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 4 Results
Dominik Eberle (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
Eberle's week was a great example of "good process, bad outcome". The Lions' offense had a monster day despite missing several key players to injury and Eberle (filling in for Austin Seibert) was poised to capitalize, but he missed two extra point attempts (one to the left and one to the right) and lost out on two more opportunities as the Lions attempted two-point conversions to get those points back. Suddenly, a potential nine-point day dwindled to just five. Was Eberle more likely to miss those extra points than a typical kicker since he'd been signed midweek? Not really; at the professional level there's very little variation in extra-point percentage. Regardless, our top kicker play finished 25th in Week 4.
Jake Elliott (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
Three times against the Jaguars the Eagles opted for a 4th-down conversion instead of an easy field goal attempt (40 yards or less), including on a pair of 4th-and-3 plays. Add in a missed extra point and Elliott also had a potentially strong outing fall short. For managers in leagues that give distance bonuses, Elliott also had a 43-yard field goal that the Eagles took off the board thanks to a defensive penalty on a drive that instead resulted in a 28-yard field goal. Elliott's five points tied Eberle for 25th.
Dustin Hopkins (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)
There was some concern before the season that Hopkins' production would suffer if head coach Brandon Staley continued to be aggressive on 4th-down calls. Through four weeks that doesn't seem to be much of a factor, with Staley being much less aggressive than he was last year. We'd been waiting for a big week from Hopkins and he finally delivered, with his ten points enough to rank 9th for the week.
Cade York (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Cade York has had an eventful start to his career, from Week 1 hero (hitting a 58-yarder to take a 2-point lead with under 10 seconds left) to Week 2 goat (missing his final extra point in a game his team lost by one point). His last two weeks have been much less stressful, with York delivering a workmanlike 8 points for a 14th-place finish.
Greg Joseph (5 FG attempts, 5 FGs, 1 XP, 16 points)
Rent-a-Kicker had been on a cold run with no picks delivering the massive blowup games we all hope for. He had to leave the country to do it, but Greg Joseph finally got us on the board with five field goals and 16 points that easily led all players last week.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made twenty weekly recommendations. Those twenty kickers have averaged 6.75 points, compared to 8.45 in 2021, 7.39 in 2020, and 7.39 in 2019. That average would currently rank just 19th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 6.75 points and every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 6.56, marks that would also rank 19th. While the results have been poor so far, the model hasn't changed and kicking in the NFL hasn't changed, so brighter days are on the horizon.
Here are the Top 12 kickers by preseason ADP along with how many points they've scored to date in parentheses: Justin Tucker (29), Tyler Bass (34), Matt Gay (28), Harrison Butker (21*), Daniel Carlson (42), Evan McPherson (33), Matt Prater (22), Ryan Succop (34), Brandon McManus (28), Nick Folk (20), Dustin Hopkins (26), and Rodrigo Blankenship (21*). (Butker and Blankenship are both credited with all points from their respective backups.)
It was a great week for "chalk" so the top 12 kickers by preseason ADP have pulled ahead of the average of all "great plays", 28.2 points to 26.2 points. There's a lot of season left to go, though.
Week 5 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.**
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