Narrative is alluring because our caveperson brains grasp it. The primal part of our brain — the one that produced cave paintings as a way of communicating and documenting — craves narrative. Our perception of the world makes no sense, now or then, but stories register as sensical, as orderly and easy and comforting. Reality is terrifying. Therefore, narrative.
Which brings us to Dan Bailey facing off against the Broncos in Denver’s mile-high air. Like Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota and Eddie Lacy’s revenge against the cheeseheads, this story is locked and loaded in the fantasy brain: Bailey, he of the astounding 89.7 percent field goal accuracy, will go berserk in the altitude of Denver, where footballs fly forever. I get it: the narrative is intoxicating. You’re drunk.
But a glance at what makes for a good kicker matchup leaves something to be desired: yes, Dallas is a one-point favorite, but the Vegas total is decidedly low (43 points) and the Broncos’ pass defense, which gave up a meager 185 yards in Week 1 and a league low 186 yards per game in 2016, douses the narrative with ten thousand gallons of ice water.
There are only four kickers on the FanDuel main slate priced higher than Bailey in Week 2. I see the Cowboys kicker as a screaming fade — coincidentally, the name of my Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band — amid a handful of kickers who make for much better process.
Now let’s get into it.
Stephen Gostkowski (NE) at New Orleans Saints ($5,100): You’d have to be the truthiest Justin Tucker truther to ever walk the planet to pay up for the Baltimore kicker when Gostkowski is $100 cheaper in a matchup made in your wildest fantasy football dreams. The Patriots are a seven-point favorite with a ludicrous 29-point implied Vegas total against the sieve commonly known as the Saints’ defense. Gostkowski, coming off a ho-hum nine-point performance in New England’s loss to Kansas City, is well worth the extra cash if you can spare it. Probably his ownership will be high in cash games, but I wouldn’t let that sway me away from a guy who attempted 2.22 field goals in 2016 Patriots victories. The Saints allowed the seventh most field goal attempts in 2016 and saw the Vikings attempt three field goals on Monday night. More like Goatkowski.
Giorgio Tavecchio (OAK) vs. New York Jets ($4,700): From here to eternity, as another Giorgio (Moroder) might say, I’ve never seen a more appealing kicker play than the new Oakland kicker in Week 2. The Raiders are nearly a two-touchown home favorite against the shell of a team we lovingly call the Jets. Fresh off giving up 225 passing yards to the less-than-vaunted Buffalo aerial attack, Gang Green could become a weekly target in this space. Sebastian Janikowski last year notched 2.19 field goal tries per game while not attempting a single kick in three contests. Seabass averaged 2.51 attempts in 2016 Oakland wins. Tavecchio’s fantasy floor will remain high until further notice.
Nick Folk (TB) vs. Chicago Bears ($4,600): The Bears’ defense, after being gouged by the Falcons for 322 yards on a mere 21 completions, look an awful lot like a mismatch against what could (should) be a productive Tampa passing attack. And the Bucs are heavy home favorites. And the dearly dispatched Roberto Aguayo averaged an eye-popping 2.89 field goal tries in Tampa wins last season. That all points to Folk as a high-floor Week 2 kicker candidate against a Chicago squad that allowed the fifth most field goal attempts a year ago. If you can’t jam Gostkowski into your Week 2 cash game or GPP lineup — and really, you should never force a kicker — then fall back on Folk and throw that extra $500 at another roster spot.
Phil Dawson (ARI) at Indianapolis Colts ($4,500): Dawson absolutely duffed a 32 yarder last week against Detroit, triggering a tilt that temporarily put me in an alternate universe where veteran kickers don’t shank gimme field goals. Otherwise Dawson would’ve finished as a top-10 kicker in Week 1. Alas, the opportunity was there. Process over results, he screamed into the Twitter abyss, hearing nothing but the jeers of a thousand faithful readers. Anyway: even without David Johnson, the Cardinals should, in theory, be able to move the pigskin against a Colts’ defense that just got wrecked by Jared Goff and company. Dawson is my favorite minimum-priced play on the FanDuel main slate. Greg Zuerline in Week 1 returned to his Legatron ways of yesteryear with 16 fantasy points against Indy, including three successful field goal attempts. Only the Giants and Panthers allowed for field goal tries per game than the Colts in 2016. I should note that I fear for Dawson what I fear for every Arizona skill position player: total and complete implosion that drains the Cardinals of any and all fantasy appeal.