Fantasy Football Week 11: Just Kicking It

Washington Redskins place kicker Kai Forbath
Washington Redskins place kicker Kai Forbath
Oct 20 2013 Landover MD USA Washington Redskins place kicker Kai Forbath 2 kicks an extra point against the Chicago Bears during the first half at FedEX Field Brad Mills USA TODAY Sports

Offering weekly kicker recommendations is akin to analyzing flies racing up a wall.

There’s more variance in kicker scoring than any other position in fantasy football — even, somehow, defenses. Anyone who has ever dropped a kicker who hadn’t scored more than a few points per game all season, just to watch said kicker post a juicy 17-spot one week later, know as much.

I like to convince myself that there’s a way to at least try to predict outcomes in our stupid, little game. Sometimes the eyeball test suffices: you’re not going to latch on to a guy kicking for a lifeless offense facing one of the NFL’s best defenses on a windy, rainy day, right?

I’ve applied an admittedly primitive formula to my weekly kicker selections this season, with intermittent success. Mason Crosby’s early-season tear in which he scored at least 12 fantasy points in four of five games was the only exception to my rule. I stuck with Crosby through that entire stretch, banking on Green Bay’s offense to put Crosby in scoring position. I abandoned the proverbial ship when Aaron Rodgers went down.

I examine two numbers to identify favorable kicker matchups: 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to kickers and a defense’s red zone touchdown scoring percentage, or the frequency in which a defense allows an offense to cross the goal line once inside the 20-yard line.

The lower the percentage, the better for our kickers.

Kickers must be facing one of the top-10 most generous teams that also allows opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone less than 50 percent of the time. Any kicker playing the Falcons, Lions, Dolphins, or Giants should be high on your priority list, whether or not I recommend them in this space.

Shaun Suisham (PIT) vs. Detroit Lions

Detroit has been among the three most kicker-generous defenses for the entirety of 2013, maintaining a low red zone touchdown rate. The Lions sport the fifth best red zone touchdown percentage, allowing teams to score six points inside the 20 41.6 percent of the time.

Kickers score 9.8 schedule-adjusted points against Detroit.

Suisham has hit on 90 percent of his 2013 attempts, most nine points or more in five games. Heinz Field, however, can be a veritable wind tunnel, so watch for pre-game reports of gusting winds.

Robbie Gould (CHI) vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens gave up double digit points to kickers in each of the four weeks before their Week 8 bye. Baltimore has a sparkling red zone touchdown rate of 33 percent, second best in the NFL.

Kickers are scoring 9.2 schedule-adjusted fantasy points against the Ravens, even after Baltimore’s defense held its Week 9 and 10 opponents to a combined two field goals.

Gould, when not being lectured by elderly return man Devin Hester, has been as reliable as any kicker in fantasy this season. He’s posted fewer than seven points just once in 2013, hitting double digits five times. I really like Gould’s prospects in Week 11.

Kai Forbath (WAS) at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ defense, sporting a 50 percent touchdown red zone rate, just barely qualifies for our strict criteria. Philly is allowing the fifth most adjusted points to kickers (9.1) through 10 weeks.

And there’s more good news for Forbath, who missed three games this season thanks to various injuries: Philadelphia’s defense has posted an incredible 20 percent red zone touchdown rate over the past three weeks. That, dear kicker streamer, is what we’re looking for.

Kickers, it should be noted, have put up 18 points against the Eagles not once, but twice, in 2013.


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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.