By McCade Pearson, Michael Seff and RotoRob
Welcome back to our series of 2015 Fantasy football cheat sheets. So while you wonder whether Jason Witten (ankles) will suit up in Week Three and how that may affect handicapping tips, let’s examine the top 17 kickers for the remainder of the 2015 Fantasy football season.
Obviously, no kicker is ever worth drafting early on. There simply is no great separation between any of them to warrant reaching for any single kicker before the rest of the field. Besides, no one ever wins their league based on their kicker. But it’s still something you have to fill on your team, so you may as well get the best available when the time comes.
Ideally, try to find kickers that are either on great offenses (lots of extra point opportunities), or on teams that tend to hit snags from time to time. Drives that stall just outside of the red zone are the breeding ground for high scoring kickers.
Bear in mind that with the rule changes in place for 2015, there could be more two-point conversions, so that could level the playing field for kickers. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (8): A couple of years ago, Tucker was proof positive that rookie kickers can actually be difference makers. The Pro Bowler has already established himself as the most accurate kicker in NFL history, converting 89.8 per cent of field goal attempts in his career. Cold weather? No worries. Tucker is 14-of-15 when the temperature ranges between 40 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit. He’s never missed a field goal of under 30 yards in his career. Now if B-More will just give him that contract extension… Of course, Tucker has found different ways to supplement his income (see video below).– RR
2. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots (2): This veteran kicker earned himself a long-term extension as the team’s franchise player this spring. Gostkowski was money last year, nailing 35-of-37 field goals and leading the NFL in scoring. We like Tucker more, but certainly would not quibble with you taking Gostkowski as the first kicker. Gostkowki now has three 35-field goal seasons and has shown range with 17 field goals of 50 yards or more in his career. — RR
3. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks (4): Hauschka finished second in field goal percentage in 2013, but barely cracked the top 20 last year. Still, he remains one of the top field goal booters in the league, converting every single attempt inside the 40 last season. Only three kickers have been in the top seven in scoring in each of the last two years, and Hauschka is one of them. Some rank him even higher, but based on some stumbles last year, we’re only nudging him up one spot from 2014. — RR
4. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts (6): We considered Vinatieri for our All Pro Team last year, but opted for the dude that replaced him on the Pats — after Vinatieri played on three Super Bowl winners in a decade. This Pro Bowl kicker is now 42, but he can still kick long field goals; in fact, he was the most accurate field goal kicker in the NFL last season. Vinatieri has booted at least 30 field goals in each of the last two season, and now — entering his 20th NFL campaign — he is up to fourth place on the league’s all time scoring list. — RR
5. Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos (NR): McManus canned four field goals in Week One, wasting no time in pleasing his owners and helping key a win over the Ravens. Last year, he was perfect inside the 30, and already this season he’s perfect (5-for-5) from anywhere. Certainly the trade last summer from the Giants to the Broncos really worked out well for McManus. — RR
6. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers (10): When we ranked Crosby 10th among kickers last year, we talked about how he had looked nearly done a couple of times over the years. Yet now the second team 75th Anniversary All-America Team member is almost back to being a top five booter. And why not? This is a dude that has successfully nailed nine of 14 field goal tries of 50 yards or longer over the past two seasons. Of course, adding 55 extra-points thanks to the high-powered Packer offense helps. Yup, Crosby’s back. — RR
7. Josh Brown, New York Giants (NR): Through the first two weeks of the season, no one has more field goals than Brown as he consolidates what was a very fine comeback season last year. — RR
8. Greg Zuerelin, St. Louis Rams (5): When we ranked Zuerelin fifth last year, we talked about the advantage kicking in a dome gives him. Sure enough, he nailed 14-of-16 field goal attempts at home last year compared to just 10-of-14 on the road. Zuerelin’s overall 24-for-30 showing was a bit of a letdown, hence he’s slipped a bit in this year’s rankings. Still, you have to stoked about his 37-yard game-winner in OT to beat Seattle in Week One. — RR
9. Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills (NR): Two years ago, we slotted Carpenter 14th in our Kicker Rankings, and the fact that he didn’t make it last year was likely a mistake. After all, over the last two seasons, he ranks fifth in field goal accuracy. Just note that his preseason work has been very shaky, enough so that the Bills are exploring their options. But think about this: on a shitty Bills’ offense, he somehow finished second in the league in field goals last year. Carpenter wasn’t as accurate last year, but come one — when things count, he’s going to get the job done. — RR
10. Cody Parkey, Philadelphia Eagles (NR): Parkey missed a key field goal in Week One after a strong rookie season in which he thrust himself onto the Fantasy radar by scoring 150 points. He was so reliable last year, nailing 32-of-36 field goal attempts, so you know he has the support of his team — for now. — RR
11. Kyle Brindza, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NR): Undrafted rookie Brindza was the last man standing for the Bucs this preseason, beating out veterans Patrick Murray and Conor Barth for the job. So far the gamble seems to have paid off as Brindza canned four field goals (including a 55-yarder) in Week Two to key a win over the Saints. — RR
12. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons (13): Last year, we ranked Bryant 13th expecting the Falcons to be a better team. They were, improving by two wins, and he enjoyed more success, ranking fifth in Fantasy points per game and connecting on every single field goal of 49 yards or less. This year it will be interesting to see how Bryant adjusts to the 33-yard extra point kicks, but it was no issue in Week One and he was also a perfect 4-for-4 in field goal attempts. He may be 40 now, but his range does not seem to be waning. — RR
13. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys (12): Last year we ranked Bailey 12th, assuming he’d get a ton of chip shot field goal attempts. Sure enough, he had a half dozen tries of less than 30 yards, nailing them all. The owner of nine game-winning field goals within the final two minutes or in OT in his career, Bailey is off to a nice start, enjoying a perfect Week One. If he averages more than the 1.9 field goal attempts per game he’s had over the last three years, he could easily rise in the rankings. — RR
14. Nick Folk, New York Jets (NR): It’s been a while since Folk got some Fantasy love. The long-time Jets placekicker helped the team out by restructuring his contract this summer to open a bit of cap space. Maybe he needed to after slipping somewhat in 2014. Still, Folk was perfect in Week One, nailing his only field goal and canning all four extra point tries. He’s finished among the top 14 in Fantasy points per game in each of the last two seasons and we expect him to make it three in a row. — RR
15. Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (1): Prater was the top Fantasy kicker heading into 2014 on the strength of his accuracy and his gig booting for the high-powered Bronco offense. However, his four-game suspension to begin the season forced Denver to trade for Brandon McManus and ultimately led to Prater’s release. Prater landed in Detroit for the final two-thirds of the season and he excelled again, finishing in the top 12 in Fantasy points per game for the third straight season, making him one of just four kickers to achieve that designation. Obviously, his extra points were way down for the Lions, but he still connected for 21 field goals in 11 games. — RR
16. Randy Bullock, Houston Texans (NR): Back in 2012, we slotted Bullock 16th in our rankings, but he’s yet to make it back until now. Of course, the fact that he was done in 2012 (groin tear) before the season started didn’t help. Bullock wasn’t great in his NFL debut in 2013, but after nailing 30-of-35 field goals last year, he deserves consideration. Yes, he’s the answer to the trivia question (who missed the first extra point under the new NFL rules?), but his average field goal last year of 38 yards was impressive. Bullock may take some time to live that one down, but don’t assume he’s not a capable booter. — RR
17. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers (7): Novak has been steady if not spectacular in recent years for the Bolts, converting a remarkable 86.3 per cent of his field goals in four seasons. That includes 18 field goals of 50 yards or longer. — MS
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who’s missing, who’s too high and who is too low.
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