Week 15 Kicker Rankings - Written/Ranked by Jim Ayello
1. Stephen Gostkowski vs. Tennessee
Who else? Despite only getting three field goal attempts in the past three games — the fewest of any three-game stretch in his career since 2007 — Stephen Gostkowski still leads the NFL in points scored with 124. The lead has narrowed though, and he’ll need some help if he’s to hang on. Two of his final three games come against teams that are in the bottom three in field goal attempts allowed, the first of which he faces this week. Tennessee has allowed a league-low 14 field goals made and have six times held opposing kickers to nary an attempt. That said, these are the Patriots we’re talking about. With Rob Gronkowski back on the field, the offense regains its elite status and enable Gostkowski to resume being the best and most bankable fantasy kicker in the game.
2. Steven Hauschka vs. Cleveland
No offense has scored more points over the past five weeks than the Seahawks (34.6 per game), and only one team has surrendered more points than the Browns (27.5 points per game allowed). So, yeah the math is pretty simple here. Well, sort of. One number that concerns me is 12. As in, that’s how many points off field goals the Seahawks scored out of the 173 they put up in those five games — a lowly 6 percent of the damage done. Of course, all of those extra points help, but Hauschka owners wouldn’t mind seeing him get a few more 3-point attempts. And he will. In the past five games, the Seahawks are converting better than 80 percent of their red zone chances into touchdowns, an absurd total. For the season, they are converting just 55 percent which is closer to league-average. They’ll come back down to earth (a bit) soon, and Hauschka owners will be rewarded.
3. Graham Gano at New York Giants
We have a new challenger to the throne. Sitting just one point behind Stephen Gostkowski (124-123), Gano is looking to succeed where so those before him failed. In 2012, it was Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes who gave Gostkowski a run for the the top spot, but he ultimately fell short, finishing eight points back. In 2013, then-Broncos kicker Matt Prater’s challenge looked promising, but he too came up eight points short. Finally, Eagle Cody Parkey came the closest of all last season, yet his best was still six points shy of Gostkowski’s crown. Alas, with three weeks to go, Gano finds himself within striking distance and with a golden opportunity to seize the lead. The Giants have conceded the fifth-most points to kickers on the strength of 10 contests with multiple field goal attempts allowed, including four of their past five. Hopefully, Cam Newton and the offense slow down enough to give Gano more than the one chance he’s had the past two weeks, though hopefully the 10 PATs alleviated some of his fantasy owners’ frustration.
4. Chris Boswell vs. Denver
No kicker has attempted more field goals in the past three games than Chris Boswell’s 11. In converting 10 and knocking down all eight of his PATs, Boswell has been the top fantasy kicker in that time. And with the Steelers offense steamrolling defenses, I see no reason for him to slow down, even against the vaunted Broncos. Sure Denver might not let the Steelers put up 30-plus — as they have in their past five straight games — but they won’t be able to totally slow down Big Ben and Co., and I think that might create the perfect storm of a result for Boswell, allowing him say three, maybe four attempts.
5. Chandler Catanzaro at Philadelphia
Over the past five weeks, no kicker has been hotter than Chandler Catanzaro. The Arizona legman has drilled 12 consecutive field goals, including at least two in every game. He’s connected on his past 16 attempts overall, and the last time he didn’t try multiple field goals in a game was back in early October. However, his opponent this week has been thrifty in handing out field goal attempts. Philadelphia has conceded just 21 all year and only four in its past four games. Of course, matchups against the Lions, Bucs, Bills and the Gronkowski-less Patriots are hardly the same as the high-powered Cardinals attack their about to face, so there’s no reason for Catanzaro owners to panic.
6. Mason Crosby at Oakland
Now, that’s more like it. After two straight games of not allowing a field goal attempt, the Raiders got back to their putrid ways, surrendering five to Brandon McManus and the Broncos last week. It was the 11th time they have allowed multiple field goal attempts, which helped them reclaim their place at the top of the list of most field goal tries allowed (35). Meanwhile, Crosby rides into Oakland with an offense that has posted 27 points or more in three of past four games and given him eight cracks in those contests. Though he has missed two of his past 10 tries, I expect a surging Packers offense to give him at least three or four opportunities in what should be a high-scoring game.
7. Cairo Santos at Baltimore
After being a hot commodity (as kickers go) in the beginning of the season — a seven-field goal game will do that for you — Santos’ value has plummeted. Since his 7-for-7 game in Week 3, Santos has missed six field goals. He’s now kicking at just a 79.4 percent rate, 26th in the league among those qualified. That said, he plays on one of the most fruitful offenses (25.5 ppg, 8th) — I know, surprised me, too — resulting in 34 field goal attempts, second-most in the league. Paired with the fact that Ravens have surrendered the second-most field goal attempts, Santos should be a steady if not stellar option.
8. Brandon McManus at Pittsburgh
In Brock Osweiler’s four starts, Brandon McManus is averaging 2.5 field goal attempts per game. In the nine games Peyton Manning started, he averaged only 2.22. If that doesn’t convince you Osweiler should be the starter regardless of Manning’s health, I don’t know what will. … Just kidding. Honestly, neither has been a boon to McManus. But while he’s not getting a ton of help from his offense, he’s not exactly taking advantage of the opportunities they do give him either — at least not lately. The Broncos kicker has missed a field goal attempt in each of his past three games after starting out the season 20-of-21. If he’s going to help you in the fantasy playoffs this week, he’ll need to be on top of his game against a Steelers defense that is only allowing an average of one field goal try per game over its past five contests.
9. Blair Walsh vs. Chicago
When the Bears play the Vikings, they tend to see a lot of Blair Walsh. In their past six games, Walsh has attempted 15 field goals and knocked home 13 of them. That includes going 3-for-3 in the teams’ first meeting back on Nov. 1. Since that game though, it’s been a little touch-and-go for Walsh and his owners. He missed two field goals against Oakland two weeks later, didn’t attempt one against Green Bay or Seattle and in between missed another try against Atlanta. Of course, he still managed multiple makes in the games against the Raiders and Falcons and connected on both of his tries last week against the Cardinals. Overall, he’s at 83.9 percent, good enough to start against a Bears defense that has allowed multiple field goal attempts in eight of its games.
10. Dustin Hopkins vs Buffalo
Given Dustin Hopkins credit. He knocks down the freebees. He is one of eight qualified kicker yet to miss an extra point (27-of-27). And On field goals, he’s practically as reliable. Two of Hopkins’ three misses have come from beyond 50 yards. He’s 20-of-21 on all tries closer. Which gives me great optimism for him this week against a downtrodden Buffalo squad that has given up 10 field goal attempts in its past four games after allowing only 12 the first 10 weeks of the season.
11. Mike Nugent at San Francisco
A.J. McCarron stepping in for the Red Rifle doesn’t necessarily have to spell bad news for the Bengals. … Ah. Who am I kidding? Of course it does, but I could see the backup working out well for at least one guy: Mike Nugent. McCarron almost certainly won’t be as effective as Andy Dalton was in the red zone and that could prove profitable for Nugent, who has been extremely accurate the past five games (9-of-10). Of course, he’ll have to bypass some 49ers vodoo. No team has had more field goals missed against them than San Francisco’s seven. Six different kickers have missed tries against the 49ers, including some legendarily accurate ones (Robbie Gould, Justin Tucker). That said, they have allowed multiple field goal attempts in their past three games, so even if Nugent misses, he should be able to make up for it with quantity.
12. Nick Novak at Indianapolis
The Colts are one of just 10 teams to have surrendered 100 points to kickers. Opposing kickers are averaging about eight points per game against them, a stat made possible by Nick Novak, who scored exactly eight points against the Colts in their Week 5 matchup. Novak has been outstanding since taking over for Randy Bullock in Week 4, drilling 10-of-11 on the season and 10 straight. The only reason Novak isn’t a hotter commodity this week is his offense provides him few opportunities to shine. However, against a Colts team that has conceded 96 points in its past two weeks, that shouldn’t be a problem.
13. Justin Tucker vs. Kansas City
Here’s what I know: Yes, Justin Tucker has missed seven field goals this year, but six of those have been from 50-plus. He’s still 26-of-27 on kicks of 49 yards or fewer. Second, he’s still the third-most accurate kicker of all time (87.4 percent). Third, he has received the most field goal attempts (35), including multiple tries in each of the past four games, despite Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen playing quarterback. So yeah, I still trust this guy.
14. Josh Brown vs. Carolina
I’m way down on Josh Brown this week. Though usually a lock for the top 10, there are a few indicators that suggest he’ll finish outside of it this week. For one, he’s missed two of his past four field goal attempts, neither of which was beyond 50 yards (he’s still a 93-percent kicker for the season). Those were his first two misses, but we’ve seen how a couple errant kicks can totally unravel a kicker’s game (see: Gould, Robbie). The other reason I’m concerned is, of course, the Panthers defense. Carolina has conceded more than one field goal attempt in a game just once in its past six contests. What’s more, kickers are just 77 percent accurate against them, meaning many of the tries are from distance.
15. Robbie Gould at Minnesota
This is a bad idea. Fantasy owners probably shouldn’t start Robbie Gould this week considering he’s been terrible the past two weeks (2-of-5), and his confidence is likely a nonexistent entity. Of course, there are reasons to consider using him: 1) His 32 field goal attempts are third-most in the league; 2) his five makes from 50-plus are a league-high; 3) he got three tries against the Vikings in their Week 8 meeting; and 4) he’s only attempted fewer than two field goals in a game twice.