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 17 Results
Mike Badgley (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 5 XPs, 11 points)
After a rough season for the model, it's nice to close with a win. Badley's 11 points were the 3rd best of any kicker in Week 17, meaning if you stuck with us this far, you hopefully had a nice edge in your league's championship game.
Cairo Santos (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 1 XP, 4 points)
Santos had a much more disappointing week. With one field goal and one extra point, he scored just 4 points, tied for 22nd among kickers.
Mason Crosby (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 5 XPs, 11 points)
Crosby had another great game for potential streamers, exactly matching Badgley's stat line with 11 points and a 3rd-place finish.
Riley Patterson (1 FG attempt, 1 FGs, 4 XPs, 7 points)
It would have been nice if the offense had stalled out in field goal range a little more often, but with seven points, Patterson took care of business, finishing tied for 12th among kickers.
Graham Gano (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 5 XPs, 8 points)
Another day that could have benefited from one more stalled drive, but eight points was a solid showing in championship week, ranking 9th among all kickers.
This year, Rent-a-Kicker has made 85 weekly recommendations. Those 85 kickers averaged 6.82 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 tied for 12th at the position (after giving 6 points to every kicker to account for byes). Our top weekly recommendation averages just 6.38 points, and every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 6.68, marks that would rank 16th and 15th.
Here are the Top 12 kickers by preseason ADP along with how many points they've scored to date in parentheses: Justin Tucker (138), Tyler Bass (136), Matt Gay (111), Harrison Butker (115), Daniel Carlson (136), Evan McPherson (115), Matt Prater (106), Ryan Succop (118), Brandon McManus (108), Nick Folk (129), Dustin Hopkins (105), and Rodrigo Blankenship (100). (All kickers are credited with 6 additional points for every week they missed, including an extra six points this week for Bass and McPherson.)
Those kickers averaged 118.1 points this year compared to 115.4 from the average of our great plays. Our streamers outperformed 7 of the 12.
The first half of the season was extremely rough and prompted much soul-searching on whether to adjust the model or stay the course. Ultimately, I opted to keep the model unchanged and trust the four years of quality results we'd had before this over the half-season of terrible results to start. That was ultimately the right call.
Over the first nine weeks, our top picks averaged 5.22 points, our "great plays" averaged 6.14 points, and all recommendations combined averaged 6.31. Over the last eight weeks, top picks averaged 8.25, "great plays" averaged 7.69 points, and all picks combined averaged 7.40, totals that were very much in line with the totals from 2018-2020, even despite the fact that kicker scoring is typically down over the second half of the season. (To wit: 49% of our picks graded as "great plays" over the first nine weeks vs. just 40% over the last eight. We weren't forced to recommend a single neutral play over the first nine weeks but recommended four over the last eight.)
I'll spend more time working with the model and trying to see where things went wrong, but at the end of the day, it looks like we just had a really unlucky stretch to start the year. That sucks, but it happens, and we shouldn't fundamentally change anything in the face of it. (Similarly, our performance in 2021 was largely the result of an extraordinarily lucky streak, and we didn't fundamentally alter our approach in the face of that, either.)
Week 18 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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