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Fantasy Football Week 16: Phil Dawson Worth a Start

C.D. Carter looks at the best kickers to start in week 16.

San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson
San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson

Dec 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson (9) kicks an extra point during the first quarter of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not just Justin Tucker owners who can have nice things.

The Ravens’ kicker decided the fates of untold millions of Week 15 fantasy matchups with 22 points on Monday Night Football, but lost in Tuckerpocalypse?

There was another kicker who posted a 22-spot last week. Dan Bailey, who’s had a fairly disappointing season, hit five fields goals — including two from more than 50 yards — and three extra points.

Perhaps also lost in Tucker and his fantasy football-loving ways was that the Ravens kicker and his high-scoring counterpart in Dallas put up giant lines against teams that give up the most fantasy production to kickers. The Packers — Bailey’s opponent — are fourth worst against kickers, and the Lions are seventh worst.

This isn’t to say kicker performances are suddenly predictable. They’re not, as we’ve seen. I would say that Bailey’s and Tucker’s Week 15 performances speak well of seeking numbers-based matchups. If we’re going to throw darts with kicker selection, we might as well get as close to the dart board as we can before we take our shot.

Our Week 15 kickers, Jay Feely and Graham Gano, scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Gano, of course, had a 40-yarder called back on a penalty. Feely was the week’s fourth highest scoring kicker.

Let’s see which kickers might lead us away from the championship week shower cry that looms over us all.

I’ve omitted Josh Scobee, who takes on a Titans team that have allowed 16.4 fantasy points to kickers over the past month. The reason: teams are scoring touchdowns with alarming frequency once they reach the red zone against Tennessee (only three teams are worse). Scobee is a top-10 option, to be sure, but I’d prefer the below kickers over the Jacksonville option.

Phil Dawson (SF) vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have become a regular in this space, and for good reason: Atlanta’s defense has been among the three most generous to kickers since before mid-season. They now sit at 30th against kickers, allowing 9.9 schedule-adjusted fantasy points.

Atlanta doesn’t fit our second criteria. The Falcons are 18th in red zone touchdown percentage (56 percent), though they’ve been a top-5 team in this category since Week 13.

Dawson, owned about 60 percent of leagues, has been the league’s hottest kicker of late, averaging 11.9 fantasy points per contest since Week 10. I’d prioritize Dawson over everyone this week.

Billy Cundiff (CLE) at New York Jets

Cundiff seems like a risky proposition. Baltimore’s most hated man has put up double-digit fantasy points precisely once in 2013. He’s scored six or fewer points seven times this year. It’s all very ugly.

The Jets, however, are the stingiest in the red zone over the past three weeks, and the fifth best in red zone touchdown percentage this season. Gang Green, it turns out, has allowed double-digit fantasy points to kickers in each of its past six games.

Kickers have averaged 10.6 schedule-adjusted fantasy points against the Jets in 2013.

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