words by Harley Schultz, rankings by Paul Charchian
1. Sebastian Janikowski @ CHI – 9.75
The million dollar question from week-to-week is: Will San Francisco or Chicago allow the most points? Through three games the Bears are leading the futility meter by allowing 35 points per game. This includes 27 points given up to opposing kickers. Sebastian Janikowski was useless in Week 1, but over the last two weeks he has 22 points of his own. Oakland will score a lot of points this week. I am sure Janikowski will get his share.
2. Matt Bryant vs. HOU – 9.75
Through three weeks only one team has allowed more field goal attempts than Houston. This is a due to the Texans' good defense and a favorable schedule featuring three mediocre offenses, each of whom stalled out and kicked field goals. Atlanta has a much better offense than any of Houston’s first three opponents, which could actually hurt the total opportunities for Matt Bryant. That said, even with a solid offense, Atlanta has managed to set up Bryant with two field goal attempts per game.
3. Brandon McManus vs. MIN – 9.75
You could make the argument that Brandon McManus has the strongest leg in the league and you’d probably be right. Through the first three weeks McManus is 3-3 on field goals beyond 50 yards. Apparently the mile high air appeals to him and it certainly doesn’t hurt the sail on the ball when he boots it. He is back at home this week, the site of two of those 50-plus yarders. Thanks in part to their stifling defense, only seven teams have a lower opponent red zone touchdown percentage than Minnesota. I doubt Minnesota will be able to hold the Broncos’ offense in check for the full game but they will have a few stall outs. Those stall outs if they are anywhere inside the 40-yard line could be field goals for McManus.
4. Steven Hauschka vs. DET – 9.5
Steven Hauschka is averaging ten points per game to start the season. This comes on the heels of finishing in sixth in kicker points last year. You can subtract Stephen Gostkowski (bye week) and Cody Parkey (injury) from that short list, leaving Hauschka as arguably the most consistent kicker year-over-year. Detroit has given up the eighth-most total points and they are allowing more frequent red zone visits than any other team. This is important because they are also allowing only 56% of those red zone visits to end in touchdown. If they don’t end in touchdowns, that should mean many opportunities for Hauschka.
5. Mason Crosby @ SF – 9.5
What happens when you put the best offense in the NFL against the worst defense in the NFL? You get the game with the highest combined line for this week. Mason Crosby’s will likely need ice for his sore foot after all the extra points he kicks this week. San Francisco has allowed 900 yards and 90 points over the past two weeks and Green Bay is averaging 32 points per week. Between extra points and field goals this looks like a potential 15-point week for the artist formerly known as Missin’.
6. Dan Bailey @ NO – 9.25
The New Orleans Saints are beyond generous to opposing kickers. Those kickers are 7-8 on field goals and they have also allowed nine extra points. With a ten point per game average allowed, we should have a pretty good base line for what to expect from Dan Bailey. In the first two games with Tony Romo at the helm, Bailey averaged a very solid 8.5 points per game. Last week, all he got was four extra points. I actually thought the change to Brandon Weeden would lead to more field goal attempts, not fewer. I was wrong, at least for one week. I think my original logic kicks in this week and Weeden stalls out his fair share of drives.
7. Justin Tucker @ PIT - 9
Over his last four battles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Justin Tucker has averaged 11.25 points per game. It wasn’t like he was struggling to start 2015,averaging over nine points per game. Pittsburgh hasn’t allowed a lot of field goal attempts. They haven’t even allowed a lot of total points. If it wasn’t for opposing tight ends no one would be scoring against them. Baltimore’s top tight end Crockett Gilmore would probably make a nice sleeper this week but he is questionable with a calf injury. If he cannot go at 100% those tight end touchdowns will probably turn into additional field goal attempts.
8. Josh Brown @ BUF – 8.75
Josh Brown currently leads the league in field goals and field goals attempted. He is also second to only Stephen Gostkowski in terms of total kicker points. Despite all of the attempts, Brown is still perfect on field goals and extra points. This should surprise no one as Brown has kicked to an 80% or better ratio in seven of his last nine seasons. He gets a tougher assignment this week since Buffalo has held two of their three opponents’ kickers to zero points already. The other matchup featured Gostkowski crushing them.
9. Chandler Catanzaro vs. STL – 8.75
The St. Louis Rams defense has allowed six field goals on six attempts to start the year. Chandler Catanzaro is only 2-2 on field goals but that is mainly due to the Cardinals scoring touchdowns at will against arguably the three worst defenses in the NFL. St Louis isn’t the same sort of pantywaist that Arizona has faced in those first three contests. They actually can cause headaches for opposing quarterbacks and they can snuff out opposing rushing attacks. It makes sense that Catanzaro will be presented with far more field goal attempts than he has seen to date. He finished last year 5-6 against the Rams on field goals, including one from beyond 50 yards. Of course, even with just the multitude of extra points he has been receiving, Catanzaro is still averaging over seven points per game.
10. Adam Vinatieri vs. JAX – 8.5
Adam Vinatieri has been MIA so far this year, due to game script as well as inefficiency by the Colts’ offense. Last week, Andrew Luck appeared to figure things out. He struck for five scores, which unfortunately limited Adam’s points as well. We know he is a great kicker he just hasn’t had the opportunities so far. That should change this week as no team has allowed more field goal attempts per game than Jacksonville.
11. Robbie Gould vs. OAK - 8
Despite putting up a goose egg with Jimmy Clausen at the helm, Robbie Gould remains amongst the lead leading kickers in terms of total points. Chicago punted on all ten possessions last week, but Clausen actually moved their offense within a single first down of field goal range at least twice. It helps that Gould has the range to boot a long field goal, since the likelihood of Clausen getting the ball inside the twenty-yard line is slim and none. Of course, Oakland categorizes themselves as more slim, than none. No team has allowed more successful field goals on the season.
12. Caleb Sturgis @ WAS - 8
Not too long ago, Caleb Sturgis was a popular kicker in fantasy circles. That is, he was popular in leagues that didn’t charge you negative points for all of his missed field goals. Over the last two years his field goal success rate was only 77%. Fortunately for his owners he had multiple successful field goals in 19 of those games. Plus he scored nine positive points or more in twelve of those games. Philadelphia had one of the most prolific scoring kickers last year in Cody Parkey. In two contests versus Washington, he had 19 points and he went 4-6 on field goals. He is done for the year. Those many opportunities now fall at the foot of Sturgis.
13. Dan Carpenter vs. NYG – 7.75
Dan Carpenter was amongst the league leaders with 67 field goals over the last two seasons so it should come as no surprise that he is averaging over seven points per game to start this season. Meanwhile, the Giants have only allowed five field goals this year but they are allowing the seventh-most red zone scoring opportunities. Whether it is one point at a time or via the field goal, Carpenter should once again put up a seven+ point performance.
14. Greg Zuerlein @ ARI – 7.75
Greg Zuerlein has multiple field goals in five of his last six contests. Arizona on the other hand just limited Phil Dawson to one measly point last week. Of course, that comes on the heels of their allowing a perfect 7-7 on field goals in their first two games. Arizona has a dominant defense; only three teams have a better opponent red zone touchdown percentage. Meanwhile, St. Louis’ offense has proved to be impotent in that same situation. Only six teams have failed more frequently in their red zone touchdown conversions.
15. Nick Folk @ MIA – 7.75
The Miami Dolphins have allowed multiple field goal attempts in each game this season. They have also given up a total of 26 points to the position. Nick Folk has not done much this year, but here is hoping that a change of venue may change his luck. Historically the early morning London games have been festivals of pain for viewers. With the exception of the Jaguars, none of the teams want to be there, none of them want to be up that early, and only the NFL's penny pinchers really give a damn. This sort of apathy and lethargy paired together could equate to a ridiculous amount of stall outs and hopefully a bunch of field goal tries.
Josh Lambo vs. CLE
Why isn’t Josh Lambo a St. Louis Ram? The jokes would just write themselves. Perhaps when St. Louis moves to Los Angeles, Greg Zuerlein can get traded down the 405 in exchange for Lambo. Lambo has multiple field goals in two of the first three weeks and game script prevented him from having a very good game Week 3 versus Minnesota. The former MLS goalie has a strong leg and his preseason performance on kicks and kickoffs led the Chargers to release long term veteran Nick Novak. To beat out a proven commodity like Novak (who at one point last year was the Chargers’ most accurate kicker in their history) he must have some serious chops. Cleveland has allowed seven or more points to opposing kickers in eight of their last ten contests.