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 a dozen or more starting kickers are 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 6 Results
Matt Ammendola (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 0 XPs, 3 points)
Ammendola has been cut again after missing an extra point, but the lion's share of the blame for his poor showing should fall not on his shoulders but on the Arizona Cardinals offense, which could manage just two scoring drives against a Seahawks defense that had been the second-most generous in the league coming into Week 6. Nevertheless, Ammendola was the 25th-ranked kicker.
Robbie Gould (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 2 XPs, 2 points)
San Francisco was another offense that couldn't get it done against a presumably-overmatched defense. Gould did lose out on the possibility of a 36-yard field goal attempt as the 49ers were forced to go for it on 4th down late in the game. His two points ranked 27th among kickers.
Jake Elliott (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
Philadelphia's inability to score points in any quarter except for the second remains one of the more bizarre storylines of 2022. No team in history has scored more points in ANY quarter through six weeks than the Eagles have in the 2nd; they have scored more points in the 2nd quarter than about ten teams have all season long. Like the rest of the offense, Elliott did enough work in the 2nd quarter to last an entire evening, getting all eight of his points and ranking 8th among kickers.
Dustin Hopkins (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 1 XP, 13 points)
Hopkins earns Rent-a-Kicker MVP for the season after not just playing through injury but finishing the day a perfect four for four on field goals despite being in visible agony after each kick. His team will likely sign another kicker in the coming days in case his injury is severe enough to sideline him for a while, but this week Hopkins' performance was good for 13 points and a much-needed 2nd-place finish.
Harrison Butker (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 2 XPs, 8 points)
A week after Matt Wright set a new franchise record for longest field goal, Harrison Butker came back and broke it, drilling a 62-yarder at the end of the first half. Overall his 8 points rank 8th among all kickers, and his early-season injury provides a unique opportunity. Usually, the Chiefs' offense is one of the best in the NFL and Butker is one of the first 2-3 kickers off the board, so we rarely get a chance to use him. Now that he's become available in more than 50% of leagues, streamers have a chance to scoop him up and ride or die with Kansas City, taking a break from the weekly stream.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 30 weekly recommendations. Those 30 kickers have averaged 6.63 points, compared to 8.45 in 2021, 7.39 in 2020, 7.65 in 2019, and 7.43 in 2018. That average would currently rank just 18th at the position (after giving 6 points to every kicker who has had their bye week already). Our top weekly recommendation averages just 6.00 points, and every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 6.36, marks that would rank 24th and 22nd.
Here are the Top 12 kickers by preseason ADP along with how many points they've scored to date in parentheses: Justin Tucker (50), Tyler Bass (48), Matt Gay (38), Harrison Butker (39*), Daniel Carlson (59), Evan McPherson (44), Matt Prater (28), Ryan Succop (53), Brandon McManus (47), Nick Folk (45), Dustin Hopkins (39), and Rodrigo Blankenship (38*). (Starred kickers are credited with 6 additional points for every week they missed)
So far, the Top 12 kickers by preseason ADP average 44.0 points compared to 38.1 from the average of all of our great plays, by far the worst performance in Rent-a-Kicker history. Perhaps it's tied to the weirdly-depressed offensive production around the league.
Something about football feels off, right? Sluggish?— Matt DiSorbo (@datavizuals) October 18, 2022
That's because the first 6 weeks of fantasy scoring are the lowest in THIRTEEN YEARS. Down 22% from last year
We're seeing it in the primetime games. There's a severe shortage of consistently high-powered offenses
My personal theory is that the unprecedented parity and dearth of exceptionally good and bad teams is making kicking results more random than ever this year (which is saying something, because they were always fairly random).
One stat NFL owners will hear at today’s fall meetings: average margin of victory this season is 8.9 points, on pace to shatter the Super Bowl-era record of 10.2.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 18, 2022
The only other year below 10 was 1932, when the Bears opened with three straight scoreless ties and won the title.
The thing about unprecedented splits is they usually regress fairly strongly, so whatever the cause, I still expect for the model to average about 7.5 points per game over the rest of the season.
If you're concerned, however, Harrison Butker is available in 57% of NFL.com leagues at the moment. If yours is one of them, as mentioned, this is a unique chance for streamers to get a Top-3 kicker at minimum cost. It's a pretty strong play to just grab Butker and roll with the Chiefs for the rest of the season.
Week 7 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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