How to Draft a Kicker
Kickers and defenses are the Rodney Dangerfields of fantasy football: they get no respect. Unlike the great comedian, however, kickers and defenses really don't deserve that much respect when it comes time to draft.
Even so, we have all been in a draft with someone who just doesn't quite grasp the concept, and they will take Neil Rackers or the Chicago defense with a fourth-round pick. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however. Not only are they putting way too much value on those positions, but they are pretty much donning a neon sign that says "Hey, take advantage of me with a lame trade offer late in the season!"
Before you become that sucker, er, person, read on.
Drafting the littlest guy on the field
Kickers in the fantasy world can cause real nightmares, and I have a true story to illustrate that fact.
It was a few seasons ago and my players were cruising to a playoff spot in our 12-team league. I had LaDainian Tomlinson and Domanick Davis in my backfield, and had snagged Brad Johnson in a trade at the right time, plus I was doubling up with Keenan McCardell, while Chad Johnson and Darrell Jackson kept my other WR spots hot.
One of the owners who was out of the playoff running came to me with a trade offer around Week 10 of the season: Joe Horn for my first-round draft pick in 2004. Our league is a keeper league; we can keep seven players year to year, meaning the pick for Horn could be considered an eighth-rounder. But I am not keen on giving up draft picks -- especially first-rounders that can be used for top rookies -- and I had already spent a second-rounder on Johnson. I said thanks, but no thanks.
The inevitable "I'll sweeten the deal" offer came next, and this time he said he would "throw in" St. Louis kicker Jeff Wilkins. I again declined the offer, and was given the ominous "you'll regret it" line, with the seller predicting doom for my team without Wilkins, who admittedly was scoring at a very good pace.
My kicker at the time was Jason Elam, no slouch himself, and my team rambled into the playoffs, and then it worked its way into the championship. The title game was a classic. My opponent had Priest Holmes, Ahman Green, Randy Moss, just to name a few of his studs. I countered with LT, D. Davis, Chad the Mouth, and the score was bouncing around like a pinball: every time I went online for updates, another bell went off or a light popped on.
The game came down to a thin point-spread difference. My opponent had Mike Vanderjagt for his kicker, and I was still riding with Elam. Elam scored three points on the final NFL Sunday, our Super Bowl weekend for the league. Vanderjagt scored eight points, including a game-winner with no time left on the clock. And yes, Jeff Wilkins scored eight points that day, including a 51-yard FG, which is worth extra points in our league. With Wilkins on my team, I win. With Elam on my team, well, it's why you just got that story.
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