Fantasy Football Kicker Primer: Week 2 (2019)
Week 1 in the NFL is often a slate of games filled with penalties, mistakes, and turnovers as teams look to find their rhythm on offense. With more and more teams sitting their starters for the majority of the preseason, the first week of the season is the first real action many players have seen since last year, and the rust often comes through on the field.
A positive result of Week 1 offensive inefficiencies and struggles by defenses is an increase in fantasy production for kickers. Twelve kickers posted double-digit fantasy points this past week, including top performer Harrison Butker of the Chiefs, who kicked four field goals and four extra points. Four of the five set-it-and-forget-it kickers mentioned in the kicker draft primer came through with 10 or more points for their owners, and three kickers ranked outside the top 20 in ECR also came through with monster games.
On a negative note, Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals and an extra point in the Colts’ 30-24 loss to the Chargers, marking what could be the beginning of the end for the future Hall of Fame kicker.
Widely-Available Week 1 Studs
Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs. DET: 1% ownership on Yahoo
Gonzalez benefitted from early struggles by Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense with four field goals, including a clutch kick in overtime, to finish with 14 fantasy points. Rookie quarterbacks often struggle in the red zone, and the Cardinal offense should be able to move the ball, making Gonzalez a possible streaming option each week.
Cairo Santos (TEN) at CLE: 1% ownership on Yahoo
Santos took over the starting kicker job for the Titans after Ryan Succop was placed on IR by the team last week. Although Santos is a journeyman kicker with stints on four different NFL teams, he does own a career percentage of 83%, which is higher than Mason Crosby, Brandon McManus, and Greg Zuerlein. If the Tennessee offense continues to move the ball as well as they did against the Browns on Sunday, Santos could sneak into the top 12 kicker rankings on the season.
Joey Slye (CAR) vs. LA Rams: 2% ownership on Yahoo
The undrafted second-year player from Virginia Tech took over the starting kicker role for the Panthers when Graham Gano was placed on IR with a knee injury. Slye made two of three field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, to finish with 12 fantasy points. It is difficult to trust a first-kicker on a week-to-week basis, but owners should keep an eye on Slye in matchups in which he owns a low K Score.
Heavily-Owned Week 1 Duds
Adam Vinatieri (IND) at LA Rams: 38% ownership on Yahoo
The great one might have colored his hair to make himself appear to be younger, but his age came through on the football field this Sunday with two missed field goals, including a chip-shop under 30 yards. It has been three seasons since Vinatieri finished as a K1, yet fantasy owners continue to draft him based on name recognition. It is time to move on from Vinatieri and stream kickers each week based on the K Score.
Ka’imi Fairbairn (HOU) at Chicago: 94% ownership on Yahoo
Fairbairn was a K Score stud and a fantasy winner last season based on the fact that the Texans over the past two seasons have been a bottom-ten red zone offense under Deshaun Watson and Bill O’Brien. While owners did get four extra points from Fairbairn, the Texans converted all of their red zone chances into touchdowns, leaving Fairbairn without a field goal opportunity.
|Rank||ECR||Name||TEAM||Opponent||Spread||O/U||OPP RZ D||RZ EFF*||OFF RNK||K Score**||Weather|
|1||1||Harrison Butker||KC||at OAK||-8.5||54||7||8||4||19||71 overcast 9 mph wind|
|2||2||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at MIA||-14.5||47||20||0||7||27||89 mostly cloudy, 9 mph wind|
|3||4||Justin Tucker||BAL||vs. ARI||-13.5||42||17||19||1||37||81F overcast, light wind|
|4||3||Greg Zuerlein||LAR||vs. NO||-3||53,5||30||21||18||69||87 overcast, 7 mph wind|
|5||5||Wil Lutz||NO||at LAR||3||54||27||12||2||41||87 overcast, 7 mph wind|
|6||6||Jake Elliott||PHI||at ATL||51||pk||32||15||8||55||Dome|
|7||7||Ka’imi Fairbairn||HOU||vs. JAC||-9.5||Pk||9||31||12||52||Dome|
|8||10||Matt Prater||DET||vs. LAC||2||47||16||16||5||37||Dome|
|9||8||Robbie Gould||SF||at CIN||-1.5||45||26||4||27||57||83 overcast, light wind|
|10||9||Brett Maher||DAL||at WAS||-7||44||18||26||3||47||80 overcast, light wind|
|11||14||Matt Bryant||ATL||vs. PHI||51||Pk||13||10||20||43||Dome|
|12||18||Chris Boswell||PIT||vs. SEA||-4||47||4||2||24||30||78 mostly cloudy, light wind|
|13||24||Randy Bullock||CIN||vs. SF||1.5||45||8||3||10||21||83 overcast, light wind|
|14||11||Michael Badgley||LAC||at DET||-2||47||6||18||9||33||Dome|
|15||12||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. MIN||-3||46||12||11||31||54||69 Mostly Cloudy 12 mph wind|
|16||13||Jason Myers||SEA||at PIT||4||47||5||27||29||61||78 mostly cloudy, light wind|
|17||15||Adam Vinatieri||IND||at TEN||3||44||31||17||15||63||88 overcast, light wind|
|18||16||Dan Bailey||MIN||at GB||3||46||2||30||26||58||69 Mostly Cloudy 12 mph wind|
|19||19||Aldrick Rosas||NYG||vs. BUF||-2.5||43||24||13||6||43||80 overcast, light wind|
|20||20||Brandon McManus||DEN||vs. CHI||-1||42||15||6||21||42||88 Partly Cloudy, 6 mph wind|
|21||21||Cairo Santos||TEN||vs. IND||-3||46||19||22||23||64||88 overcast, light wind|
|22||22||Steven Hauschka||BUF||at NYG||2.5||43||29||25||16||70||80 overcast, light wind|
|23||23||Daniel Carlson||OAK||vs. KC||8.5||54||10||20||17||47||71 overcast 9 mph wind|
|24||17||Austin Seibert||CLE||at NYJ||-2||46||28||24||19||71||68, light wind|
|25||25||Dustin Hopkins||WAS||vs. DAL||7||44||14||14||13||41||80 overcast, light wind|
*Red Zone Efficiency is based on the inverse of how well the kicker’s offense does in the red zone. For example, the Ravens rank second in red-zone efficiency; therefore Justin Tucker has a RZ EFF score of 31. The lower number, the better for kickers, as playing on a team that struggles to score touchdowns in the red zone equates to more field goal opportunities.
**The K Score is the sum of a player’s opponent red zone, the red zone efficiency of his offense, and the overall rank of his respective team in terms of total yards. A low score indicates that a kicker has variables working in his favor for a good fantasy kicking performance.
Kicker rankings are based on numerous factors, including matchups, Vegas lines and score projections, weather conditions, the ability of a kicker’s team offense and their ability to move the ball into field goal range, offensive red zone efficiency, and how well the opposing defense limits touchdowns in the red zone. These factors are a guide, but not a definitive way to predict kicking success, as other variables and negative game scripts significantly impact the outcome.
Based on all of the variables mentioned above, the following two kickers are players ranked outside of the FantasyPros ECR top 10 who could be an excellent play Week 2.
Strong Week 2 Options
Randy Bullock (CIN) vs. SF: 0% Ownership on Yahoo
The Bengals offense under Zac Taylor was impressive this past weekend on the road against a tough Seattle defense. They should be able to move the ball even better this week at home against the 49ers, who gave up a decent amount of yardage to Jameis Winston and the Bucs but held their ground well in the red zone. Bullock’s inaccuracy over the years is always a concern, but his elite K Score this week of 21 makes him worthy of a streaming start.
Chris Boswell (PIT) vs. SEA: 10% ownership on Yahoo
Boswell was a frequent winner of my bust award last season, and someone who I continually recommended people drop because he was struggling with his confidence and the Steelers were one of the best red zone offenses in the NFL. With Antonio Brown now a Patriot, I have downgraded the overall efficiency of the Steelers offense and their ability to convert drives into touchdowns. As long as Boswell does not get into his head and miss a ton of kicks, he will be worthy of a streaming start when his K Score is below 40 like this week against the Seahawks at home.
Jake Elliott (PHI) at ATL: 58% ownership on Yahoo
Elliott disappointed fantasy owners last season as the 15th ranked kicker in total points. That disappointment has carried over into 2019 with Elliott currently owned in just over half of Yahoo leagues. If he is available in your league pick him up, as the Eagles offense looks to be one of the best in the NFL and Elliott could enter into set-it-and-forget-it status due to an increase in extra points.
Other players to consider:
Matt Prater (DET) vs. LAC: 42% ownership on Yahoo
Chris Boswell (PIT) vs. SEA: 10% ownership on Yahoo