By Tony Meale
All right, here’s the deal with kickers. You’re not drafting one until the last round. The only time it’s okay to draft a kicker before the last round is if you draft a kicker in the penultimate round and decide to use your last pick on a defense.
In other words, if you draft a kicker in any round other than the final two rounds, you should not be playing fantasy football. In one of my leagues, almost every member insists on drafting two kickers – one in the middle rounds and one in the later rounds. This is simply not intelligent.
(It’s also probably why I’ve won that league three times in four tries, but I digress.)
1) Blair Walsh, Vikings
Dude made 10 field goals from 50+ yards last season. Only four other kickers had more than four such makes. Fear the dome.
2) Matt Bryant, Falcons
Bryant averaged more than two field goals made per game last season and should see plenty of opportunities in an offense that just replaced Michael Turner with Steven Jackson.
3) Phil Dawson, 49ers
Even at 38, Dawson is as accurate as they come. He’s also going from Cleveland to San Francisco, which means a) better weather and b) more field goal opportunities.
4) Matt Prater, Broncos
The Broncos are going to score a lot of points. Like, a lot of them.
5) Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
Usually the top-ranked kicker on the board, Gostkowski’s value decreases slightly this year – mainly because New England’s offense has been decimated by free agency, injuries and murder charges (well, just one murder charge, but you get the point).
6) Justin Tucker, Ravens
I see a lot more stalled drives for the Ravens this year, which should create plenty of chances for Tucker.
7) David Akers, Lions
Akers struggled for much of last season after a record-setting 2011. The dome should help.
8) Dan Bailey, Cowboys
Bailey isn’t a great long-distance kicker, but he converted 29 of 31 attempts last season, including all 26 from inside of 50.
9) Garrett Hartley, Saints
The New Orleans offense is really friggin’ efficient, which is not necessarily a good thing for fantasy kickers. Hartley’s 57 extra points were the second-most in football last year, but his 22 field-goal attempts were the fewest among kickers who played a full season. Then again, you’re probably not banking on your kicker to win games for you. Sometimes, a guaranteed five or six points off PATs is all you’re looking for.
10 Josh Brown, Giants
Brown played four games last year for Cincinnati, going 11-of-12 on field goals and 8-of-8 on extra points.
11) Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
The Oakland offense will be terrible, but Janikowski can boot it a mile. He also made 91.2 percent of his attempts last season – a career high.
12 Greg Zuerlein, Rams
Zuerlein started his career 14-of-14 before enduring a rookie slump (he missed eight of his final 16 attempts). Still, there’s a lot to like here – including the Rams offense, which should be much-improved.
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