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Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings & Guide: Week 5 (2021)

by Andrew Swanson | @FFtoday_Andy | Featured Writer
Oct 5, 2021
Randy Bullock

Fantasy Football managers are often slow to cut bait on kickers, especially if a kicker has a significant ownership percentage and plays on a high-powered offense.

Harrison Butker over the past two seasons is a prime example of this, as he was drafted as a top-3 kicker in 2021 despite finishing outside the top-15 as the position in 2020. Butker posted just six fantasy points for the third consecutive week and has just one double-digit game on the season.

Yet, as we approach the waiver wire for week five, Butker continues to be one of the highest-rostered players among kickers. Why do Butker owners shy away from moving on for a better option like Daniel Carlson or Matt Prater?

I think there are two reasons. First, fantasy managers are ingrained with the idea that having a kicker on a high-scoring offense is the only way to go, even though Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are the fourth-best red zone offense in the league and continue to limit opportunities for Butker.

Secondly, I think fantasy managers don’t put much thought into their kicker and have a fear of missing out on that big game that could be down the road.

While I understand the reasoning behind both factors, I would recommend moving on from Butker for Carlson or Prater if they are available in your league. Not only are they better plays up to this point, but they also project to be solid plays the remainder of the season.

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Week 4 Stud Performances from widely available kickers

Matt Prater (ARZ) @ Los Angeles Rams: 47% roster percentage on Yahoo
With 15 fantasy points against the Rams on Sunday, Prater now has two games of 12 or more fantasy points on the season and a floor of seven points each week. Although he is not the most accurate kicker this season, he continues to be given opportunities to make long field goal attempts by head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and he is tied with Harrison Butker (entering Week 4) with the most extra points on the season. Arizona ranks second in yards per game and first in points per game, giving Prater a nice floor but with some field goal volume upside.

Randy Bullock (TEN) @ New York Jets: 1% ownership on Yahoo
Bullock was one of my K Score targets this week, and a Hail Mary play for anyone in need of a boom or bust play. He could have been a bust because he is not a very accurate kicker, and the game could have gone sideways. But as the K Score indicated, the game was close, and the bend but don’t break Jets defense forced multiple field goal attempts, with Prater finished fifth overall on the week.

Week 4 Dud Performances from widely-rostered kickers

Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs. Atlanta: 79% roster percentage on Yahoo
Koo fits into the same bust category this season as Harrison Butker, but for different reasons. While the Chiefs continue to move the ball well, score touchdowns, and provide Butker with at least a small level of extra point floor production, Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been terrible. Koo has yet to score more than six points in a game and ranks 19th in points from extra points. If he does not put up a top 10-week against the Jets at home Week 5, it is time to move on.

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 6th in red zone efficiency; therefore Justin Tucker has an RZ EFF score of 26. 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 5.

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.

Chris Boswell (PIT) vs. Denver 7% roster percentage on Yahoo
The Steelers are a dumpster fire on offense, and it is clear that Big Ben is past his prime. With that said, the Broncos will likely be without Teddy Bridgewater, and the Steelers' defense will give Drew Lock fits and the Pittsburgh offense short fields. Boswell is my home run play this week for owners looking for a boom or bust option like Bullock last week.

Randy Bullock (TEN) @ Jacksonville 1% roster percentage on Yahoo
Bullock is my safe floor play this week in what could be a lopsided win for the Titans after a disappointing loss on the road against the Jets. As good as Derrick Henry has been, the Titans are the 6th-worst red-zone offense and will likely be without Brown and Jones again. Henry will crush in this game, and Bullock should have a nice floor of around seven points with double digits possible.

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.

Randy Bullock (TEN) @ NY Jets 0% roster percentage on Yahoo

ECR Rank: 14
My Rank: 9
Week 4 Finish: 5

Considering that Bullock was rostered in fewer than 1% of fantasy leagues, he was a reach of a recommendation this week on the road against the Jets. Instead of looking for a safer option, I went along with his K Score of 27, and he came through with a top-5 play. The Jets defense is not great, but they are fairly solid in the red zone. Add in the absence of both Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, and you have field goals galore.

Graham Gano (NYG) @ New Orleans 11% roster percentage on Yahoo

ECR Rank: 18
My Rank: 12
Week 3 Finish: 15

This pick did not turn out well but could have been another top-5 pick had Gano not missed an easy 35-yard try in the first half. Instead of an 11-point finish, Gano burned fantasy managers with six points on the day. This pick is frustrating, but I think there will be better days ahead for Gano, especially with the Giants offense starting to come to life.

Waiver Wired

Top Add

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. Chargers 75% roster percentage on Yahoo
I am sticking with my Waiver Wire pick from last week as he is still available in 25% of leagues and likely more after last week's disappointing two-point performance. I believe this was more of an anomaly than a trend, and Carlson will get back to producing eight or more fantasy points on a regular basis.

Other players to consider:

Randy Bullock (TEN) @ NY Jets 1% roster percentage 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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