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Fantasy Football Kicker Guide Week 3 (2021)

by Andrew Swanson | @FFtoday_Andy | Featured Writer
Sep 21, 2021
Daniel Carlson

For kickers, every day is leg day.

Graham Gano has been quietly on fire for the Giants and one of the few bright spots in the organization over the past few seasons. The former Carolina Panther has hit 35-straight field goals dating back to 2020 and seven of over 50 yards.

Gano hit all five kicks, including two over 50-yards, to finish as the top kicker of the week and a week-winner for the 4% of Yahoo Fantasy Managers who started him.

Through two weeks of the season, the top four kickers are Daniel Carlson, Dustin Hopkins, Nick Folk, and Gano, who are available in nearly 60% of fantasy leagues. By comparison, the top three drafted kickers, Justin Tucker, Younghoe Koo, and Harrison Butker, all rank outside the top 12 at the position.

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Week 2 Stud Performances from widely available kickers

Daniel Carlson (LV) @ Pittsburgh: 31% roster percentage on Yahoo
Carlson and the Raiders went into Pittsburgh and upset the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, with Carlson hitting all four field-goal attempts on the day and both extra points. He finished with 17 points on the day for a second-place finish behind Graham Gano of the Giants. Carlson now has back-to-back games of 10 points or more and should be viewed as a top-12 play the rest of the season.

Nick Folk (NE) vs. New York Jets: 7% ownership on Yahoo
For a guy who initially was cut by the Patriots in favor of a rookie, Folk has been excellent this season for New England. His 25 fantasy points over two weeks are just three fewer than Daniel Carlson. One factor that I have identified over the few years of projecting Red Zone struggles for an offense is a rookie/young quarterback. We saw that happen with Zane Gonzalez in his breakout year with Kyler Murray and with Kai’Imi Fairbairn with Deshaun Watson in Houston. Perhaps Folk will continue to have fantasy value with rookie Mac Jones struggling in the red zone (31st this season in the first two games).

Week 2 Dud Performances from widely-rostered kickers

Harrison Butker (KC) @ Baltimore: 100% roster percentage on Yahoo
Butker managed just five fantasy points on five extra points and no field-goal tries. If Patrick Mahomes continues to be this effective in the red zone and scoring on long pass plays, Butker will not get the volume he needs to be a top-5 kicker.

Justin Tucker (BAL) vs. Baltimore: 100% roster percentage on Yahoo
It is somewhat surprising to see two kickers with a 100% roster percentage in the dud section of this week’s kicker guide, especially when both players played against each other in a shootout. Look for Tucker to bounce back this week indoors against the Lions with a strong floor of extra points and a field goal or two.

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 3rd in red-zone efficiency; therefore, Justin Tucker has an RZ EFF score of 29. 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's 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 the FantasyPros ECR top 10 who could be an excellent play Week 3.

Nick Folk (NE) vs. New Orleans 6% roster percentage on Yahoo
Folk has one of the best K Scores of the week in a home matchup against a Saints defense that ranks first in red-zone defense. Look for Belichick and the defense to limit the effectiveness of the Saints' offense in what could be a low-scoring game. Folk is not a sexy pick-up this week, but he could be a top-5 play.

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Miami 33% roster percentage on Yahoo
Carlson continues to be one of the better fantasy kickers dating back to the middle of last season. Based on his performance this week, I anticipate that his roster percentage will jump well over 50%. The Dolphins are hurting with injuries on the offensive side of the ball, but they still have a solid defense and should limit Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense that is first in yards per game.

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.

Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ LAC 89% roster percentage on Yahoo

  • ECR Rank: 13
  • My Rank: 9
  • Week 2 Finish: 9

Greg the Leg bounced back from a rocky start to post ten fantasy points and a top-12 finish for fantasy managers. His K score of 25 indicated a high probability of kicking opportunities, and he made both field goals and two extra points against the Chargers.

Brandon McManus (DEN) at Jacksonville: 16% roster percentage on Yahoo

  • ECR Rank: 12
  • My Rank: 10
  • Week 2 Finish: 5

Despite less than ideal weather conditions, McManus made three field goals and two extra points to finish with a solid 13 points on the day. His K Score indicated a solid day, but it was the matchup against a dreadful Jacksonville defense that made him an attractive play.

Waiver Wired

Top Add

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Miami 33% roster percentage on Yahoo
Carlson enters Week 3 as the number one kicker in fantasy with 28 points in two games. Surprisingly, more people did not buy into Carlson after finishing as the No.4 kicker last season. If you are looking for a kicker to add and play all season, Carlson is your guy.

Other players to consider

Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. New York Jets: 16% roster percentage

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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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