Tucker and Butker in a class of their own

As a position that tends to be scoffed at by some in fantasy football, love them or hate them, kickers can be valuable assets to your fantasy roster. As fantasy draft preparation continues for many, here are our early 2021 kicker rankings.

That one sentence can elicit emotions that rival calling someone’s baby ugly. But the facts don’t change — kickers are relevant. This is where being a fan has to be separate from playing fantasy. To the masses, kickers are like plumbing. No one notices them until they mess up (then it is plastered on Red Zone for the world to see). Even worse is when that kick double-doinks for your team, that same passion is directed towards kickers being awful.

They are not as fluky as some people would like you to believe. For example, last season, Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders scored 172 fantasy points — nearly identical to Michael Gallup (WR38). They were identical at 10.8 ppg in fantasy points per game, with Sanders being the more consistent player (median score of 10.5 to 8.4). 

I am not trying to say that kickers are more valuable than positional players. Still, when you are in the latter part of the draft, a kicker’s consistency and weekly scoring ability are likely higher than the dart throw you are taking on a positional player.

Don’t want to make them a required position? Fine, but allow them to be flexed into your lineup. You can continue to choose to ignore them and still give other managers the option for them to be a valuable fantasy asset — a win-win.

While this is usually a position I would stream, here is the elite tier of fantasy football kicker rankings.

Tier 1

1. Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

There is a fairly clear gap between Butker and Tucker to the rest of the kickers in fantasy football rankings.

Tucker is likely the best overall kicker in football, but the scoring opportunities for Butker plus his accuracy (92.6% in 2020) have these two in a near coin flip. 

Tucker had been the clear No. 1 option in fantasy, but averaging just 29 attempts over the past two seasons has dropped him back to the pack (39 from 2015 to 2018). His floor is as stable as anyone, as he’s averaged 56 extra points over the last two seasons. Since 2018, Tucker has converted on 90% of his kicks from 40+ (28 of 31) and 70% from 50 or more (9 of 13).

Tier 2

3. Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys
5. Tyler Bass, Buffalo Bills

This tier of fantasy kickers benefits from what should be some of the highest-scoring offenses in football.

Ryan Succop is likely going to lead the NFL in extra-point attempts. But is that a good thing for fantasy? You love to see the scoring opportunities come in bunches, but he needs more field goals mixed into his opportunities for him to reach the next tier.

In his first year with the Cowboys, Greg Zuerlein set a new career-high for attempted field goals (41) despite losing Dak Prescott for most of the season. Outside of 50-plus-yard kicks, he converted 31 of 32 FGs along with 33 of 36 extra points. If Zuerlein can regain his accuracy from distance (3 of 9 in 2020 on 50+), he has K1 upside.

Do you expect the Buffalo Bills to regress in 2021, or will they be a high-powered offense again? If you believe they are a contender, Tyler Bass should be in line for a fantastic season. Bass was the K3 in 2020, averaging 9.8 ppg and converting 82.4% of FGs and 96.6% of XPs (57 of 59). You will have to monitor the weather in the latter months, but the weekly upside has Bass locked into the top five.

Tier 3

6. Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins
7. Rodrigo Blankenship
, Indianapolis Colts

Jason Sanders was nearly perfect in 2020. He hit 100% from within 40 yards (16 of 16) and XPs (36). From 40 to 49, he made 12 of 14 and went 8 of 9 from 50+. Is there room for improvement, or is regressing more in the cards for 2021? I expect Miami’s offense to surprise people this season, and Sanders is a lock for a top-10 fantasy finish.

How can you not love Hot Rod? From the glasses to the leg, the guy just has it all. Rodrigo Blankenship was fourth in the NFL in attempts with 37 and converted on 86.5% of his tries (32). He also was 95.6% accurate on XPs and ended the season as the K6 while averaging 9.4 ppg. I like the Colts’ offense this season and believe we see Carson Wentz regain some of the consistency that had been missing in Philadelphia. 

Tier 4

8. Will Lutz, New Orleans Saints
9. Younghoe Koo, Atlanta Falcons
10. Tucker McCann
, Tennessee Titans

If we have learned anything from a Jameis Winston-led offense, the ball will move down the field. Last season, we likely saw Will Lutz’s floor. He set career lows with FG% (82.1%), attempts (28), and FGs made (23). I believe the Saints will be a better offense this season (vs. non-Brees games), and the addition of playing in a dome at home is a massive boost for his consistency. 

The No. 2 kicker of 2020 was third-year player Younghoe Koo. Scoring a league-high 11.2 ppg, Koo converted 94.9% of his FGs (37 of 39), including all 8 from 50+. The question is, what happens to the offense without Julio Jones and a more methodical/slow approach from Arthur Smith? I like Koo, but his ceiling is capped. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that 10 of his 17 games will be played indoors, including four of the six games in December and January.

If Tucker McCann can win the starting job during training camp, he could be the sleeper kicker for 2021. Stephen Gostkowski is out of the picture, and the 2020 UDFA can be the beneficiary on one of the better offenses in football. For as bad as Gostkowski was last season, he still had 26 FGAs and 48 XPAs. Now, that same offense just added Jones. While he was inconsistent early in his career at Missouri, the jitters should be gone. Watch for McCann to be a quick riser in 2021 fantasy football kicker rankings.

Tier 5

11. Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams
12. Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks

With a career average of 80.4%, there are some concerns with Matt Gay. But I believe the Rams’ offense will move the ball extremely efficiently with Matthew Stafford under center. Also, the defense is still incredible, which should keep giving the offense fantastic starting position and scoring opportunities with takeaways. All of that benefits Gay’s fantasy outlook.

Jason Myers was perfect last season on FGs and even made one from 61 yards. He also converted 49 XPs (92.5%). The problem is he attempted just 24 field goals, which crushed his upside. However, he is a great streaming option given the consistency and potential for Seattle to get into a shootout.

Tier 6

13. Matt Prater, Arizona Cardinals
14. Robbie Gould
, San Francisco 49ers
15. Michael Badgley
, Los Angeles Chargers

I think we see a bounce back from Matt Prater in 2021. Although he set an NFL record for 50-plus-yard FGs made in a season, he was just 10 of 17 from 40 yards or more, which had been a strong suit of his game throughout his career (71% from 2007 to 2019). 

We are not that far removed from when Robbie Gould was consistently one of the top six kickers in fantasy football rankings. That tends to happen when you have a career average of 86.6% on FGs and 97.7% on XPs. San Francisco’s depth chart was obliterated by injuries in 2020 and should be a much better overall team in 2021. The long-range kicks might not be there, but Gould can nickel and dime himself to fantasy relevance each week.

How does a professional NFL kicker only make 72.7% of his kicks and keep his job? Even his XPs were no walk in the park at 92.3%. The Chargers will be a high-scoring offense, and playing your home games in a dome should result in one of the best situations for a kicker. But unless Badgley can figure it out, this is a wasted opportunity.

These kickers could be stream candidates in certain weeks but lack the upside (e.g. in a camp competition) to be ranked higher in fantasy football rankings.

16. Graham Gano, New York Giants
17. Dustin Hopkins, Washington Football Team
18. Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos
19. Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles
20. Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas Raiders
22. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
23. Joey Slye, Carolina Panthers
24. Josh Lambo, Jacksonville Jaguars
25. Ka’imi Fairbairn, Houston Texans
26. Cairo Santos, Chicago Bears
27. Cody Parkey, Cleveland Browns
28. Sam Ficken, New York Jets
29. Nick Folk, New England Patriots
30. Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings
31. Randy Bullock, Detroit Lions
32. Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals

Want more fantasy football analysis and news?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay current with all things around the NFL and the upcoming 2021 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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