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Kicker Rankings for Fantasy Football

It is time to talk about the red-headed stepchild of fantasy football – the kicker position. Many fantasy football leagues have banished the kicker spot altogether. I personally believe this is weak sauce. But for whatever reason, I have yet to be named Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of fantasy sports. I can assure you that once I am appointed to my rightful position, I will rectify this. Some people will say that kicker scoring is too random for their liking, hence the backlash. These same people will complain after Week 1 that their RB1 got game-scripted out of touches or vultured out of a touchdown. In the meantime, let’s discuss some kicker theory and rankings for the OG’s out there.

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How Random is Kicker Scoring?

Kicker scoring in fantasy football is not as random as you might think. It usually correlates with total team scoring, which makes it like virtually every other position. Last season, 15 teams averaged at least 24 points per game. Of those, 12 produced top-15 fantasy kickers. And the Colts would have qualified if you combined the output of Rodrigo Blankenship and Michael Badgley. For reference, here is how many top-15 scorers at each position those top 15 scoring teams produced:

Quarterbacks – 13
Running Backs – 10
Wide Receivers – 11 (including two teams with two each)
Tight Ends – 9

Now, I should point out that I am using total scoring as the benchmark here. These numbers would vary slightly on a per-game basis. Still, I do not believe kicker scoring is as random as others do. And when it is, it is not markedly different than other skill positions. Every week we see instances of a ball carrier getting tackled close to the goal line, only for a backup back or tight end to score the ensuing touchdown. It is the same deal with kickers. In some games, a team will score 35 points and a kicker will only tally five extra points. Other times a team will score 23 and a kicker will score 11 or more (two extra points and three field goals, plus potential yardage bonuses). It is all – or at least should be – part of the fantasy football experience.

Fantasy football is unlike other sports in that the outcome of the game itself often affects production at different positions. A running back may have a good matchup, but if his team is trailing by 14 points early, he may not see as many touches as he normally would. With that in mind, perhaps a better correlation with kicker scoring than total team points is how likely they are to win. Think about it. If a team is up six points late in the game, they can salt it away with a field goal. Rather than risk a turnover, they will play for the field goal in that scenario. Conversely, a field goal does the trailing team no good. Kickers on winning teams can often pad their stats late in games, much like running backs.

Kicker Competitions

Most of the kickers near the top of my kicker rankings are secure in their positions. However, a couple of teams have yet to settle on a primary kicker. Most notably, you may notice that I have no Jaguars kickers ranked. That is because they do not currently have a kicker on their roster. Jacksonville cut Ryan Santoso on Tuesday, leaving their cupboard bare at the kicker position. They will be adding someone in the coming days. My best guess is that it will be one of the kickers currently in Detroit. They are expected to cut either Austin Seibert or Riley Patterson in the coming days. Meanwhile, Brett Maher seems to have won the job in Dallas. Based on this recent development, I have Maher ranked much higher than most. Dallas has a fantasy-friendly offense which should benefit Maher.

The Analytic Effect

As more and more teams rely on analytics, we are seeing them trying to convert on fourth down. This often comes at the expense of the field goal unit. The primary example of this is Brandon Staley and the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers went for it 34 times on fourth down last season. And on more than one occasion, these attempts occurred under unconventional circumstances. Though the Chargers possess a potentially lethal offense, I am not sure how often Dustin Hopkins will benefit. On the flip side, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers combined for 31 fourth-down attempts last season. Andy Reid never met a field goal attempt he didn’t like, and I doubt Todd Bowles will drastically change his conservative ways. I think Harrison Butker and Ryan Succop are safer options than Hopkins for fantasy purposes.

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Kicker Rankings for Fantasy Football

RankPlayer NameTeamBye
1Evan McPhersonCIN10
2Justin TuckerBAL10
3Harrison ButkerKC8
4Ryan SuccopTB11
5Daniel CarlsonLV6
6Matt PraterARI13
7Matt GayLAR7
8Tyler BassBUF7
9Robbie GouldSF9
10Brandon McManusDEN9
11Nick FolkNE10
12Jason SandersMIA11
13Brett MaherDAL9
14Greg JosephMIN7
15Wil LutzNO14
16Jake ElliottPHI7
17Dustin HopkinsLAC8
18Younghoe KooATL14
19Randy BullockTEN6
20Mason CrosbyGB14
21Rodrigo BlankenshipIND14
22Chris BoswellPIT9
23Graham GanoNYG9
24Greg ZuerleinNYJ10
25Jason MyersSEA11
26Riley PattersonDET6
27Cade YorkCLE9
28Joey SlyeWAS14
29Austin SeibertDET6
30Ka'imi FairbairnHOU6
31Cairo SantosCHI14
32Zane GonzalezCAR13
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