“Around the Ben”: Position Rankings – Kicker 2013
We all know everybody probably drafts their kicker in the last round, unless you’re the Oakland Raiders, in which case you draft a kicker in the first round. However, kicker is the position that adds the cherry on top every week in fantasy, therefore it must have their own rankings. The volatility of the position is immense, as a kicker can go from starter to dud in just one season, yet, for this position there are a few “can’t miss” names, and some consistent ones. The kickers to target are the ones with big legs and/or in elite offenses, as they’ll garner the most points after touchdowns (PAT) and field goals (FG).
1. Stephen Gostkowski – The Patriots kicker is the most consistent, fantasy-friendly K out there, and should be one of the top two Ks drafted in any league. Off of PAT he’ll net you an extra 2 points per game over the average kicker, as the Patriots score so often. An uptick in field goal attempts wouldn’t surprise this season.
2.) Blair Walsh – The former UGA kicker set an NFL record by nailing 10/10 FG attempts from 50 yards or more. He may not repeat that statistic this season, but should still easily land in the top three Ks.
3.) Matt Bryant – Like Gostkowski, Bryant will net you extra points because the Falcons offense scores a ton of touchdowns. Bryant doesn’t have the huge leg of many top kickers, but over his three seasons with Atlanta he’s nailed 88/98 field goal attempts; better than any other kicker in that span.
4.) Randy Bullock – The newbie to kickers, this guy has potential. Out of Texas A&M, he has a good leg, and in Houston’s elite offense, he should get ample opportunity for both PATs and FGs.
5.) Matt Prater – Peyton Manning has a knack for having great kickers on his team, and Prater is no exception. For his career, Prater is 75% from field goal attempts of more than 50 yards, and there’s no reason why that trend won’t continue this season in Denver.
6.) Phil Dawson – Any kicker who leaves Cleveland will get consideration, and by signing with the 49ers, Dawson could be a top option this season. He drilled 93% of his field goals last season, and if he gets the number of field goal attempts that Akers did, he will justify a high ranking.
7.) Justin Tucker – Tucker had a nice season as the Ravens kicker last season, but with the loss of Boldin on offense and a lot of veteran leadership on defense, his numbers may slide a bit this season. He has a big leg and won’t choke in the moment like Billy Cundiff.
8.) David Akers – He goes from drilling 44 field goal attempts and 7 of 9 from 50+ in 2011, to hitting only 69% of his attempts last season, and nearly being cut before the playoffs. Detroit will give him a chance to revitalize his fantasy status, but he also comes with risk.
9.) Greg Zuerlein – He has a big leg, but is on a less than mediocre offense. If the Rams can improve their offensive efficiency, Zuerlein could be a top 10 kicker. If the Rams continue to get stuck in neutral, he could have difficulty cracking the top 15. With Tavon Austin and an improved offensive line, I’m optimistic.
10.) Dan Bailey – When all else is turbulent in Dallas, Bailey is consistent. The only downside here is his leg isn’t that big, limiting him to kicks shorter than 50 yards. The good news is he is one of the most efficient kickers in the NFL, even when Dallas’ offense disappears.
11.) Steven Hauschka – He might only be 4/10 from 50+ yards, but Russell Wilson proved that height doesn’t matter at the QB position, and as Wilson and the offense continues to improve, so should Hauschka, as his attempts and PATs should only go up.
12.) Josh Brown – Brown should have no problem beating out David Buehler, but I don’t blame you if ya wait until you know that for a fact. He doesn’t have the big leg he once was heralded as having, but New York should provide a ton of FG attempts, and a fair number of PATs so long as Eli Manning doesn’t disappear. A factor to keep in mind is the swirling winds in New York, which could cause a few kicks to go wayward.
13.) Garrett Hartley – A couple of problems: The Saints’ offense scores a ton of touchdowns and is one of the most efficient teams inside the red zone, and Hartley can be inconsistent at times, as evidenced by his career 84.5%. He’ll get PATs and shorter field goals, but the lack of a ton of FG attempts, and limited range hurt his stock.
14.) Kai Forbath – The Billy Cundiff experiment only lasted five weeks last season in Washington, and now the kicking job is Forbath’s. He can hit field goals, as he hit an NFL record 17 straight to start his career. Tread carefully, however, as his youth, inexperience, and the Redskins being careful with RGIII to start the season could limit his short-term upside.
15.) Sebastian Janikowski – The Polish Missile, a former first round pick of the Raiders, still has a huge leg, but an even more depleted Oakland offense with Matt Flynn or Tyler Wilson at QB. Also, the departure of the bust, Darrius Heyward-Bey, will push him down the list for attempts this season. At least Carson Palmer had a track record, and could do better than hit the broadside of a barn.