Oh, the kicker.
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If you've played fantasy football for any length of time, you've lost a week because your opponent's kicker kicked seven field goals. But you've probably also won because your kicker kicked a last-second field goal on Monday night. So, it is what it is: a necessary evil.
Every year, I'm in a few drafts where kickers are drafted early because, for some strange reason, drafters believe they should fill all their starting spots before their bench. Don't! It should be illegal to draft a kicker before the final round.
Unless you have a specific strategy to grab a top-tier kicker a round or two early because you know you can draft your super-secret, deep sleeper in the last round, draft your kicker last. Even then, I would suggest you rethink your strategy. The difference between the 1st and 12th kicker last year, according to one fantasy site, was 1.9 points per game.
Yes, that might a difference once or twice a year, but the odds of it making a difference on any given week are slim. And week to week, it is entirely unpredictable. It's not worth passing up a running back handcuff or a rookie wide receiver who could breakout.
These are my twenty least-evil fantasy kickers:
1. Stephen Gostkowski (NE) – Money in the bank.
2. Cody Parkey (Phi) – Too many opportunities.
3. Adam Vinatieri (Ind) – Made 97% of his kicks last year.
4. Mason Crosby (GB) – Could be No. 1 if he didn’t kick in Green Bay.
5. Dan Bailey (Dal) – I’m too low; w/o Murray, many more chances.
6. Steve Hauschka (Sea) – Houscka-n he not finish in the top ten.
7. Connor Barth (Den) – High percentage kicker in Denver.
8. Justin Tucker (Bal) – Texas alum, and consistently good.
9. Matt Prater (Det) – Good offense between the 20s.
10. Dan Carpenter (Buf) – Offense might be worse.
11. Randy Bullock (Hou) – Not a high ceiling, but a low floor.
12. Matt Bryant (Atl) – Not a strong leg, but make high %.
13. Greg Zuerlein (StL) – They call him “Legatron”.
14. Caleb Sturgis (Mia) – Could finish a lot higher.
15. Dustin Hopkins (NO) – A kick in NO should be good.
16. Josh Brown (NYG) – Another high percentage kicker.
17. Chandler Catanzaro (Ari) – If Palmer stays health, top-12 K.
18. Graham Gano (Car) – Might have more opportunities.
19. Phil Dawson (SF) – I can kick farther, but not as accurately.
20. Nick Folk (NYJ) – Bye week replacement.
And to put an exclamation point on the don't-draft-a-kicker-early point, Shaun Suisham, kicker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is out for the year. The current Steelers' kicker, Garrett Hartley, will probably finish somewhere on this list by year's end. Good luck figuring out where, though.
If you draft a kicker early, I will personally sick Sebastian Janikowski-also not ranked in the top twenty, but could easily finish in the top twelve-on you.