How to Draft a Kicker
Does this "comi-tragedy" mean that I will decide differently if given the same opportunity this season? Nah. In my opinion, kickers are still the low player on the fantasy totem pole, and not worthy of a tremendous amount of consideration when it comes to drafting or while watching the waiver wire during the season.
Oh sure, a guy can get on a hot streak, like Rackers did last year when he reeled off 98 points during a nine-game streak - nearly 11 points per game. But go back one year and here is another one of his nine-game scoring streaks: 2, 6, 5, 4, 3, 6, 8, and 3. Um, 37 points scored in nine weeks will land a kicker on the fantasy waiver wire quicker than Paris Hilton goes through football players.
That said, if you are going to jump on a kicker earlier than the last third of your draft, make sure it is a guy who plays for one of the elite offenses, like Adam Vinatieri, Shayne Graham or even Rackers, who might stay in the higher realm if Arizona's offense takes off as expected.
Or grab a guy who kicks well and plays for a team that might struggle in the red zone or just outside of that area. Jay Feely led all kickers last season with 148 points, but keep in mind that 24 of his 35 field goals were scored from 39 yards or closer - 11 of them came from 29 yards or closer. Those are failed touchdown drives, and you have to consider that Eli Manning has matured enough to get the Giants in the end zone more often this year. A guy like Nate Kaeding, for example, might benefit from having Philip Rivers at the offensive helm for San Diego.
If Rackers, Graham, and Vinatieri are gone, you can consider a few other kickers for 13th- or 14th-round action. Jason Elam is always good for Denver and he kicks half of the season in that high altitude, which helps with his distance. Last season, Vanderjagt botched arguably the biggest FG since Scott Norwood's "wide right" effort in Super Bowl XXV, but he is the most accurate kicker in league history and he gets a new start with Dallas.
Other kickers who play for teams that will likely score at a pretty good pace include Seattle's Josh Brown, Kansas City's Lawrence Tynes, Carolina's John Kasay and Jeff Wilkins for St. Louis. A few kickers to keep in mind if you take the "plays for a mediocre offense, so could kick a lot of FGs" approach include Robbie Gould for Chicago, Matt Bryant for Tampa Bay and Matt Stover for Baltimore.
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