Yes, kickers. They’re the position where you don’t remember their names as soon as they sniff a cold streak, because the “Not For Long” part of the NFL kicks in, and teams quickly try out another kicker. Heck, anytime someone misses a kick in Cleveland, Browns fans still bring up the glory days of Phil “Money” Dawson. As well they should, for a legend.
And in fantasy, glory for kickers can be just as difficult to achieve. It’s the position you don’t need, that is, until it costs you the championship in your 2018 home league.
I’m not still bitter about it…
Kickers won’t find their way into Upside Wins Championships dogma because power law distribution really doesn’t apply to kickers. In standard scoring, there was only a 1.8 point-per-game difference between the K1 and the K20 in 2022.
Yes, Justin Tucker finished as the K1 last season. But no, he doesn’t separate from the pack enough to stand out as a prime contributor on fantasy league-winning rosters.
Still, we care about a 1.8 PPG difference at other positions. Last season, that was the difference between Lamar Jackson and Geno Smith. Between Aaron Jones and Cordarrelle Patterson. Between Chris Godwin and Allen Lazard. And between Evan Engram and Jordan Akins.
So then, we would have wanted Jason Myers over Jake Elliott.
Wait. Everybody loves Geno, but Myers (Seahawks) over Elliott (Eagles)? Ah yes, standard kicker scoring in fantasy tasks us with the art of seeking kickers on good offenses, not great. Even borderline dysfunctional offenses could make the cut, as the Raiders’ Daniel Carlson finished K2, the Rams’ Brett Maher as the K3, and the aforementioned Myers as the K4.
Meanwhile, Jake Elliott, and his league-leading extra points made finished as the K21. And as impressive as Patrick Mahomes‘ season was, Harrison Butker was no better on a fantasy PPG basis than Elliott.
This is the world in which we live. And since every edge counts, let’s look for some good-but-not-elite offenses to give our fantasy teams a little more juice.
JAKE MOODY (SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS) VS ARIZONA CARDINALS
(65% ROSTERED ON ESPN)
Having kicked three extra points and three field goals in all three games so far this year, Moody should arguably be rostered as a season-long option, considering the offensive production that Kyle Shanahan schemes can dole out. Maybe he’s struggling to get consistent ownership because weeks 5 and 6 see the 49ers face the defenses of the Cowboys and the Browns, the latter of which is receiving some pretty absurd comparisons right now.
At least for this week, San Francisco has a fine shot to become the first team (probably) in NFL history to score exactly 30 points in each of their first four games. Arizona’s D might have surprised in a 28-16 victory over the Cowboys. Still, they’ve let the Commanders and Giants score 20 and 31, respectively, and that’s two offenses that are having a lot of problems against other teams. I can’t imagine Shanahan will let Arizona surprise the football world two weeks in a row.
BRETT MAHER (LOS ANGELES RAMS) VS INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The guy who got shut out five years ago to cost me my ‘ship (I’m not bitter) is tied for the most field goal attempts in the league this season, but on the lower side of XP’s, with the Rams only scoring six touchdowns so far.
Matthew Stafford has been able to get the ball to this Cooper Kupp-less receiving core, which seems to be directly tied to how well his protection is from his offensive line, the lack of which was a major reason for their Super Bowl hangover last year.
So far, the Colts’ defense has allowed the 8th-best QBR and, despite beating the Ravens 22-19 in week 3, it may have been a product of Baltimore’s offensive line injuries rather than an intimidating Colts pass rush, which is 2nd-worst, according to ESPN.
Despite Puka Nacua‘s success so far, he has yet to see the end zone after amassing 30 receptions for the season, further highlighting this offense’s inability to finish drives, leaving Maher with another opportunity for double-digit fantasy points.
GRAHAM GANO (NEW YORK GIANTS) VS SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Lost in the bad performances against the Cowboys and 49ers, Daniel Jones put up solid numbers during the Giants’ 31-28 comeback win against the Cardinals.
Despite allowing the 4th-worst 29.3 points per game, the Seahawks have had one of the best run defenses in the league, only allowing 2.9 yards-per-rush.
However, Jones didn’t need Saquon Barkley to be stellar against the Cardinals, as Barkley only totaled 63 yards rushing on 3.7 yards per carry. In what could sneakily be a high-scoring affair, the Giants’ offensive line woes may not matter against a team with the fifth-worst pass rush win rate. Jones could put up solid numbers, and Gano and Seahawks kicker Jason Myers could see a lot of action.
RECOGNIZING HOW KICKERS STILL MATTER IN FANTASY
Such a slight difference in season-long production among the kicking position can make it easy to disregard the position as a whole. It’s occasionally too tempting to pass up dropping my kicker for another position off the waiver wire when I can’t decide who to drop yet and put off picking a kicker back up until Sunday morning.
But even that scenario illustrates the art of scouting the waiver wire, even for kickers, for that optimal streaming target. So it would seem kicker strategy has a place in fantasy, after all.
And now, my own personal Tavon Austin mixtape.
Phil Dawson, 2007. Enjoy.