Kickers averaged 8.2 FP, so it was a pretty good week for them overall.  The system had an okay week.  "Starts" scored well, although not as highly as the "Marginal Starts," and the former's W-L record was below the "two-thirds right" goal.  "Neutrals" scored pretty well as a group and several had double-digit FP, so if you chose wisely from that category, you did well.  "Sits" were bad, which is good:

Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in Week 5, 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

4.0

3

0

1

0.875

Neutral

8.5

7

5

1

0.577

Marginal Start

9.7

4

2

1

0.643

Start

8.8

1

1

2

0.500

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 “Start” last week scored over 7 FP, so there was one “win.”  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” (none of those); a tie is a 7 FP day (one).

The algorithm's record on the year is pretty good.  "Sits" are bad options (if sometimes obviously bad ones) and are very close to the "two-thirds right" goal.  "Neutrals" are averaging 7.9 FP, which is the average for all kickers, and beating 7 FP half the time – supporting my belief that "Neutrals" are random 50-50 propositions.  "Marginal Starts" are frankly exceeding my expectations with the current algorithm, which is not bad for fantasy owners looking for streaming kickers.  "Starts" are scoring well but still under my target in W-L record:

Overall Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

5.4

10

5

1

0.656

Neutral

7.9

27

26

3

0.509

Marginal Start

8.5

17

8

3

0.661

Start

8.7

9

6

5

0.575

 

Missed kick report

Sebastian Janikowski 50 yard field goal no good

Dustin Hopkins kicks extra point no good

Roberto Aguayo 33 yard field goal no good

Dan Carpenter kicks extra point no good, blocked by Cam Thomas

Dustin Hopkins 56 yard field goal no good

Stephen Gostkowski 50 yard field goal no good

Roberto Aguayo 46 yard field goal no good

Mike Nugent 50 yard field goal no good

Connor Barth 49 yard field goal no good

Nick Novak 51 yard field goal no good

Ryan Succop kicks extra point no good, blocked by Chris Jones

Graham Gano 43 yard field goal no good

Source:  PFR's Game Play Finder

After a week with no missed extra points, kickers missed three, although two of the misses were blocks – which aren't necessarily the kickers' fault.  Otherwise, only the brilliant second-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed a FG under 40 yards.

Those of you who watched the San Diego game will notice that Josh Lambo is not on the missed kick list – a snap fumbled by the holder doesn't get counted as a FG attempt so Lambo doesn't make the screen I run on PFR to generate my list.  But it cost SD the game and Lambo's fantasy owners some FP.

Of the kickers on my watch list last week, Cody Parkey and Blair Walsh had clean sheets, although they weren't asked to do much.  Walsh made four EPs and a 19-yard FG; Parkey made his only kick, an EP.  Dan Carpenter had an EP blocked; I doubt you own him but he ranks 29th in accuracy on kicks under 40 yards (EPs and FGs) so at some point the Bills will look at alternatives, even if they don't hire one.  Connor Barth missed another long FG.  I'd leave all four on the watch list.

Roberto Aguayo was a goat and a hero for the Bucs.  I don't think the team is going to admit its mistake in drafting a kicker that high so he's not on the watch list, just the "do not own" list.  Graham Gano's miss is disappointing but I'm not adding him to the watch list yet.

There were three two-point conversion attempts last week.  All five were game-score driven.  Mike Tomlin's team gave up an early FG, so it made no sense to go for two when the Steelers responded with a TD; after that the game-score situation dictated one-point tries.

 

Last week’s comments

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.

Bailey played, but only scored 4 FP.  What I wrote was too complex (convoluted?) to grade pass-fail; in retrospect I should have come out stronger not to use him.

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.

Catanzaro (7 FP) was a wash by the system's rules.  If you dropped him for a higher scoring option you probably liked this call and if you picked up a worse scorer, you did didn't.  Most of my favored guys beat 7 FP, but not all – but I think this was a good call.

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.

I'll come back to my ranking of Walsh in a minute.

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.

This may turn out to be the best result for the algorithm and me all year.  Janikowski was the #1 ranked kicker by the algorithm and he had the 2nd highest point total on the week (17 FP).  Only the all-but-completely unavailable (97% owned) Adam Vinatieri (23 FP) topped SeaBass.  And I don't feel bad about subjectively making him my #2 add…

#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.

…because Crosby (12 FP) had a good week and is a better option for the rest of the year (he'll probably score more and his bye is done).

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.

McManus (12 FP) was a good #3 choice.

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.

Sturgis (14 FP) beat my #2 and #3 picks, but not so much that I feel bad about it.  And he was a good producer if you added him.  Lambo (7 FP) was not as good a call, although his holder gets some blame.  Nugent (2 FP) and Hopkins (3 FP) were busts and good examples of how "Neutrals" are 50-50 plays – and of how I do not know more than the algorithm.

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.

So four of the guys I picked over Walsh out-scored him, one tied him, and two busted.  They averaged 9.6 FP.  So my rankings weren't perfect, but pretty good.  Boswell (8 FP) beat Walsh by the difference of one EP that Tomlin opted for over a two-pointer:  that is within the margin of error on playing a Steelers kicker right now.  Bryant (12 FP) was a good sleeper pick if you were gutsy enough to play him.

 

My kickers

TGR Ultimate Auction League – Was sleeping on my waiver moves and missed on Janikowski so I stuck with Prater (6 FP).  In the immortal words of Ralphie in a Christmas Story, wake up stupid, wake up.

FFPC Main Event League – stuck with Graham Gano (2 FP); ouch.

FFPC Auction League – Dropped Prater (6 FP) for Janikowski (17 FP).  Yay.

FPC League 3253 – Dropped Nugent (2 FP) for McManus (12 FP).  Yay again.

FPC League 3983 – Dropped Prater for Janikowski.  More yay.

FPC League 4111 –  Kept Adam Vinatieri (23 FP).  Four out of six on the week.

 

This week’s recommendations

Start

%Own

% Wins

Average FP

Dan Carpenter

BUF

5

50%

6.8

Brandon McManus

DEN

36

60%

8.6

Matt Prater

DET

53

70%

8.2

Ryan Succop

TEN

1

20%

5.6

Adam Vinatieri

IND

98

100%

13.2

         

Marginal Start

     

Stephen Gostkowski

NE

99

50%

7.2

Graham Gano

CAR

87

50%

8.0

Chandler Catanzaro

ARI

56

40%

6.6

Steven Hauschka

SEA

79

50%

8.0

Chris Boswell

PIT

47

50%

6.4

Mason Crosby

GB

74

75%

8.5

         

Neutral

     

Dan Bailey

DAL

84

60%

8.8

Nick Novak

HOU

18

70%

8.8

Connor Barth

CHI

1

20%

5.0

Sebastian Janikowski

OAK

23

50%

8.0

Josh Brown

NYG

24

75%

9.3

Justin Tucker

BAL

97

80%

10.6

Caleb Sturgis

PHI

17

100%

11.3

Wil Lutz

NO

1

63%

7.8

Dustin Hopkins

WAS

58

80%

10.4

Cairo Santos

KC

12

50%

8.3

Jason Myers

JAC

2

50%

8.8

Josh Lambo

SD

26

90%

9.0

Matt Bryant

ATL

35

100%

10.8

Greg Zuerlein

LA

1

60%

7.8

Mike Nugent

CIN

26

60%

9.6

Andrew Franks

MIA

0

0%

4.4

         

Sit

     

Nick Folk

NYJ

3

60%

7.6

Cody Parkey

CLE

0

67%

8.0

Phil Dawson

SF

2

20%

5.0

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.

In particular, two "Marginal Starts" to go look at and get are Mason Crosby, whose ownership is still only at 74% after his Week 4 bye, and Steven Hauschka (79%), who may have been dropped for his Week 5 bye.

The bye week kickers this week are Blair Walsh and Roberto Aguayo.  Both are on my watch list and probably none of you own Aguayo anyhow.  Some may still own Walsh.  Drop him.  His 7.8 FP is only ranked 14th and his % Wins is just 40%.  Both numbers are inflated by his week 1 (14 FP).  Since Sam Bradford took over as Vikings' QB, Walsh has not topped 7 FP and averaged just over 6 FP.  If you haven't been able to pull the plug on him, use the bye week to cut the cord.

Speaking of that, I think that even though Graham Gano is a "Marginal Start," now might be the time to drop him.  His bye is next week, so you have to make a decision soon anyhow, and he is coming off weeks of 5, 7, and 2 FP.  Even if Cam Newton returns, this offense has struggled.  Of course, the matchup this week is too good (New Orleans) for me to go all-in on this idea, and I'll hold on to him myself (unless Crosby or Hauschka are available).  But if you own him, you need to consider your options.

I think I've never had such an uninspiring list of "Starts" and "Marginal Starts" to discuss.  The #1 kicker per the algorithm is on my watch list. So I'd defer on picking him up until after all the other "Starts" and "Marginal Starts" are unavailable.  Both Brandon McManus and Matt Prater are fairly good options, they'd be my first two adds – your preference as to order.

Then I'd go with Chris Boswell despite his 6.4 Average FP, 50% % Wins, and being a "Marginal Start."  But I'm not loving him.

I don't love Chandler Catanzaro either, but at least he seems to have Carson Palmer back, so he's the #4 add, again despite passing over "Starts" for "Marginal Starts".  (If Palmer has a setback, avoid Catanzaro).

Next I'd go back to the "Starts" for Ryan Succop.  His numbers are bad, he's a "Start" because "the Browns."  If those five guys are not available, or you really trust the algorithm, then go with Dan Carpenter.

But all six of those guys are one-week-only options.  If you are looking for a rest-of-the-year guy, I'd point at Caleb Sturgis.  He's a "Neutral" this week, so you might not have the best short-term results, but he's averaging double-digits and has a 100% rating in the % Wins stat.  And his matchup isn't scary (WAS).  Matt Bryant has equal stats and a dome but a tougher matchup (SEA) – although the Falcon offense did fine against the Broncos.  Sturgis already has had his bye, so that's another plus for him.

 

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.