Sep 2, 2010
Kickers are widely regarded as one of the most unimportant positions on the average fantasy football roster. You will never have to start more than one of them, and with this being the case there is always a kicker on the waiver wire in prime position to give you fantasy football points. However, a careless kicker choice can be devastating for a fantasy football team and decide vital head-to-head match ups.
Remember, just because a player makes the bust list, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid him completely on draft day (though we’ll let you know who to avoid altogether). Some, not all busts are overvalued players, while the majority have seen their situations change (e.g., new team, new coaching staff, upgrade or downgrade of players around them, injuries, etc.) or are likely to have a hard time living up to expectations. Use our 2010 Fantasy Football Busts Kickers list as a guide to move some players down your draft board.
Jay Feely, K, Arizona Cardinals – Jay Feely has had quite possibly the most puzzling career path of any kicker in recent memory. He started his career with the Atlanta Falcons, posting a 78.4-percent field goal percentage his first year. That would get most kickers cut or at least on the hot seat, but the Falcons apparently felt that was acceptable for a rookie. The team was rewarded for their patience with a 76.6-percent the remainder of his time there, a whooping four years, which is actually a lot for most kickers. The fact that they didn’t cut Feely after an atrocious 2003, in which he converted just 19-of-27 can be chalked up as either bizarre behavior or Atlanta saw something that the average NFL fan didn’t.
Whatever it was, everything apparently clicked after Feely left Atlanta, because since then he’s been right up there with the best kickers in the NFL, posting a success rate higher than 85-percent since leaving the Falcons. Yet despite his accuracy of late, Feely is entering 2010 with his fourth team over those five seasons, including a one-year stint with the Miami Dolphins where his 90-percent field goal rate apparently wasn’t good enough to keep him around. They would have given him the key to the city if he had done that in Atlanta.
So why do we consider Feely a potential bust in 2010? It’s the new team that is the problem. The high-flying Arizona Cardinals offense in the desert has largely been grounded with the loss of Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin. We would be surprised if Feely gets 28 field goal chances and 44 extra point after opportunities like former Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers did in 2008. Feely ranks No.9 in our 2010 kicker rankings; however, Arizona has major problems under center and until the offense can find an identity you will want to avoid the veteran kicker.
Sebastian Janikowski, K, Oakland Raiders – The highest scorer in Raiders history (which is pretty impressive by the way, regardless of how the Raiders have been lately), the “Polish Powderkeg” may be better known for his rap sheet than his kicking, but his nine-year career is nothing to spit your vodka at. On top of owning the franchise scoring lead, he also owns the team record for longest field goal made at 61 yards, which is the third longest in NFL history. His ridiculous leg strength is his best asset and the primary reason as to why he was drafted in the Round 1 of the 2000 NFL Draft. Also, his leg, and the backwards thinking of Al Davis, helped make Janikowski the highest paid kicker in NFL history. Last year he hit six field goals farther than 50 yards, tied for the league lead. An even bigger testament to Janikowski’s reputation is his 76-yard field goal attempt in 2008 against the San Diego Chargers.
His leg is undisputed, but his accuracy is a different matter. Since 2005, Janikowski has converted on111-of-146 field goal attempts, good for just 70-percent. In fact, judging from the numbers his leg can clearly get it to the goal posts, but has trouble putting it between them, going 18-of-33 in kicks of 50 yards or more. Janikowski provides his fantasy football owners with many big point opportunities, butisn’t cashing in often, and now with an improved offense (someone other than JaMarcus Russell is playing quarterback) he may not even get the chances. You can expect Janikowski to kick more extra points, making him more consistent week-to-week; however, the days in which “Sea-Bass” gets multiple kicking chances due to the offense consistently stalling are likely over.
Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis Colts – Vinatieri is one of the most well known kickers in the NFL and is legendary for making big kicks in big games. His playoff marks are ridiculous; he tied the record for most field goals in a playoff game with five in 2006 and is the only player in NFL history to be the deciding factor in two Super Bowls (36 and 38) when he was with the New England Patriots. His 90-percent and 94-percent field goal percentages in 2002 and 2004, respectively, were good for best in the league. He owns four Super Bowl rings. As you can see, Vinatieri’s resume is quite impressive and he can be called a “winner” in every meaning of the word.
So why is he on the busts list? Injury concern, limited range and a decline in production. Last season, Vinatieri only played in six games before having arthroscopic knee surgery. Having your fantasy football kicker get hurt would be a huge nuisance and something you don’t want to deal with. On top of being injury prone, Vinatieri has seen a huge decline in kicking power through the years. In fact, he has only converted on eight kicks of 40-plus yards over the last three seasons. He also hasn’t been kicking well lately (79-percent the past three seasons) and knee surgery probably won’t help matters. Age doesn’t tend to hurt kickers much (Morton Anderson is probably still on a few general manager’s speed dials), however, perhaps his 14 seasons are starting to catch up to him. Let someone else take Vinatieri.
Rian Lindell, K. Buffalo Bills – A kicker who shouldn’t be high on fantasy football draft boards anyway, Lindell enters his eighth season in the unfortunate position of being the kicker for the Buffalo Bills. With injuries to running backs Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch the offense is shaping up to be even uglier than expected. To make matters worse, the Bills are trying to decide between the “dream” trio of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm at the quarterback position.
However, you can argue that the biggest enemy of Rian Lindell’s value is not his offense, but his stadium. The blustery winter conditions of Ralph Wilson Stadium are notorious for making kickers’ lives miserable. It has clearly affected Lindell, as he has missed 13 field goals over the past two seasons, giving him an extremely weak 81-percent conversion rate over that span. Take a closer look at his field goal attempts and that Lindell is actually dead-on accurate within 39 yards; however, he only knocks down 61-percent of his kicks from 40-plus. The combination of tough home conditions and sub-par offense will cap his value to and make him tough to suggest even as a bye week replacement. He will be lucky to get 30 field goal attempts and 30 extra points and despite being ranked No.23 in our fantasy football cheat sheet rankings should be avoided at all costs.
Jeff Reed, K, Pittsburgh Steelers – Reed is another kicker affected by an extremely difficult home stadium,Heinz Field boasts the third-lowest field goal percentage in the league at 72-percent. Heinz Field is not only a grass field in a northern city but one near a body of water, which adds harsh winds and heavier air that prevents the ball from traveling as far. The results are plenty apparent; no one has ever successfully converted a field goal of over 48 yards at Heinz Field. In fantasy football, this is important as nearly every league gives bonus points for field goals of 50 yards or more, and while even the best long distance kickers (such as Janikowski) only get around six opportunities a year it still caps Reed’s value in a big way.
Last year the explosive passing attack in Pittsburgh led to 41 extra point attempts and 31 field goals. This season they lose 1,000-plus yard receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets and leader of the offense Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended at least four games. These two factors, plus the loss of offensive tackle Willie Colon indicates the Pittsburgh offense may not be as potent as it was a year ago, especially when Big Ben is out. Considering the stadium conditions and how much his team will struggle to put points on the board over the beginning of the season, a No.13 overall ranking at the kicker position is probably optimistic for the eight-year veteran.
Cheat Sheet RANKINGS: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DEF
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