Fantasy Football Week 12: Just Kicking It

Dan Carpenter

A fantasy football deity descends to earth on a Sunday morning to consult us mere mortals. This all-knowing fake football being sees you struggling with which kicker to play — going back and forth, reading this column with gritted teeth. The deity, who knows all outcomes before the day’s first kickoff, offers you a piece of otherworldly advice.

“This kicker will get not one, but two cracks at field goals of more than 50 yards in length,” the god says haughtily.

Would you turn down said kicker? I don’t think you would. I know I wouldn’t. Probably I’d offer up the requisite sacrifice and be on my merry way.

That’s what we had in Week 11: Kai Forbath had a pair of potential five-point kicks. They both went wide right. It was after the second miss that I did everything I could on Twitter to talk down Week 11 Forbath adherents who cursed his name and cursed this column for recommending him against the vulnerable Tampa Bay defense.

Opportunity is all we can hope for in selecting kickers based on matchups. The kickers mentioned in this space are on most waiver wires for one of two reasons — they aren’t all that accurate, or their opportunities are limited because their team’s offense is prolific inside the red zone or their team’s offense isn’t all that interested in moving the ball down the field and scoring points.

It’s when my favored weekly kickers don’t get the opportunity to score fantasy points that I’m most disappointed in the decision to highlight those payers in this space. Give my kicking streamers 50-yard tries all day and I’ll take my chances.

Our featured Week 11 kicker, Nick Novak, finished with nine fantasy points — more than all but six kickers last week. Shayne Graham went down in flames with the rest of the suddenly lifeless New Orleans offense. The Saints passed on two second half field goals as they scrambled to keep up with Andy Dalton and company.

Now let’s get into Week 12 kicking options, using red zone stop rate, schedule-adjusted fantasy points, and myriad other indicators showing which kickers have the juiciest matchups.

Dan Carpenter (BUF) vs. New York Jets

Buffalo’s long-haired freaky people kicker went from hands-off to a prime streaming candidate when the NFL powers that be moved the Bills-Jets contest from the snowy apocalypse of Buffalo to the Ford Field dome in Detroit. Carpenter, who has a top-7 matchup according to the Rotoviz Streaming Kicker App, plays a Jets’ defense giving up the fourth most points per game through 11 weeks.

New York is allowing 1.8 field goal attempts per game, which is a decent amount considering we no longer have to worry about precipitation and high winds in this contest. And if we look for kickers connected to quarterbacks with favorable matchups — since quarterback production is highly correlated to kicker production — we could hardly ask for a better play. No team gives up more raw fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Jets.

Carpenter is available on 87 percent of waiver wires. He’s my top Week 12 option.

Caleb Sturgis (MIA) at Denver Broncos

Sturgis has a top-6 Week 12 matchup, per the Streaming Kicker App, and he’s playing a Broncos team allowing two field goal attempts per game on the season, and three attempts per game over the past three.

Denver’s defense is allowing touchdowns on 57.1 percent of their opponents’ red zone possessions, putting them just about in the middle of the pack. Strugis’ 20 field goal attempts rank near the top of the league after Week 11, and in a game Vegas expects to be fairly high scoring in possibly freezing Denver temperatures, I think the Dolphins’ kicker has a solid fantasy floor and a hopeful ceiling.

Sturgis is owned in 24 percent of leagues. Snag him if you can’t get Carpenter.

Robbie Gould (CHI) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs

You’ll see widespread panic about the wind and rain expected in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Fantasy footballers will consider benching anyone and everyone on both sides of the ball. Teeth will be gnashed. Shirts will be torn in anguish. All because winds could reach 17 MPH — hardly a frightening number as far as its impact on point scoring.

My Gould recommendation hinges almost entirely on the following: Tampa Bay is allowing 2.8 field goal attempts per game through 11 weeks. No team allows more. Fire up Gould if you can’t snag Carpenter or Sturgis. He’s available in 84 percent of leagues.

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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.