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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2009 Player Rankings: Kickers
Updated: September 10, 2009
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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.

Jeff Reed - FA* YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 PIT 16 27 20 74% 50 41 41 101
2007 PIT 16 25 23 92% 49 44 44 113
2008 PIT 16 27 23 85% 53 36 35 104
Avg   16 26 22 85%   40 40 106
Proj FA*     26       40 118

There may be no tougher venue to kick at than Heinz Field, yet after struggling there in 2006 Reed has missed just three home kicks the past two years. That’s a good reason not to let Pittsburgh’s three home games (and one in Cleveland) from Weeks 13 through 16 dissuade you from giving Reed a look. He’s posted triple-digit point totals in every full season as the Steelers’ kicker, thanks to a steady supply of opportunities—consistently around 30 field goal attempts and 40 PAT tries. Even when Reed’s accuracy rate was foundering in the 70s, that was enough to produce decent numbers; now that he’s flirting with the 90% range, it makes him a lock for every-week starter status.

Nick Folk - NYJ YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006                  
2007 DAL 16 31 26 84% 53 53 53 131
2008 DAL 16 20 18 90% 52 42 42 96
Avg   16 26 22 85%   48 48 114
Proj NYJ     24       45 117

Folk saw a steep decline in scoring opportunities, due in no small part to the three-game stretch in which Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger quarterbacked the Cowboys; he totaled just 11 points in that span. On the bright side, his already-solid accuracy rate climbed to 90% during his sophomore season, and with Tony Romo back at the helm the Cowboys offense—which ranked in the top five in red zone opportunities in both 2006 and 2007—should be back on track to set Folk up for success. Considering that three of his six career misses have come from beyond 50 yards, you have to like Nick’s chances for converting when given the chance. So it stands to reason that if his opportunities increase, so too should his fantasy production.

09-04-09 Update: Nick has only hit half of his four field goal attempts but a 71-yard average on his kickoffs suggests that his hip won’t be an issue—and that Jerry Jones’ scoreboard might be an issue for more than just punts.

Neil Rackers - FA* YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 ARI 16 37 28 76% 50 32 32 116
2007 ARI 16 30 21 70% 52 48 47 110
2008 ARI 16 25 22 88% 54 44 44 110
Avg   16 31 24 77%   41 41 113
Proj FA*     26       39 117

When Rackers is good, he’s very, very good; unfortunately, four of the past six seasons he’s missed almost a quarter of his kicks, which prevents him from consistently ranking among the elite fantasy kickers. Last year was a good season, as he hit 89% of his treys. The problem was a lack of opportunities; unlike Rackers’ 140-point season, when Arizona turned less than 29% of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns, the Cards now know how to cross the stripe. Good for the Cardinals, bad for Neil as he settles for PATs instead of FGs. Still, there’s nothing wrong with being the kicker tacking on points for a good offense like Arizona’s. Another year of 90% accuracy vaults Rackers into the top fantasy kicking options; if that rate is in the 70s, however, he’s just another decent option.

Tier 3
Adam Vinatieri - IND YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 IND 13 28 25 89% 48 38 38 113
2007 IND 16 29 23 79% 39 51 49 118
2008 IND 16 20 15 75% 52 43 43 88
Avg   15 26 21 81%   44 43 106
Proj IND     24       44 116

The greatest clutch kicker of our era and the pride of Yankton, South Dakota, Vinatieri has never failed to reach triple digits in any of his 13 NFL seasons. And while there’s plenty of upheaval in Indy, it shouldn’t negatively impact Vinatieri; after all, the 43 PAT attempts he was afforded last year were the fewest by a Colt kicker since 2002, and Indy’s 11 red-zone field goals was fifth-fewest in the league. In other words, even if the offense struggles to adjust to a new coordinator there should still be enough scoring opportunities that you can ink My Cousin Vinny for another slate of 100-plus points. Vinatieri is unlikely to approach his 141-point career zenith—that’s 23 more than any of his campaigns as a Colt—but Indy’s track record of point production and a climate-friendly fantasy playoff run allow him to remain a solid fantasy selection for at least one more season.

09-04-09 Update: Vinny is off the PUP and back kicking for one of the league’s most potent offenses. He missed his only field goal try, however, so both fantasy owners and the Colts should keep Shane Andrus on speed dial.

John Kasay - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CAR 16 27 24 89% 54 28 28 100
2007 CAR 16 28 24 86% 53 27 27 99
2008 CAR 16 28 25 89% 50 46 46 121
Avg   16 28 24 86%   34 34 106
Proj FA     26       37 115

There’s hardly any truth to tales that Kasey has been kicking in the NFL since nearby oak trees served as uprights and the tee was carved from dinosaur bones. But Kasay’s advancing age seems to have little effect on his production; last year’s 130 points was the second-highest total of his career and his best showing since 1996. He has enough left in his 39-year-old leg to boot the occasional 50-yarder, but the 2008 spike came primarily thanks to an almost doubling of Carolina’s PAT attempts. The Panthers’ offensive philosophy remains the same, so it would be unwise to expect a dramatic rise in scoring opportunities. However, if Carolina can get Kasay another 40 extra points to tack on he’ll be in line for the eighth 100-point season of his career—and fourth in the past five years.

Josh Scobee - JAC YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 JAC 16 32 26 81% 48 41 41 119
2007 JAC 8 13 12 92% 48 27 26 62
2008 JAC 16 19 13 68% 53 33 33 72
Avg   13 21 17 81%   34 33 84
Proj JAC     25       40 115

Scobee missed half of the 2007 season with a quad injury, and he didn’t exactly come roaring back in 2008. He posted the lowest accuracy rate of his NFL career, and his personal foibles were compounded by a struggling Jacksonville offense that provide the fewest field goal opportunities of his tenure in teal. While the Jaguars appear primed for a team-wide bounceback, expecting the same from Scobee is iffy at best. He’s missed at least six field goal attempts in each of his four full seasons with the Jags and sports a sub- 80% career accuracy rate. In a best-case scenario Jacksonville regains its red zone efficiency, which means Scobee counts by ones instead of treys; and if the Jags’ offense isn’t back on track it means reduced opportunities all around. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that fewer chances combined with inconsistent conversion of those chances adds up to a risk that’s hardly worth taking.

09-04-09 Update: Scobee has been perfect this preseason, including six-of-six from 40 yards and out. If Maurice Jones-Drew’s leg contusion costs the Jags any early-season red zone opportunities, it appears they’ll be ready.

Jay Feely - FA* YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NYG 16 27 23 85% 47 38 38 107
2007 MIA 16 23 21 91% 53 26 26 89
2008 NYJ 15 24 20 83% 55 39 39 99
Avg   16 25 21 84%   34 34 97
Proj FA*     27       34 115

The quad strain Mike Nugent suffered on the opening kickoff of the 2008 season cost him his gig with the Jets; Gang Green went to the bullpen for Feely, who answered the call with 111 points. In the offseason Nugent turned down the Jets contract offer, leaving Feely to stick with a team for the first time since his 05-06 tenure with the Giants. Feely has actually posted his three most accurate seasons the past three years, and he totes a string of 15 consecutive makes into the 2009 season. If the Jets afford him another 29 field goal opportunities—likely, since that’s a little down from their three-year average—and 41 PAT chances—less likely, given the quarterback questions and the fact that last year’s number was a significant spike from past Jets’ offenses—he should continue to deliver.

Steven Hauschka - SEA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006                  
2007                  
2008 BAL 8 1   0% 54      
Avg   8 1 0 0%   0 0 0
Proj SEA     27       32 113

(-Risk) (+Upside) Hauschka made all four of his preseason kicks with the Minnesota Vikings and one of two (both from 50-plus yards) as the Ravens’ long distance plan last year. In the offseason Baltimore parted ways with long-time veteran Matt Stover, leaving Hauschka and rookie Graham Gano to fight for the gig. And it’s not a bad gig: the Ravens’ defense-first style usually leads to something in the mid-30s for field goal attempts, and a rejuvenated offense led by Joe Flacco directed Baltimore to 41 PAT opportunities last year. Hauschka’s big leg (and subsequent distance on kickoffs) give him a leg up in the competition, and with a strong training camp he’ll vault up these rankings. Then again, if both Hauschka and Gano falter, the Ravens know where Stover lives. There’s some upside to taking this risk; we’ll know more later in training camp.

09-04-09 Update: Hauschka’s six-for-seven showing this preseason has all but sewed up the job, leaving Graham Gano for kickoff duty or the waiver wire and Matt Stover in retirement. And being that the Ravens play solid defense, leave their offense in good field position, and aren’t afraid to settle for three points, Hauschka makes an intriguing sleeper kicker candidate.

Phil Dawson - SFO YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CLE 16 29 21 72% 51 25 25 88
2007 CLE 16 30 26 87% 51 43 42 120
2008 CLE 16 30 24 80% 56 18 18 90
Avg   16 30 24 80%   29 28 100
Proj SFO     27       31 112

Dawson has been with the Browns since their rebirth as an expansion team, so it’s saying something that his 18 PAT attempts last year were the second-fewest of his career. Of course, the silver lining is that one of the league’s worst red zone offenses (Cleveland finished in the bottom five in both red zone visits and touchdowns scored per trip inside the 20) left Dawson to attempt a career-high 36 field goals. The Browns are under new management but did little to dramatically alter their offensive outlook, so you can’t expect too great a jump in extra point attempts—though if they struggle in the red zone again, Dawson will be there to pick up the slack. Problem is, that recipe didn’t yield enough points for Dawson to crack the top 20 last year. And with little cause for optimism, fantasy-wise there’s no reason to consider Dawson as anything more than a mid-year waiver wire replacement.

Olindo Mare - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 MIA 16 36 26 72% 52 22 22 100
2007 SEA 13 17 10 59% 52 34 34 64
2008 SEA 16 24 21 88% 51 30 30 93
Avg   15 26 19 73%   29 29 86
Proj FA     25       36 111

(-Risk) Mare did most of the heavy lifting for the Seahawks’ kicking game last year and posted his highest accuracy rate since 2001. However, he wasn’t quite good enough for Seattle to ditch 2008 draft pick Brandon Coutu. So before even beginning to worry about how the Seattle offense will do with a new head coach, you have to consider that Mare will be kicking for his job—again—in training camp. The Seahawks have traditionally provided opportunity enough for a kicker to reach triple-digit points, and Mare was no exception last year. However, it took Olindo’s most accurate season—and just second with a conversion rate above 78%—in the past seven just to reach 102 points. So even if he’s the clear-cut kicker when your fantasy drauction day rolls around, better think twice just to be safe.

Shaun Suisham - PIT YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 WAS 8 11 9 82% 52 14 14 41
2007 WAS 16 35 29 83% 50 30 29 116
2008 WAS 16 26 16 62% 50 25 25 73
Avg   13 24 18 75%   23 23 77
Proj PIT     27       30 111

The Redskins gave Suisham roughly the same opportunities that they provided in 2007, when Shaun scored 116 points; however, his field goal conversion rate fell by 10 points and he barely reached triple digits. The combination of questionable accuracy (for his career Suisham hits less than 80 percent of his trey attempts), a weaker leg (Shaun has hit just three of eight from 50 yards for his career and isn’t much better—64%—from 40 and out), and an offense that couldn’t even make it out of the teens in eight of its final 11 games last year hardly adds up to a burgeoning stud fantasy kicker. That the Redskins brought in journeyman Dave Rayner speaks to their faith in Suisham as well.

Josh Brown - NYG YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 SEA 16 31 25 81% 54 36 36 111
2007 STL 16 34 28 82% 54 43 43 127
2008 STL 16 31 26 84% 54 19 19 97
Avg   16 32 26 81%   33 33 111
Proj NYG     29       24 111

Maybe Brown wanted to count by threes; his decision to leave Seattle for St. Louis didn’t appear to make sense on the surface, and it certainly didn’t seem to do anything positive for his fantasy value. Yet despite getting slightly more than half the PAT attempts in St. Louis he had in his worst year with the Seahawks, Brown rolled up a sixth straight 100-point season. The success was due largely to a career-high 36 field goal attempts provided by a Rams offense that finished last in the league in TD efficiency in the red zone. It can’t get much worse for the Rams, can it? And if that’s the case, is there any reason not to pencil Brown in for another triple-digit campaign? Not that the century mark is particularly special anymore—24 kickers reached that plateau last year—but it does at least make Josh a blip on the fantasy radar. A faint blip, but a blip nonetheless.

Dan Carpenter - BUF YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 MIA 16 21 17 81% 50 40 40 91
Avg   16 21 17 81%   40 40 91
Proj BUF     23       41 110

Carpenter came out of virtually nowhere—okay, he came out of the University of Montana, which in NFL terms is in the same area code as nowhere—to take Jay Feely’s job in training camp. Then he proceeded to make 84 percent of his field goals and get more PAT chances than the Dolphins had provided in years, turning that combo into a solid 103-point debut. What’s next? It’s unlikely that either Miami or Carpenter catch anyone by surprise this time around, and since last year felt like a best-case scenario for both kicker and team, a big leap forward doesn’t appear to be in the offing. While Carpenter isn’t a bad option, you won’t have to strain yourself to find a more proven kicker with greater upside.

Matt Prater - DEN YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007 DEN 4 4 1 25% 45 1 1 4
2008 DEN 16 25 16 64% 56 39 38 86
Avg   10 15 9 60%   20 20 47
Proj DEN     25       35 110

Despite a 74% accuracy rate, Prater reached triple digits thanks to the Denver offense providing more field goal and PAT opportunities than usual. With Jay Cutler gone, most are expecting the Broncos to take a step or three backwards in production; obviously, such a decline would take a significant bite out of Prater’s chances. And if he’s missing a quarter of his trey attempts to begin with, it wouldn’t take all that dramatic a reduction for Prater to fall off the fantasy radar completely. His redeeming trait might be the big leg he used to convert five of six from 50 yards and out last year—a better rate than his 5-for-11 from 40 to 49 yards. If your league awards bonus points for longer field goals, or if you’re buying what Josh McDaniels is selling, Prater is your guy. Otherwise, given all the changes in Denver it’s tough to see him reprising his 2008 success.

Joe Nedney - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 SFO 16 35 29 83% 51 29 29 116
2007 SFO 16 19 17 89% 50 22 22 73
2008 SFO 16 29 25 86% 53 34 34 109
Avg   16 28 24 86%   28 28 100
Proj FA     26       31 109

Hang around long enough, and eventually good things happen. Nedney has exceeded his 80% career accuracy mark in each of the past six seasons he’s played, which is how he continues to tack time onto his 16-year NFL career. Last season, the 49ers gave him the second-most field goal attempts and fourth-most PAT tries Nedney has seen in San Francisco, and Joe rewarded them with a career-best 121 points. And it’s not as if the San Francisco offense was a juggernaut last year, so a repeat performance wouldn’t be stunning; then again, Nedney has followed up his two previous triple-digit efforts with mutts (a one-game effort in 2003 due to an injury and a 73-point clunker in 2007), so good numbers are hardly a lock. Nothing about the Niners screams at you to go out of your way to draft their kicker, but keep Nedney’s number on hand for bye week and injury replacement help.

Shayne Graham - NOS YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 CIN 16 30 25 83% 51 42 40 115
2007 CIN 16 34 31 91% 48 37 37 130
2008 CIN 14 21 18 86% 45 15 15 69
Avg   15 28 25 89%   31 31 106
Proj NOS     25       33 108

Graham was victimized twice in 2008: first by a groin injury suffered while covering an onside kick attempt, then later by an inept Bengals offense that fell apart when Carson Palmer injured his elbow. Graham’s five-year string of triple-digit point production came to a screeching halt as he received the fewest opportunities of his Cincinnati career—just 15 PATs, for crying out loud! Graham did the best he could with what he was given, connecting on 87 percent of his field goal attempts—the fifth time in the past six years he’s been that accurate. The injury is no longer a concern, and if Palmer’s return pushed the Bengals’ offense back near where it used to be Graham will be a solid fantasy kicker. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll want to spend a draft pick on Shayne without having seen Palmer and the rest of the Cincy offense in action. Target Graham for a midseason acquisition if your drafted kicker gets hurt or fails to deliver on expectations.

09-04-09 Update: Graham has been nicked up this preseason, and while it’s unlikely Chad Ochocinco steals his job it does make him a bit riskier of an investment as a fantasy kicker.

Rian Lindell - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 BUF 16 25 23 92% 53 33 33 102
2007 BUF 16 27 24 89% 52 24 24 96
2008 BUF 16 30 22 73% 53 34 34 100
Avg   16 27 23 85%   30 30 99
Proj FA     25       33 108

The 6-3, 233-pound Lindell dwarfs most of his colleagues at the NFL’s annual gathering of kickers, and his game bears many of the characteristics one would expect from a big man. In golfing terms, he’s long off the tee. Or perhaps a baseball analogy: he’s a big slugger capable of going deep. Lindell’s leverage gives him a leg up when it comes to kicking in inclement weather—handy for those Buffalo winters—and he’s also an impressive 15- for-25 for his career from 50 yards and out. His overall accuracy rate of 80 percent is nothing special, however, and his career-best 124-point performance last year was due primarily to getting the most field goal attempts and second-most PAT tries the Bills have ever provided him. If you think the addition of Terrell Owens perks up the Buffalo offense then Lindell is worth a shot; if you’re not a believer in TO, then you’re likely seeing a regression in the Bills’ production—which goes hand in hand with a decline in Lindell’s numbers.

09-04-09 Update: The Bills’ offense looks downright ugly, so Lindell’s projected opportunities and fantasy value have been dialed back accordingly.

Tier 4
Mike Nugent - CIN YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 NYJ 16 27 24 89% 54 35 34 106
2007 NYJ 16 36 29 81% 50 24 23 110
2008 NYJ 1 1   0%   2 2 2
Avg   11 21 18 86%   20 20 74
Proj CIN     25       30 105

Inconsistency continues to plague Nugent, but at least he’s healthy; as it stands, Matt Bryant hasn’t kicked in almost a month due to a hamstring problem and is in danger of losing his job. Kicking for the Bucs isn’t the greatest fantasy gig this season, but at least it’s a gig.

Sebastian Janikowski - OAK YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 OAK 16 25 18 72% 55 16 16 70
2007 OAK 16 32 23 72% 54 28 28 97
2008 OAK 16 24 18 75% 57 25 24 78
Avg   16 27 20 74%   23 23 83
Proj OAK     25       29 104

If your league’s scoring system rewards long field goals—and doesn’t penalize you when, say, Al Davis calls down to order a 75-yard attempt right before the half—then Seabass might just be on your radar. He’s made a dozen 50+ kicks over the past three years; however, it’s taken him 25 attempts to do so. Aside from that, unless you get a weight multiplier for your kicker there’s not much here to like: Janikowski misses about a quarter of his kicks, though last year his accuracy rate hit 80% for the first time since 2004; and he’s still tacking on points for a Raiders offense that provides fewer kicks than an all-snake chorus line. Consider that he’s never had more than 33 field goal attempts in a season, a number matched or bettered by 15 teams last year alone. Maybe you think this is the year the Raiders start generating opportunities; if so, Seabass is your guy. And you won’t have to spend a pick before the last round to find out.

Jason Hanson - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 DET 16 33 29 88% 53 30 30 117
2007 DET 16 35 29 83% 53 36 35 122
2008 DET 16 21 20 95% 56 25 24 84
Avg   16 30 26 87%   30 30 108
Proj FA     23       28 97

Hanson has been around so long he actually kicked when the Lions weren’t that bad; he’s been with them through five winning seasons—and twice as many in which Detroit lost double-digit games. Only once during his 17-year tenure has he been afforded more than 40 PAT opportunities; of late that number has been consistently much closer to 30. And while his accuracy has perked up over the past three years, during last season’s 0-16 struggle he saw the second-fewest field goal attempts of his career as well. He still has a big leg—last year he hit a 56-yarder to match his personal best, previously set in 1995—but with a regime change in Detroit and the probable growing pains of a rookie quarterback it’s tough to see an uptick in stats that would warrant Hanson getting much consideration on fantasy drauction day.

09-04-09 Update: As if kicking for the moribund Lions isn’t bad enough, the 39-year-old Hanson had surgery on his kicking leg two weeks ago and his availability for the season opener is in question.

Ryan Succop - KCC YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006                  
2007                  
2008                  
Avg   0 0 0   0 0 0
Proj KCC     22       28 94

The battle between Succop and Connor Barth was over before it even had a chance to register on most fantasy seismographs, as the Chiefs cut Barth and head into the preseason with only Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick in the draft) on their roster. No reason to get excited, though, as “Chiefs Team Kicker” has produced 78 and 79 points the past two seasons. Matt Cassel may be an upgrade at quarterback, but this offense doesn’t appear any more ready to provide its kicker with opportunities. The early choice of Succop—with a big leg but a career 71% accuracy mark in college—over Barth, who went 10 of 12 on treys and hit all 24 PATs during his 10-game stint with the Chiefs, was puzzling, but there's still talk KC may bring in a veteran if Succop can't cut it. Either way, there just isn't much upside in Kansas City just yet, so Succop will truly be irrelevant in fantasy drafts this fall.

09-04-09 Update: The knock on Mr. Irrelevant has been his accuracy, but Succop was seven-for- nine for the preseason and received a slight tweak upwards in his projections.

Garrett Hartley - FA YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 NOS 8 13 13 100% 47 28 28 67
Avg   8 13 13 100%   28 28 67
Proj FA     18       38 92

(+Upside) What do we know about this mystery man who’ll be kicking for the Saints in 2009? Well, we know that Hartley is a product of the Southlake (TX) football factory that spawns kickers like rabbits produce offspring. We know that he’s never missed an NFL kick, hitting all 13 of his field goal attempts and all 28 of his PAT tries in half a season with New Orleans after being claimed off the scrap heap. We know that, extrapolated over a full season, Hartley’s numbers would have ranked him third in the league in scoring last year. A little research produces even more info: Hartley was a Lou Groza Award finalist at Oklahoma, sports a fauxhawk, and his mom’s name is Cookie. But really, all fantasy players need know is that the Saints score plenty of points, and Hartley’s the guy adding PATs and booting treys.

08-17-09 Update: Hartley will miss the first four games of the 2009 season courtesy of the NFL after violating the league's substance abuse policy. Hartley admitted to taking the stimulant Adderall, which he was unaware was on the league's banned substances list. Hartley has indicated he will not appeal the suspension, and the Saints have signed veteran John Carney to kick for them for at least the first four games.

Matt Bryant - ATL YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 TBB 16 22 17 77% 62 23 22 73
2007 TBB 16 33 28 85% 49 34 34 118
2008 TBB 16 32 26 81% 49 35 34 112
Avg   16 29 24 83%   31 30 102
Proj ATL     14       16 58

Bryant played through heartbreak and adversity in 2008, as his three-month old son Matthew passed away less than a month into the season. The result was a true triumph of the spirit: Bryant posted the most productive season of his career and was honored for his display of courage with the Pro Football Writers of America’s Halas Award. The Buccaneers underwent many changes in the offseason, and as a result Bryant may not be afforded the same number of opportunities due to the growing pains associated with a new coaching staff and a new quarterback. So while it’s unlikely Bryant will suffer the same personal anguish he experienced last year, it’s also probable that he won’t find the same on-field success, either. Best let the Bucs’ new regime get settled before banking on big numbers from Bryant.

09-04-09 Update: A hamstring injury has kept Bryant from kicking for almost a month. He planned to give it a go in the Bucs’ preseason finale, knowing full well that his job is likely on the line. Even if he looks really healthy against the Texans, the Tampa Bay offense looks shaky enough that you’re bound to find more fantasy help elsewhere.

John Carney - FA* YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NOS 16 25 23 92% 51 47 46 115
2007 KCC 13 14 12 86% 41 28 27 63
2008 NYG 15 35 32 91% 51 38 38 134
Avg   15 25 22 88%   38 37 103
Proj FA*     5       12 27

No analysis available.

Connor Barth - TBB YEAR TM GMS FGA FGM FG% LONG XPA XPM PTS
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 KCC 10 10 8 80% 45 24 24 48
Avg   10 10 8 80%   24 24 48
Proj TBB     3       5 14

It’s highly unlikely the battle between Barth and rookie Ryan Succop will even register on most fantasy seismographs; after all, “Chiefs Team Kicker” has produced 78 and 79 points the past two seasons. Matt Cassel may be an upgrade at quarterback, but this offense doesn’t appear any more ready to provide its kicker with opportunities. It’s tough to quibble with what Barth did in limited chances last season, hitting 10 of 12 treys and all 24 PATs during his 10-game stint with the Chiefs. There just doesn’t appear to be much upside in Kansas City just yet, so Barth’s efforts will remain—for now, at least—off the fantasy radar.

   
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