2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Reasons For and Against Fantasy Football Kickers

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Regardless of league type, it’s no secret that fantasy footballers aren’t going to take a kicker even close to the first ten rounds of a fantasy draft. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be an important part of your team and help you to fantasy glory!

Let’s take a closer look at the reason for and against the kicker position on the fantasy football roster.

Reasons For and Against Fantasy Football Kickers

Reasons For 

Even in a standard 12, 14, or even 16-team league, there are enough kickers to go around. The top ten leaders in NFL history for total points scored are all kickers, two of which are still active. Kicking is part of the game.

In terms of fake football, there is a lot to think about with kickers. Is the game indoors or in a dome? Turf or grass? Home or Away? Which teams have been scoring a lot of touchdowns and which haven’t? A lot of the kicker hype comes from how well the team can move the ball as a whole, and which can’t. This adds another exciting element to finalizing rosters by Thursday night kickoff.

The case for kickers is contrary to popular belief. There are a lot of “haters” who say that kickers are too unpredictable and variable.

…Honestly, this is no different than any other starting fantasy football position.

The difference in kicker scoring from game to game or season to season is just as variable as top tier players. This can be compared to top-ranked bust running back Todd Gurley versus last year’s sleepers like Jay Ajayi or Jordan Howard. Let me give you an example:

Last year’s top ADP kicker according to yahoo was Stephen Gostkowski from the Patriots. Matt Bryant’s ADP was 26th. By the end of the year, Bryant was first in scoring among kickers with 170 points and the ‘Gos-man’ was 11th with 140 points. While 30 points may not seem like a lot over an entire season, if you account for the standard deviation and difference among total points, the p-value for this change is quite significant.

To compare, Todd Gurley was pre-ranked as RB2 according to Yahoo, in standard scoring formats, while Jay Ajayi was pre-ranked RB34.   How did this fair? In standard scoring, Jay Ajayi finished with RB-11 numbers (188 points), as Gurley finished with RB20 numbers (155 points). This is the same variation with big-time position players almost 100% owned.

In those larger leagues, scoring can come down to your backups and positions like the kicker and defense. This makes the kicker that much more valuable in 14 and 16 team leagues, where scoring may be hard to come by.  If you couple this with the new rule having the extra point moved back to the 15-yard line, there were 71 missed extra point attempts in 2015 (the year this experimental rule was changed). In 2014, there was a total of only eight extra points missed. That is a big difference and makes the position a bit more interesting to scout.

In short, kickers make you focus on game location and environmental factors. They also make you focus on both the offense and defense of teams playing that day. You also need to take into account the kicker’s overall ability and accuracy during the season. This is all in hopes of maximizing kicking attempts. If an all-encompassing league is what you are after, kickers are an integral part of your league.

Reasons Against

There is nothing worse than losing your head-to-head week on a last second extra point by a kicker, or falling short because your fake football opponent had a kicker that put up 21 points. We’ve all been there.

In 2016 the average number of field goal attempts was around 34 and the average extra point attempt was around 35. The variability that draws a lot of scrutiny in fantasy football comes from a team that can’t score from the 1-yard line, and the only one to benefit from it is the kicker. This alone has contributed to me needing a beta-blocker to watch the NFL, and to some, it’s a deal breaker.

It can be very tough to predict the kicker of the week because the top scorer is always variable in both the point totals AND in the kicker themselves. Let’s look at some numbers:

In 2016, according to NFL.com, the highest scoring kicker for a week was Adam Vinatieri with 21 points. The lowest top score for a week was Roberto Aguayo and Josh Lambo with 13 total points. The top ten in each scoring week for kickers in 2016 was NEVER even close to the same and included every kicker in the league at one point or another. That’s hard to quantify.

You may be saying, “Chris, you just said that kickers aren’t anymore variable than any other position.” You are correct. However, when you look at finalizing your roster, you would rather worry about how many touches a RB or WR would get than how many field goal attempts a kicker would get.

What about bye weeks? Are you going to carry two kickers on your roster to play the best match-up? I think not, folks.


For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

About Christopher T. Luft

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