Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings & Guide: Week 4 (2021)
History was made in Week 3 with Justin Tucker, arguably the best kicker of all time, hitting a 66-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 19-17 victory on the road against Detroit. On a day in which the former record holder, Matt Prater, tried a 68-yard attempt to break his own record, Tucker came through with a monster boot that hit the crossbar and bounced through the uprights for a victory.
Through three weeks of the season, Daniel Carlson of the Las Vegas Raiders leads all kickers with 40 fantasy points, followed by Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos with 38. Hopefully, some of my readers followed my advice in the waiver section of this column last week and added one of those two players to their rosters, as Carlson and McManus look primed to be top-10 plays the rest of the season.
Week 3 Stud Performances from widely available kickers
Chase McLaughlin (CLE) vs. Chicago: 7% roster percentage on Yahoo
The top kicker of the week is available in 93% of leagues and plays on an offense that ranks 7th in average yards per game and boasts a top-12 defense. It is not surprising that a player who is playing on his 6th team and has a career field goal percentage of 81% is not heavily owned. But when you consider the team he plays on and the fact that the Browns should provide numerous positive game scripts, McLaughlin is someone to monitor over the next few weeks.
Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. New York Jets: 27% ownership on Yahoo
McManus now has 29 points in his last two games and is someone I have written about extensively this season. Although Teddy Bridgewater has the 3-0 Broncos playing their best football in years, the offense has somewhat struggled in the red zone despite being a top-15 offense. Add in the fact that McManus is an accurate kicker with a big leg, and you have all the makings of a top-5 fantasy season.
Week 3 Dud Performances from widely-rostered kickers
Harrison Butker (KC) @ Baltimore: 100% roster percentage on Yahoo
Two weeks in a row on the dud list is not what fantasy manages envisioned when they took Butker in drafts this summer. Like last season, Butker is getting a decent floor of extra points that you would expect from a kicker on a top offense, but he has not been getting the field goal tries that he did early in his career. It may sound crazy to some, but I would drop Butker for Carlson or McManus.
Week 4 Fantasy Football 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 red zone efficiency, 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 3.
Note that some teams have the same K score for red zone efficiency and opponent red zone efficiency. With only three games of data, multiple teams are tied in each category.
Randy Bullock (TEN) @ NY Jets 0% roster percentage on Yahoo
If you are looking for a home run play this week, Randy Bullock of the Titans is your play. The Jets have given up ten field goals in three games, and Bullock has the second-best K Score on the week. Yes, Bullock has been bad throughout his career. But this matchup projects to be a positive game script for kicking, and the Jets are reeling.
Graham Gano (NYG) @ New Orleans 11% roster percentage on Yahoo
After posting 22 fantasy points against the Washington Football team in Week 2, Gano came back down to Earth last week with a modest six points at home against Atlanta. The Giants' offense is terrible, and they face a tough challenge down in New Orleans against the Saints. While this game can go sideways, and Gano could be burned by a negative game script, he does have the best K score on the week.
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.
Nick Folk (NE) vs. New Orleans 6% roster percentage on Yahoo
ECR Rank: 22
My Rank: 8
Week 3 Finish: 11
Last week I wrote about the correlation between rookie kickers struggling in the red zone over the past few seasons and how that leads to fantasy production for kickers. The Patriots are dead last this season in red-zone efficiency, but that doesn't really matter if rookie QB Mac Jones turns the ball over and struggles to move between the '20s. Folk still came through with a top-12 finish with eight fantasy points, but I should have been much better had the game script not gone sideways.
Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Miami 65 % roster percentage on Yahoo
ECR Rank: 13
My Rank: 2
Week 3 Finish: 6
Going two for two this week feels excellent, but it was like shooting fish in a barrel when I saw that Carlson had an ECR of 13. The Raiders' offense is for real, and their defense is playing much better. Despite being 3-0 and Carr having a career year, the Vegas offense is 21st in red-zone efficiency. Carlson is a top-5 kicker this season and should be owned everywhere.
Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Chargers 65% roster percentage on Yahoo
Not surprisingly, Carlson's roster percentage has jumped up to 65%. Based on how he did last season and how the K Score looks in 2021, he should be up closer to 90%. As I said above, Carlson is a top-5 kicker this season and should be on a roster.
Other players to consider:
Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. Baltimore: 34% roster percentage
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