It was Hauschka, one of the most bankable kickers in recent fantasy memory, who whiffed on not one, not two, but three field goals against Arizona on Sunday night, while Tucker — the hero of 2013’s fantasy playoffs — laid a stinking one-point egg against the Texans.
Then there was Cody Parkey, one of fantasy’s most reliable kickers, who missed a pair of field goals against Washington. That turned a locked-in double digit fantasy performance into a bottom-10 performance.
Tucker’s failings fell squarely on the (elite?) shoulders of Joe Flacco, whose atrocious play created a game flow nightmare in which Tucker had no chance to put up fantasy points. Whatever the reasons for the performances from Hauschka, Parkey and Tucker, I think their Week 16 disasters are prime examples of how variance rules the kicker position, no matter how much we try to inoculate our teams from said variance.
So much of a kicker’s fantasy success depends on factors outside the player’s control. Picking kickers — even if you hate the position — emphasizes process over results unlike any other position.
Week 16 kickers highlighted in this space, Matt Prater and Dan Carpenter, posted decent lines in very favorable matchups. They both notched eight fantasy points and finished among fantasy’s nine highest scoring kickers in championship week.
Perhaps you’re well adjusted and won’t be playing re-draft leagues in Week 17, but the kickers highlighted below are also good for daily fantasy purposes. In fact, it’s this research that has helped pinpoint the best DFS kicker plays in 2014.
Randy Bullock (HOU) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Including Bullock here seems like a purely reactionary move after the Houston kicker went HAM and scored 19 fantasy points against the Ravens last week. That matchup wasn’t a bad one headed into Week 16, but Bullock’s Week 17 matchup is the stuff of kicker streaming legend, if there is such a sad thing.
Bullock, who only has five double-digit performances in 2014, goes against a Jaguars team that gives up eighth most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to kickers and allow opponents to score touchdowns on just 45.3 percent of their red zone possessions. In road games, that percentage dips to 39.8 percent.
Kickers have averaged 2.3 field goal attempts per game against Jacksonville this season. The Jags present the best of all worlds: They allow a lot of yards to offenses but stiffen in the red zone. I think that could make Bullock — available in 92 percent of leagues — a difference maker in Week 17. He managed nine fantasy points in the Texans’ first showdown with Jacksonville.
The Rotoviz Streaming Kicker App lists Bullock as the week’s second best kicker matchup.
Cairo Santos (KC) vs. San Diego Chargers
No team allows more schedule-adjusted fantasy points to kickers than the Chargers. That’s thanks in large part to a late-season defensive swoon that has seen teams march up and down the gridiron against the Chargers’ once-serviceable defense.
Kickers are averaging 3.1 field goal attempts per game against San Diego over the past month — more than a field goal more than the Chargers’ season average. Here are kicker fantasy point totals against San Diego since Week 7: 13, 5, 12, 7, 5, 15, 12, 18, 4. Last week’s dud from Phil Dawson against the Bolts had nothing to do with the 49ers struggling to move the ball against San Diego.
Teams score touchdowns on 54.4 percent of their red zone possessions against the Chargers. That puts San Diego squarely in the middle of the most generous and stingiest red zone defenses.
The Chiefs’ recent struggles to score touchdowns in the red zone have been — and could continue to be — a boon for Santos’ fantasy value. Kansas City has punched it into the end zone on just 28.8 percent of their red zone opportunities over the past three weeks, leaving short field goal attempts for Santos.
Santos is available in 97 percent of fantasy leagues.