The scourge of the fantasy world is, and always has been, the kicker. It’s a position that generally drives owners crazy, as trying to predict the position is akin to trying to predict a roulette wheel. Most owners simply draft a kicker and forget about the position until it is their player’s bye week. I feel, unequivocally, that this is the wrong strategy. Though the position is a tough one to predict, kickers still score points and they still matter. It may be a point here and there, but if points are out there and you are not doing everything possible to grab them, you are an inefficient fantasy owner.
What I want to have with this column is something that I do not see from a ton of writers – complete transparency. Every week I will try to show you where my picks finished (inside or outside of the top 12). I had some success picking one kicker per week last year and I understand two will be tough. It’s a position that is notoriously tough to predict, but I am up for the challenge. I hope you guys will stick with me. I know kickers are totally lame, but I figure if I can get people to read a weekly kicker column (even if just for the LOLz), I’ll have succeed.
I’m not here to tell you to focus a significant portion of your energy on kickers (like I will be each and every week in Can I Kick It?). However, it is a position to keep in mind and it is a position that can be streamed. There are bad kickers and there are good kickers. Every week, I will try find a couple of players that are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues, but have the capability to post good numbers. Without further adieu, Week 1 of Can I Kick It? features two kickers that I feel will be good starts and get your fantasy season off on the right foot (pun totally intended).
Adam Vinatieri – IND vs. OAK – Owned in 9.8% of ESPN Leagues
It was not all that long ago that Adam Vinatieri was the number one kicker in all of fantasy football. He may be the most relevant kicker in the league; kicking multiple Super Bowl-winning field goals for New England. Like any position, what I like to look for is opportunity and there should be plenty of opportunity for this kicker during Week 1 versus Oakland. Oakland’s defense looks absolutely awful, despite having a defensive-minded head coach. In the preseason, Oakland eventually let up after the score got away from them and I think there’s a real chance Adam will be kicking a ton of field goals this week.
I am on board the Indianpolis-will-regress bandwagon, but I don’t think they will look like a regression candidate this week. Andrew Luck is a great quarterback and, against the sieve-like secondary of Oakland, I think the Colts will have no issue moving the ball. I’m not sure how long Vinatieri will remain a good fantasy option, but this week, I like his prospects a whole ton. He’s probably a player that you will cut, quickly, as the Colts take on San Francisco in Week 3. At best, Vinatieri is a two-week play, so be prepared to not have him long term.
Garrett Hartley – NO vs. ATL – Owned in 22.3% of ESPN Leagues
Color me shocked at how low Hartley’s ownership is. Home opener, Sean Payton’s return, versus a division rival? I love the prospects for the Saints offense this week and that should include ample opportunity for Hartley to kick. My only reason for trepidation would be that the Saints offense is so prolific that they tend to score touchdowns, instead of settling for field goals. That can absolutely kill a kicker’s value, as a try for three, four, or five points can easily become a try for one. And that matters a lot. With the kicker position, however, sometimes you have to take opportunity where you can find it.
Opportunity will be present in spades for Hartley; not just this week, but moving forward as well. After Week 1, the Saints will play at Tampa Bay in Week 2 and face the Cardinals and Dolphins at home in weeks 3 and 4, respectively. Hartley may turn into a nice, consistent four-week play. In fact, after Week 5 in Chicago, New Orleans is on the road against New England, at home against Buffalo, and then in New York to face the Jets. Those are some tasty matchups in the first half of the season and I’m never going to doubt New Orleans’ ability to move the ball. Even if you do not pick him up this week, I think Hartley should be in the back of owners’ minds.