Here’s a look at the top 12 scoring kickers over the last four years:
Kicker: I know many Fantasy owners don’t respect the kicking position. Over the last four years, the top kicker in the league averaged over 11 Fantasy points per week. The gap from the top kicker to the 12th kicker in most leagues usually falls in a 35 to 40 point range (45.6 in 2017). The kicking position is usually a very frustrating part of the Fantasy game. Last year the average top 12 kicker averaged 170.57 Fantasy points for the season and 10.66 Fantasy points per week in leagues that awarded three points for each field goal plus .10 points for each additional yard from the 30 yards line.
The goal is to score more than nine Fantasy points every week from the kicker position. This target number becomes extremely difficult when you play the same kicker all season long. I’m a one kicker guy as I don’t like to over-manage the position. If you play matchups, you are going to get many weeks wrong while hitting on some weeks as well. The trick when playing matchups is finding a way to outscore the top kicking options over the long haul of the season. The key to finding the right kicker lies in identifying a team with a solid defense with an above average offense. Turnovers create scoring opportunities while a strong defense removes some of the need to score TDs when playing from the lead. There will be times when a highly ranked defense will also deliver a strong game from their kicker as long as the defense produces turnovers.
The difference from the top 12 kickers to the second 12 kickers in most seasons is about two Fantasy points per week. If a Fantasy owner doesn’t address a failed kicking problem, he could give away 50+ points over the course of the season or a drop down at a position (such as an edge created by an RB1 over an RB2).
Here are the top 12 scoring defenses over the last four years:
Defense/Special Teams Position: There is such a wide range of scoring systems out there in Fantasy that it is tough to pinpoint an exact draft value for this position. A top defense can be an edge if they deliver or outperform expectations. Most leagues award points for sacks, interceptions, fumbles, defensive TDs, and return TDs. The Fantasy Football World Championships rewards a Fantasy owner only slightly for holding their opponent to a low game score. In 2017, the top 12 defenses averaged about 140.33 Fantasy points or about 8.77 points per week. The 12th ranked Fantasy defense last year scored only 108 Fantasy points, which was 87 points lower than the top-ranked defense (Jaguars).
Observation: I know there are a lot of Fantasy owners that like to manage their defenses by matchups. I believe this is a decision that leads to many mistakes. I like to own a top defense, but I know I can’t overpay, especially in the types of leagues I participate in, such as high stakes competitions. The key part of most drafts is the 12th round in 12-team leagues. The overall player pool tends to dry up in this area, so it is possible to draft a top defense just after round 12 if you believe they provide an edge. By owning multiple defenses, you give up roster depth at other positions. In the end, it comes down to team structure. If you are weak at QB, you might need to own three QBs. If you have a stud, you only need a backup for a bye week and possible insurance. Early in the season, I think it is more important to own roster depth at the important skill positions. Once you clear the bye weeks, you can reevaluate your team structure to set it up for the stretch run.
In the FFWC scoring, there was a whole lot of mediocrity at the defensive position in 2017 after the top tier. If this trend continues, it almost forces a Fantasy owner to play matchups if waiting at the defensive position. The bottom 12 Fantasy defenses only scored 6.1 Fantasy points per game.
A Fantasy owner needs to be alert early in the season for a developing defense. Many times a hot early defense will fade. A Fantasy owner needs to keep an eye open to transition to another defense late in the year.
Fantasy Football is a game full of decisions. I believe your goal is to draft a team to eliminate as many decisions as possible. If you own a top QB, you eliminate one decision. If you wait at QB, you could have a choice between two or three options each week. Some weeks there will be two right answers. Other weeks, there will be one or even no correct plays. If you wait at RB or WR, you can end up with too many similar players, which leads to tough rosters decisions each week. By owning too many mediocre players, you have no chance of winning. You need to have edges at different positions plus you need to have a solid core of players behind the stars. The playing field will change every year, and there is more than one way to develop a winning roster.
To have success in Fantasy, you need to understand the player pool, draft flow, and the value of each player within the draft. Even with expert knowledge, you can still get beat by injuries or when players fall off and underperform expectations. By understanding the average points for each position, you will have another tool to help you make winning decisions on draft day.
If you would like to see the full offensive projections, they can be found here.
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