In fantasy football, we love to talk about running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers. Just remember, kickers are people too! The question as to whether leagues should require teams to start a kicker is starting to become a much more pressing topic, though a majority of leagues still have slots for kickers at the moment. Generally, these players aren’t selected until the very late rounds, with it being common to stream kickers based on their offense’s chances of scoring a lot of points in that league.
Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. Kicker efficiency has proven to be unstable on a year-to-year basis, while their opportunities are a) dependent on the offense they play for and b) require the team to struggle in red-zone situations, which usually doesn’t happen on a year-to-year basis. In the end, when choosing your kicker, you’re best off factoring in two components: who is likely to score a lot of points, and which head coaches will settle for field goals the most? Being able to decipher this could allow you to find the kicker of your choosing, though it is likely you’ll be rostering a different one by the end of the year.
Similar to defenses, I’ll be using my offensive projections for the upcoming season, as well as strength of schedule, to help me identify which kickers will have the most opportunity. So, who are the top fantasy kickers in the NFL? Let us take a closer look!
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2021 Kicker Rankings
Stats via Pro Football Focus, Fantasy Pros
NOTE: Easiest Ranked 1st For Strength of Schedule (SOS), Most Difficult Ranked 32nd
#1: Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
- Projected Offense Rank: 1st, SOS: 20th
After finishing as the top fantasy kicker in 2019, Harrison Butker slipped to 13th in fantasy points last year. Remember, though, that this is someone who finished in the top-five at his position into the two seasons prior. With this being such a volatile position in fantasy, I’d hedge my bets with the kicker of the best offense in the league; it’s very hard to imagine him once again not finishing as one of the premier fantasy players at his position.
#2: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
- Projected Offense Rank: 15th, SOS: 27th
Life, death, taxes, and Justin Tucker being a premier fantasy kicker. In a “down” season, he still averaged 9.1 points per game last year, though it’s not as rosy of a profile as before; Baltimore is one of the more aggressive teams on fourth downs. While they failed to score as many touchdowns in the red zone, it didn’t lead to Tucker getting more opportunities, which is in direct correlation of the team’s fourth-down decision making. Still, you know he’ll make the most of his chances.
#3: Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys
- Projected Offense Rank: 11th, SOS: 11th
It is important to note that the Cowboys shouldn’t rank 29th in red-zone touchdown rate this year, so Greg Zuerlein probably won’t lead the NFL in field goal attempts this season. At the same, though, Greg Zuerlein’s reputation has guided him to consistently finishing at the top of the league in attempts of 50+ yards or longer. The Cowboys offense is expected to score a lot of points last year, and I expect the 33-year-old to capitalize on that.
#4: Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks
- Projected Offense Rank: 6th, SOS: 28th
There is no head coach in the NFL that I trust more to settle for a field goal attempt than Pete Carroll, which makes Jason Myers a top fantasy kicker for this season. The Seahawks finished with the third-best red-zone offense last year, and Myers already showed his fantasy potential by finishing as a top-five kicker in the second half. I’d bet good money on him finishing with more than 24 field goal attempts in 2021.
#5: Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Projected Offense Rank: 3rd, SOS: 9th
You always wanna invest in the best offenses in the NFL, and that is what you’re doing if you draft Ryan Succop. Tied for seventh in fantasy points last year, he’d rank higher if he saw more attempts in 50+ yard situations, though he comes with a very floor thanks to the prowess of Tampa Bay’s offense.
#6: Tyler Bass, Buffalo Bills
- Projected Offense Rank: 4th, SOS: 16th
When a kicker is selected in the NFL draft, it should always catch our eyes; they are expected to be very productive with their opportunities. To his credit, that is exactly what sixth-round rookie Tyler Bass was for the Bills. Bass finished as the third-best kicker in fantasy points, and only didn’t see more action due to Buffalo’s overall aggressiveness in fourth-down situations. Expecting the Bills to be as prolific this season offensively would be asking a lot for them, but Bass should once again be a top-ten finisher at the position.
#7: Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams
- Projected Offense Rank: 10th, SOS: 21st
I get that kickers aren’t a highly-debated fantasy position when it comes to rankings, but why is Matt Gay not being drafted as a top-ten kicker? Upon becoming the Rams’ kicker last year, he averaged 9.4 fantasy points per game, taking advantage of head coach Sean McVay’s conservativeness on fourth-down situations. Now, add in that the Rams are projected to be improved offensively following the acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford, and all signs are pointing towards him scoring a lot of points next season. In fact, this ranking may end up being too low for him!
#8: Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers
- Projected Offense Rank: 9th, SOS: 3rd
Last year did not go as planned for the 49ers, and special teams weren’t an exception; Robbie Gould was the 24th best fantasy kicker and finished near the bottom of the league in field goals converted. Fortunately, with improved health and turnover luck, San Francisco should be significantly more successful this season, increasing Gould’s opportunities. His 8.9 fantasy points per game in 2019 are a better measure of projecting his output this year than his 7.1 points per game last season.
#9: Younghoe Koo, Atlanta Falcons
- Projected Offense Rank: 12th, SOS: 7th
After leading the league in field goals converted last season, Younghoe Koo is being drafted as a top-three kicker this season. Based on his talents as a kicker and being a part of a still-strong Falcons offense, this appears logical. However, be mindful that Atlanta, who ranked 26th in red-zone touchdown rate, now has head coach Arthur Smith as their offensive play-caller. Considering how consistently efficient he’s been in those situations, I’d expect improved success there this season, which obviously takes away from Koo’s field goal chances. There is a reason fantasy kicker production is so volatile on a year-to-year basis.
#10: Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins
- Projected Offense Rank: 23rd, SOS: 6th
Speaking of that volatility, the odds are likely stacked against Jason Sanders to finish as the top fantasy kicker once again. Miami didn’t have a productive offense last year, but due to extensive turnover luck and the offense’s inability to convert that field position into touchdowns, Sanders was able to flourish- you wouldn’t expect that to be the case this season. Head coach Brian Flores is on the conservative side of the spectrum in terms of fourth-down decisions and the Dolphins are still projected to compete for the postseason. That being said, be mindful of associating the 25-year-old’s fantasy point output last year to much more than variance.
#11: Matt Prater, Arizona Cardinals
- Projected Offense Rank: 13th, SOS: 13th
Had the Cardinals gotten more efficiency from their kickers, they would have been a lot more valuable in fantasy; they attempted 30 field goals last year, which might have been higher if they had more faith in their kickers. Matt Prater always is someone who gets a lot of 50+ yard attempts based on his skill set, while head coach Kliff Kingsbury is generally willing to settle for field goals. Between Prater and Robbie Gould, we’ll continue to investigate whether there really is any aging curve for kickers!
#12: Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos
- Projected Offense Rank: 32nd, SOS: 1st
After leading the NFL in 50+ yard field goals last year, Brandon McManus will likely continue to show off his strong leg to secure points for the Broncos this season. With the team not likely to score a lot of points, expect a lot of his attempts to come from those areas of the field, though he has to worry less about his opportunities being limited by an offense scoring a lot of touchdowns. He’s not someone with a ton of “ceiling”, but he’s very likely to end up finishing around this range.
#13: Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas Raiders
- Projected Offense Rank: 14th, SOS: 31st
Drafted as a fifth-round pick by the Vikings only to get cut after struggling at the start of the 2019 draft, it is nice to see Daniel Carlson catching on as a productive player for the Raiders. The 26-year-old finished as the fourth-best fantasy kicker in 2020, converting 33 of his 35 attempts and all four of his 50+ yard attempts. Even with a difficult schedule, he’ll still produce strong numbers.
#14: Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
- Projected Offense Rank: 2nd, SOS: 25th
You wouldn’t expect the Packers to once again be the league’s most efficient offense in the red zone, which helps Mason Crosby’s fantasy production. Nevertheless, with head coach Matt LeFleur not being afraid to go for it on fourth down, be careful to attribute all of those missed touchdowns to field goal attempts. A slight improvement from his K19 finish last year makes sense.
#15: Tucker McCann, Tennessee Titans
- Projected Offense Rank: 7th, SOS: 12th
Speaking of which, you wouldn’t expect the Titans to finish as the second-most efficient red-zone offense, especially with offensive coordinator Arthur Smith departing for Atlanta. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be shocked if Tucker McCann (or whoever starts for the Titans) ends up as one of the top fantasy kickers in the NFL this year. Now, we have no idea if McCann will make the most of those attempts, or if he’ll even with the job, but the upside is immense.
#16: Michael Badgley, Los Angeles Chargers
- Projected Offense Rank: 16th, SOS: 26th
Special teams was a major issue for the Chargers last season; Michael Badgley converted just 72.7% of his 33 field goal attempts. Assuming he improves on that, he offers some intrigue of a bounce-back year. At the same time, I anticipate new head coach Brandon Stanley will be more aggressive than Anthony Lynn when it comes to going for it on fourth down, which works against him.
#17: Graham Gano, New York Giants
- Projected Offense Rank: 22th, SOS: 14th
Based on last season, you’d be justified to assume head coach Joe Judge will settle for a field goal any chance he gets. With the state of the Giants offense, though, are you anticipating Graham Gano finishing better (K14) than he did last year? There are other kickers in this range that might offer more excitement. Did I just imply kickers get you excited in fantasy football? I guess I did?
#18: Cody Parkey, Cleveland Browns
- Projected Offense Rank: 5th, SOS: 30th
Even if the Browns don’t covert as many red-zone situations into touchdowns, I’m not sure that will lead to Cody Parkey becoming a coveted fantasy kicker. Cleveland is quite aggressive on fourth downs, while Parkey did not attempt one 50 yard field goal the entire season. There is a somewhat high floor here because of the Browns offense, but the floor might also be the ceiling. That’s a weird picture to imagine.
#19: Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings
- Projected Offense Rank: 8th, SOS: 23rd
After Dan Bailey converted just 15 of his 22 field goal attempts last season, it’s not a surprise to see the Vikings go in a different direction this season. With that in mind, Greg Joseph is entering a premium spot with an offense likely to struggle to be as efficient scoring touchdowns, in addition to a defensive-minded head coach that will lean on the conservative side with his decision-making. This is another kicker I’d keep a close eye on potentially vaulting into a top-ten option.
#20: Rodrigo Blankenship, Indianapolis Colts
- Projected Offense Rank: 24th*, SOS: 4th
This projected offense rank assumes Carson Wentz misses some time with a foot injury, though it’s looking like that might no longer be the case. If so, perhaps this is too low for last year’s K6, though I am skeptical about Indianapolis’ offense even with Wentz. This may matter because of a very soft schedule, but I’d be cautious about investing too heavily into this offense.
#21: Joey Slye, Carolina Panthers
- Projected Offense Rank: 30th, SOS: 15th
Even if the Panthers struggle offensively this season, they did show a lot of faith in Joey Slye on long field goal attempts this season. It remains to be seen if he improves (1/6 50+ yards) on those attempts, and Carolina might not be as inefficient in the red zone. That being said, the opportunities he’s getting could give him viability as a streaming option with the right opponent.
#22: Cairo Santos, Chicago Bears
- Projected Offense Rank: 25th, SOS: 24th
Dear Bears, please start Justin Fields at quarterback. Really, does anyone (outside of Andy Dalton) not want that to happen? Since only three of his 32 attempts came 50+ yards down the field, Cairo Santos’ K9 finish may be tough to replicate. Or, maybe the Bears will continue to pepper him with 20-29 field goal attempts? These are the questions we need answers!
#23: Dustin Hopkins, Washington Football Team
- Projected Offense Rank: 27th, SOS: 10th
Without being able to rely on elite defensive play again, the Washington Football Team may not have as many field goal opportunities for Dustin Hopkins, similar to Jason Sanders in Miami. We’ll see if he can improve his efficiency on 40+ yard field goals (15/21) to once again finish as a streaming option in 2021.
#24: Nick Folk, New England Patriots
- Projected Offense Rank: 17rth, SOS: 2nd
If the Patriots score more touchdowns, Nick Folk’s lack of trust kicking longer field goals could become an issue. Hopefully, he can continue extremely efficiently to make up for that. It will be interesting if New England can take advantage of an easy schedule and provide more life offensively, especially after several free-agent acquisitions.
#25: Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals
- Projected Offense Rank: 21st, SOS: 29th
The most accurate kicker in SEC history (at least 50 attempts), Evan McPherson faces high expectations entering the NFL after being drafted in the fifth round. It’s very difficult to predict how rookie kickers will fare, though you’d hope his rookie year is smooth sailing? The Bengals have finished as a bottom-three red-zone offense in back-to-back seasons, while they attempted 36 field goals last year. If all goes well, McPherson could become a very useful fantasy asset in a hurry.
#26: Josh Lambo, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Projected Offense Rank: 26th, SOS: 18th
After missing 12 games last season due to a hip injury, Josh Lambo will likely resume his duties as the Jaguars’ kicker this season. It is hard to project the Jaguars offense and their fourth-down decisions with a new coach in Urban Meyer and a rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, though I’m guessing the team doesn’t field a super productive fantasy kicker this year. At the same time, should you just try to stream kickers, their opening matchup with the Texans could make Lambo an appealing option.
#27: Brett Maher/Will Lutz, New Orleans Saints
- Projected Offense Rank: 18th, SOS: 19th
Will Lutz’s fantasy stock was always likely to take a hit since the Saints were projected to be worse offensively, but with him now going down with a core injury, he likely will miss the first half of the year. At the moment, it looks like Brett Maher will take over during that time, but is this a kicking situation you really want to target? Probably not.
#28: Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Projected Offense Rank: 29th, SOS: 22nd
I remember when Chris Boswell used to be one of the top kickers in fantasy football on an annual basis. That has changed in recent years, however, with the 30-year-old finishing with just 7.7 fantasy points per game. Remember, that was with the Steelers finishing as the worst red-zone offense and the second-most takeaways in the NFL! That doesn’t sound ideal with regards to his 2021 outlook.
#29: Jake Elliot, Philadelphia Eagles
- Projected Offense Rank: 31st, SOS: 5th
Remember when Jake Elliot kicked a 61-yard field goal to win a game for the Eagles in his rookie season? We’ll see how head coach Nick Sirianni handles critical fourth-down decisions, though that comes with too many unknowns for a team that will likely struggle to win games this year.
#30: Chris Naggar/Matt Amendola, New York Jets
- Projected Offense Rank: 20th, SOS: 17th
Do you really want to see out a kicker competition with the Jets, of all teams? Naturally, one of these kickers will be the premier fantasy player at their position! Trust me, that is a journey you can feel comfortable skipping out on.
#31: Randy Bullock, Detroit Lions
- Projected Offense Rank: 19th, SOS: 32nd
Even if I cannot buy that offensive projection for the Lions AT ALL. Head coach Dan Campbell’s comments in recent interviews do make it seem like he’ll consistently be content kicking field goals, though I’m okay staying out of the Motor City in fantasy this year*.
*NOTE: This does not apply to TJ Hockenson whatsoever. He’s amazing. Draft him in your leagues! D’Andre Swift is alright too.
#32: Kaimi Fairbairn, Houston Texans
- Projected Offense Rank: 28th, SOS: 8th
Fun fact: Kaimi Fairbairn finished as the #1 kicker in Week 17 last year. Useful fact: drafting the Texans kicker is probably not a good idea.
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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