Why don’t fantasy managers like kickers anymore?

In the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast, Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski look at how the kicker position has changed over the years.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

ANDY BEHRENS: I think the only other thing that I want to bring up on this general topic of changes in fantasy over the years is anti kicker sentiment. I don’t remember anyone hating kickers when we– maybe they were out there in small pockets, and I just didn’t recognize them. I don’t remember– I don’t remember anybody trying to ban kickers in the 90s. Like, I think we just accepted that it was a big part of the game.

I think it’s pretty clear that over time like it– kicker scoring isn’t going to match up perfectly with the highest scoring NFL teams, but it’s not that far off, right. Like you look at the scoring leaders from last season, and you’re going to find a bunch of kickers from playoff teams and near playoff teams. It helps a little bit sometimes if you’re tied to an offense that might get mired in the red zone a little bit. Maybe you get a few more field goal attempts, but they’re not in my mind over a full season kicker scoring certainly isn’t random. That’s a bit too strong.

Justin Tucker is great and is always great. The best offenses produce many of the best kickers, but we have– we just have a movement against it. And I feel like it’s I feel like it’s actually a little bit linked to, and I understand this to a certain extent, it’s linked to the popularity of DFS, right, and people just do– did not want anything that they considered random in a one game sample influencing their DFS outcomes. I don’t understand not wanting it in our season-long fantasy leagues. It really bothers me.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Yeah. I’m a pro kicker too. This is a case where the anti-kicker crowd jumps on confirmation bias. Ka’imi Fairbairn is tied to a bad Houston offense. He has a day where he kicked 5 field goals, and people rant and say see how stupid kicker scoring is. This guy isn’t–

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: –anything good or the offense stinks. Why would you play him, and he just scored 19 points. And whatever, I lost my league is somebody played him, whatever. But you mention, and a lot of people made this point. Ian Allen of the great fantasy index has always made this point.

I mean, there’s a correlation, you want your kicker– and, also this goes for really strongly goes for fantasy defense. You want your kickers and your defenses to be for winning teams. You want them to be from favorite teams. They get asked every week in the Q&A during fantasy football live which defense should I pick, and one defense is on like a 6-point favorite one defense is tied to a 3-point underdog. The point spread is always–

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: –your friend with these things.

ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Because when you’re ahead in the game, you get to play from leverage on the defensive standpoint and on the offensive standpoint. When a team is behind by a certain amount of points, field goals go out the window. They have to score touchdowns. They may even have to go for 2 point conversions, and the kicker is just sitting on the sidelines. It’s not perfect. I can’t promise you that your kicker is going to get a chance late in the first half or whatever, he’ll make that long kick and may get a chance to be ask the kicker.

Again, if you’re tied to a really good offense, your fear is always going to be that’s all touchdowns, one day, and you don’t get the field goals which are important for kicker scoring. But there’s a very strong correlation between if you have kickers on winning teams. You can have kickers on strong offenses. They’re going to be the best kickers year over year.

And again, it comes back to the idea Andy that I want– when I play you in a head to head game or any of my opponents, I want as many chances, as many data points, as many inflection points, as many decisions as I need to make– to go into that match-up to determine who wins and loses, OK. If I were to play against Steph Curry in a 3 point shooting contest and the idea was OK, do you want it to be a one-shot contest or 100-shot contest? Of course, I want to be 1 because I might get lucky–

ANDY BEHRENS: Oh, yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: –and make it he might get unlucky and miss it. If you took 100, I literally have a 0% chance to win. Unless Curry gets the flu that day or gets lost on the way to the stadium, I have no chance. Even if he had the flu, he’d beat me. Let’s not kid ourselves. And even if he got lost in the way the stadium, he would probably beat me too.

But you want– if you’re skilled at something, you want more iterations. You want more reps–

ANDY BEHRENS: Yes, yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: –you want more samples. More decisions put into the game, and the kicker is part of that. So let’s not dump defense scoring, and let’s not dump kicker scoring as well.

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