Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      


Big Boards: Kickers & D/STs

Preseason Matchup Analysis

By Doug Orth | 9/3/20 |
PPR | Half-Point PPR | Non-PPR | Superflex

Let’s pay our respects to the folks who don’t get a lot of respect - the kickers and defense/special teams units that help decide our fantasy fates every week.

Rk Player Tm Age
1 Justin Tucker BAL 30
2 Harrison Butker KC 25
3 Wil Lutz NO 26
4 Greg Zuerlein DAL 32
5 Zane Gonzalez ARI 25
6 Matt Gay * TB 26
7 Robbie Gould SF 37
8 Younghoe Koo ATL 26
9 Chris Boswell PIT 29
10 Matt Prater DET 36
11 Chase McLaughlin ** IND 24
12 Jake Elliott PHI 25

* - Competing with Ryan Succop for a job. I want the kicker attached to this offense, but feel free to move down the list if this competition hasn't been decided by the time you draft. Succop has enough of a track record to be confident he is a one-for-one replacement if he takes the job from Gay.

** - Competing with rookie Rodrigo Blankenship for a job.

And now the defenses…

Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:

Red – For a second-tier D/ST, this is generally a bad option to start that week (high-powered offense, low-turnover offense or both). For elite D/STs, expect them to struggle to create sacks/turnovers.

Yellow – For a second-tier D/ST, this is a questionable start at best. For the elite D/STs, expect average production.

White – This one can go either way, but I favor the D/ST over the matchup. For the elite D/STs, expect above-average production.

Green – For non-elite D/STs, the stage is set for a productive day. For the elite D/ST, this matchup is about as good as it gets.

“SD” refers to schedule difficulty. (The bigger the number, the more favorable the schedule.) In short, here is how I scored each matchup:

Green - two points
White - one point
Yellow – minus-1
Red – minus-2

As you can tell, the defenses were not ranked based entirely on schedule difficulty, but it was the primary factor after I completed my matchup analysis - which takes into account a host of variables, including each defense's aggressiveness and the offense's propensity for allowing sacks and committing turnovers.

 Defense/Special Teams
Rk Team SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 Steelers 13
2 Ravens 5
3 Buccaneers 2
4 49ers 1
5 Patriots -1
6 Bears -2
7 Saints -2
8 Chiefs -3
9 Colts -5
10 Broncos -5
11 Cardinals -3
12 Rams -7
13 Seahawks -7
14 Bills -9
15 Eagles -11
16 Chargers -8

For the most part, the first seven defenses above shouldn't need to be streamed very often, if at all. The Steelers have a chance to be an elite unit - much like they were after Minkah Fitzpatrick arrived in Week 3 last year - although they are highly unlikely to match the 38 turnovers they forced in 2019. In fantasy leagues where points allowed is rewarded handsomely, Pittsburgh should fare quite well. The Bucs are an interesting unit in the sense they will give up their fair share of points, but DC Todd Bowles' heavy blitz scheme and the likelihood of a lot of positive game scripts should lead to a lot of garbage time opportunities (i.e. converting forced passes into interception returns for a score).

My cutoff line for teams that have a defense fantasy owners might be willing to start every week ends right after the Saints.

PPR Big Board | Half-Pt PPR Big Board | Non-PPR Big Board | SuperFlex

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.