Reprinted from David Dorey's weekly column in USA Today.
Every week you select a kicker to start - do you give it much thought? Have you wondered if there is a key to use with kickers that would boost your weekly points? You are starting one every week - shouldn't they matter?
There is a way to select your weekly kicker that can help you maximize their points. Considering all the kicker points attempted in the NFL from 2007, it ends up that kickers who are at home average 8.3 points versus 7.9 for those kicking on the road. Not a major difference though. But there is one characteristic that really does make a big difference - who won the game?
Last year, the kickers for winning teams averaged a whooping 9.6 points attempted while the losing kicker only had 6.5 points. That is almost half again as many points and an extra field goal per game. Have you ever lost a game by three points or less? Digging a little deeper still showed that the best you can get is a kicker who wins the game while on the road since he averaged 9.8 points attempted. And the worst kicker was the one who lost on the road with only attempting 6.4 points.
Want a little more proof? The top eight kickers this past weekend were John Kasay, Robbie Gould, Ryan Longwell, Rian Lindell, Mason Crosby, Rob Bironas, Josh Brown and Sebastian Janikowski. Only Longwell played for a losing team and even then the Vikings' 41 points were more than any other team - except for their opponent Chicago.
In leagues with a bonus for a long kick, winning is still the most important criteria for a kicker. Consider the only kickers so far with more than one field goal over 50 yards:
. Josh Brown (54, 54, 51, 52)
. Jason Hanson (53, 51, 54, 54)
. Matt Prater (52, 56, 55, 51)
. Sebastian Janikowski (56, 57)
. Mason Crosby (50, 51)
Only Prater and Crosby rank in the top 12 for kickers meaning those distance points from Brown, Hanson and Janikowski may seem great but you are still using a kicker who is not worthy of starting for your team. Only Prater and Crosby are on winning teams.
If you are choosing between Neil Rackers or Joe Nedney this week, remember it is not a question of which team scores more. It's whether the Cardinals can beat the Panthers or the 49ers win against the Seahawks. Keep it simple
- winning kickers mean three more points.