Words By: Daniel House, Rankings by Paul Charchian
1. Stephen Gostkowski @ BUF – 9.5
I’m singing a little Kid Cudi as the ‘Ghost’ makes his second appearance of the season. Stephen Gostkowski may be asking himself, “when did I become a ghost?” Hey, maybe it’s because you’re standing in Gronk’s shadow? Hoodie Bill is on the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ and all he wants to do is get down with Gronk. I mean -- I can’t really blame him.
The Patriots surely won’t be as productive offensively against a Bills team that held the Colts offense in check last week. Last year, Gostkowski attempted three or more field goals in both of his matchups with the Bills. Buffalo’s defense is even better than last year and will need to be stout when the Patriots are in the red zone.
2. Dan Bailey @ PHI - 10
Whiskey River Take My Minddddd! What the hell was going on with Dan Bailey’s head shot on Sunday night football? It looked like his girlfriend went to the bar with Jerry Jones, while he was left on the couch to drink whiskey alone. Dallas will be without Dez Bryant and that will really hurt the Cowboys' red zone efficiency. Tony Romo consistently relied on Bryant as a target inside the 20-yard line.
This is sure to effect the number of touchdowns Dallas will convert each week. That means Dan Bailey will be kicking more. The Eagles allowed a league-worst four field goal tries last week and they can’t afford to get into a scoring shootout with the Cowboys.
3. Steven Hauschka @ GB – 9.25
Hey Mike Holmgren, it might be important to have the hands team ready this week. If you didn’t know it already, Pete Carroll likes to onside kick. Oooh, tender subject, I know. I’m sorry for bringing that up Packer fans. Last week, Seattle’s offense converted touchdowns in the red zone at a measly 25% clip.
What’s more, in two of his last three matchups with Green Bay, Hauschka has made two or more field goal attempts. Green Bay’s defense has already lost Sam Barrington and they don’t have many options to replace him. That’s a scary proposition and signals the Seahawks could get into a scoring palooza with Green Bay.
4. Mason Crosby vs. SEA – 9.75
Mason Crosby patea un futbol!! I didn’t go as hard as the Telemundo guy did in the preseason, but I sure as heck gave it my best shot. This game has the chance to include a high volume of scoring. That means Mason Crosby’s leg will be as busy as the Lambeau Field troths in the second quarter (and the sinks in the fourth quarter). Dating back to last season, Seattle has allowed multiple field goals in four consecutive games. The Seachickens really miss Kam Chancellor in the back end and Aaron Rodgers is really going to exploit this weakness. Crosby hit two or more field goals in each of the final four games of 2014. What’s more, he consistently did this against teams that have respectable defenses. Que sera sera, Mason Crosby.
5. Matt Bryant @ NYG – 9.5
In preparing for these rankings before bed one evening, I had a dream about Matt Bryant. In this dream, he had the same hairstyle as Thomas Dimitroff. He was rubbing Dove for Men into his scalp and swirling it around his head like Troy Polamalu. That's a sticky situation.
This game isn't. Although it’s a small sample size, Atlanta scored touchdowns in the red zone on just 33% of their tries last week. Bryant has notched two or more attempts in five of his last six games. Not to mention, in each of his last three contests against New York, Bryant has notched multiple field goal performances. The Giants defense didn’t make any significant upgrades in the offseason and already showed similar lapses.
6. Justin Tucker @ OAK - 9
Justin Tucker has a relationship with fantasy owners like chicks who feel the need to buy pumpkin mochas. They taste so damn good and they just keep coming back for more. Tucker’s behaviors almost perfectly align with the white girl mocha lifestyle. First of all, he was very consistent. Tucker corralled multiple field goal performances in all but four games in 2014. Secondly, he is always thirsty and can knock it down from long distances with ease.
Oakland is still freaking awful and they gave up 33 points to an offense led by the ‘Red Rifle’ last week, and we all know that redheads can't possibly excel any anything. The Raiders allowed a whopping four extra point tries and two field goal attempts. I don’t see how that trend won’t continue against an offense that is significantly better than Cincinnati’s. Baltimore failed to score a single red zone touchdown last week and this percentage was just a shade over 50% in 2014.
7. Matt Prater @ MIN – 9.25
Mike Zimmer should just implement the 12-lane highway defensive scheme. The Niners could have driven an 18-wheeler through the holes in the Vikings defense last week. Minnesota looked awful against the run, and have a short week to correct it. When the opposing team has the ball in their hands the entire contest, it leaves plenty of opportunities for the kicker to see some work.
The Vikings allowed three field goal attempts last week and surrendered multiple tries in four of the final five games in 2014. Last year, Prater attempted three field goals in both of his matchups with the Vikings. There isn’t much change with the way this defense is operating and that’s good news for Matt Prater owners.
8. Cody Parkey vs. DAL – 8.5
Before we dive into this, I want to tell you some of my biggest pet peeves. Crunchy peanut butter, people who chew ice, and when Cody Parkey misses a kick that costs you a week one fantasy football win. Those will all invoke teeth grinding. And don't try all three at once. And, if Parkey keeps missing kicks, you'll have some chances.
No team allowed more field goal tries (4) in the opening week than the Dallas Cowboys. Part of that was because Tom Coughlin is the most senile head coach in the game. However, the Giants had a 25% touchdown conversion percentage against Dallas. That’s a great number for a Cowboys defense that added more weapons to be better in these situations. The Eagles will have a tough time getting things going and that will result in more attempts from Cody Parkey.
9. Brandon McManus @ KC – 8.5
What do Old McDonald, Chicken McNuggets, and Brandon McManus have in common? They’re all "Mc"staples of American culture. Well, maybe McManus isn’t, but he is starting to cement his spot in that elite clique. McManus notched four field goal tries last week and is really seeing more work as the Broncos offense is less efficient.
Peyton Manning was deluged in the opener, and it killed drives. After having a 63% touchdown conversion rate last year, Denver failed to score a touchdown in the red zone last week. That’s a true showing of how much the tides have shifted in the Mile High mountains. Finally, it’s Thursday night football and those games typically are fueled by field goals.
10. Robbie Gould vs. ARI - 8
Robbie Gould should be the spokesman of a jewelry company because he is good as ‘Gould.’ He just keeps getting it done every year like Paul Allen in Continental Diamond commercials. Despite injuries issues near the end of 2014, Gould looks like he may have returned to natural form. Last week, he corralled his first multiple field goal performance since week six of the 2014 season. The Cardinals allowed a whopping four field goal tries last week and are much improved as a defense in the red zone. The Bears were solid inside the 20-yard line last year, but it appears the new offensive system is yielding big plays.
11. Josh Brown vs. ATL – 8.25
I love when my kicker gets fantasy points, but how damn stupid was Tom Coughlin last week? Run the freaking ball and you win the game. Instead, he tried to be cute and latched onto Josh Brown’s jockstrap. That didn’t end well for the senile old man. Brown kicked four field goals in the game and has attempted four or more in each of his last three contests dating back to 2014. What’s more, Atlanta’s defense looks much improved from a schematic and personnel standpoint. They will be stingy against opposing offenses and that’s good news for Josh Brown.
12. Adam Vinatieri vs. NYJ - 9
Is Adam Vinatieri a member of the AARP yet? It seems like he should be receiving all of those perks by now. New York surrendered just one field goal try last week, but allowed multiple field goal performances in four of the final five games of 2014. I think the old tune is the one that will be sung by the Jets defense in 2015. They consistently struggled with top-tier offenses and the additions they made are very small in nature. In fact, I think Adam Vinatieri might be using his perks to call AAA to tow away the NYJ defense.
13. Phil Dawson @ PIT - 8
Jim Tomsula looks like he got off the set of Sopranos and took the wrong turn. His gold chain and buttery hair belong in an unmarked New Jersey warehouse, not a San Francisco sideline. Maybe Phil Dawson can style him with some points!
Pittsburgh’s defense had problems containing the running game last week and could have more with Carlos Hyde this week. That means the 49ers will control the ball and score more points. San Francisco converted touchdowns in the red zone on 40% of their tries last week. This is consistent with the 43% mark they posted in 2014. Dawson will continually see tries when the San Fran offense stalls frequently.
14. Graham Gano vs. HOU – 7.25
Wait, Hard Knocks doesn’t mean you instantly become good? I thought it had metamorphic powers that instantly created good teams. That certainly wasn’t the case for the Texans. Or the Falcons last year, come to think of it. Houston allowed a whopping three field goals in the first game and their defense seemingly couldn’t stop anything the Chiefs were throwing at them. The Panthers offense is struggling to score touchdowns and relied on four field goal attempts from Graham Gano last week. Nothing seems more fitting than a similar performance against a defense that has a notorious reputation for allowing field goals. Gano notched multiple field goal performances in each of his final six games last year and the Panthers offense is similarly structured this season.
Josh Lambo @ CIN
Josh “Lambo – gini” Mercy! Wait, I’m not Kanye babyyyy. I really want to know if Johnny Manziel gave Lambo this nickname at Texas A&M when they went out on the town. Josh Lambo made his rookie debut and executed very well. He hit all of his field goals and extra points and showed no sign of being rattled by the big lights. Nick Novak was always a respectable option in the system, but had accuracy and consistency issues. If Lambo can be steady, he’ll produce this year. What’s more, the Bengals allowed opposing kickers to hit two or more field goals in every game but two in 2014. After watching Cincinnati, every sign points to similar statistics this year. They blanked Sebastian Janikowski last week, but that’s the Raiders – they don’t count.