It’s the final weeks before the fantasy season begins. I’m
sure like me, most of you have done your research and are ready
for your draft. You have analyzed every quarterback, running back,
wide receiver, tight end and defense.
But what of the final round of the draft. Do you randomly take
a kicker? Shouldn’t you have done at least some research
in this one final area?
Certainly, it’s hard to figure out what will happen and the reward
is usually no more than two points-per-game whether you have the
best in the league or the No.12 kicker in your 12-team league,
but how many times have you lost a week by a point or two? Or
fractions of a point? How many times have you finished one game
out of first place? What if we take just a few minutes to analyze
who to choose? … You know after Justin
Tucker is off the board.
Oh and by-the-way, Tucker wasn’t No.1 in 2020 - that was
the Falcons’ Younghoe Koo at 11.6 FPts/G (for those with
at least two games played). In fact, Tucker finished just 10th
in 2020 producing 8.1 FPts/G.
Additionally, Koo won the kicking title in 2019 too. So shouldn’t
he be your top option as he goes for a “three-peat”?
I understand the bias toward Tucker (ADP 135). He’s been
Mr. Reliable. On the chart below he’s never averaged less
than 8.1 FPts/G. In fact, he’s never averaged less than
8.0 FPts/G in any of his nine NFL seasons. And he’s played
144 consecutive games without missing a game (sorry for the announcer’s
jinx Justin). He’s a “set-it-and-forget-it”
Harrison Butker (ADP 139) is also coming off the board ahead
of Koo (141.7). He kicks for the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs
offense. He’s always on television. He had three very good
seasons before 2020 when he slumped to 12th at 7.7 FPts/G. However,
he attempted a career-low tying 27 field goals last season for
the second time in three seasons.
Top offenses don’t necessarily make elite fantasy placekickers.
Green Bay led the league with 509 points and Mason Crosby finished
near the bottom (6.7 FPts/G). Buffalo finished second with 501
and newcomer Tyler Bass finished fourth.
You need solid offenses to move the ball to the opponent’s
end of the field for your kicker, but you need offenses which
stall before punching it in for touchdowns. None of last year’s
top-three were top-10 in extra points. Only three times in the
past five seasons has a top-three fantasy kicker also been top-three
in XPs (3-of-15 or 20%).
I prefer an indoor kicker or a warm weather kicker for those
cold December and January days when the winds are howling, the
snow is falling and the ball has all the flexibility of a rock.
There is only so much helium you can sneak into a “k ball”
when the referees aren’t looking. Notice in 2020 seven of
the top eight placekickers were kicking in domes or in warm weather.
Before Koo went back-to-back, Greg Zuerlein won twice in a row
while kicking in sunny Southern California for the Rams (2017-2018).
He’s in Dallas now, under a dome, so can still be a factor
once again as long as he and Dak Prescott are healthy (Zuerlein
currently on PUP list, Prescott sore shoulder).
I also like Rodrigo Blankenship, the second-year kicker with
Indianapolis. Kicks in a dome. Plays six games in the AFC South
in dome or warm weather sites. In fact, he has only one worrisome
games as far as weather goes the entire season – a November
21st date in Buffalo. He’s going off the board eighth among
kickers at ADP 152.8.
So there is no need to panic when someone jumps up and selects
Tucker just before the last round begins. All is not lost. Here
are at least three other very good options; Koo, Zuerlein (if
healthy) and Blankenship.