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Up-and-coming kickers

Four highest scoring kickers last year were all newcomers

The four highest-scoring kickers were all lightly regarded prospects entering the season. I don’t think Daniel Carlson, Jason Sanders, Younghoe Koo or Tyler Bass were selected among the first 10 kickers in the vast majority of drafts. (If we set aside Koo, who had a good half-season in 2019, I don’t think any of the others were chosen in the top 15).

But they all finished the top 4 at the position. Each scored 141-144 points. And it makes for some tricky decision making with the best kickers for the upcoming season.

For most of the past decade, the kicker position has been dominated by guys like Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker and Wil Lutz. But those guys are different in that there’s more of a track record to work with. They’ve had a lot of great seasons, and they’ve tended to play to that level year in and year out.

With this new four, there’s more of a worry that they could turn ordinary in a hurry. Only one (Bass, who’s pictured) comes from a team that made the playoffs last year (and the most productive kickers tend to come from the better teams).

So consider the following numbers. They show kickers who have scored 140 points, but not all such kickers. I’ve set aside the great ones like Gostkowski and Tucker. Instead, I’m showing only kickers who have scored 140 or more points but who never before have ranked in the top 10 at the kicker position. Take those guys, and then look at how they fared in their next season.

The results aren’t particularly good. Below you’ll see the last 14 such kickers. Only three in the following season ranked in the top 5 in scoring (and I’ve got them tagged with black dots). And three others ranked 7th in scoring. But the majority of these kickers (8 of 14) ranked outside the top 10. Half of these kickers didn’t rank higher than 15th.

It’s early, and I’m not putting anything down in ink yet. But my early lean is that all four of these new kickers – Koo, Carlson, Bass, Sanders – will rank in my top 10 at the position, but that I won’t be making it a priority to go after any of them. I don’t think any of them look super certain to be top-5 kickers in 2021.

2017Greg Zuerlein, LAR15811612
2018Ka'imi Fairbairn, Hou.15010020
2014Cody Parkey, Phil.1501637
2015Graham Gano, Car.14612115
1999• Mike Vanderjagt, Ind.1451215t
1996John Kasay, Car.1459122t
2020Daniel Carlson, L.V.144??
2020Jason Sanders, Mia.144??
2020Younghoe Koo, Atl.144??
2013Nick Novak, S.D.14410621t
2013• Stephen Hauschka, Sea.1431344t
2006Robbie Gould, Chi.1431267
2017• Harrison Butker, K.C.1421373
2017Chris Boswell, Pitt.1428625
2020Tyler Bass, Buff.141??
2007Mason Crosby, G.B.1411277t
2012Blair Walsh, Minn.14112115
2005Neil Rackers, Ariz.1401167t

—Ian Allan

Fantasy Index