25 Statistics: Boom-Boom Kickers from 2017
Like it or not, if your league does deploy these lead-footed men on your rosters, then some weeks having a solid kicker really does matter. It definitely feels like part of the game that is most given to random chance. I wrote an article before the season, Method to the Kicker Madness, which highlighted some of the trends and statistics that owners should keep in mind when selecting the ones who put the “foot” in fantasy football.
I’ve once again undertaken the task giving you 25 meaningful kicker statistics from 2017 (if that is an oxymoron or not).
Note: Scoring for kickers varies across formats and websites. For standard scoring, I will refer to 3 points for FG made and 1 for every extra point. For “bonus “scoring, 3 points for a FG <40, 4 points for 40-49 yards, and 5 points for 50+ as well as the 1 for XP.
1. You’re going to see a common theme as I begin these statistics… Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein arguably had the best fantasy kicking of all time… and he only played 14 games! Call it the “Jeff Fisher effect” but Zuerlein and the Rams were the only team without a top 5 finish in 2016. In 2017, Zuerlein led all kickers with 8 top 5 weeks!
2. Zuerlein’s 182 bonus league points are only behind David Akers‘ 2011 season for most by a kicker. Akers had an insane 52 attempts. However, Zuerlein’s 13.0 points per game are the highest in a season with a minimum of 6 games played.
3. According to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, 7 of the top 12 kickers in final rankings went UNDRAFTED on average, 1 more than 2015 and 2016. In other words, don’t worry about “reaching” for a kicker when streaming the position could help you find the #1 guy (Zuerlein) on the wire.
4. In 2017, there were 39 different kickers who registered a top 12 weekly performance. To compare, only 36 total kickers had an attempt in 2016.
5. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker really is as good as it gets despite it seeming that this season was relatively quiet compared to 2016. He actually finished with the same exact fantasy total in standard leagues (141), tied for the most in his career. The guy finished in the top 5 in bonus formats 5 times on the year.
6. The Jaguars defense went to elite mode in 2017 after allowing the most fantasy points to opposing kickers in both 2015 & 2016. They went from worst to 5th best allowing on average just 5.8 fantasy points per game. This in-spite of the fact kickers connected on 91.7% of their attempts against the Jags, second best in the league.
7. On the other hand, the Texans defense allowed kickers to score double digit fantasy points 7 times on the year as their opponents hit on 94.3% of their attempts, the highest in the league.
8. Rookie Harrison Butker came on the scene for the Chiefs after Cairo Santos, one of the best in the league, injured himself in Week 3. All the rookie Butker did was average the second most fantasy points per contest (12.3) in bonus leagues and finish 6th overall despite only kicking in 13 games! His 38 made FGs are the MOST EVER for a rookie!
9. Let this put his rock solidness in perspective: Butker finished #5 in standard scoring 7+ points in 11 of his 13 games. His teammate Kareem Hunt, the #3 RB in standard, only scored 7+ standard points in 12 of his 16 games.
10. Stephen Gostkowski redeemed himself after plummeting to the 9th kicker overall in standard last year after a dominant run when he finished #1 overall 4 years in a row. Gostkowski attempted the 2nd most FGs (40) of his career finishing with the 2nd most fantasy points of his career.
11. Panthers kicker Graham Gano led the league in FG accuracy at 96.67%, a huge jump from his 81.7% career rate. Despite his preciseness, Gano actually finished outside the top 12 in bonus leagues.
13. Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis started the year off on the right foot (bad pun I know) with 13 bonus league points and a top 5 finish. He landed himself on the IR before Week 2 opening the door for rookie sensation…
14. Jake Elliot. Just how good was Elliott? The rookie from Memphis kicked the longest FG (61 yards) ever for a rookie, an Eagles kicker and for the year to beat the Giants in Week 3. He averaged 9.9 bonus league points per contest, 9th best in the league.
15. As the Falcons entire offense regressed from their Super Bowl season, Matt Bryant also dipped although only slightly. He finished as a top 12 kicker 11 times on the year in bonus leagues, a drop from a league-leading 14 in 2016. He was the 4th overall kicker, only 17 fantasy points less than last year’s record-setting performance.
16. Robbie Gould was an absolute animal from Weeks 13-15. If you ran into him during the fantasy playoffs, you likely got booted. Gould averaged 17 fantasy points per contest, including a 21 point explosion in Week 15 where he kicked 6 FGs against the Titans.
17. To put those weeks in perspective, Gould was so good during that stretch that he outscored EVERY WR in standard leagues except Tyreek Hill. Think about that. At 56 points, he would’ve been the 8th best QB in that span.
18. Blair Walsh & Graham Gano clearly didn’t have the “oomph” to hit the long ones. The Seahawks and Panthers were the only teams not to make a FG beyond 50 yards.
19. Houston Texans rookie Ka’imi Fairbairn was the ultimate tantalizing boom-bust kicker in 2017. He had 2 top 3 finishes in Weeks 3 & 4 and was fantasy’s 4th overall kicker for the first quarter of the season. However, from Weeks 5 to 17, he was the 23rd best kicker finishing outside of the top 12 in 10 of those 12 games.
20. The Chargers used 3 kickers on the year: Younghoe Koo, Nick Novak, and Travis Coons. Those 3 were by far the worst unit of the season hitting on 66.67% of their attempts. That’s the worst mark since 2014 when the Detroit Lions triumvirate of Nate Freese, Alex Henery, and Matt Prater ended at 65.7%. In other words, if you need 3 kickers it’s bad news.
21. Bills’ kicker Steven Hauschka finished tied for 12th in bonus leagues despite the fact Buffalo scored the 7th fewest points in the league. Hauschka has now been a top 12 kicker every year of his career and has the 3rd most FGs made since 2013.
22. New Orleans’ Will Lutz turned in a solid sophomore campaign leading the league with 47 extra points while finishing with the 7th most total points (140). His 273 total points are the MOST for the 1st 2 years of any career surpassing Justin Tucker by 1 point.
23. Speaking of Tucker, he is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career as he is pummeling the competition for most points scored to start a career. Through 6 years, Tucker has 811 total points, 48 more than Dan Bailey to start a career.
24. At this pace, he can enter the top 10 for career points in just 7 more seasons. However, to catch Morten Anderson (or Adam Vinatieri who is creeping up), Tucker will need 13 more seasons at this pace, which would still be an insane 3 season less than the leaders.
25. After seeing a kicker attempt a pass for 2 consecutive seasons (Justin Tucker in 2016 & Cairo Santos in 2015), our kicking friends were shutout in 2017. Their special-teams punting compadres saw 9 different players attempt a pass including the Bears’ Pat O’Donnell throw a 38-yard TD and the Rams’ Johnny Hekker go 2-for-3 for 34 yards.