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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 2 Results
Unfortunately, I forgot to italicize last week's "top five widely-available plays". I'll make sure not to repeat this mistake going forward.
Fortunately, this distinction always goes to the top five kickers on the list who are available in at least 50% of NFL.com fantasy leagues, and NFL.com archives past roster percentages for us. We're all about accountability here, and anyone who wants to verify that the following five kickers were indeed the top available options can compare this list against last week's column to ensure I'm not cooking the books.
Jake Elliott (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)
Elliott missed a 55-yard attempt but more than made up for it by hitting from 61 yards as the first half expired. We love to see kickers whose coaches trust them from that kind of distance. Overall, Elliott's 10 points tied for 5th on the week.
Jake Moody (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 3 XPs, 12 points)
Jake Moody really had the ideal day for building trust going forward. His coach let him attempt long field goals despite his relative inexperience (kicking a 57-yarder in his second career game). His coach let him kick short field goals rather than going for the touchdown on 4th down (two field goal attempts from inside the 10-yard line). Add in three extra points, and you have a game that was not just productive in the short term but promising for the long term. His 12 points were the 3rd-best total of the week.
Brandon Aubrey (5 FG attempts, 5 FGs, 1 XP, 16 points)
Some days, variance works against us, and other days, it is in our favor. When a team scores seven times, we might expect three or four of those seven to be field goals, but the Cowboys kicked five times this past weekend. Like Moody, Aubrey kicked from long (55 yards), and he kicked from short (kicks from the 18-, 8-, and 3-yard line when more aggressive coaches might try to convert on 4th down). The Cowboys did attempt a 2-point conversion after one of their touchdowns, but we're not greedy. We'll gladly take 16 points (which led all kickers in Week 2).
Jason Sanders (3 FG attempts, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Speaking of variance, Sanders had the potential for a huge day but missed from 55 yards and had a 49-yard attempt stymied by one of the most creative field goal blocks in memory. There will be better days ahead in the Dolphins' explosive offense, but for this week, he scored just 6 points, tying for 23rd.
Cameron Dicker (3 FG attempts, 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points)
It's a shame that he never got a chance to kick another field goal in overtime, but Cameron Dicker had a great day for us anyway, hitting the tying field goal as time expired and adding two more kicks earlier in the game. Two years ago, there was some question about whether managers should avoid the Chargers' kicker given head coach Brandon Staley's penchant for keeping his offense on the field in 4th down; that penchant is looking more and more like a 1-year aberration. Dicker's 10 points tied for 5th among kickers.
A Note On Rostering Kickers
This column is nominally about streaming kickers, but in reality, it's only about not drafting kickers. We all want to get strong production from the kicker position, but spending a draft pick is one of the worst ways to achieve that outcome. Partly, this is because kickers are so matchup-dependent. But partly, it's because we're just so bad at knowing in advance which offenses (and, by extension, which kickers) are going to be good this year.
It's fine not to want to spend every Wednesday or Thursday checking your waiver wire to see who is available. It's okay to just want to roster one good kicker and start him every week. Neglecting the position in the draft is still the way to go in those instances just because so many good kickers will become available throughout the year.
Right now, there are several available kickers who look like they're going to be difference-makers this year. If you want to add a Jake Moody, Brandon Aubrey, Jason Sanders, or Cameron Dicker and use them as your every-week option, I think you'll probably have great success with that route. (And if not, you can always cut them again in a couple of weeks and go back to streaming.) Just because you started the season streaming doesn't mean you need to end it that way.
Results To Date
There had been concern about the model's performance recently, but those concerns were emphatically laid to rest, at least for one week. Six kickers scored double-digit points in Week 2, and four of the model's five recommendations were among them, resulting in the highest weekly average in our five-plus years together (10.8 points per recommendation).
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made ten weekly recommendations. Those ten kickers have averaged 9.0 points, compared to 6.82 in 2022, 8.45 in 2021, 7.39 in 2020, and 7.39 in 2019. That average would currently rank 8th at the position (though four of the seven players ahead are guys we recommended last week). Our top weekly recommendation averages 7.5 points per game, while all recommended "great plays" average 10.75. That latter value, especially, trails only five kickers, all of whom are currently on waivers in more than 50% of leagues.
Next week, we'll start comparing against the Top 12 kickers by ADP to see how well streaming has performed compared to drafting.
Week 3 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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