Everyone has different approaches to kicker drafting. Personally, I'll wait until the late rounds of the draft and snag me an Adam Vinatieri or Ryan Longwell (both fell pretty far in my drafts so far this year).
However, for those who want to overanalyze the decision of when to draft a kicker, let me introduce you to Mr. Mihalko:
When to Draft a Place Kicker
by Mark Mihalko, KFFL
Monday August 16, 2004
Selecting a kicker is one of the most intriguing and important parts of any fantasy football draft. Deciding when to pull the trigger on a kicker is a tough question. There are many schools of thought on this topic with no clear-cut answer. With the endless ideas on the subject, here is a different one that has been successful in the past and should continue to bring in the best value to a fantasy team.
So when should you start looking to draft a kicker for your fantasy lineup?
In most cases it depends solely on your league make-up and the scoring system in place. In some cases you can wait until the ladder portion of the draft to address this need. But if you wait to long to take a kicker, you may be losing some valuable production on your roster.
The first step in determining your selection takes place prior to the draft when you stack your draft board. When rating your players, remember to always rate the players according to the scori! ng system in place in your league. Each player should be slotted in the order of preference for you on draft day. The draft board is an easy tool to help you make the tough decisions. Unfortunately owners never seem to value a kicker as highly as they should for their team.
A solid kicker can outscore some of the biggest names in the NFL over the course of a season. While this isn't always the case, it does occur on a regular basis. While other owners are sleeping on draft day, make a statement and take a calculated risk.
Some factors to consider when preparing your draft board with kickers include:
Where the team and kicker plays. A dome kicker is guaranteed to have near perfect kicking conditions in at least half of his games, which helps production.
A team's coaching philosophy. A conservative defensive oriented head coach will often settle for field goals, which will increase his kicker's value.
Skill-position players on a team's roster. If a team is explos! ive and can consistently move the ball, a kicker will have more chances to convert.
The first order of business during the draft is to follow your draft board and get very good value at every selection. Once you have a solid core group of skill-position players in place on your team, feel free to adlib a little.
In many leagues, running backs carry the most value, so when building your roster your may decide to take a running back in the first two rounds. Many times you can have the core of your team built in the first five rounds of a draft, with solid running back and wide receiver tandems and a quarterback. Once the ninth round or so (depending upon the size of your league) starts you can take a kicker anytime you want after that point, sure some of the other owners may laugh and prod you, but you should always remember that kickers are one of the more productive elements on a fantasy team. At times kickers can add more consistent production to you roster than wide receivers can.
Sure! kickers aren't as glamorous as wide receivers, they usually only hit the ground during stretching exercises. But in most leagues scoring systems a touchdown is worth six points, which is two 30-yard field goals to a kicker. Usually kickers have more chances to kick field goals throughout the season then wide receivers do scoring touchdowns. For example, in one performance scoring system KFFL employs, St. Louis Rams PK Jeff Wilkins scored as many points as Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin! (179 points each) To help further illustrate this point, that is one measly point less than Indianapolis Colts WR Marvin Harrison!
Some owners wait until the end of the draft to select a kicker no matter what. This philosophy can be successful because some good kickers are often available late in the draft. In these cases, you can pass on them to ob! tain other quality, skill-position players for your roster. However, the key to a championship franchise is to get the most productive players possible throughout the draft.
One reason why owners wait to select a kicker is because it is almost impossible to predict whom the top kicker will be before the season starts. There is always one or two that come from nowhere and ascend to the top of the fantasy scoring charts. If you were lucky enough to foresee these kickers, you would be reaping the benefits of your selection. However, in most cases these kickers fell through the cracks and were last minute selections or waiver wire transactions.
Everybody has their own way of rating kickers and the usual suspects usually litter the "top 10" on their draft board. In most cases the kickers listed in the "top 10" have been consistent fantasy producers throughout their careers in the NFL, unfortunately, like with skill-position players, these players don't always pa! n out as projected. There are always a handful of kickers that will out perform many of the top rated kickers. A great key to success with your kicker selection is to evaluate their team's offense and how this will translate to kicking opportunities. High-octane offenses will produce a lot of extra point attempts, but little usually in the way of field goal tries.
SELECTING THAT DESIRED KICKER...
If you decide to wait until the end of your draft for a kicker, resist the urge to get involved in the "runs" that inevitably take place. A "run" will usually occur in the middle rounds once some of the top kickers come off the board. If you are going to wait on a kicker, concentrate on filling out your starting line-up or grabbing some quality backups or sleepers. Once the elite kickers are off of the board it is usually a good move to wait and look for the best available kicker at the end of the draft.
One question you can ask yourself during the draft is; will a backup quarte! rback or wide receiver actually provide the same scoring punch as a kicker?
Usually the answer is no. Sure there are injuries to skill-position players throughout the season for every team. If you are the owner of the team that lost a player to a major injury, a critical backup would be great. But once you start selecting the second and third roster layers at a position the difference in their value and production is negligible. Even second tier wide receivers can fail to make the consistent impact that a solid kicker can make.
Kickers have plenty of value early in the draft, with the amount of production that comes from the position, why wait? Taking a kicker early might cost you one skill-position player, but in reality one of the top kickers can be as productive as two skill-position players.
While other owners of your fantasy league are solely focused on finding a sleeper wide receiver or fourth-string running back feel free to take a chance on your roster.
This draft strategy may b! e a little different from the norm, but it can be very successful. League scoring systems determine your flexibility when making up your draft board, but being open minded when rating players can be a huge asset to your success.
It is true that championship teams can be built by being conservative and taking the best player available, which is what, should happen during every draft. In many cases kickers are undervalued on draft day, even though their production merits a higher rating. Sure it is more fun to select a big named player for your franchise, this is fantasy football and you are building the team of your dreams. Every fantasy football player has a desire to be the general manager of their favorite franchise for one day. Unfortunately, fantasy football is as close as most of us get.
Every fantasy football owner should always remember that, just like the NFL, you are playing for a championship. At the end of the season, when draft day seems like a small, faded memo! ry, having the league championship will make the offseason easier. By selecting a productive kicker on draft day, you can take that first step to your championship