Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire
If you snagged Stephen Gostkowski in the final few rounds of your draft, congratulations! If you picked him or any other kicker higher than that, you played yourself.
For the rest of us, however, we’re going to need to adapt. Your team needs a kicker, and sometimes having your kicker go off for 15 or 16 points is the difference between winning and losing. So what do you do? You stream. You plop yourself down by the pond, grab your fishing pole, and you go to work. Grab the biggest fish from the free agent pool, slot him into your line-up, and go back to worrying about who you’re starting between Alex Collins, Chris Hogan, and John Conner in your flex spot. Seriously, I’m at a loss here. Someone send help.
This article is going to be the same, week in and week out. We’re going to break down the best kicker for the week owned in 30% of leagues, the best kicker owned in 20% of leagues, and the best kicker owned in 5% of leagues. That should give you enough option even in very deep leagues to snag the best streaming kicker.
Owned in 30% (or less) of leagues
Daniel Carlson (Minnesota Vikings)
The obvious factors in scoring points for kickers are based in how many attempts they make and how efficient they are with those attempts. The number of attempts is heavily correlated with how good the offense is in terms of total yards per game, and the efficiency tends to correlate (although a bit more loosely) with playing in a closed arena.
Daniel Carlson is in a great place for both, playing at home with an excellent offense in Minnesota in US Bank Stadium. We don’t really know for sure if Carlson is a good NFL kicker, but in terms of streaming candidates he’s top tier. He replaced Kai Forbath who put up double digits in five of his eight home games last season despite not actually being a good kicker. Carlson was a little shaky in preseason, but I’m not terribly concerned due to the sample size.
Also in Carlson’s favor are the defenses of both teams. Strong defense tends to lead to good starting field position, which leads to more attempts in the opponent’s half of the field. The Vikings certainly have that. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense surrendered a ton of yards last season. While that isn’t definitively indicative of how they’ll be this season, there’s a good hope that the Vikings will be in field goal position more often than not during this game.
Owned in 20% (or less) of leagues
Caleb Sturgis (Los Angeles Chargers)
Caleb Sturgis has been asked, on average, to attempt about six 50+ yard field goals per season. He’s been relatively successful, too. Now he’s playing on what is expected to be one of the strongest offenses in the AFC, and he will probably be asked to kick even more this season.
This week, the Chargers are playing the Chiefs at home. Now, in Carlson’s section I mentioned how beneficial it is to kick in a dome. The Chargers do not play in a dome. However, and this is a strong however that needs to be noted, kicking in a dome does not mean you’re a better kicker. A player who kicks in a dome and succeeds 80% of the time is not a better play than a kicker who kicks outdoors and succeeds 81% of the time. A dome makes a bad kicker better, but someone who is able to kick outdoors and succeed is still a good pick on a weekly basis.
Sturgis has played in 62 games. A massive 55 of those have been outdoors, and he still owns an 81% field goal percentage. That’s excellent news for the Chargers, and for you as a streamer, because the Chargers get a ton of yards, attempt a ton of field goals, and Sturgis looks to be a pretty great option for them even outdoors. I love Sturgis as a streamer option this week, especially in those deep leagues in which people pay attention and drafted Carlson.
Owned in 5% (or less) of leagues
Phil Dawson (Arizona Cardinals)
Phil Dawson won the kicker position in Arizona, which, if you were paying attention to our Draft Prep article for kickers, makes him an automatic top ten kicker. He is currently owned in 1% of leagues on ESPN. He plays his home games in a retractable roof, which isn’t quite as good as a dome, but it’ll still work. He’s also playing against the Washington Redskins, who do not have an excellent defense.
The Cardinals didn’t have a great offense last season, coming in the mid 20s for yards/game, but they also didn’t have David Johnson or a quarterback. Now they have both. What we have in Dawson is a combination of track record, middling-to-good offense, a decent home field, and a poor defensive opponent. That’s about everything you can ask for.
Did I mention Dawson was asked to kick 40 field goals last season for Arizona? Including five 50+ yard field goals? The only reason Dawson isn’t above Carlson and Sturgis is his volatility last season. He only kicked 80%, and as a result, he only had six games in the double digits. However, he was asked to kick four or more field goals six separate times. That’s ideal. On top of that, the 80% success rate last season was Dawson’s lowest since 2006. He’s gonna be fine out there this week.
If, somehow, you can’t grab any of these, or Phil Dawson insulted your mother once and you refuse to pick him up, or someone read this list before you and grabbed all three, never fear! There are still a few options for you. I like Sebastian Janikowski (SEA) in Denver, due to Denver, Randy Bullock (CIN) is a mediocre option going against Indianapolis’ miserable excuse for a defense, and Jason Myers (NYJ) is a huge stretch, but at least he’s kicking indoors at Detroit.