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Kickers on bad teams

The curious case of red-hot Younghoe Koo

I struggle with how to project Younghoe Koo each week. Traditionally it’s not a good idea to count on good production from a kicker on a bad team. Yet, he keeps knocking in the field goals, week after week.

We’re two thirds of the way through the season, and Falcons (while just 4-7) are on pace to finish with the 3rd-most kicking points in league history. And Koo has actually been a little better than that; he missed a game (and the Falcons scored only 1 field goal and 1 extra point in that one). Koo has averaged almost 11 points, which would put him at 174 for a full 16-game season.

Koo was similarly awesome last year, leading the league in kicking points in the second half of the season (after they signed him to replace Matt Bryant).

If you’ve got Koo, the general feel is to just go ahead and keep starting him, trying to ride that wave. That’s easy in theory, of course. It gets harder when you’re measuring Koo against another viable kicking option. Koo doesn’t have a particularly good matchup this week – playing against a Saints defense that’s really been balling as of late. What if you have another viable kicking option, perhaps Jason Sanders (vs. Cin.), Justin Tucker (vs. Dall.) or Jason Myers (vs. NYG). Do you start Koo ahead of those guys?

The bigger picture stats tell us that what Koo is doing is statistically unlikely. In NFL history, 60 other teams have finished seasons with 140 kicking points (barring a dramatic change in production, Atlanta will join this group). Only two of those 60 teams finished with losing records.

Neil Rackers with the Cardinals was able to have one of these Koo-type seasons in 2005. And Robbie Gould with the 49ers had one in 2017. More typically, the high-scoring kickers tend to come from the powerhouse teams that are winning 11-13 games.

Whatever. It’s the pivotal Week 13, with fantasy playoff spots hanging in the balance. If Koo has helped get you this far, probably best to just stick him out there and hope he can keep it going.

2017Los Angeles Rams11-5168
2011San Francisco 49ers13-3166
1998Minnesota Vikings15-1164
2017Kansas City10-6163
2003St. Louis Rams12-4163
2016Atlanta Falcons11-5158
2013New England Patriots12-4158
2003Indianapolis Colts12-4157
2017New England Patriots13-3156
2014New England Patriots12-4156
2018Los Angeles Rams13-3153
2012New England Patriots12-4153
2015New England Patriots12-4151
2013Denver Broncos13-3150
2018Houston Texans11-5150
2014Philadelphia Eagles10-6150
2005Arizona Cardinals5-11149
2008New York Giants12-4149
2008New England Patriots11-5148
2005New York Giants11-5148
2019Kansas City12-4147
2011New Orleans Saints13-3147
2015Carolina Panthers15-1146
2009San Diego Chargers13-3146
2017San Francisco 49ers6-10145
1996Carolina Panthers12-4145
1999Indianapolis Colts13-3145
2012New York Giants9-7145
1968New York Jets11-3145
1985Chicago Bears15-1144
1999Miami Dolphins9-7144
2019New Orleans Saints13-3144
2008Philadelphia Eagles9-6-1144
2013San Diego Chargers9-7144
2012Atlanta Falcons13-3143
2006Chicago Bears13-3143
2011New England Patriots13-3143
2010Philadelphia Eagles10-6143
2013Seattle Seahawks13-3143
1987New Orleans Saints12-3142
2010Oakland Raiders8-8142
2017Pittsburgh Steelers13-3142
2019Baltimore Ravens14-2141
2018Baltimore Ravens10-6141
2017Baltimore Ravens9-7141
2016Baltimore Ravens8-8141
2007Green Bay Packers13-3141
2013Green Bay Packers8-7-1141
2012Minnesota Vikings10-6141
2004New England Patriots14-2141
1995Pittsburgh Steelers11-5141
2013Baltimore Ravens8-8140
1998Buffalo Bills10-6140
2011Green Bay Packers15-1140
2014Indianapolis Colts11-5140
1986New England Patriots11-5140
2017New Orleans Saints11-5140
2013San Francisco 49ers12-4140

—Ian Allan

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