Drafting kickers in fantasy football is always an intriguing task, and the best strategy regarding the position usually is up for debate. Obviously there are the most reliable names in the group who sometimes even impact the team’s play-call decisions during a game.
Besides that, some kickers are boosted by a high-powered offense likely to keep them involved. Others are potentially on the rise after their teams were active during the offseason.
Although the kicker’s impact in fantasy leagues might not make them worth drafting anytime before the very end of the draft, knowing who should be taken can make a slight but needed difference in any given week.
With that being said, let’s take a first look at the 2019 fantasy rankings for kickers.
Tier 1: The Special Ones
1. Greg Zuerlein (Los Angeles Rams) — Not that Zuerlein often needs such good field position, but the Los Angeles Rams led the NFL in field goals attempted within the 20-39 yard range in 2018. At the end of the year, the Rams were second in FG attempts (only behind the Houston Texans). Since Sean McCay was hired as the head coach in 2017, the Rams finished Top-2 in points per game in both years, which means Zuerlein is an X-factor in the kicking world.
2. Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens) — In pro football history, fantasy owners have never seen a kicker with as much consistency as Tucker during his career so far. The Lamar Jackson-led Ravens’ offense may not score as many touchdowns as the other units in the rankings, but Tucker’s ability to convert field goals, regardless of the distance, makes him the special one heading into the season. He finished 5 for 7 on 50+ yard FG attempts in 2018.
Tier 2: Great Kickers On Very Good Offenses
3. Harrison Butker (Kansas City Chiefs) — The Chiefs had the best offense in football last season. While the team may not score quite as many touchdowns as last year, it’s hard to imagine anything other than a lot of points for Patrick Mahomes and company. In other words, through extra points or field goals, Butker brings high expectations.
4. Stephen Gostkowski (New England Patriots) — Keep in mind that an offense that doesn’t score frequent touchdowns is not necessarily a bad thing for the team’s kicker. It depends, too, on how well that offense moved the ball throughout the season. The Patriots attempted 32 field goals in 2018, 9th highest in the NFL. For the record, I’m not saying Tom Brady won’t score almost 30 points every week. He is getting older, though, which can benefit Gostkowski.
5. Ka’imi Fairbairn (Houston Texans) — The Texans led the league in both field goals made and attempted in 2018 with Fairbairn converting 88.1% of his kicks. They also scored more than 25 points per game. We should expect those numbers to maintain in 2019, and for Fairbairn to see plenty of opportunities.
6. Will Lutz (New Orleans Saints) — There are several reasons for Lutz to be a top-tier kicker in 2019: He plays for one of the most productive offenses in the NFL, has at least eight indoor games, and is coming off of the best season of his career. Drew Brees should give Lutz plenty of opportunities this season.
Tier 3: Very Good Kickers And/Or Very Good Offenses
7. Mason Crosby (Green Bay Packers) — Crosby’s 37 field-goal attempts in 2018 now stands as the second-highest of his career, and his highest since 2013. His 30 field goals made were also his best since 2013. Crosby had an excellent season despite kicking seven 50+ yard FGs (tied highest in the season) for an offense with the starting quarterback dealing with injuries since Week 1.
8. Michael Badgley (Los Angeles Chargers) — If Badgley had played the entire season, the Chargers would probably never have had kicker issues in 2018. After all, Badgley converted 15 of 15 field-goal attempts–missing just one extra point in 10 games played. With a solid offense behind him, he should be a Top-10 option in the position going into 2019.
9. Robbie Gould (San Francisco 49ers) — Gould finished second among kickers in fantasy points last year. Besides that, the 36-year-old kicker has now converted at least 90% of the attempted field goals for three consecutive seasons. In 2019, the 49ers will have Jimmy Garoppolo back to an offense that appears to be ready to roll under Kyle Shanahan.
10. Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis Colts) — Vinatieri’s leg might not be as powerful as some names ahead (and below) him in this list. However, the Colts’ offense has Andrew Luck and plays in an indoor stadium, which should still create plenty of favorable scenarios for the 46-year-old kicker.
11. Jason Myers (Seattle Seahawks) — No kicker converted more 50+ yard field goal attempts than Myers (6) in 2018, who had a career year with the New York Jets. He signed with the Seahawks, and while the Seahawks’ offensive weapons may not be eye-popping, the unit should still be in a strong position with Russell Wilson under center. It’s hard to imagine Seattle not improving the team’s 27 field goal attempts (21st in the league), as well as the 81.5% of field goals made with Myers in 2019.
12. Graham Gano (Carolina Panthers) — It’s true that 2018 wasn’t an impressive season for the Panthers’ kicker. Only two teams attempted fewer field goals than Carolina’s 21, and the 41 extra-point attempts were about league average. Plus, Gano finished the year on injured reserve. Still, Gano has proven himself to be a reliable kicker despite struggling on long-range kicks. He led the NFL with a 96.7 field goal percentage in 2017.
13. Jake Elliott (Philadelphia Eagles) — Elliott attempted 31 field goals in 2018, converting 25 of them. That’s the same number he posted two years ago. The only difference in his second pro season was the extra points, as he didn’t have as many opportunities last season compared to 2017. With Carson Wentz healthy, things should get back on track for the Eagles’ offense.
Tier 4: Sporadic Fantasy Options
14. Matt Prater (Detroit Lions) — Even though the Lions didn’t have one of the best offenses in the league, Prater finished inside the Top 10 for kickers in 2018. His leg is still one of the most reliable in the NFL, which makes him an exciting option for the Lions–especially considering that Detroit’s offense should be better in 2019.
15. Chris Boswell (Pittsburgh Steelers) — At some point during last season, it seemed unavoidable that the Steelers would release Boswell. But, the franchise kept the 28-year-old kicker hoping he can return to the success he showed in 2017. In addition to what Boswell offers, the Steelers’ offense always deserves attention.
16. Brett Maher (Dallas Cowboys) — The kicker position isn’t a lock for the Cowboys going into the Training Camp, but we should expect Maher to be the starter at least for Week 1. Even though he struggled on field goals kicked from 30-39 and 40-49 yards, there’s still room for optimism with him. After all, he finished 6 for 7 on 50-yard field goals despite playing in his first career regular season in 2018. Here’s something else to keep in mind: the Cowboys attempted 36 field goals last year which was fifth-highest in the NFL.
17. Giorgio Tavecchio (Atlanta Falcons) — One of the reasons behind the Falcons’ decision to let Matt Bryant go in the offseason was because of the team’s trust in Tavecchio. The kicker had an unimpressive season with the Oakland Raiders in 2017 but bounced back in the five appearances he had in Atlanta last year. He converted all five of his field-goal attempts. He is now set to be the Week 1 starter for one of the most productive offenses in the NFL–which also plays indoors.
18. Aldrick Rosas (New York Giants) — Rosas was an excellent surprise for the Giants last year. He had a disappointing 2017 season but converted 32 of 33 field goals attempts in 2018. Don’t be surprised if Rosas ends up having even more FG attempts this season as he’s playing for a team that doesn’t seem to be on the verge of scoring a lot of touchdowns.
19. Dan Bailey (Minnesota Vikings) — Bailey’s recent numbers aren’t as impressive as they were a couple of years ago; he has only converted 75% of his field goals in the past two seasons. Still, considering the Vikings’ offense should have a solid year and the fact that Minnesota plays in a dome, Bailey can be a reliable fantasy option in the right matchups.
20. Greg Joseph/Austin Seibert (Cleveland Browns) — We all know how high the expectation around the Browns are entering the 2019 season. Don’t forget, however, that kicking was one of the franchise’s issues in 2018. The Browns’ potential, along with the room for improvement from the kicker (we don’t know yet who will be the Week 1 starter), is something the fantasy owners may be aware as the season progresses.
(Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)