Fantasy Football: Give Kickers the Boot
by Jake Ciely
Feb 14, 2014 9:19 AM EST
If you've followed my career, what I am about to say won't come as a surprise. If you also know that this opinion of mine dates back over a decade, I want to meet you. Or wait, maybe not… stalk much? Much to the chagrin of foot enthusiasts and dart throwers, we need to eliminate kickers from fantasy football. Gone. See ya. Sayonara. Adios. Go kick rocks! Every year, I compare picking kickers to throwing darts. Yet, I'm disrespecting those death-missile throwing professionals. That actually takes skill. Picking kickers? Don't even try to argue for it. Take this season. We saw five kickers score 20-plus points in a week. Alex Henery and Mason Crosby both had 20 in Week 5, Adam Vinatieri had 20 in Week 13, Justin Tucker 23 in Week 15 and the highest score came from Dan Bailey with 24 in Week 15. Those scores are matchup changing for fantasy teams. For comparison, Peyton Manning scored 20 or less points five times, and he blew away the fantasy field. How about Jamaal Charles? In 10 of his 15 games, Charles would have been outscored by any one of those kickers. We can go back in time too. Everyone involved remembers Shayne Graham and his seven field goals in 2007, or especially Rob Bironas and his eight that same year. I'm still mad at the man. No matter which side you were on with those kickers' games, you knew full well that strategy had nothing to do with your win or loss. I can hear the argument already: "But Justin Tucker and Mason Crosby were both Top Five kickers this year." Well, I am glad you said that, and to be fair, Bailey was ninth. Where were those kickers drafted though? Tucker eighth, Bailey 10th, Crosby 14th and Henery 19th (and finished 21st). Crosby and Henery weren't drafted in most leagues, and Henery sat on most waivers for his 20-point game. I won't leave it at that though, as I probably need more to sway you. No problem! Dating back to 2004 (a nice round 10 years) the No. 1 drafted kicker had an average year-end ranking of 13. Yep. On average, your top pre-draft kicker shouldn’t have even been drafted! Let that sink in for a second… Done? Good. In case it wasn’t clear, you wasted a pick! You were better off taking any other position player and grabbing a kicker off the waiver wire than spending a pick on that top kicker. Let's continue. The No. 2 kicker, averaged a year-end rank of 12th. No. 3, 18th! No. 4 – strangely the best in the Top Five – finished sixth. Here is the rest from No. 5-12: 13th, 11th, 18th, 16th, 20th, 18th, 13th and 20th. More strangeness actually shows up at No. 13 and 14, as they averaged a 14th and 12th finish, respectively. The No. 14 drafted kicker is the only one in the Top 18 to do better than his draft position. If you want a look, here is the chart. Draft Rank 10-year AVG Finish Draft Rank 10-year AVG Finish 1 -12.2 13 -1.5 2 -10.2 14 1.8 3 -15.5 15 -0.3 4 -2.1 16 -2.8 5 -7.8 17 -9.5 6 -4.5 18 -5.2 7 -11.3 19 1 8 -7.9 20 -0.3 9 -11.4 21 -3.1 10 -7.7 22 0 11 -2.4 23 -4.9 12 -8.4 24 3.9 As Rasheed Wallace would say, "Ball don't lie." Well, the kicked ball and fantasy points don't lie folks. Now, I am solutions oriented, and I'm going to give you the answer to the question, "Well, what do we do without kickers?" You add another flex spot. With the standard 12-team league setup of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST and a six-man bench, a league owns 192 players (give or take a few with injuries). Looking at the Top 200 players of the 2013 season, we find Coby Fleener, DeAndre Hopkins, Shane Vereen, Montee Ball, Garrett Graham, James Starks and a litany of other useful options outside that group. In any given week, four fantasy points ranked a player inside the Top 200 (standard scoring). Taking that into account, Fleener did it eight times, Hopkins nine, Ball seven, Graham six and Starks seven. I even ignored Vereen with the likelihood that someone stashed him on the IR. If you took players 201 through 250, the average number of games with four-plus points was 6.4, and that includes quite a few who dealt with injuries. That's a simplistic look, but it makes the point and proves that another Flex player involves a deeper knowledge and more strategy than rolling a Dungeons and Dragons die to pick your kicker. Kickers are a waste of your time, they decide matchups due to near-happenstance circumstances and introduce a higher luck factor. We all already hate how much luck plays a part, so why do we continue to use a position that is the definition of luck? It's time to give kickers Das Boot! Add another Flex spot instead. Your league and your sanity will be better for it.