus (98 points), and Matt Prater (115 points) (after giving each kicker 7 points for every game he missed). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure (and the relatively generous bonus for missed games), only Matt Gay is outperforming the average of our highlighted "great plays", and his edge is just 0.1 points*. (Not per game; total.) The twelve kickers have scored an average of 108.3 points compared to 129.9 from the average of our available "great plays".
(Matt Gay's Week 15 game is still pending at the time of writing, so I'm giving him 7 points for Week 15 as a placeholder.)
Week 16 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.**
Avoid at All Costs