Overcome the shame of picking a kicker
Posted Aug. 18 at 05:37 AM
Fantasy owners are proud to welcome their starting running backs to their roster. They beam with pride when taking a top receiver. Their starting quarterback is expected to lead the team to victory as well. Finding a gem at these positions is a fun part of the draft and can help you win a title.
But it’s a different story when you take a kicker. Some owners are almost embarrassed to call out their name. Others wait until their very last pick, so nobody can accuse them of the cardinal sin of taking one too early. Kickers are useless; they’re an embarrassment to a fantasy team, right? They take up roster space that could be used on something valuable like a sixth receiver or third quarterback. Why would anyone worry about what kicker to start, or devote a whole column to kickers?
Because they can also help you win you a title; that’s why. Every year fantasy teams lose games by two or three points (or fractions of a point), and they miss the playoffs by a game or on a tie-breaker. If they just had a few extra points at the right time, they’d have more wins and a spot in the post-season. And I’m sorry to say it, but the last running back on your depth chart probably won’t be providing you with those points.
But your kicker can. Instead of taking the best of whoever is there at the end of your draft (or on the waiver wire each week), why not treat a starting position like a starting position? I don’t mean taking one in the third round, but I do mean paying a little more attention to kickers than your opponents.
That doesn’t mean you have to reach for Stephen Gostkowski, either. How about two veterans like Ryan Longwell and Jason Elam? Both of them have plenty of experience and look pretty secure in their jobs. They’re both on teams that went to the playoffs last year and have higher hopes this season. They both have home games in domes. And if those guys are on your roster at the same time, you get something special.
You see, selecting Longwell and Elam together guarantees you a dome kicker in every single game of the fantasy regular season. Some weeks they’re both under cover, but at least one of them plays in a dome from week 1 through week 14. The bye weeks are covered, there’s no wind or rain to worry about and you’re getting two very good kickers on very good teams. Is that such a terrible thing to have on your roster?
There are no guarantees, of course. But maybe you get a few extra points out of those guys. Most Sundays you probably won’t need them; you’ll either win or lose beyond that margin. But on a handful of weekends they could turn a close loss into a close win. And that might help you make the playoffs, or improve your seeding. Is that receiver you’ll never start really more valuable?
One caveat: In week 15 your kickers have to venture outside. Elam plays on the road against the Jets, which could get ugly. But Longwell is at Carolina, so you still have a decent option. Things go back to normal in time for week 16, and anyone with a week 17 championship is covered as well. I think 14 straight (and 16 out of 17) dome games is worth considering, even if it means enduring the shame of paying a little attention to kickers.
You can reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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