Fantasy Football

Reasons For and Against Fantasy Football Kickers

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*The Reasons For and Against Fantasy Football Kickers was first written by Chris Luft. This season Mark Strausberg has rewritten it.

Do we still need kickers in fantasy football?

I know, with all that has happened in 2020, this might be one of the least important questions. However, it might be a great discussion to have…to take our minds off of all things that have happened in 2020.

My first thought was we call it Fantasy Football. The players who use their foot in the sport should absolutely be included, right? But that’s pure terminology. The Center is not really the center when you have an unbalanced line either, is he?

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have kickers either. They have been a part of the fantasy football landscape for literally decades. Yet there are a lot of fantasy players who simply want to disregard the position altogether, for various reasons. Even here at F6P, we have in-house leagues that don’t include kickers. Is that the right way to go?

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

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Reasons Against

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Daily Fantasy Sports is not the tail that wags the dog that is fantasy football. But it certainly is the catcher that helps influence the pitcher’s location. And with literally billions (maybe less due to Covid-19, but you get the point) of dollars pouring into that industry, we need to recognize what is happening. And what is happening is that the kicker is being “minimalized” across most sites. DraftKings and FanDuel still have contests that include kickers, but their “primary” football slate options are kicker-less. If DFS is moving that direction, shouldn’t seasonal?

Furthermore, there is nothing worse than losing your head-to-head seasonal 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.

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 kick attempt totals.

Consider this: For the second straight year, the number of field goal attempts has dropped from 45 (Kansas City in 2017) to 42 (Houston in ’18) to 40 (Dallas last year). The number of field goal attempts at the bottom (the Giants attempted just 17 FGs last year) didn’t move either.

Again, 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 fantasy scorer to benefit is the kicker. As the NFL changes and pass attempts and touchdowns go way up, so does the number of extra-point attempts.  Scoring variability is important to keep in mind from year to year.

It seems to me that by predicting attempts can predict fantasy kicker success. “Well, DUH!”. To look at it from another view, you basically have to predict the teams that will not score, drop a pass, get sacked, or go nowhere and stay in field goal range. This has to be one of the hardest things to predict in fantasy football. With all the…um…stuff going on right now, some things are just not worth trying to figure out!

Reasons For 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even in a standard 12, 14, or even 16-team league, there are enough kickers to go around. The top-10 leaders in NFL history for total points scored are all kickers, one of which is 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 might not be a popular one. There are a lot of “haters” who say that kickers are too unpredictable and variable. But are they? Butker, Will Lutz, and Jason Tucker were your top three kickers this past year. The previous year, all three were in the top five. Show me another position in fantasy football that has this much similarity at the top from one year to the next.

Kicker Produce Like Any Other FFL Position

In 2019, despite the drop in FGs last year, the top ten fantasy kickers averaged just over 148 fantasy points for the season and your top kicker, Harrison Butker has 166 points. To put that into perspective, that put Butker just a point or so behind Alvin Kamara and ahead of Kenyan Drake. Those 166 points were better than all but ten WRs. Butker had more points than A.J. Brown, Keenan Allen, or Allen Robinson. And tight end? Butker had more fantasy points than any Tight End. It means that for any random Kansas City game, you were better off having Butker than Travis Kelce! Are you still trying to tell me kickers don’t matter?

In standard leagues especially, kickers become another piece of the puzzle and their points matter significantly. Just as a place holder is a necessary position on the field, the kicker position can have a huge footprint on weekly scoring.

Kickers also don’t tend to have injuries plague their season as other skilled positions do, and therefore have a bit more playing time consistency. A double-digit fantasy week from a kicker can be a very important benchmark on a championship team, especially in leagues where scoring is a bit tougher to come by.

Summary

Whether you believe that these fantasy kickers should be treated like any other player on the offense because they are a part of it, or you believe that they are just too variable to predict…I can see both cases.  Hopefully, the scales of fantasy kicker justice have been treated equally here and I have opened your eyes to both sides of the argument.

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Until we meet again! Laces out, my friends.


Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2020 season.

About Mark Strausberg

Despite his youthful appearance, Mark has aged hundreds and hundreds of years due to soul-sucking and crushing near misses over his decades of both playing and writing fantasy sports.

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