Yeah, I know. The kicker--a necessary evil in fantasy football, but if you pay attention, you'll see that drafting a good kicker can help you win some games, and maybe more than just games. Conversely, have you ever had a kicker kick your butt in fantasy football? I have, and it pissed me off. Sure, it's hard to predict a kicker's performance from week to week, and it can vary wildly, but if you follow a few rules you can help maximize your kicker points.
I have three rules with kickers--though you cannot always follow all three. 1) Choose a kicker who plays on a high-octane offense. More opportunities equal more points. Of course, this can backfire when your kicker is only kicking extra points. 2) Select a kicker on a team that gives opportunities--like the Browns, who will often get into field goal range and stall. Or on a team with a good defense like the 49ers that will get into defensive battles like 12-9, which means more field goal chances. 3) Pick a kicker who is accurate. Remember the final episode of The League in 2010? "Post!!" (What do you mean, you don't watch that show?! I'm going to practically require that you do if you read my columns here). Yeah, you don't want a kicker who will miss big kicks. With that, a few thoughts on kickers this season....
Stephen Gostkowski--he's going to get his chances, and he's very accurate. 28 of 33 in 2011 in field goals, 59 PATs. The Patriots will give him opportunities, even though he will play a few games in frigid New England. And if the hoodie trusts a kicker, you should too.
Billy Cundiff--the opposite here to Gostkowski, his miss from 32 yards is what sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl last season. This is the same guy that was run out of Dallas, too. I just don't trust him.
Mason Crosby--this is another super accurate guy who, despite kicking in Green Bay and despite kicking a lot of extra points (68 in 2011), he's going to usually put up decent fantasy numbers.
Sebastian Janikowski--my goodness, this guy has a big leg. He's 34, and the streaky Raiders are always iffy, but the guy just booms it. His long field goals the last three years--61, 59, 63. Are you kidding?
David Akers--Argh. The thought of this porn-stache wearing, finger-pointing-to-the-sky little dude almost never missing a kick against us when he played for the Eagles makes me twitch. But he will get opportunities like he did in SF last year, and he can still boot the ball hard.Matt Prater--the thin air of Denver. Need I say more? I mean, in that game against the Bears last year, he kicked a 59-yarder to tie and a 51-yarder in OT to win. Damn.
Rob Bironas--he's consistent and very accurate.
Jason Hanson--he has been on some really bad Detroit teams, but now he's on an offense that just puts up points.
Garrett Hartley--he's got a big leg and plays on a top-notch offense in a dome.
Lawrence Tynes--I love the guy, but I hate the guy. Does he not make you nervous every single time, including on extra points? I just can't draft Tynes for my fantasy teams, maybe you can.
Dan Carpenter--he has a solid leg, but he will have a huge game followed by a dud. Nothing sucks like watching your kicker play in a game in which his team is losing 28-7 in the fourth quarter. Then you drop him and some other dude picks him up and the Dolphins win 12-10. That's Dan Carpenter.
Graham Gano--absolutely not. I don't know how this guy still has an NFL gig, but I like that he is in the NFC East.