The Player Profile series breaks down the 2012 performances of key players at each position in order to project where they should be drafted in 2013. Dig in, read up, and look ahead.
Matt Bryant, K, Atlanta Falcons
Half of the kicker battle is being on a good offense, and the Atlanta Falcons are about as explosive an offense as they come. A team that can move the ball will always have a kicker that gets his share of attempts, and though Bryant’s percentage made last year stood at only 86.8%, Bryant attempted as many or more field goals than all but two kickers last year, Lawrence Tynes and David Akers.
At the end of the day, misses count much less against you than makes do for you, and with Bryant kicking for a good offense, the attempts will definitely be there. Though he missed five kicks last year, Bryant also made thirty-three attempts, good for tie at second in the league. Bryant was also insanely accurate from deep, hitting all four field goal attempts from beyond fifty yards, and a lot of that has to do with his schedule. Kicking indoors should allow for those deep kicks to be at least a little bit more accurate.
Putting a kicker in a dome is always a recipe for success. The indoor stadium in Atlanta makes for optimal kicking conditions, and Bryant will play one of every two games there. But look at Atlanta’s road schedule: New Orleans and Arizona are both in domes, and Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Miami should all provide decent whether. Really you are looking at three games all year, in Buffalo, in Green Bay, and in San Francisco, where there might be legitimate concerns about the weather.
Place kicker rankings right now have Bryant going as the third kicker off the board. While most people will wait until the last round to get a kicker, personally I go with a kicker in the second to last round and draft a defense last. If Bryant is there when I pick in the second to last round, I am almost undoubtedly grabbing him.
Your league mates might laugh snagging a kicker what some may consider to be a round early. You will be the one laughing when Bryant is putting up 15 points each week.
Lawrence Tynes, K, New York Giants
A ten-year vet, Tynes’ career has been pretty up and down. The infamous swirling winds of the Meadowlands might be a huge reason why. Over his career, Tynes has not kicked all that well. Except for 2008, in which Tynes kicked only once, Tynes has hit 85% of his attempts only once, way back in 2007.
Putting his career aside, last year Tynes’ performance was pretty pathetic. He hit 84.6% of his field goal attempts, good for 18th in the league, but even a lot of that was due to eleven attempts inside of 30 yards. Those eleven attempts from 29 yards or less were the most in the league last year. From beyond 30 yards, Tynes kicked at an abysmal 78.5%, which would have been good for 29th in the league last year. I realize that’s not entirely fair, since many kickers (obviously) get worse as you move the ball out, but it’s hard for me to get past the 11 attempts within 30.
Realzing Tynes’ inconsistency is something I think fantasy owners need to do, before they make a critical error in drafts. Tynes is currently the 7th kicker off the board, and a lot of that has to do with his attempts last year. Tynes attempted the second most kicks in the league in 2012, behind only David Akers. Tynes also had the fifth most extra points made in the league. But for me his inconsistency from distances even of thirty to thirty-nine yards is something I would like to avoid.
If you are in a situation where Tynes is the next guy off the board, I feel as though there are a couple of guys right after him you might want to take. Having a reliable kicker can be a burden off of fantasy owner’s shoulders, as it enables them to focus their attention elsewhere. At the end of the day, Tynes is just not consistent enough to be a guy I will target.
Lawrence Tynes undoubtedly will be a guy that will go in your draft. He also undoubtedly will be a guy that is dropped before his bye week. I’d avoid.
Kai Forbath, K, Washington Redskins
Forbath took the reigns of Washington’s kicker job in 2012, and was absolutely incredible last season. His 94.4% accuracy was good for number one in the league in 2012, an impressive number for a guy who just got his first real kicking job.
Outside of just his general accuracy, Forbath was particularly impressive from beyond forty yards, going twelve of twelve. His eleven field goals made between forty and forty-nine yards was good for a tie with Josh Scobee and Alex Henery in fourth place. All those who kicked as many or more field goals between forty and forty nine yards played fifteen or sixteen games…Forbath did it in just eleven.
Of course, I expect there to be at least some regression to the mean here – but what Forbath proved is he does have the chops to be a very good kicker in this league. More importantly, the Redskins trust him to kick field goals from that deep. A lot of fantasy football is opportunity, and with how well Forbath kicked I think Shanahan and the Skins are going to give Forbath opportunity to kick.
Looking at rankings, however, I am quite puzzled. Forbath does not seem to be making many top twenties in kicker rankings, falling way behind the aforementioned Lawrence Tynes, and the truly awful David Akers and Mason Crosby in some spots. I’d honestly rather Forbath than any of those three guys, not to mention a few others that are getting drafted. If you are one of the unlucky few who has to draft a kicker later than everyone else, I think Forbath is a legitimate option to do well – he’s young, his track record is pretty good, and he appears to be trusted by the Washington coaching staff.
Sorting out the kicker position is undoubtedly a tough thing to do. I think that’s no more apparent than in Forbath’s currently unfathomable ranking. It seems like people just might not be paying attention to the kicker game. Hopefully, their loss is your advantage.