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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2009 Player Rankings: Kickers
Updated: September 10, 2009
Top 10's:        
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Tier 1
Stephen Gostkowski - NEP YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2006 NEP 16 26 20 77% 52 44 43 103
2007 NEP 16 24 21 88% 45 74 74 137
2008 NEP 16 36 32 89% 50 40 40 136
Avg   16 29 24 83%   53 52 124
Proj NEP     28       55 139

Let’s get the negative out of the way: not since 1981-82 has a kicker repeated as NFL points leader, which is a bad omen given that Gostkowski paced the league with 148 a year ago. The rest is all good. The Patriots provided Gostkowski with a league-high 40 field goal attempts in 2008, one year after setting him up for an NFL-record 74 extra points. His accuracy continues to improve, and Tom Brady returns to direct the offense—though that likely means some of those treys turn into PATs. The end-of-season weather won’t do him many favors, with a fantasy playoff slate of games in Foxborough and Buffalo, but that shouldn’t phase Gostkowski: he’s an 87% kicker in December, an 85% kicker outdoors, and a 78% kicker with the temperature below 40 degrees—and he outperformed all those career numbers last year. If you must be the first team in your league to take a kicker, a quarter-century of history be damned: Gosty is your safest bet.

Nate Kaeding - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2006 SDC 16 29 26 90% 54 58 58 136
2007 SDC 16 27 24 89% 51 46 46 118
2008 SDC 16 27 22 81% 57 46 46 112
Avg   16 28 24 86%   50 50 122
Proj FA     27       52 133

San Diego (discovered by the Germans in 1904) is renown for its consistently pleasurable weather. A couple other consistencies in Saint Diego: the Chargers’ offense (the Bolts are the only team to provide 46 or more PAT opportunities four straight years) and Kaeding’s kicking. He doesn’t just love the home cooking (91% at Qualcomm), he’s money from 40 and in (95% career accuracy rate) and at 86% not too shabby overall, either. If you’re digging deep for a reason to be concerned, three trips east from Week 13 on might cause a little jet lag. But if the worst-case scenario involves the Chargers’ offense stalling out in the red zone, that’s actually a boon for Kaeding—as well as the fantasy team banking on another strong finish like Nate’s three double-digit scoring games in the final month of last year.

Rob Bironas - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 3%
2006 TEN 16 28 22 79% 60 32 32 98
2007 TEN 16 39 35 90% 56 28 28 133
2008 TEN 16 29 25 86% 51 40 40 115
Avg   16 32 27 84%   33 33 114
Proj FA     30       38 128

Bironas’ 2008 campaign ended on a sour note with misses on two of his last three kicks—including a 51-yarder in the third quarter of the 13-10 playoff loss to Baltimore. Unless that stumble crushed his psyche—unlikely, since he bounced back to hit a game-tying FG in the fourth quarter of the playoff loss—Bironas is set up for another productive year. The Titans remain a grind-it-out team with a solid defense; last year they turned some treys into TDs, but they’re still very comfortable winning 13-7. And Bironas is accurate enough (94% inside of 40 yards and 72% from beyond, including 62% on 50+-yard kicks) to make the most of whatever opportunities are provided him. Kerry Collins and Vince Young don’t inspire much red zone confidence, but between the Titans’ defense and the ground game Bironas should have no trouble topping 125 points for the third consecutive year.

David Akers - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 3%
2006 PHI 16 23 18 78% 47 48 48 102
2007 PHI 16 32 24 75% 53 36 36 108
2008 PHI 16 33 26 79% 51 45 45 123
Avg   16 29 23 79%   43 43 112
Proj FA     27       44 125

Akers not only capitalized on a career-high 33 field goal attempts, he also returned his accuracy rate above 80% after a three-year hiatus from that stratosphere; the result of that combination was 144 points, second in the league. Given that Philly spent much of its offseason fine-tuning the offense, there’s no reason believe they won’t make another 63 visits to the red zone (fifth-best in the NFL) or afford Akers another 45 PAT opportunities. And if you accept Akers’ 2008 numbers as proof that his 2-for-10 performance from 40 yards and out in 2007 was an aberration, you have to like his chances for another triple-digit campaign. A fantasy playoff slate that takes the Eagles to the Meadowlands before a pair of home dates might sound troublesome, but over the past five seasons Akers has hit 75% of his December kicks and 71% of his field goal attempts when the mercury drops below 40.

Tier 2
Jason Elam - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 DEN 16 29 27 93% 51 34 34 115
2007 ATL 16 31 27 87% 50 33 33 114
2008 ATL 16 29 27 93% 50 42 42 123
Avg   16 30 27 90%   36 36 117
Proj FA     29       37 124

The change in venue did little to disrupt Elam’s roll, as he recorded a 16th consecutive triple-digit campaign. Even better, his top three accuracy rates over his lengthy career have come the past three seasons—including a personal-best 94% last year. Gotta love those domes. The years haven’t taken anything off of Elam’s long ball, as he was 11-12 from 40 and out in 2009, and he remains a rock-steady 94% from 39 and in. The Falcons’ offense is in good hands with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and newly acquired Tony Gonzalez, so there’s no reason to expect a drastic decline in Elam’s opportunities. The only potential snag is a trip outdoors to the Meadowlands in mid December; then again, after 15 years in Denver the former Rainbow Warrior is more than a little familiar with inclement weather.

Ryan Longwell - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 MIN 16 25 21 84% 49 28 27 90
2007 MIN 16 24 20 83% 55 40 39 99
2008 MIN 16 29 24 83% 54 40 40 112
Avg   16 26 22 85%   36 35 101
Proj FA     27       42 123

Longwell was a solid kicker long before moving indoors, but there’s little question dome life agrees with him. He’s made almost 85% of his kicks since trading green for purple, and the Vikings haven’t been shy about using him from way downtown either; last year he was six-for-six from 50 yards and out. As for Longwell’s short game, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Vikings have converted more than half their red zone opportunities into touchdowns just once in Longwell’s three years with the team. Minnesota’s MO has been to win games with ball control and defense, and they’ve been more than happy to settle for threes instead of pushing for sevens—a combination that works well for those asking for consistent production from their fantasy kicker.

09-04-09 Update: Longwell’s projections get a slight tweaking due to the Favre Effect, though between Favre’s propensity for picks and ability to convert red zone possessions into touchdowns as opposed to field goal attempts the emphasis is on “slight”.

Robbie Gould - CHI YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CHI 16 36 32 89% 49 47 47 143
2007 CHI 16 36 31 86% 49 33 33 126
2008 CHI 16 26 23 88% 48 41 41 110
Avg   16 33 29 88%   40 40 127
Proj CHI     29       35 122

Gould converted almost 90% of his field goals last season, impressive even for a guy with his renowned accuracy. Of course, it helps that he’s only been asked to attempt two treys from beyond 50, but there’s nothing wrong with knocking home 95% of his tries from 39 and in. Gould’s decline in points the past two seasons has stemmed more from reduced opportunities than anything else, and the arrival of Jay Cutler in Chicago suggests that trend will be turning around. Don’t sweat a schedule that has Gould battling the winds of Soldier Field three times between Weeks 13 and 16; he’s converted 85 percent of his December and January kicks.

Kris Brown - FA* YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 HOU 16 25 19 76% 49 27 26 83
2007 HOU 16 29 25 86% 57 40 40 115
2008 HOU 16 29 25 86% 53 37 37 112
Avg   16 28 23 82%   35 34 103
Proj FA*     27       39 120

When Brown left Pittsburgh after three triple-digit seasons, one had to wonder if the home cooking was worth it. Last year, however, tacking on points for a top-three offense Brown matched the point total from his final season with the Steelers. Now it all makes sense! Brown’s accuracy, which wavered a bit following his rookie season, has settled in above 85% the past two years; even more impressive, he’s 7-of-8 from 50 yards and out during that span while solidifying his short game as well. Package the Texans’ potent offense with Brown’s improved consistency, put it under Houston’s kicker-friendly retractable roof, and there’s just one thing left to say: Welcome home, Kris; welcome home.

Lawrence Tynes - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 KCC 16 31 24 77% 53 36 35 107
2007 NYG 16 27 23 85% 48 42 40 109
2008 NYG 2 1 1 100% 19 3 3 6
Avg   11 20 16 80%   27 26 74
Proj FA     27       38 119

Tynes made all of his kicks last season; trouble was, a knee injury suffered in August hampered him all season and limited Lawrence to one 19-yard field goal and three PATs while John Carney handled most of the Giants’ kicking chores. In the offseason, however, the G-Men kicked Carney and his 1,955 career points to the curb. That puts Tynes in line for the steady stream of scoring opportunities provided by a solid offense that tends towards the conservative and is bolstered by a strong defense. Tynes will also have to battle whatever lingering effects there are from his injury as well as the specter of the strong season Carney posted in his stead—not to mention the Meadowlands elements in three games between Weeks 13 and 16. If he stays healthy, Tynes should be good for point production in the low triple digits… but there are safer fantasy options to be had.

09-04-09 Update: Larry has looked solid this preseason, and it’s easy to forget that the guy who filled his role last year saw enough opportunities to make the Pro Bowl.

Mason Crosby - GBP YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006                  
2007 GBP 16 39 31 79% 53 48 48 141
2008 GBP 16 27 20 74% 53 46 46 106
Avg   16 33 26 79%   47 47 125
Proj GBP     25       43 118

After leading the league in points as a rookie there was no place for Crosby to go but down; fortunately, the fall wasn’t that dramatic. The Packers presented him with a handful fewer opportunities under a new quarterback, contributing to Crosby’s 14-point backslide. However, Mason’s accuracy also backslid a few percentage points, and a couple disconcerting trends lurk. For starters, he’s less automatic inside of 40 (under 77% last year) than you’d like, and while there’s little doubt he has a strong leg he’s only converted it into a 65% accuracy rate from 40 and beyond. Also, it’s worrisome that a kicker plying his trade in Green Bay hits just 70% of his December kicks and slightly less when the temperature is under 40. Juxtapose that with the Pack’s fantasy playoff schedule (at Chicago, at Pittsburgh, home to Seattle) and you might be inclined to seek a more proven option—or at minimum not be so eager to throw anything other than a last-round pick Crosby’s way.

09-04-09 Update: Crosby is a miserable 50% on field goal attempts this preseason, including a miss from inside 30 and three failures from 50 yards and out. The Packer offense looks poised to offer far more PATs than FGAs, meaning Mason could be counting by ones instead of threes as well.

   
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