Heading into 2020 we have most of the names that finished up top in 2019 projected to do the same. This has a lot to do with targeting offenses that move the ball. Harrison Butker finished first in fantasy points, averaging 9.2 per game. He was extremely efficient, and also led the league in field goal attempts. Wil Lutz was second, and both also were among the tops in extra points as well. Both come in as top five options.
Justin Tucker was third in fantasy points last season and had just 29 field goal attempts. A lot of this had to do with John Harbaugh’s more aggressive nature in going for it on fourth down, but also the Ravens were a finely tuned offense that did not need to kick a ton of field goals. Either way, Tucker racked up 59 extra points which helped.
Making a jump this past year was Zane Gonzalez. He will be used as an example below of how an improved offense can help out kickers in fantasy. With a fast-paced offense, he had 35 attempts and finished fourth in fantasy points. We should get Robbie Gould back to strong numbers, and the same goes for Greg Zuerlein. Both project to be top five kickers in fantasy points, who are on offenses that move the ball with ease.
You will find that the kicker rankings tie into how offenses perform. Teams that don’t score often, play slow, or are constantly trailing will not produce strong fantasy numbers for kickers. The Jets, Colts, Redskins, and Raiders kickers last season all finished among the bottom in fantasy points. The volume just wasn’t there for them to produce, and that is the most crucial aspect for kickers.
A few late-round kickers that won’t go until the later rounds need to be mentioned. Brandon McManus has suffered from a struggling Broncos offense the last few years, but I have his production moving back up to nearly the top ten range. He projects for over 120 fantasy point mark. With Drew Lock there now, and what should be an improved offense, I like McManus’ chances of returning. Jake Elliott is another one, who had an excellent year a few years ago. He is sitting in the middle of the rankings with plenty of upside, and the Eagles offense should bounce back from all of the injuries they had. Elliott had just 26 field goal attempts, and that is bumped up headed into 2020. Matt Prater is also a solid pick with Detroit, especially with Matthew Stafford back and healthy.
Kicker Fantasy Draft Strategy
You might have seen one general rule for drafting kickers, which is to use your last pick on them. 12 kickers were scored over 110 fantasy points last season, which is one good kicker for each fantasy team. While there is an elite tier of fantasy kickers that score 20-30 fantasy points more than the next tier, their ADP will be one round or two higher if you want to draft them. Now if you feel good about where your team is, you can go ahead and get one of these tiers.
It is still best to take positional players instead, especially if you are looking to build depth and/or draft for true upside. There will still be plenty of options at the other positions to grab instead. Therefore I would lean on drafting other positions over a kicker. The smaller your league is, the more reason to wait because the player pool will be more open at the position. If you are in a deeper league, you can make more of a case for nabbing one a round earlier.
Overall I would look towards other positions first before drafting a kicker. They have a higher upside and fantasy point potential. Kickers are easily replaceable on a week-to-week basis too.
Who Are The Best Fantasy Kickers?
Outside of Harrison Butker, Justin Tucker has been one of the more reliable kickers in football. He should have some slight positive regression in field goal attempts, and still have a chance at a ton of extra points on a weekly basis. While it wasn’t the best year for Greg Zuerlein, but he still had a top ten fantasy season. The Rams kicker has been string, finishing inside the top ten ins coring in two of the last three seasons. The year he didn’t, he missed a few games due to injury.
Wil Lutz is another one, who has the advantage of kicking for the Saints. He plays half of his games indoors, but Lutz has been a top ten kicker in three straight seasons. Volume is always on his side with the Saints, who generate a ton of field goal attempts. Lutz also has a strong leg, which has led to some big weeks. Stephen Gostkowski missed most of last season due to injury, but don’t forget about him being one of the top fantasy kickers. He comes in as the 8th ranked name, and while the Patriots offense is in question, Gostkowski should still have plenty of chances.
Who Is The Number One Fantasy Kicker?
Harrison Butker is easily the best kicker in fantasy football right now. He has finished top five in scoring in the last three seasons. The Chiefs have been an offense that has provided big points to kickers because of how fast they play, but their ability to move the ball. That won’t change for Butker in 2020. We can even go back past him with Cairo Santos, who finished as a top eight kicker options in the two prior seasons before Butker’s arrival.
What Should I Look For In Drafting A Fantasy Kicker?
You might think that efficiency is what you are after in a fantasy kicker, and while it plays a part, volume is really the big target. As you sort through field goal attempts, even if guys struggled with efficiency, they were still productive in fantasy points. Take Matt Gay for example, who only made 77% of his kicks, which ranked in the bottom half of the league. He still finished fifth in fantasy points. Greg Zuerlein has another one, who made just 73% of his kicks, but had 33 attempts, and also knocked in all of his extra points.
You can make the exception for a few names who didn’t see as many attempts yet still produced, like Dan Bailey and Justin Tucker. They crushed in extra points but had to be accurate to produce those fantasy points. If they missed even a couple apiece, then the numbers wouldn’t be as strong. When evaluating kickers, these are the names still to consider, but we still want volume the most.
Kickers on teams that move the ball is very important. There is a big reason why Harrison Butker and Wil Lutz are big fantasy kickers year in and year out. They are on offenses that move the ball in chunks and also play up in pace. There were two newer names in the fantasy kicking department, one being Zane Gonzalez in Arizona and Matt Gay in Tampa Bay. Both finished as the 4th and 5th best kickers in fantasy points last season. After a horrendous offensive season in Arizona, Kyler Murray and a revamped coaching staff started to move the ball, which helped out Gonzalez’s attempts. The same goes for Tampa Bay, who was a pass-happy team that moves the ball.
Avoid kickers on bad teams. There is no real reason to be drafting the kicker of the Giants or Bengals right now. They don’t bring enough volume to the table, and often they find themselves in games where they will need to go for it more than settle for three because they are trailing by more than enough points.
Do I Need More Than One Kicker On My Roster?
Unless you have an incredibly deep roster in your league, which the average league does not, there is no need to carry two kickers on your roster. It takes away from having depth at your other positions, which is more important.
How Do I Stream Kickers?
Kicker is one of the easiest positions to stream. There are always around 15-18 kickers out there on the waiver wire each week, and you can also find kickers that others drop later due to bye weeks. There will be kickers in good matchups against defenses that allow more volume than others, which helps out kickers on average teams. To start out the season, draft a kicker that you still plan on keeping or at least opens up with a decent schedule to start the season.
After that we will be looking at things on a weekly basis. You can begin looking at projected points, matchups, Vegas totals to determine who is the best kicker play each week. This is a repeatable process for many positions, but kicker has become a popular way to go because of the options on a weekly basis. This is a plan that has worked for many.
Should I Target Kickers Who Kick Indoors?
While it is a slight advantage, because for eight games out of a year a kicker won’t have to deal with the conditions of mother nature. They may also have an extra game or two within their division and depending on their schedule. Overall it is not something that needs to be baked into choosing kickers when drafting. Only four of the top ten kickers were on a team that played their home games in domes. Looking back at 2018 and 2017, only three of the top ten kickers were in domes. Overall it is a low factor, so do not make your decisions based on that.
Do Matchups Matter For Kickers?
Just like other positions, defenses do allow more kicker production than others. Now this isn’t necessarily tied to how good a defense is. We saw Denver and Minnesota, who didn’t allow many points, allow over two field goal attempts per game. Denver allowed 2.4. Bend don’t break defenses, and teams that play in closer games tend to give up a hefty amount of field goals.
Bad pass defenses allow a lot of field goal attempts. Tampa Bay and Miami were one of the poorer defenses in the league last season against the pass, and they allowed a ton of field goal attempts. The Jets, Bengals, and Falcons were also among those teams. We can certainly pinpoint teams to target throughout the year, but the numbers don’t really stabilize until later when looking at field goal attempts allowed. Before that happens, we can easily identify the poorer pass defenses and target them with kickers.
Kickers get a bad wrap at times, but they certainly matter if your league requires them. Putting some effort into drafting a strong kicker in the right round or having a streaming plan instead of punting the position will give you a slight advantage over the rest of your league.
Should I Draft A Kicker Or Defense First?
You are likely going to be using the last two or three picks on a defense and kicker. Both positions score relatively the same, and are easily the most replaceable positions. Defenses still carry a slight edge over kickers due to the weekly depth of kickers being larger in comparison to good defenses.