Week 5 was quite an interesting week from a kicker perspective. There was an absolute ton of scoring, as we saw not one, but TWO kickers turn in twenty point performances. There were also SEVEN kickers that finished with 15+ points. I would not be shocked if many a fantasy game turned on the relative performance of kickers, as some of the more well owned kickers (such as Matt Bryant) were up to ten points worse than some of the under-owned kickers (such as Mason Crosby – more on that later). This has been my thesis all along, though the difference between a great kicker and a good kicker might only be a couple of points, in some instances, it could be match-up changing. It won’t alter your record all that much in the long term, but points are points. Whether they come from your kicker or from your quarterback, paying attention to kickers, at least tangentially, is a worthwhile investment.
As always, let’s take a look at last week:
Greg Zuerlein – 10 points (t-14th)
Caleb Sturgis – 11 points (t-12th)
Where I Went Wrong
Last week I wrote that I did not feel the Rams were consistent enough on offense to turn positive drives into touchdowns on a consistent basis. This was mostly based on the knowledge that the running game was inconsistent and Sam Bradford looked awful in week 4. The Rams were able to turn in a four-touchdown performance against the lowly Jaguars, leaving only two field goal attempts for The Leg (both were converted). In a normal week, 10 points would be admirable, but there was a ton of high-scoring kickers last week. This pushed Zuerlein just barely out of reach from a top twelve performance (which is the goal when you stream). At this point, even though the Jags are awful, I’m going to need to stay away from them as they are just a bit TOO awful to rely on for consistent (or any) stops.
Where I Went Right
Caleb Sturgis, you have my heart. The fact is, Sturgis missed a fifty yarder than prevented him from having a 17 point day (which would’ve made him the fifth best kicker last week). However, had he not tried the attempt at all, his 11 points were only one point shy of a tenth place finish among kickers in Week 5. The Dolphins are confident in this guy. They’re confident enough in him that they cut ex-kicker Dan Carpenter in the preseason and also give him long-distance attempts. The longer the range, the better for the kicker, as more often than not, he will make his attempts. Baltimore was good enough to stop the Miami offense before they put up six, but bad enough to allow the ball to move at least a little bit. Moving forward, I rather like Sturgis as a consistent week-to-week kicking option. He should put you right there most weeks.
Now, let’s get into this week’s streaming picks.
Mason Crosby – GB @ BAL – Owned in 11.9% of ESPN Leagues
I’ll be frank up front: Crosby was a bad kicker last year. I even wrote about it in my defense of the kicker position piece earlier this year. This season, however, Crosby has been consistently great. A twenty-point week last week on five made attempts is not something I think is an aberration. Crosby has put through every attempt he has had this season (though he had zero in week one) and has double digit points in his last two games played. As I noted above, Baltimore’s defense is decent, but not great and Green Bay should be able to move the ball fairly effectively. This could lead to opportunities for a rejuvenated Crosby to have a couple of attempts this week. Looking forward at Green Bay’s schedule, there are more than a few opportunities for Crosby to continue his high-level performance the rest of the way through the 2013 season.
Steven Hauschka – SEA v. TEN – Owned in 47.4% of ESPN Leagues
Hauschka’s ownership is on the rise ever since I wrote about him a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to think it is fantasy players wisening up, but I think it mostly has to do with my explicit endorsement of him. The Seattle offense is good, really good, but I also think Tennessee’s defense is pretty sturdy. In the last four weeks, they’ve given up three or more attempts twice, including four attempts to Ryan Succop (KC) last week. Luckily for Tennessee, most of the attempts given up have been misses; including three missed attempts by Randy Bullock in week two (one from 40+ and two from 50+, spoiling what could’ve been an outstanding performance). I think Hauschka, if given the attempts, should be able to convert. He’s converted six tries on seven attempts from beyond forty yards this season. I believe Tennessee should be able to hold somewhat strong against Seattle, forcing at least a few attempts, and giving the very accurate Hauschka a chance at some big points.