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Fantasy Football Kicker Primer Week 7 (2019)

by Andrew Swanson | @FFtoday_Andy | Featured Writer
Oct 15, 2019

Matt Prater had the best fantasy performance for a kicker so far in 2019 last week.

The first half of the 2019 NFL season will be remembered as the year of the backup quarterback, with Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew, Devlin Hodges, and Chase Daniel taking over for injured starters. You could also add Jacoby Brissett to that list, with the abrupt retirement by Andrew Luck thrusting Brissett into a full-time role.

You can also remember the first half of the 2019 season as the year of the rookie kicker, with Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers and Matt Gay of the Tampa Bay Bucs ranked in the top seven among fantasy kickers. Gay posted back to back monster games against the Giants and the Rams in Weeks 3 and 4, while Slye enters Week 7 with the most points among all kickers.

The first month and a half of NFL games is a reminder that outside of the top four kickers in the league, Justin Tucker, Wil Lutz, Greg Zuerlein, and Harrison Butker, streaming kickers using the K Score is the best way to manage your fantasy roster.

Hopefully, you followed our early advice to pick up Slye, or Zane Gonzalez of the Cardinals, two players who continue to benefit from young quarterbacks who struggle in the red zone.

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Week 6 Stud Performances from widely available kickers

Matt Prater (DET) @ Green Bay: 22% ownership on Yahoo
Prater delivered the best fantasy performance by a kicker in 2019 with 21 fantasy points. Prater hit five field goals on the day, including two huge 50-yard blasts. When he is right, Prater is one of the best kickers in the league, and his strong leg and accuracy beyond 50 yards makes him a valuable fantasy asset. He should continue to be a streamable option with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense ranked 13th in the league in yards per game.

Zane Gonzalez (ARZ) vs. Atlanta: 25% ownership on Yahoo
Despite posting at least nine fantasy points in five of his six games and double-digits three games in 2019, owners continue to look the other way at Zane Gonzalez. Perhaps it is the fact that Gonzo struggled with the Browns when he first came into the league. Or perhaps owners don’t buy into the Cardinals as a viable option to produce a fantasy-worthy kicker. Regardless, Gonzo continues to own one of the best K Scores in the league and should be considered a must-start in most games, especially those indoors. Gonzalez made to field goal attempts and four extra points in Arizona’s shootout win over the visiting Falcons.

Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. Tennessee: 5% ownership on Yahoo
The big-legged kicker for the Broncos made three field goals in Denver’s 16-0 win at home over the Titans. McManus now has 10 or more points in three of his six games and could evolve into a streaming option if the Denver offense becomes more efficient in moving the ball between the 20s. I anticipate a negative game script will make McManus a risky start against the Chiefs this Thursday Night, but I would be open to starting him on the road against the Colts Week 8.

Matt Bryant (ATL) @ Arizona: 25% ownership on Yahoo
One of my two kicker picks of the week, Matt Bryant, shanked a game-tying extra point to the left of the uprights with a minute left in regulation. Not only did the miss cost the Falcons a chance at overtime, but it also moved Bryant outside the top five for the week with nine fantasy points instead of 11.

Week 6 Dud Performances from heavily-owned kickers

Greg Zuerlein (LAR) vs. San Francisco: 100% ownership on Yahoo
If you have been lucky enough to own Zuerlein this season, you have been treated to no fewer than nine fantasy points per game and three games of 11 or more points. This week’s one-point dud is more of an aberration than something to be concerned with, and Greg the Leg owners should continue to start him without worry.

Ka’imi Fairbairn (HOU) at Kansas City: 61% ownership on Yahoo
Fairbairn continues to be played at a high ownership rate based on what he did last season and not what the K Score tells us this year. With just one double-digit game surrounded by five duds, it is time for Fairbairn owners to stop looking to the past and find a new option like Zane Gonzalez of the Cardinals.

Kicker Rankings

Rank ECR Name TEAM Opponent Spread O/U OPP RZ D RZ EFF* OFF RNK K Score** Weather
1 3 Harrison Butker KC at DEN 4.5 51 3 12 3 18 75F, 4 mph wind
2 1 Greg Zuerlein LAR at ATL -4 53 31 26 12 69 Dome
3 2 Justin Tucker BAL at SEA 4 51 15 29 1 45 49F, Light Rain 5 mph wind
4 9 Zane Gonzalez ARI at NYG -3 50 13 1 9 23 66F, 5 mph wind
5 4 Robbie Gould SF at WAS -9.5 43 26 6 4 36 70F, 4 mph wind
6 5 Mason Crosby GB vs. OAK 7 46 24 21 17 62 60F, 3 mph wind
7 18 Matt Prater DET vs. MIN PK 44 8 9 13 30 Dome
8 6 Mike Nugent NE at NYJ -9.5 44 27 8 8 43 TBD
9 16 Josh Lambo JAC at CIN -3 48 7 3 16 26 71F, 3 mph wind
10 13 Wil Lutz NO at CHI 3 39 12 5 22 39 62F, 8 mph wind
11 7 Brett Maher DAL vs. PHI -2.5 48 18 25 2 45 Dome
12 8 Jason Myers SEA vs. BAL -4 51 17 29 5 51 49F, Light Rain 5 mph wind
13 10 Steven Hauschka BUF vs. MIA -15.5 41 32 30 10 72 60F, 6 mph wind
14 12 Matt Bryant ATL vs. LAR 4 53 21 7 28 Dome
15 14 Jake Elliott PHI at DAL 2.5 48 11 28 20 59 Dome
16 15 Brandon McManus DEN vs. KC 4.5 51 9 7 25 41 75F, 4 mph wind
17 24 Randy Bullock CIN vs. JAC 3 48 6 0 26 32 71F, 3 mph wind
18 17 Dan Bailey MIN at DET PK 44 5 24 11 40 Dome
19 11 Ka’imi Fairbairn HOU at IND 2.5 48 30 31 6 67 Dome
20 19 Eddy Pineiro CHI vs. NO -3 39 22 18 30 70 62F, 8 mph wind
21 20 Aldrick Rosas NYG vs. ARI 3 50 14 14 24 52 66F, 5 mph wind
22 21 Adam Vinatieri IND vs. HOU -2.5 48 23 17 23 63 Dome
23 22 Chase McLaughlin LAC at TEN 1 41 29 10 14 53 77F, 5 mph wind
24 23 Cody Parkey TEN vs. LAC -1 41 19 13 27 59 77F, 5 mph wind
25 25 Dustin Hopkins WAS vs. SF 9.5 43 2 11 28 41 70F, 4 mph wind
26 26 Sam Ficken NYJ vs. NE 9.5 44 1 27 32 60 TBD
27 27 Jason Sanders MIA at BUF 15.5 41 20 2 31 53 60F, 6 mph 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 7.

Matt Prater (DET) @ Minnesota: 21% Ownership on Yahoo
Prater’s ownership level is going to skyrocket this week after his monster 21-point performance against the Packers on Monday Night Football. While I don’t think he will repeat those gaudy numbers, Prater’s K Score of 30 and the fact that they are playing indoors makes him a must-add and must start this week.

Josh Lambo (JAX) @ Cincinnati: 39% ownership on Yahoo
Lambo is coming off his worst game of the season with six fantasy points against the Saints. With the Jags heading to Cincinnati to take on the lowly Bengals, look for Lambo to bounce back in a big way. He owns the third-best K Score of the week and could be a week-winning play.

Prediction Review

Each week I suggest two kickers ranked outside the FantasyPros ECR top 10 who I believe will be solid performers based on the variables described in the K Score section. The following is a review of my picks from the previous week to see where I was successful and where I missed the mark.

Matt Bryant (ATL) @ Arizona: 24% ownership on Yahoo
ECR Rank: 12
My Rank: 6
Week 6 Finish: 6
Bryant’s K score indicated that he was in line for a high probability for points and field goal opportunities. The fact that the game was played indoors also helped the outlook for the veteran kicker. Although he did come through with 11 fantasy points, he missed a game-tying extra point that would have made him a top-5 play this week.

Chase McLaughlin (LAC) vs. Pittsburgh: 1% Ownership on Yahoo
ECR Rank: 21
My Rank: 9
Week 6 Finish: 20
A surprising negative game flow created by an impressive performance by the Steelers defense negated the value of McLaughlin this week. He did finish with four points and would have scored nine had he made his 50-yard attempt.

Waiver Wired

Top Add

Matt Prater (DET) @ Minnesota: 22% ownership on Yahoo
Adding Prater is not a case of chasing points. The Lions rank 13th in average yards per game but continue to be in the bottom half in the league in red-zone efficiency. Prater projects to be a top-10 kicker for the rest of the year and should be added in all formats.

Other players to consider:

Josh Lambo (JAX) @ Cincinnati: 39% ownership on Yahoo

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Andrew Swanson is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive or follow him @FFtoday_Andy.

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