Kickers Who Might Win You a Fantasy Title
December 4, 2017 | C.D. Carter
You may think, as you peruse this column after clicking a Twitter link, about which events in your life precipitated your obsessing over kickers with the best fantasy football playoff schedule.
We’re worried about you, your loved ones might say. Everyone is worried. Your fantasy football obsession isn’t healthy, Jim. Who’s Jim, you’ll say. I don’t know any Jim. Jim, please, you’re scaring us, your spouse will shout. They’ll sound like cable news talking heads: This. Isn’t. Normal. Ignore them, for they know nothing about the predictability of kicker opportunity, which is all that matters in this little game of ours.
You’ve come here to get an idea about which kickers could make the difference between a first-round playoff exit and a glorious fantasy championship, which you can tell Jim about. If you aren’t Jim. Which you might be. It’s hard to say.
Below are four kickers I’m targeting for the stretch run. I’ve used schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed and field goal tries allowed — along with a kicker’s likelihood of benefitting from positive game script — to come up with this list. This game, lest we forget, is a weekly affair, so no one should feel committed to pledging themselves to the below kicker options for the entire fantasy playoff stretch. But maybe you’re in one of those abominable leagues with transaction limits — in that case, you’re welcome.
I didn’t include highly owned kickers in part because that helps no one and in part, because Not In My League Twitter egged my car last time I mentioned Stephen Gostkowski on Twitter. They’re terrifying. Though I should say that if you’ve rostered Jake Elliott, Wil Lutz, Chris Boswell, Gostkowski, or Greg Zuerlein, you’re deploying them from here on out. Every one of them has either a reasonably good schedule or a schedule that might make you intoxicated if you think about it for more than a minute.
One last note: Chicago and Cleveland have gleaming rest of season kicker schedules, but I can’t, in good conscience, tout kickers connected to these horrid teams, who see very little neutral or positive game script and therefore don’t try all that many field goals.
Let’s get into it.
Best Kicker Schedules Week 14-16
Phil Dawson (owned in 3.4 percent of ESPN leagues): Blaine Gabbert has made the Cardinals’ offense a fully functional unit — something it was never going to be with Drew Stanton under center — and Dawson reaped the benefits in Week 12, racking up four field goal tries. Dawson faces off against Tennessee in Week 14 (only five teams five up more field goal tries than the Titans and one team allows more schedule adjusted points to kickers), Washington in Week 15 (no one allows more field goal opportunity), and the Giants in Week 16 (eight of 12 kickers have scored at least eight fantasy points against Big Blue, and all but two kickers have multiple field goal tries against them).
Adam Vinatieri (owned in 43 percent of ESPN leagues): Arguably no kicker has a tastier rest-of-season schedule than the 69-year Colts veteran. If you think Indy can maintain some semblance of neutral or positive game script over the next few weeks against these opponents, Vinatieri becomes a plugged in starter. Vinatieri gets the Bills in Week 14 (Buffalo has been blasted by kickers for 79 fantasy points over their past five losses, as they allow the third most adjusted points to kickers), Denver in Week 15 (only four teams allow more adjusted points to kickers), and the Ravens in Week 16 (Baltimore has given up massive kicker opportunity in neutral and negative game scripts, allowing the ninth most schedule adjusted kicker production). I wouldn’t blame anyone for bailing on Vinatieri for this Week 16 tilt though. There will likely be better options out there.
Harrison Butker (owned in 56 percent of ESPN leagues): The people are abandoning the one once crowned as Goatker. The Chiefs’ offense, before Sunday’s explosion, had dragged Butker into the depths of the many kickers who never get a chance to put up big point totals. Perhaps Butker’s opportunity hasn’t permanently dried up. If it hasn’t, he has a highly exploitable fantasy playoff schedule, taking on the Raiders in Week 14 (three teams allow more field goal attempts, as nine of 13 kickers have managed at least eight points against Oakland), the Chargers in Week 15 (this is a fairly bad matchup though LA has allowed four monster kicker outputs along with a handful of paltry totals), and the Dolphins in Week 16. Miami has become a more appealing kicker matchup over the past month and a half; enemy kickers have scored at least 11 points in four of the Dolphins’ past five losses. If you think the shell of the Dolphins will struggle in a Week 16 matchup in Kansas City, Butker should be a no-brainer.
Kai Forbath (owned in 66 percent of ESPN leagues): Forbath, the kicker formerly known as Goatbath, will surely drop onto many waiver wires this week as fantasy footballers reel after three catastrophic performances from the Minnesota kicker. But hold strong, ye of little faith, for Goatbath has one fantastic fantasy playoff matchup and two decent ones: he gets Carolina in Week 14 (not a great situation, though the Panthers have given up double-digit points to kickers in two of their four losses), the Bengals in Week 15 (only one kicker has had fewer than two field goal attempts against Cincy in 2017), and Green Bay in Week 16. Probably Forbath isn’t quite as appealing against the Packers if Aaron Rodgers is back under center, as Green Bay has only become a kicker point sieve in the absence of its star signal-caller. Kickers have notched 10.43 fantasy points per game against the Packers since Rodgers went down in Week 6.