It’s not an atomic blast, flying, or super strength, but I have a superpower: I am really good at predicting kickers. Like most comic book characters, I didn’t ask for this power. Trust me, I would have rather had the ability to predict RB Busts or stud QB injuries. But with great power comes great responsibility, so allow me to share my thoughts on the 2018 kicker options.
My longtime readers can tell you that I liked Justin Tucker in 2016. All he did was finish on top of the rankings. Meanwhile, last season at this time, despite being ranked as K1-worthy throughout the industry, I had Steven Hauschka as a bust. And what happened? He failed to finish inside the top baker’s dozen of kickers. Last year, Greg Zuerlein was my sleeper del anno. In hindsight that might sound like humdrum non-mutant capability. However, most sources had him ranked outside the Top 25 last preseason.
Before I share my superhuman thoughts on the 2018 kickers, however, let’s start with the industry’s thoughts to get a baseline.
I rarely look at just one site’s rankings, but prefer to look at compiled rankings like our partners over a FantasyPros do. Click this link to see them for yourself.
Or if you’re too lazy to do that, I will tell you that I agree with their overall tiers for the most part. (Now you have to look, don’t you?) I definitely agree that Tier 1 includes the divine trinity of Greg Zuerlein, Justin Tucker, and Stephen Gostowski in some order. There is no one in Tier 5 or lower that I would even consider drafting. Tier 4, which ends with Caleb Sturgis at 23rd, however, has some viable options. So let’s look a little closer at those in the second, third, and fourth tiers to find our breakout, bust, and sleeper kicker in the 2018 Fantasy Football Kicker Primer.
2018 Fantasy Football Kicker Primer
Bust: Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers
So he’s ranked as a borderline K1, which is actually about where I would rank him, but likely a little lower. But if you dig into the rankings, you will see that ESPN is inflating his ranking. What is ESPN thinking having Boswell ranked 4th overall? No way he is the 4th best kicker this year.
First, he missed a couple extra points this past year which is always a red flag, as I’ve pointed out previously the correlation between extra points missed and lack of success. Secondly, Heinz Field is not a kind stadium to kickers. Third, the Steelers have the fifth hardest schedule for kickers this upcoming year. Any one of those things, I might ignore. All three? That’s more red flags than a Communist embassy. Boswell is not in my Top 10, and he shouldn’t be in yours either.
Sleeper: Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos
It is kind of hard to consider a kicker as a sleeper who only two years ago finished in the Top 10. However, Brandon McManus is currently ranked in the 20s, making him borderline streamer country. Let’s agree he’s not being given much respect. After all, was he really that bad last year? Spoiler alert–the answer is no.
First, he was perfect on extra point attempts, something not even 10 other kickers can say. Secondly, while he did miss more than a half a dozen field goals, so did Ryan Succup who is going four kicker spots higher. But three of those misses were from 50-plus yards. Third, he did still hit three of ’em from 50-plus, so I’m not worried about his leg.
Add in the fact that Denver’s quarterback situation this year will be more stable, I will gladly take McManus with my 2018 kicker pick if necessary. Don’t expect McManus to be as successful as my Zuerlein pick last year, but he will be worth rostering this year.
Breakout: Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
So let’s review my previous criteria:
Perfect at extra points? Check.
A limited number of misses? Check. Just four and three of those were 40-yarders or longer.
Decent leg? Check. Four of five from 50-plus, including a long of 53-yards.
And to be slightly subjective, I want a kicker who is cool under pressure. So, for example, making a game-winning kick on Monday Night….
The @buttkicker87 field goal that sealed the win. 🎇 pic.twitter.com/jDYIoTAhvy
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 3, 2017
Butker will be the 2018 kicker you wish you hadn’t bypassed. Why? Butker had an ethereal 12.3 standard scoring points/week last year. That mark was second in the league and is a hefty margin over third place Stephen Gostkowski’s 10.8 points/week. Despite playing just 13 weeks, he still finished as the #7 overall kicker. Butker is my 2018 kicker breakout. Definitely draft him if you miss out on one of those first three kickers. Otherwise, it might take a superhero to save your season.
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