Saturday, August 6, 2011

Drafting kickers

When it comes to drafting a kicker in fantasy football, there are two accepted schools of thought. Either you take a kicker with your very last pick/dollar or you are an idiot.

The reason a kicker should be selected dead last and never before is because the value is not there to take one any other time. Even using your second to last pick on a kicker instead of a late-round sleeper makes no sense. Go ahead and select a sleeper you have your eye on; there is no reason to risk missing out on that value when another kicker will be there for you after the jump.

To mathematically examine the wastefulness of drafting a kicker before the last round, let’s first make a generous and most likely incorrect assumption. Let’s say, even though it is highly unlikely, you are able to know who will be the very best fantasy kicker before the season begins. Not only is this impossible, but I’ll even throw you that bone because it still doesn’t mean that man should be taken ahead of a player at another position.

Last year’s number one, across the board, best kicker was Nate Kaeding. He did not finish anywhere close to being the number one kicker. But let’s somehow assume you were able to look into the future and KNOW Sebastian Janikowski would be the best fantasy kicker in the league in 2010, which he was.

First of all, what a terrible skill to be able to look into the future and use it for nothing more than knowing the best fantasy kicker. Secondly, it still wouldn’t have been prudent to draft him anywhere before your very last pick. Depending on your league settings, Janikowski scored roughly 10 points per week (~150 points spread over 16 games because of his bye week). Meanwhile, the 12th ranked kicker, the worst possible kicker you would start in a full, 12-team league because no one would be employing two kickers together, was Mason Crosby last season. He scored about 120 fantasy points or about eight points per fantasy week.

This means that if you were somehow able to know the future, draft the very best possible kicker for the upcoming season, and employed him all year long, you would only have gotten two points per week over the team with the very worst starting kicker in your league, two measly points.

In other news, here is a short list of some of the players drafted in the final few rounds of drafts last year, i.e. players that could have been taken if you hadn’t wasted your pick on a kicker: Darren McFadden, Austin Collie, Josh Freeman, Brandon Lloyd, Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mike Williams and Michael Vick. That is all.

Read my colleague's counter argument here, courtesy of The Sports Information & Reports Network.

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