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Fantasy Football Kicker Guide: Week 1 (2021)

by Andrew Swanson | @FFtoday_Andy | Featured Writer
Sep 8, 2021


 
If you are like most fantasy football managers, you spent little to no time thinking about which kicker you were going to draft in your home leagues this summer. You likely waited until the final round of your draft and selected someone with a name you recognized or a player playing on a team you think will score a ton of points in 2021.

Now that Week 1 is right around the corner, you are looking at start and sit articles and comparing your lineup to ECR to see how your team matches up to your opponent. If you are happy with your kicker based on ECR, congrats and good luck this week.

If you realize that your lack of research and preparation left you with a kicker not projected to have a big week one, hopefully, this article will help you find someone you can pick up and start with confidence.

I developed the K Score as a method to identify potential kicking diamonds in the rough-players ranked outside of the top 12 based on ECR who have certain variables in their matchup that may lead to a solid fantasy finish for their managers.

Each week I will provide a kicking guide that will review the prior week and give insight on who to target as a streaming kicker. I will review where I went right and what I got wrong and hopefully provide some fantasy insight to help you win your week.

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Kicker Rankings

*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 15th in red zone efficiency; therefore, Justin Tucker has a RZ EFF score of 17. 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 1.

Graham Gano (NYG) vs. Denver: 5% Ownership on Yahoo
Gano finished 11th last season in total fantasy points among kickers for two reasons. First, he was the third most accurate kicker in the league, making 31 of his 32 attempts. Second, he played on an offense that struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone, with only the New York Jets scoring fewer touchdowns on their red zone drives. I anticipate the team will struggle once again this season with Daniel Jones under center, and the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league. This game could be an ugly field goal game, with both Gano and Brandon McManus as viable starts.

Greg Zuerlein (DAL) at Tampa Bay: 84% Ownership on Yahoo
I anticipate that most fantasy analysts who make up the ECR each week are balking on Zuerlein this week based on the difficult matchup against the Bucs and the possibility of a negative game script. While I do anticipate the Bucs could blow out the Cowboys, I think Zuerlein still has a chance to be a top 12 play this week based on his elite K score of 27.

Waiver Wired

Top Add

Aldrick Rosas (NO) vs. Green Bay: 2% ownership on Yahoo
Wil Lutz is on short-term IR with a core muscle injury, and the Saints are in need of a kicker. They brought in veteran Aldrick Rosas for the preseason, only to release him in a procedural move to free up space. I anticipate they will sign him again in the days leading up to the game. If they do sign him and he plays, he could be a sneaky play this week against Green Bay. I would have liked him even more if this game was set to be played at the Super Dome instead of on a neutral field outdoors.

Other players to consider:

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Baltimore: 29% Ownership on Yahoo

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Whether you're new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to a more advanced strategy - like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? - to learn more.

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

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