Kickers averaged a poor 6.7 FP in Week 17. The system did okay. "Marginal Starts" had the highest average FP at 7.8 and a mediocre winning percentage at .583, edging "Starts" at 7.7 FP with the same W-L record. "Neutrals" were at the 50-50 proposition level, with their average FP of 6.8 almost matching the overall average for the week, and just under a .500 W-L rate. "Sits" did poorly, scoring just 5.9 FP, resulting in a good W-L record for the week of .714.

Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in Week 17, 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

5.9

5

2

0

0.714

Neutral

6.8

6

7

0

0.462

Marginal Start

7.8

3

2

1

0.583

Start

7.7

3

2

1

0.583

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 “Starts” last week scored over 7 FP, so there were three “wins.” Two “Starts” scored under 7 FP, so those were “losses”, and one equaled 7 FP, a “tie.” Remember, a “Sit” kicker who gets less than 7 FP is a “win” for the system (five of those last week) and over 7 FP is a “loss” (two of those); a tie is a 7 FP day (none).

To repeat what I've said the last few weeks, 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. That is, "Marginal Starts" are consistently out-performing the other three groups both in average points and consistency in topping 7 FP. "Starts" are basically the same as "Neutrals;" both are essentially random choices. "Sits" are just bad:

Overall Start/Sit Decisions For Kickers in 2016

Recommendation

Average FP

W

L

T

PCT

Sit

6.3

41

25

3

0.616

Neutral

7.7

102

92

16

0.524

Marginal Start

8.6

58

31

10

0.636

Start

7.9

44

37

13

0.537

Missed Kick report

Roberto Aguayo 48 yard field goal no good, blocked

Roberto Aguayo 46 yard field goal no good

Mason Crosby kicks extra point no good

Graham Gano 45 yard field goal no good

Graham Gano 58 yard field goal no good

Graham Gano 36 yard field goal no good

Steven Hauschka kicks extra point no good, blocked

Stephen Gostkowski 52 yard field goal no good

Dustin Hopkins 57 yard field goal no good

Nick Novak 45 yard field goal no good

Brandon McManus 48 yard field goal no good

Jason Myers 30 yard field goal no good

Jason Myers 54 yard field goal no good

Cody Parkey 49 yard field goal no good

Matt Prater 39 yard field goal no good

Caleb Sturgis 49 yard field goal no good

Adam Vinatieri 48 yard field goal no good

Source: PFR's Game Play Finder

Only two missed EPs and three missed short FGs. Just six two-point tries, all game-situation driven.

Rather than review last week like I usually do, I thought I'd just cover the reliability of the PKs still in action. Here's the list of playoff kickers and their results on short kicks (EPs and FGs under 40 yards) this year:

Player

Tm

Missed EPs

Short Kick Pct

Short Kick Pct Rank

Dan Bailey

DAL

0

100%

1

Chris Boswell

PIT

0

98%

7

Matt Bryant

ATL

1

97%

10

Sebastian Janikowski

OAK

2

96%

12

Andrew Franks

MIA

1

95%

15

Nick Novak

HOU

3

94%

16

Matt Prater

DET

2

94%

17

Mason Crosby

GNB

3

93%

20

Stephen Gostkowski

NWE

3

93%

22

Cairo Santos

KAN

3

91%

27

Robbie Gould

NYG

3

90%

31

Steven Hauschka

SEA

6

87%

33

Dan Bailey was one of four kickers this year who did not miss a short kick, and the only one to qualify for the playoffs. If you want to have a sure thing on your short kicks, Bailey is your guy.

Chris Boswell was also very trustworthy, with a 98% success rate on short kicks. He is the only other playoff kicker to not miss an EP. He was helped in this by his team leading the league with nine two-point conversion attempts, so he didn't have as many chances to miss one. It will be interesting to see how his coach approaches go-for-two in the playoffs.

Matt Bryant is the next most reliable playoff kickers, with Sebastian Janikowski and Andrew Franks being above average in Short Kick Pct and missing EPs at below the league average of over 2 per team.

Cairo Santos and Robbie Gould were both well below average kickers this year; Gould at least has the excuse of a small sample.

Steven Hauschka probably should not have a job. He has been letdown by his blocking quite a bit, but he led the league in missed EPs and had a terrible 87% success rate on short kicks. Cap concerns and a history of reliability in previous years probably kept him on the roster. There are more things to consider in picking a playoff kicker than just his reliability, but tis is clearly a concern with Hauschka.

The other kickers were all about league average.

Last week’s comments

Two solid choices in the "Marginal Start" category are available in a lot of leagues: Dustin Hopkins and Mason Crosby. For the year, Hopkins has definitely been the better kicker although I like Crosby's matchup more this week. Both are on teams with something to play for, so there is no worry about a Week 17 letdown with them. Crosby is in a dome while Hopkins is outside and FedEx Field has been a bit tricky in the past at this time of year. I'd go with Hopkins if I needed a big score and Crosby if I wanted to have fewer worries.

I hedged this call, but both kickers did poorly, with Crosby (6 FP) being the better of two poor choices – Hopkins had 4 FP 

If you can't get those two guys, my first choice would again be Caleb Sturgis. He has the highest Average FP and % Wins of the widely available "Starts" and "Neutrals." My next choice would be Wil Lutz again. He has averaged 9.0 FP and has a 70% Win rate. My third option would be Sebastian Janikowski. He has been inconsistent with a 63% Win Rate (and two missed EPs last week). He also has a backup QB facing a tough and probably ticked off defense. But, he's playing in the thin Denver air against a team that doesn't score much itself. With points at a premium, his team may settle for a couple of long FGs; Seabass only needs a couple of those to get you 8-10 FP.

Sturgis came through with 9 FP, as did Lutz. Janikowski's 0 FP can be blamed on a lot of things, including playing with a 3rd-string QB. He didn't miss any kicks.

 

This week’s recommendations

Start

%Own

% Wins

Average FP

Mason Crosby

GB

63

59%

7.8

         

Marginal Start

     

Chris Boswell

PIT

11

47%

7.3

Steven Hauschka

SEA

82

56%

8.1

         

Neutral

     

Nick Novak

HOU

32

69%

8.6

Matt Prater

DET

77

75%

9.1

Robbie Gould

NYG

5

20%

5.1

         

Sit

     

Sebastian Janikowski

OAK

63

59%

8.6

Andrew Franks

MIA

0

31%

5.6

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.

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

Comments:

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

Watch the weather and don't forget to watch the news.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This would be my rank ordering:

Gostkowski

Bailey

Bryant

Boswell

Hauschka (these top five are the most likely to get two games in my opinion)

Crosby

Gould

Santos (middle three have a decent shot at two games)

Novak

Janikowski

Prater

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.

 

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.