Revenge Of The Kicker
I hear it all the time in Fantasy Football analyst podcasts when they do mock drafts: “Get rid of the Kicker.” You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who does rankings and analysis on Kickers. Read articles about starting a new Fantasy Football league and they'll advise you to dump the Kicker position on the starting roster.
Some reasons include minimal point scoring, a position not involved in every play, a lack of excitement around the position, and more. But let's twist the reasons a bit and look at them from a different perspective.
First, kickers are frequently involved in game defining plays. From game winning kicks to field goals before halftime to long field goals to missed extra points that force a change in a coach's strategy, kickers impact games. Tell me you weren't on the edge of your seat when Justin Tucker kicked that 66 yard FG, or when Evan McPherson stone-cold drilled some key kicks in the playoffs to advance the Bengals to the Super Bowl.
Second, despite being a position not involved in every play, Kickers averaged 3.8 field goal attempts and 4.6 extra-point attempts per game across the 2021 season. If you think of those attempts as targets, like you would think of a wide receiver, that's 8.4 targets per game. Now, that's across two kickers, so the per kicker average would be 4.2 targets per game, but let's look at some receivers who averaged in the range of 4-ish targets per game in 2021 who played at least 10 games:
- Marquez Calloway
- Brandon Aiyuk
- KJ Osborn
- Dawson Knox
- Hunter Henry
These aren't big names, by any stretch, but they're not shabby names either. Some of these players' values were lifted by a high TD rate, or a streaky stretch of the season, but you can think of 4 targets per game as WR3/4, a TE, or a streaming flex play – unless you increase the potential value of those targets.
That leads us to the last and biggest perspective twist, in my mind, which is re-thinking their scoring settings. Who says we have to stick to 3 points per FG and 1 point per XP? You as the Commissioner have that control and can prioritize making Kickers more interesting as a result.
Take a league I'm the Commissioner in as our example. Here is a rundown of the kicking points I devised to make Kickers more valuable:
- 2 pts per XP (they are 32 yds long now)
- 3 pts per FG 30-39 yds
- FG bonus of 1 pt starting at 40 yds
- FG bonus of 0.2 pt per yard past 40 yds up to 55 yds
How does that translate into a real world FG? Here are a few examples:
- 35 yd FG = 3 pts
- 45 yd FG = 5.2 pts (3 + 2.2 bonus)
- 50 yd FG = 6 pts (3 + 3 bonus)
- 55 yd FG = 7 pts (3 + 4 bonus)
In this league, a kicker who kicks 2 XP and 2 FGs of 45 and 55 yds in a game just scored 16.2 points.
Now, this buff in points gives us the opportunity to put in negative points as well. It can't all be good.
- XP miss = -2 pts
- FG miss < 39 yds = -2 pts
- FG miss 40-49 yds = -1 pts
What is the net result of this? Well, rather than not caring about kicking plays in a real game, now we have a reason to care; that is good from this fan's perspective, because Kickers, like it or not, are part of the game. The next result is that Kickers in our league are much more interesting and valuable. In 2021, this league saw the top 7 Kickers score between 200-220 pts across the season. Here are some players who scored in the same approximate range:
- Amari Cooper
- Terry McLaurin
- Mike Williams
- Tony Pollard
- Elijah Mitchell
- Darrell Henderson
- Sony Michel
- James Robinson
- Michael Carter
- Dalton Schultz
- George Kittle
- Kyle Pitts
Put another way, you can think of a top PK this league as a FLEX, second-tier TE, or a high-end RB/WR3. That's pretty good! And, it just adds another level of intrigue in this league (which also does IDP) when it comes time for our annual free agent auction. We've had Kickers prioritized in ways not commonly seen in most leagues.
So what's the summary of this post? You don't have to give into the narrative of “dump the Kicker.” Brainstorm different ways you can make the player more valuable in your league and keep this important part of the game. You as the Commissioner have the power to be creative.