Fantasy Football Kickers: Who to Target in Your Drafts in 2022
Chances are you are in the final round of your draft and you Googled: fantasy football kickers.
Look, I get it. You didn’t do much kicker research this off-season.
I wrote a riveting most-important-thing-you’ll-ever-read article entitled Demystifying Kickers & The “Stain” They Are in Fantasy Football. For those who don’t give two farts about clicking a kicker link, here is the TLDR version:
- Kicker unpredictability is a myth.
- There are multiple variables in play each week and to assume that the kicker was the only one to make or break your week is like rejoicing that you’ve disarmed one grenade when there is an entire field of tripwires and landmines in front of you.
- A kicker is a onesie position. In other words, it is replaceable just like QB, TE, & DST.
- Target high-volume passing offenses and high 3rd down rates.
- Ignore FG accuracy as a sticky metric.
- Live for the Vegas lines.
Kicker Data For The Nerds
For those that care, I took a historical approach to compiling kicker rankings. We compiled data all the way back from 2016 looking at team plays, total yards, and offensive points per game. If kicker performance is largely tied to team performance, let’s start there. Which offenses do the Fantasy Footballers like in 2022?
I used the following to spit out projections for each team to find median outcomes for each kicker. Since 2016, here is the average for NFL kickers for each of the following metrics.
Yards per FG Att.
FG Accuracy Avg.
Avg. Pt. Per Att.
XP Accuracy Avg.
Starting with yards converted into FG attempts and then the accuracy measures at the end. According to a regression analysis investigating the science behind the fantasy kicker, FG accuracy is a less telling fantasy statistic compared to other factors. The study found that total points scored, scoring rank, wins, QB passer rating, and QB passing yards all held much more weight in terms of revealing kicker kick-assness in the fantasy football world.
Using the metrics and behind-the-scenes numbers in the Ultimate Draft Kit, I can share with you which offenses they are most bullish on. For example, here are Andy’s projections converted into yards and FG attempts. *Note: This is not a final declaration of a kicker’s value but a starting place.
- Denver Broncos– There’s the obvious upgrade at QB with Russell Wilson under center, but Vic Fangio’s defensive-minded conservative approach is out the door and Nathaniel Hackett, the former Green Bay OC is in town. With these two changes, we project not only a much more efficient offense but one that will run more plays and throw on early downs. Since 2012 (when he was a rookie), here are Russell Wilson’s offenses & their finish in PPG: 9, 8, 10, 4, 18*, 11, 6, 9, 8. *The one blip: 2016 when their defense allowed the 3rd fewest points. Trust this offense and the AFC West division.
- Los Angeles Chargers– Given the elite QB play, up-tempo pace, and aggressive play-calling, the Chargers are absolutely a priority team despite Dustin Hopkins falling off what he used to be 2-3 years ago. There’s not too much to add beyond that – we know what this offense can do with Justin Herbert at the helm.
- Kansas City Chiefs– Despite the loss of Tyreek Hill, KC is still getting plenty of love in the futures market and projects as one of the best offenses in the NFL. We love betting on Andy Reid and arguably the best real-life QB in the game today at a much, much lower opportunity cost than a year ago.
- Green Bay Packers– This offense is going to look a lot different in 2022 without Davante Adams, who accounted for over 30% of this team’s receiving yards and TDs a year ago. Aaron Rodgers has been efficient for the majority of his career and that’s helped to curb some of the concerns about this team’s slow pace of play over the last two years under Matt LeFleur. But, will he remain consistent without a proven WR1? There’s probably more overall downside risk with the Packers this year than there has been in the last few years.
Week 1 Specials
It can be easy to go by rankings and just pick the next available kicker. But if you are the last person drafting the position OR you plan on not taking a kicker, here are a few you can take before Week 1 rolls around.
Greg Joseph (MIN) vs. Green Bay
We love the Minnesota offense this year, especially with new head coach Kevin O’Connell and a proposed pass-happy approach. The Vikings lost a lot of close games last season. In fact, 14 of their first 15 games last season were decided by one score, which tied the all-time record for one-score games in a season. We like the Vikings to find the right side of variance after a relatively unlucky 2021 season. Of course, they’ve got the usual studs in Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson to get excited about, but there are pieces going later in drafts to make this an all-around team to target. With Kevin O’Connell coming over from the Rams, we may even see similar concepts to what Sean McVay has been running in LA. The game total is sitting at 48 but last year, this game was another one of those close one-score losses 31-34. Trust the indoors.
Wil Lutz (NO) at Atlanta
Lutz is another big name that has graced the fantasy football managers over the last few years… but not in 2021. He missed the entire year due to a core injury. The Saints’ offense should be reborn in 2022 with actual wide receivers on the roster. Expect big things especially Week 1 against the Falcons as 5-point road favorites. It’s a homecoming for Lutz as he played college ball at Georgia State. He’s also killing it in camp for what that’s worth.
Wil Lutz just went 4/4 today from extra point distance to 42. That makes him 31/32 in camp so far. H/T @NTGraff for the counts.
— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) August 11, 2022
Matt Prater (ARI) vs Kansas City
The current highest total for Week 1 according to DK Sportsbook is ARI/KC at 53. Prater has a big leg and while everybody and their mama project the Chiefs to win this one, it’s the other side that could provide some value. In his career, Patrick Mahomes is averaging 339 passing yards per game in a dome, and last year that total was an insane 408 per game. The Cardinals will be pushed and Prater averaged 2.4 FGs made per game at home last year. That is a safe floor in a game you’re hoping goes back and forth.
Jake Elliott (PHI) @ Detroit
On the podcast last year, Owl Borland had to rhyme Elliott with ‘Bellybutt’ in relief for Jason. It was legendary stuff. For Week 1 this year, the Eagles have a healthy team implied total (25.3) indoors against a lowly Lions team. Detroit sounds like they should roll over but Dan Campbell won’t quit. In Week 1 last year, the Lions hung around and played the 49ers close in a barnburner that ended 41-33.