Do we still need kickers in fantasy football?
I know, with all that we need to consider for fantasy football in 2022, this might be one of the least important questions. However, it might be a great discussion to have as more and more leagues are putting a premium on points, whether it be an automatic berth for high points scorer or the top tiebreaker. That means a single extra point can make a difference in your season, but let's come back to that.
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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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 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 in that direction, shouldn't seasonal?
A rare pit stop of the football bus for...............
— Juan (@JuanAlexAl) June 21, 2022
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 top kicker of the week because the top scorer is always variable in both the point totals and the kick attempt totals. That variability that draws a lot of scrutiny in fantasy football comes from a team that can’t score from just a couple of yards away, and the only fantasy scorer to benefit is the kicker. As the NFL changes and the number of 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 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. Do you really want to ascertain that info and voir dire the experts on such a trivial matter?
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.
Consider this: The 2020 season saw some pitiful kicking attempt numbers, but that is looking more and more like an aberration than the start of a trend. For example, in 2020, the Green Bay Packers went an entire five weeks without a single FG attempt, dragging the average down with their laughable 16 FG attempts that year. The lowest last year for the 2021 season however was Cleveland's 22 attempts.
Furthermore, kicker accuracy is on the rise. Field Goal conversion percentage rose again for the third time in a row last year. That means that finding those kickers who are accurate is even more important.
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. Plus, lest we forget, it's not like kickers don't put up points themselves.
Kicker Produce Like Any Other FFL Position
Two years ago, I said the following:
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?
Then in 2020, the top ten kickers saw an average of over 152 fantasy points for the season. This past season, the top ten kickers put up over 155 fantasy points. 2021's top kicker, Daniel Carlson, put up 174 fantasy points.
DANIEL CARLSON FOR THE WIN.
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2022
To put that into perspective, Carlson had more points than breakout RBs Elijah Mitchell or Tony Pollard. He has more points than WRs Chase Claypool, De'Andre Hopkins, or Cortland Sutton, all of which cost far more draft capital last year. TE Dawson Knox scored nine TDs last year. He probably wasn't drafted in your league, but he too was outscored last year by a handful of kickers. Again, you want to tell me that kickers don't matter????
And all of the above examples are in PPR leagues. In standard leagues especially, kickers become another piece of the puzzle and their points matter even more significantly. Just as a place-holder is a necessary position on the actual football field, the kicker position can have a huge footprint on weekly fantasy 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.
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.
Until we meet again! Laces out, my friends.
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