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Second-half kickers

Do strong finishes translate to the next season for kickers?

A pair of kickers put up huge numbers in the second half of the season – Tyler Bass and Greg Zuerlein both averaged over 10 points in their final eight games. Should we take that as a sign that these kickers are likely to rank in the top 10 in 2021? Or is this more likely a case of outlier production in a small sample size?

Bass (pictured) continued his hot streak in the postseason. He knocked in 9 points against the Colts (including a long field goal) and hit four field goals at Kansas City, with a pair of 51-yarders. Sean McDermott was coaching as if he had Bass in a fantasy lineup, trotting him out for field goals twice in fourth-and-short situations where the Bills clearly needed touchdowns rather than field goals.

Zuerlein, meanwhile, oddly got better after Dak Prescott got hurt, knocking in a bunch of field goals in November and December.

But is such production predictive? That is, does it help provide any indication of what might happen in 2021? Or is it better to simply ignore?

If we look at similar kickers from the past, the indication is that when a kicker is great for a half season, he’s more likely than others to continue being a good kicker the next year.

In the last 20 years, 28 kickers have scored at least 75 points in the second half of a season. Of that group, 16 scored at least 125 points the next year. One wasn’t far behind, with 123 points. Three were what you would call average kickers, finishing with 114-118 points. And only 8 of the 128 were what we’d call (for fantasy purposes) lesser kickers, scoring 89-109 points.

Collectively as a group, those 28 teams that put up big kicking production in the second half of a season averaged almost 125 kicking points in their following season.

On this one, I zeroed in on the scoring totals for the teams rather than the individuals. The thinking was to avoid issues with injuries, suspensions and free agency. The point totals are for the teams rather than individuals. (For the numbers below, some are tagged with an asterisk; for those one, some other kicker was involved in at least some of the kicking production.)

For the just-completed season, it would have paid off nicely to chase after second-half production. Younghoe Koo had a big second half for the Falcons in 2019, with 84 points, and he continued to thrive in the just-completed season.

Koo and Bass, oddly enough, both played their college ball at Georgia Southern.

LATE-SEASON KICKERS
YearKickerG 9-16Next Yr
2003Jeff Wilkins, St.L.9089
2011David Akers, S.F.88131
2013Phil Dawson, S.F.86108
2019Younghoe Koo, Atl.84148*
2017Robbie Gould, S.F.84126
2015Chris Boswell, Pitt.83109*
2020Greg Zuerlein, Dall.82???
2018Justin Tucker, Balt.82141
2020Tyler Bass, Buff.81???
2013Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.81156
2017Justin Tucker, Balt.81141
2018Greg Zuerlein, LAR81114
2016Matt Bryant, Atl.80137
2011Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.79153
2014McManus/Barth, Den.79125*
2014Matt Bryant, Atl.79109*
2018Ka'imi Fairbairn, Hou.79100
2009Nate Kaeding, S.D.78129*
2013Nick Novak, S.D.78106
2014Cody Parkey, Phil.78105*
2017Harrison Butker, K.C.77137
2019Wil Lutz, N.O.77126
2019Harrison Butker, K.C.77123
2010David Akers, Phil.77118*
2012Matt Prater, Den.76150
2017Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.76130
2013Justin Tucker, Balt.76129
2008Stephen Gostkowski, N.E.76125
2014Mason Crosby, G.B.76108
2017Matt Bryant, Atl.75116*

—Ian Allan

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