Kickers averaged 7.6 FP, a little below 2015's average. The system had an excellent week. For the second straight week, the average FP lined up exactly as I'd like to see, from "Sits" scoring the lowest to "Starts" scoring the highest. And W-L percentage also cooperated: "Sits" and "Starts" were correct two-thirds or more of the time (my goal), "Marginal Starts" were pretty good, and "Neutrals" were around a 50-50 proposition:

Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in Week 4, 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

5.5

3

1

0

0.750

Neutral

7.3

5

7

0

0.417

Marginal Start

7.4

4

2

1

0.643

Start

9.5

3

1

2

0.667

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, three kickers who rated as “Start” last week scored over 7 FP, so there were three “wins.” One “Start” scored under 7 FP, so that was a “loss”, and two equaled 7 FP, which are “ties.” Remember, a “Sit” kicker who gets less than 7 FP is a “win” for the system (three of those last week) and over 7 FP is a “loss” (one of those); a tie is a 7 FP day (none).

The algorithm's record on the year is getting better but its poor Week 2 is still weighing on the season's results:

Overall Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

5.8

7

5

0

0.583

Neutral

7.8

20

21

2

0.488

Marginal Start

8.1

13

6

2

0.667

Start

8.7

8

5

3

0.594

 

Missed kick report

Stephen Gostkowski 48 yard field goal no good

Blair Walsh 46 yard field goal no good

Dan Carpenter 47 yard field goal no good

Connor Barth 50 yard field goal no good

Dan Bailey 47 yard field goal no good

Nick Novak 48 yard field goal no good

Cairo Santos 49 yard field goal no good

Source: PFR's Game Play Finder

 

For the first time (regular season week) since the XP was moved back to the 15-yardline, no kicker missed an extra point. That was just part of an excellent week for kicker accuracy: no FG attempts under 40 yards were missed either.

Of the kickers on my watch list last week, Roberto Aguayo, Cody Parkey, and Brandon McManus all made every kick they tried. Blair Walsh missed a 46-yard attempt and Dan Carpenter missed a 47-yarder.

Parkey and Walsh have to remain on the watch list; Parkey because he was only hired as a temp anyhow, and Walsh because he's been a weak link on a team with high aspirations and a low margin of error. Right now, I think Walsh's problems are a bigger issue for fantasy owners; his team may not see a better guy available but in most fantasy leagues you can find a decent alternative hat's why you're reading this, right?

Carpenter probably also bears watching still, and maybe Connor Barth – there's no shame in missing a 50-yard FG, but his team already has shown that it will cut a kicker this year.

There were six two-point conversion attempts last week; five were game-score driven. You probably saw Mike Tomlin revert to his 2015 ways and try an early two-pointer on Sunday night. This team has a good offense and so Chris Boswell should get chances to score, but Tomlin could cost him a point now and then. It may have been notable that Tomlin didn't go for two again although the game got out of hand so quickly that may explain why more than anything else. But at least he hasn't gone fully into going for two.

 

Last week’s comments

I would hold and play any "Marginal Starts" who are widely owned over any of the "Starts."

As a group, the widely owned "Marginals" only averaged 6.6 FP, pulled down by Stephen Gostkowski's 0 FP. Dan Bailey also had a mediocre 6 FP. The other three kickers in this group did pretty well, but this was at best a so-so recommendation.

According to ESPN, three of the “Starts” are widely available, although Chandler Catanzaro is only a little below the cut and Blair Walsh is above it, and I have my doubts about Walsh. I'll go back to the well with Chris Boswell and agree with the algorithm that you should pick him up and "Start" him. I think (fear, since I'm a Chiefs fan) that the Steelers will bounce back from last week's poor showing with a big game at home on Sunday night.

The Steelers did exactly what I feared, although Boswell (5 FP) did not benefit. His team was too efficient in the red zone and Tomlin cost him a point by going for two after the first TD. He was the only bad call by the algorithm among the "Starts." I did worse.

I'd also add Catanzaro although you have to wonder if something is wrong with the Cardinals offense. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and like the Steelers, look for a big week at home after a bad road loss.

Didn't happen for the Cards and clearly the offense is struggling, even with Carson Palmer. Catanzaro (7 FP) was a push but you could have done better.

I wouldn't totally avoid Walsh. I would roll with any other "Start" or "Marginal Start" I could get, but otherwise, play him. Just remember he's week-to-week, not a long-term add.

Walsh (7 FP) beat Boswell but no other widely available kicker, so I feel pretty good about this (if you dropped Gostkowski or Bailey for Walsh, kudos, and maybe you should start writing this thing).

I'd be happy to get either Matt Prater or Mike Nugent if I was streaming kickers. Prater is the more solid option; he hasn't been under 7 FP yet (he had one 7 FP game reflected in his 83% Wins). And Nugent hurt his arm on Sunday although he's practicing. So if you do add Nugent, keep an eye on the late week injury reports.

OK, Prater (8 FP) was pretty good and normally I'd take credit and move on. But since I talked about him in the same paragraph as the top-scoring kicker for the week, Nugent (19 FP), I have to kick myself (sorry). I hope you all had enough sense to go with Nugent.

Two "Marginal Starts" are widely available. Dustin Hopkins is particularly interesting. He's tied for the lead in FP after three weeks and his team has struggled in the red zone (two facts that are connected), so he probably will continue to get plenty of FGs. His team's defense is not great and has injuries, so he probably will be in more shootouts, a good thing for his points. I'd add him if I needed a kicker and couldn't get a "Start." Pretty much the same is true of Lambo, although his FP average is lower. And for this week, you have to figure San Diego will score on New Orleans.

Hopkins (8 FP) was pretty good, his defense continued to look bad, and only his team finally realizing that Jordan Reed is good in the red zone (Kirk Cousins threw to him three times in the RZ after only throwing to him there three times total in the first three weeks; this resulted in two TDs). Lambo (11 FP) did come through so both were good calls although I got the order backwards.

 

My kickers

TGR Ultimate Auction League – Dropped Matt Bryant (14 FP) for Prater (8 FP). Who knew Carolina's defense would be as bad as New Orleans'?.

FFPC Main Event League – stuck with Graham Gano (7 FP); will probably continue to but need to watch Cam Newton's status.

FFPC Auction League – Dropped Bryant (14 FP) for Prater. Continued a bad trend.

FPC League 3253 – Dropped Bryant (14 FP) for Nugent (19 FP). At least one move worked.

FPC League 3983 – Dropped Bryant (14 FP) for Prater. Not good.

FPC League 4111 – Kept Adam Vinatieri (12 FP). Leaning towards keeping him.

 

This week’s recommendations

Start

%Own

% Wins

Average FP

Sebastian Janikowski

OAK

16

38%

5.8

Dan Bailey

DAL

94

75%

10.0

Blair Walsh

MIN

75

38%

8.0

Chandler Catanzaro

ARI

61

38%

6.5

         

Marginal Start

     

Stephen Gostkowski

NE

99

50%

7.3

Mason Crosby

GB

64

67%

7.3

Graham Gano

CAR

89

63%

9.5

Adam Vinatieri

IND

97

100%

10.8

Chris Boswell

PIT

40

38%

6.0

Justin Tucker

BAL

97

100%

12.3

Brandon McManus

DEN

28

50%

7.8

         

Neutral

     

Caleb Sturgis

PHI

5

100%

10.3

Josh Lambo

SD

26

100%

9.5

Mike Nugent

CIN

17

75%

11.5

Andrew Franks

MIA

1

0%

4.3

Matt Prater

DET

50

88%

8.8

Dustin Hopkins

WAS

57

100%

12.3

Matt Bryant

ATL

28

100%

10.5

Josh Brown

NYG

24

67%

8.3

Connor Barth

CHI

1

0%

3.3

Nick Folk

NYJ

3

50%

7.5

Greg Zuerlein

LA

1

50%

6.0

Roberto Aguayo

TB

26

25%

2.8

Ryan Succop

TEN

1

25%

5.5

         

Sit

     

Phil Dawson

SF

2

25%

5.5

Cody Parkey

CLE

0

100%

11.5

Dan Carpenter

BUF

3

63%

7.3

Nick Novak

HOU

14

75%

9.3

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.

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.

Average FP is based on the algorithm's scoring system.

 

Comments:

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

The comments below focus on the widely available kickers (owned in less than 70% of ESPN leagues). It probably goes without saying, but if there is a “Start” or “Marginal Start” who is a very good kicker on a high scoring team, and he’s above the 70% owned mark but available in your league, pick him up. You don’t need any advice on easy calls like that.

The bye weeks continue with NO, SEA, KC, and JAC off. The big impact there is Steven Hauschka (85.7% owned). He's a good kicker on a team with a good offense and a good defense, so one that is likely to get into FG range and be willing to play a low-scoring game. He's a tough guy to drop and on the surface I wouldn't do it. However, he's also only averaging 8 FP (13th overall) and is 50-50 on topping 7 FP. By that standard, he's replaceable. Bottom line: if you have roster room to carry two kickers for one week, you can hold him but there is no reason to drop a potentially valuable player to keep Hauschka.

Dan Bailey is widely owned and highly rated this week. Normally I wouldn't mention him but he had back problems last Sunday. Personally, I'd wait as long as I could before dropping him, but until clear good news comes out on his status, you have to be prepared with an alternative for Sunday. The fact that he's got a late afternoon game complicates things more. He's good enough to try to keep on your roster if you want to add a 2nd kicker for this week; you might want to grab a guy with a late afternoon or night start to maximize your flexibility. Or you might just drop him and get a guy who is sure to play and make your life easier.

The other "Starts" all have issues: none has consistently posted 7 FP (% Wins for all three = 38%). And only Blair Walsh has even averaged over 7 FP.

I'd avoid Chandler Catanzaro because I don't like Arizona's offense much right now with Carson Palmer and I don't think he's playing on Thursday. Do what you have to you’re your league's waiver rules, but I would not play Catanzaro this week.

As for Walsh, the system likes him, but despite the algorithm love, I see at least seven widely available kickers I'd play over him. Decide whether you trust the numbers or the gut (yours or mine) more.

Sebastian Janikowski has a poor Average FP as well as a poor % Wins. Yet I like him better than the other two available "Starts." He's my #2 guy to add this week.

#1 is a "Marginal Start." Mason Crosby was dropped in many leagues because of his bye. If that happened in your league, pick him up and maybe have a kicker solution for the rest of the year.

My third option would be Brandon McManus. The Broncos should be able to move the ball on Atlanta and the thin Denver air is always good for long FG attempts.

I'll defer on Chris Boswell for a minute and discuss some "Neutrals" that I like more. First, Caleb Sturgis is averaging over 10 FP and topped 7 FP all three weeks he's played. He's the top "Neutral" and playing a bad defense. I'd go with him if my first three options were unavailable. Josh Lambo has been almost as good as Sturgis and I'd be happy to play him too. Mike Nugent hasn't been as consistent as those two (75% Wins) but has a higher Average FP so play him if you have him. And then there is Dustin Hopkins. He is tied for the league lead with Justin Tucker at 12.3 Average FP. Hopkins has topped 7 FP every game. His team plays shootouts. The system doesn't love him this week, but he's looking like an every week kicker for the rest of the year. You may want to take some risk this week and go get him.

After all those guys, then I take Walsh. And then Boswell. You may want to consider Matt Bryant too – he has to play a tough D in Denver who may shut down the Falcons offense. But he has the altitude and thin air working for him and maybe the Falcons offense is pretty good after all.

 

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.