Draft This Kicker
Posted Aug. 20 at 08:36 AM
There's a guy buried on your draft list who can help you win a title, and he'll definitely be available in the third round. And the fifth. And the 10th. Good chance he'll be around in the 13th and 15th. You might be able to pick him up in the last round, or even the waiver wire. But if you wait until the very end, you might miss out on him. Someone might draft him or bid whole dollar at the end of the evening, and that person will have a difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Josh Brown.
Brown was a good kicker in Seattle, where the weather is often challenging. He won games for the Seahawks despite conditions unfriendly to a kicking game. Now he's in St. Louis on a team just good enough to get some yards but not reliable enough to punch it in the end zone regularly. He plays eight home games in a dome, plus Atlanta (albeit in week 17) and Arizona's retractable roof in week 14. That includes four home games out of five beginning in week 12, and no particularly dominating opponents after New England in week 8. If there's a guy with a nice stretch-run schedule, it's Brown.
Now, you might hate kickers. They're always a big joke in fantasy circles, and that stems from being a joke in the NFL. To me, that's a silly position to take. If you have to start one, why wouldn't you pay attention to the position? Why assume they're all the same when they aren't? In the NFL, teams often miss the playoffs by one game...and during the season, they lose games by just a few points. Would a better kicker have made a difference in some of those cases -- rescuing a team, thrilling a city, saving several high-paying jobs? Probably. But nobody wants to pay a kicker any significant money. They'd rather give the job to some castoff who has spent time in a dozen NFL camps, or a seventh-round rookie who is happy to play for close to the league minimum. And every year, a scrub kicker plays like a scrub and people are looking for new jobs (including that kicker). It's ridiculous.
It's not that different in fantasy football. For every team that sneaks into the post-season, there are usually a couple that just missed out. If they lose some close games, wouldn't a better kicker have gotten them an extra win or two? Do you want to be that owner? I say that due diligence should be done on every starting position, and that includes the kicker. Josh Brown isn't considered among the best fantasy kickers in 2008, but I think he will be at the end of the season -- and nobody will care except his owners. I think you should be one of those owners.
You might think I'm crazy for my previous positions on LaDainian Tomlinson and Randy Moss. You might disagree with just about everything I've ever written. But I'm asking you consider this objectively. If kickers are considered irrelevant but some fantasy games are decided by just a few points, might a kicker in an especially-good situation be somewhat more "relevant?" And who has a better situation than two home dome games against the Seahawks (Brown's old team) and the 49ers in the fantasy playoffs? San Diego's Nate Kaeding is on the road those weeks, and while Dallas' Nick Folk has two home games, he'll be drafted earlier than most kickers. Plus, in addition to playing on a team that can score a lot of touchdowns, Folk doesn't have Brown's experience or track record with long field goals.
Of course, Steven Jackson still hasn't shown up to camp, which is worrisome. The Rams could go from a team that struggles to crack the end zone to a team that struggles to crack midfield. But a struggling team does create opportunities for the kicker, and if the team stalls in the red zone you'll hear Brown's owners cheering (assuming they'll admit to rooting for a kicker in public).
I'm not saying to reach for Josh Brown in the early rounds or pass up on a valuable backup that you might actually start. But when it's time for you to draft, please make sure he's on your team. He could be the guy that helps you make the playoffs, and actually do something once you get there.
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Posted by Richard Loppnow | Aug. 20 at 09:27 AM
Based on odds, Moss probably won't end up the best fantasy receiver, and Tomlinson probably won't end up the best fantasy runner. They'll miss a few games, or some other really good guy will put up his best season. This, on the other hand, is NUTS! Don't you read the stuff on your own web site? "Struggling team(s) create opportunities for the kicker"??? Gee, I guess that explains why kickers on teams with winning records score so few points, and kickers from teams with losing records score so many. And here I thought it was just the opposite. Thanks for properly edumacating me on that!
Posted by Duane Stay | Aug. 20 at 12:25 PM
Hmm, He has a point.
Posted by MICHAEL MURILLO | Aug. 21 at 01:26 AM
I think the "A struggling team does create opportunities for the kicker" part should be taken with the words directly following it, "and if the team stalls in the red zone you'll hear Brown's owners cheering." That's the kind of struggling that's good for fantasy owners: A team that's good enough to get to the red zone (or close) but not effective enough to score a lot of touchdowns. Assuming Jackson's questions are worked out and he's effective, I think the Rams are that team. It's not like they play in an overpowering division and the best opponents are really in the first half of their schedule.
Posted by Jonathan Norman | Aug. 21 at 05:19 AM
I tend to agree on the "struggling offenses make for good kickers" theory. It's like getting a closer on a bad team - if they're going to win, it's going to be close. However, I'm just not sold on Brown over some other good solid options.
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Aug. 21 at 06:05 AM
I've got 20 kickers ranked higher than Brown on my board. I'll gladly put them head-to-head against Brown at $5 each. (So if Brown finishes the season as the highest-scoring kicker, you'd get $100. If he outscores only half of the guys I've got in my top 20, it would be a $50-$50 wash).
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