Fantasy Football Week 15: Just Kicking It

Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano
Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano
Dec 8 2013 New Orleans LA USA Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano 9 watches after kicking a successful field goal against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome Crystal LoGiudice USA TODAY Sports

When the white walkers from “Game of Thrones” roam the gridiron, ye shall abandon kickers altogether.

Such was the case in Week 14 when neither the Lions nor the Eagles could even attempt a kick in Philadelphia’s apocalyptic snowstorm. I had Eagles’ kicker Alex Henery pegged as an ideal Week 14 option against a Lions team that has shut down opposing offenses in the red zone at an alarming rate this year.

Snow came down by the bucketful and ruined our best laid plans for the second time in three weeks. This kicker analysis space is plagued by the weather.

That’s why I’m going to (try to) factor in weather in the rest of the season’s kicker recommendations. It makes sense to put something of a premium on kickers who get to boot the pigskin in the uninterrupted comfort of the indoors, or at least decent weather, free from precipitation and especially wind.

A brief Week 15 note: I’m not deploying Kai Forbath anywhere. Atlanta has been generous to kickers all season, but Washington is an official, unmitigated dumpster fire, and dumpster fires tend to destroy even reliable fantasy outcomes.

Here’s what I’m doing in this space: 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.

Jay Feely (ARI) at Tennessee Titans

It’s tough to roll with a guy who misses two field goals just a week ago — including a 25-yard chip shot that was never close to the right upright — but Feely goes against a Tennessee defense that now allows more points to kickers than any team in the league (10.9 schedule-adjusted fantasy points).

Probably it’s a trend I should’ve picked up on a month ago: kickers have gone berserk against the Titans over the past five weeks, averaging a shocking 15.5 points per game. Tennessee’s red zone touchdown percentage is 54 percent over the past three weeks, so this isn’t a case of a sudden change in that metric (the team has allowed red zone touchdowns 63 percent of the time on the season).

I’d prioritize Feely this week. Arizona has attempted 2.3 field goals per game over their last three.

Graham Gano (CAR) vs. New York Jets

This jumped off the screen in my research: Gang Green has a red zone touchdown rate of 11 percent over the past three weeks. I haven’t seen anything close to that all year.

Only the Falcons and Titans give up more adjusted points to kickers, and Gano has averaged a respectable eight fantasy points in his past three games. Cam Newton and company shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball against a Jets’ defense that made the Raiders’ offense look like the Greatest Show on Turf for much of last week’s contest.

Carolina only attempts 1.8 field goals per game, one of the lowest averages in the league. Still, this is a nice matchup for Gano.

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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.