Harrison Butker’s Fantasy fortunes are tied to Patrick Mahomes’ health. (Jeffrey Beall)
The final cheat sheet of the 2020 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit is here and it features the art of drafting a kicker. Hint: Don’t draft one. Use the last bit of your capital and take a long shot wide receiver, running back or tight end instead. Kickers are a dime a dozen and will rarely win weeks. We would rather draft a second QB before drafting a kicker.
With that being said, the way to evaluate kickers is to look at the overall offense and their corresponding time of possession. Top kickers belong to good passing offenses with high time of possession. The value of a kicker is helped by red zone woes and running back ineptitude (at least at the goal line). Great passing offenses with weak run games (think Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Arizona) typically funnel opportunities to kickers (which is why coaches love those long-range legs).
We, at RotoRob.com, are proud to present a ranking of people who are better suited to be in teenage boy bands, but instead make their livings kicking pigskins through football uprights.
1. Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs: Legend has it that every time Butker walks onto the field, a lone hawk cries followed by a guitar rift by God himself. Making 34 of 38 field goal attempts in 2019 (most attempts in the league), Butker capped off drives of 20-29 yards (nine), 30-39 yards (nine), 40-49 yards (13) and 50+ yards (three). He also made 45 of 48 extra point attempts (third most attempts in the league), netting him 147 Fantasy points in 2019. As long as Patrick Mahomes stays healthy, Butker should retain his crown. Hell, in the virtual world, Butker is so good that he can make the kick, recover a fumble and bring it to the house — on the same play (see video below).
2. Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys: Our favorite premium kicker landed himself in Cowboy country following the sacking of Jason Garrett and the hiring of new Head Coach Mike McCarthy. The Dallas offense projects eerily similar to the prolific 2018 Rams: 11 formation, elite OL, outside zone runs and lots of play actions. It certainly helps when your nickname is The Leg and your career long field goal is 61 yards. Zuerlein does have a history of injuries, so buyer beware!
3. Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints: Lutz finished as Fantasy’s second highest scoring kicker last year, making 32 of 36 field goal attempts (second most attempts in the league) and 48 of 49 extra points (second most tries in the league). HC Sean Payton has the utmost confidence trying him for long field goals. In 2019, Lutz successfully converted 13 kicks of 40-49 yards and three between 50-59 yards, tying for the league lead for most deep field goals with Butker, Matt Gay and Joey Slye.
4. Josh Lambo, Jacksonville Jaguars: Forget Tiger King, Jaguar King is in town. Gardner Minshew, whether you like it or not, is the Jaguars’ franchise now and in the future. It bodes well for the offense and Lambo as Minshew will be able to maintain drives long enough to reach field goal distance. Lambo made 33 of 34 field goals: 0-19 yards (none), 20-29 yards (12), 30-39 yards (nine), 40-49 (eight) and 50 or longer (four). He also made 19 of 20 extra point tries. Sitting at 95 per cent overall accuracy, Lambo should not be overlooked.
5. Zane Gonzalez, Arizona Cardinals: The fourth-ranked kicker in Fantasy football last year took advantage of the team’s red zone woes, churning out 31 of 35 field goal attempts (third most attempts) and 34 of 35 extra points (16th most in the league). Gonzalez was only kicker to make double digit field goals at 20-29 yards (12) and 30-39 yards (12), but his longer field goals are significantly lower than his peers: 40-49 yards (five) and 50-59 yards (two) compared to the top 10 kicker averages of (7.7) and (3.4) respectively.
6. Matt Gay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Despite Jamies Winston‘s constant turnovers, Tampa Bay’s 30:54 minutes average time of possession (ninth in the league) was good enough for Gay to convert 27 of 35 field goals (77.1 per cent accuracy). While he missed seven field goals, his Fantasy ranking was buoyed by converting 43 of 48 extra points (89.6 per cent). Accuracy can be improved on, and with Tom Brady maintaining drives, Gay might be the most undervalued kicker.
7. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens: Finishing as Fantasy’s third leading kicker last season, Tucker unsurprisingly did most of his damage with extra points, making 57 of 59 attempts (most attempts in the league) — racking up 11 more tries than any other kicker. He attempted just 29 field goal attempts (fifth lowest of any full-season kicker), but converted 28 of them: kicking 0-19 yards (none), 20-29 yards (eight), 30-39 yards (nine), 40-49 yards (10), and 50 or more yards (one). The offense is too damn efficient!
8. Matt Prater, Detroit Lions: The 10th ranked kicker in Fantasy last season, Prater made 26 of 31 field goals attempted (ninth most attempts in the league) as well as 35 of 36 extra points (13th most tries in the league). His field goal accuracy was quite alarming at 83.9 per cent, but we believe the struggling Lions’ defense and their uncoordinated run game will create opportunities for Prater. As an added bonus, Prater converted seven field goals of 50 or more yards, second only to Slye (eight).
9. Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers: Boswell put up an admirable season despite the team’s top quarterback, running back and wide receiver being injured for a combined 26 games. Making 29 of 31 field goals, Boswell knocked it down at 0-19 yards (one), 20-29 (11), 30-39 (seven), 40-49 yards (nine) and 50 or more yards (one). He also made 28 of 28 extra points, one of just two kickers to average a perfect rate playing the full season. Returning Ben Roethlisberger and the offense will help bolster the offensive time of possession, helping Boswell in the process.
10. Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos: The Broncos will be sneakily good this year, especially their offense. The young but talented trio of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, in conjunction with a superb on-paper defense, can do serious damage. Melvin Gordon, as a goal line specialist, will erode McManus’ value but we still believe he’s a top 10 kicker. McManus made 29 of 34 field goals, 15 of which were beyond 40 yards, and converted 25 of 26 extra points in 2019 — despite the fact that Joe Flacco was leading the offense, and averaging a mere 29:20 minutes of possession (19th in the league).
11. Justin Rohrwasser/Nick Folk, New England Patriots: The signing of Cam Newton bolsters all phases of the Patriots. Folk and Rohrwasser are competing for the starting kicker gig this season. Both kickers maintain tremendous upside with Head Coach Bill Belichek‘s ability to maintain time of possession. We recommended that if you did not draft a kicker, keep an eye on the Patriots’ situation. It’s going to be a gold mine.
12. Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles: Although he didn’t have it quite as bad, Elliott was in a similar situation as Boswell, putting up a weak season burdened by the sprawls of injuries especially to the offense. Making 22 of 26 field goals, Elliott struck gold at 20-29 yards (seven), 30-39 yards (eight), 40-49 yards (five) and 50 or more yards (two) while converting 35 of 37 extra points. Despite the Eagles maintaining the second highest time of possession, the offense failed to advance enough to reach field goal range. Elliott should rebound as the offense continues to get healthy.
13. Younghoe Koo, Atlanta Falcons: Todd Gurley will remain the biggest factor weighing on Koo’s value. If Gurley is hamstrung and can’t operate efficiently in the red zone, Koo is going to see top three opportunities in field goals. Boasting the eighth best time of possession, Atlanta has the weapons to get down the field in a hurry. The NFC South will have a lot of high scoring games and Koo just needs the score to remain close.
14. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers: Old Man Winter has less grey hair than Crosby… then again, Old Man Winter probably missed more kicks. Crosby finished as Fantasy’s 14th best kicker last year, making 22 of 24 field goals and 40 of 41 extra points. Aaron Jones‘ red zone prowess hurt Crosby’s field goal value. However, we expect more resistance from opposing defense towards Green Bay’s running game this year, so Crosby should garner more FG chances.
15. Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants: This ranking is contingent, assuming this idiot isn’t convicted for his hit-and-run incident last month, assuming he isn’t suspended, and assuming his mental psyche and his status within the team is unchanged. Then, Rosas has a path towards being a top five kicker. Making a measly 12 of 17 field goals, he’ll have to answer to accuracy concerns, but we believe it is overblown as he made 35 of 39 extra points. The Giants offense has improved considerably in the past two years. Rosas should get his own… if the above assumptions hold.
Others to Consider
16. Joey Slye, Carolina Panthers: Slye kicked 16 field goals beyond 40 yards, eight of which were 50 or more yards. NFL officials need to check for gunpowder in his shoes.
17. Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa and the increased use of RPOs should help move the chains. The lack of a running attack should increase red zone opportunities for Sanders.
18. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears: Players to have drunk from the fountain of youth: Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, Frank Gore and Gould.
19. Ka’imi Fairbairn, Houston Texans: Suffering from accuracy issues, Fairbairn made just 20 of 25 field goals (80 per cent) and 40 of 45 extra points (88.9 per cent). We doubt his 2020 season fluctuates much from last year.
20. Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle chews clock and runs the ball until the fourth quarter when Russell Wilson gets angry. After Myers finished last year as the 13th-ranked kicker, we just don’t see the opportunities.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
The Allman Brothers Band first launched in 1969, remaining active until 2014 while taking two breaks in between. In 1973, the band released Brothers and Sisters, its fourth album. From this effort comes “Southbound,” written by lead guitarist Dickey Betts (no relation to Mookie), one of the band’s founders.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who’s too high, too low or missing.