Kickers averaged 7.5 FP in the Wild Card Round. The system had pretty mixed results, with the "Marginal Starts" only going 50-50. The best kickers of the week were "Neutrals" – all topped 7 FP and the two double digit results coming from this group:

Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in Week 18, 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

5.0

1

1

0

0.500

Neutral

9.7

3

0

0

1.000

Marginal Start

6.5

1

1

0

0.500

Start

8.0

1

0

0

N/A

As a reminder, the table shows the Average FP of the kickers in each category. A “Win” is if the recommendation is right, relative to scoring 7 FP. For example, one kicker who rated as a “Marginal Start” last week scored over 7 FP, so there was one “win.” One “Marginal Start” scored under 7 FP, which was a “loss”, and none equaled 7 FP, which would have been a “tie.” Remember, a “Sit” kicker who gets less than 7 FP is a “win” for the system (one of those last week) and over 7 FP is a “loss” (one of those); a tie is a 7 FP day (none).

For the playoffs, I’m skipping the seasonal record and missed kick sections.

Last week’s comments

I’ll start by just giving the fantasy points for last week’s kickers in my scoring system (end of the article):

Player

FP

Nick Novak

11

Matt Prater

10

Mason Crosby

8

Robbie Gould

8

Steven Hauschka

8

Andrew Franks

8

Chris Boswell

5

Sebastian Janikowski

2

There are three basic fantasy systems for the playoffs. First is a week-to-week format like daily fantasy where you can change your roster. Second is a format where you draft players at will just like seasonal fantasy. And third is a playoff-only format where you can only pick one player per team to fill out your lineup.

Here's my first comment from last year's Wild Card Week: "For the week-to-week crowd, I’d go with a “Start” and I’d lean Chris Boswell over Steven Hauschka. Boswell has a better average FP and has more consistently put up 7 FP."

This year, it's the same two kickers in the top category for the Wild card round. Of course, now "Marginal Start" is the preferred group, and Hauschka has the better stats. I worry about him missing kicks, of course, but even with that issue all year he has out-pointed Boswell. I think both are good options. If you just hate having your kicker miss short kicks, stick with Boswell. But the higher-scoring option is likely to be Hauschka.

And Hauschka (8 FP) did beat out Boswell (5 FP). Hauschka missed yet another EP, but then, so did Boswell. Hauschka was a decent pick overall, and although you could have done better, he didn't kill you. Boswell was a poor choice and cost you 3-6 FP.

Mason Crosby would be the third choice if "Starts" had been any better than "Neutrals" as a group. But they haven't. Matt Prater would be the third choice if I thought his QB was healthy and offense functioning now like it did for most of the year. But they are not. Over the last four weeks, Crosby has averaged 2 FP/G more than Prater, with 3 weeks over 7 compared to 1 for Prater. So I'm going with Crosby as my third option. Prater is 4th.

Crosby got a solid 8 FP. Prater (10 FP), however, out-scored him thanks to two long FGs. I think his offense still didn't look good, but like anything in fantasy football, sometimes a couple breaks are better than good analysis.

Among the others, I guess I'd opt for Gould even though his QB is struggling. I'd still prefer Bad Eli to the cluster of backups playing for the other three teams. And Good Eli could show up for the playoffs.

Gould (8 FP) was an above average option. Eli did some good things but he did struggle on a few throws, so we got Good and Bad Eli. Nick Novak (11 FP) and his once-and-future starting QB topped all scorers, but I don't feel bad steering clear of him. Andrew Franks (8 FP) did as well as Gould so no credit for avoiding Franks. And while I don't think it took any great insight to sit Sebastian Janikowski, his 2 FP were the worst score of the week.

The only “Marginal Start” I’d go with is Cairo Santos. While the Chiefs might struggle moving the ball, especially in the end zone, I think they will get in scoring range – especially on turnover or special teams plays – enough to give Santos several FG attempts. And he’ll have good weather indoors. All things being equal, I’d rate these three Boswell, Hauschka, then Santos. But if salary cap is an issue and Santos is cheaper, I’d go with him and use the cap savings on an upgrade elsewhere.

Santos was the top scoring kicker on the week, so this was a pretty good call. My comments on Chiefs struggles in the red zone held up and they clearly beat the Texans on turnovers and special teams play, although it’s arguable how much those factors contributed to Santos’ scoring. Once J.J. Watt was hurt, the Chiefs’ were much better on offense and at scoring TDs. I did miss on Hauschka over Santos though.

In draft from any team formats, I’d get Stephen Gostkowski or Dan Bailey, the most likely three-game PKs, before an offensive player who will likely be one-and-done. I'd also consider getting Matt Bryant, who is averaging 2 FP/G more than any kicker in the playoffs.

The jury is out on these calls.

Boswell's advantage in this format is that he's highly likely to have at least two and possibly three games, with a slight chance at a 4th, despite his generally low scoring. I'm not sure that justifies a pick before an offensive player.

Boswell moved on, and scored low, so this comment was on target.

As a fan, my rooting interest is with the Chiefs and Cairo Santos, but he's a decent risk to be one-and-done so I can't plug him for fantasy. I'd also stay away from Prater and Andrew Franks, who are very likely to get only one game.

Santos remains to be seen and his matchup, as expected, is a tough one. Prater got you one good score and now he and Franks are done, as expected.

Hauschka has been inconsistent but is the closest thing to a sure two-game kicker as there is this year, except Gostkowski (remember, NE will play either MIA if they win or the HOU-OAK winner in the Divisional round, all three of which look like sure NE wins) and maybe Boswell.

Hauschka remained inconsistent but got an okay result and a second game.

I see the other two games as toss-ups. I lean GB over NY and so Crosby over Gould if looking for a two-game kicker. But I like the Giants' chances vs. DAL better than the Packers' prospects, so Gould actually has a better chance of a three-game run than Crosby, even though the former is less likely to make it to two-games.

The Packers did win, both kickers were adequate but Crosby moves on, We'll now see about GB vs. DAL.

I think HOU with Brock Osweiler will beat OAK with Connor Cook. But OAK is the better team outside of the QBs, and Osweiler is bad enough to give OAK a chance. Neither team is likely to survive the next round, so their kickers are one- or maybe two-and-done. I'd avoid this situation if possible; if you have to pick one, I'd lean Nick Novak.

Also correct logic here; Novak and the Texans are huge underdogs in the next round.

This would be my rank ordering:

  1. Gostkowski
  2. Bailey
  3. Bryant
  4. Boswell
  5. Hauschka (these top five are the most likely to get two games in my opinion)
  6. Crosby
  7. Gould
  8. Santos (middle three have a decent shot at two games)
  9. Novak
  10. Janikowski
  11. Prater
  12. Franks (bottom four most likely to only play once)

I would draft Gostkowski and Bailey around 80 picks into a draft, Bryant a round later then wait to try to grab one of my other Top 5 when I felt a kicker run had started. Worst case, I would avoid getting stuck with one of my bottom four.

In the “one player per team” format, kicker would be the last position I’d worry about. I’d take a the highest-rated kicker from the list above if I had a choice (in 8 to 11-man lineups) or default to any of them if I had to fill a 12-man roster.

The validity of the rank ordering and my draft strategy remain to be seen.

This week’s recommendations

Start

%Own

% Wins

Average FP

Steven Hauschka

SEA

82

59%

8.1

Mason Crosby

GB

63

62%

7.8

         

Marginal Start

     

Stephen Gostkowski

NE

93

59%

8.4

Dan Bailey

DAL

93

63%

8.8

Matt Bryant

ATL

91

88%

11.1

         

Neutral

     

Cairo Santos

KC

48

56%

8.3

Chris Boswell

PIT

11

44%

7.1

         

Sit

     

Nick Novak

HOU

32

71%

8.8

The kickers are in order from top to bottom of the points the algorithm says they’ll score – it’s not highly accurate but I’d pick a guy at the top of a category over one at the bottom if I needed a tiebreaker.

The “% Owned” column is taken from ESPN’s fantasy leagues. It provides a rough guide to who may be available in most leagues. For the playoffs, I’m using the Week 17 ownership stats.

The “% Wins” column is the percentage of time the kicker has gotten a “Win” as defined by the 7 FP standard: a win is scoring more than 7 FP, a tie is equaling 7 FP, and a loss is less than that. In calculating the percentage, a tie counts as half a win.

Comments:

Check the news feed link filtered for kickers if you want to quickly review what’s going on at the position.

For the playoffs, I’ll review all the kickers as the %Owned column is just a regular season stat.

Don’t forget to check the weather. I think there could be some precipitation, possibly ice, in KC but it's too early to be sure. The NFC games are indoors, so you may want to play it safe and lean that way.

Just to repeat where I am with the algorithm right now: I think it's important to face the reality that right now, you should look to the "Marginal Start" group to pick your weekly kicker. I've kept the category labels consistent with the algorithm and will cover available "Starts" below, but I'll go over the "Marginal Starts" first because subjectively that's the first place I'd look myself.

I’d pretty much go with the system this week if you’re rank ordering the kickers only by points. That means play the "Marginal Starts" first. The only reason I wouldn't rank those three guys in the same order as the system is that Stephen Gostkowski is outdoors, the other two are in domes. So you could move Gostkowski down to #3.

Because of weather concerns in KC, I'd rank the "Starts" over the "Neutrals" and have one less thing to worry about on Sunday. Nick Novak is clearly the guy to avoid.

In salary cap formats, I’d go with the cheapest of the three "Marginal Starts." But if you need to shave an extra hundred bucks or thousand, you could go with either of the two "Starts" if they are cheaper.

Background

Just to review my objective: to identify kickers who are going to score more than seven fantasy points (FP) in the upcoming game. I chose 7 FP because that was around the average kicker scoring in 2006 and 2007. The average is more like 8 FP now but I have not been able to find a formula that consistently picks “winners” at the 8 FP level but have one that works for 7 FP. I think kicker fantasy scoring is too erratic to try to predict the exact scores of kickers or identify who will be the best kicker each week. I’ll be happy if I can predict which kickers will do better (or worse) than average most weeks: two-thirds of the time would be really good, as far as I’m concerned. This will help me pick kickers to start each week who will, on average, keep me competitive and not put me at a big disadvantage to my opponent.

The scoring system I’m using: Extra Point = 1 FP; Field Goal under 40 yards = 3; FG 40-49 yds = 4; FG 50+ = 5; Missed EP = minus 1; Missed Field Goal under 40 yards = minus 1.

To make a prediction on what kicker is going to score each week, I’ve come up with an equation that considers a kicker’s average scoring so far this year , how many points the Las Vegas oddsmakers think his team will score in the upcoming week, and how widely he is owned (a wisdom of the crowd input). I then turn that prediction into a recommendation on whether to start or bench the kicker.

My recommendations fall into four categories: “Sit” the kicker when he’s very likely to score fewer than 7 FP; “Start” him when he’s very likely to score more than 7 FP; consider him a “Marginal Start” if he’s fairly likely to top 7 FP; and “Neutral” when it’s a crapshoot what he’ll do.