Wednesday - May 22, 2019

Home / Uncategorized / Drafting Kickers – Why to AVOID Robbie Gould and Nate Kaeding in 2007

Drafting Kickers – Why to AVOID Robbie Gould and Nate Kaeding in 2007

Every year NFL statistics are broken down and predictions are made to be used in the upcoming fantasy football season. There are nearly countless websites making bold proclamations with exceptional detail regarding expected performances. These prophets go so far as to predict QB passing yardage, touchdowns, interceptions, rushing yards and the like. They forecast not only WR’s yardage and touchdown totals, but also their reception count, and rushing attempts (as if a WR reverse is something that can be expected a certain number of times per year). And the same goes for RBs, TEs and all of the starting and backup skill players that may possibly step foot on the field. And some are complex and advanced enough to predict the individual defensive players’ statistics. And we eat it up.  

Usually, the bulk of these predicted are generated from a process that goes something like this:

“Based on the performance trends in recent history, and most importantly, the statistics from last year, and with the addition/deletion of X, Y, and Z players, and since the coaching staff is new/unchanged, and given his age and/or current health, we think that Joe Football player will produce <insert laundry list of predictions here>.”

And we listen, then we draft accordingly based on our league settings.   And while all of us question/doubt some of what is predicted, most of us buy into most of it. And usually they are pretty accurate. It only stands to reason that

Larry Johnson and

LaDainian Tomlinson would continue to be productive. Sure, there were a few who luckily/smartly second-guessed the predictions and passed on

Lamont Jordan or

Randy Moss in the 2006 draft. But for every one of those genius moves, there was somebody who thought

Tom Brady or

Steve Smith was going to be a bust, or really believed that

Cadillac Williams was a sure thing. The point is, for the most part the analysis of history combined with common sense tells us that those that were on the rise should continue to rise, and those on the decline should remain on the decline, and most of last year’s top performers are going to be this year’s top performers. In other words, history predicts the future.

Except for kickers.

 

Pretty much every year, the top few kickers that are drafted were the top kickers from the previous year. Makes sense right? And everybody chuckles when

Neil Rackers is taken in the 9th round by somebody who is being crafty and convinced that he is smarter than everybody else, and he will have the last laugh when “The Rack” is kicking his team to a championship. It happens almost every year. So who were those top legs in 2006? I reviewed the total points (actual NFL points, not fantasy points, because there are so many different scoring systems, but they all simply link to productivity), and selected the top tier of kickers from each of the last 6 years. The numbers indicate that 120 points is the threshold for being in the top 4-6

 

2006

Robbie Gould

143

Nate Kaeding

136

Jeff Wilkins

131

Matt Stover

121

So that’s easy. This year go out there and try to get

Robbie Gould or

Nate Kaeding, right? If you move up a couple rounds and do just that, you just nailed down the best possible kicker option. To those of you that have done this, unfortunately I have bad news for you. You were wrong.

Let’s review how the top kickers fared the year after being the big boot on the block.

 

2005

2006

% change

 

 

2004

2005

% change

J Feely

148

107

-28%

 

A Vinatieri

141

100

-29%

N Rackers

140

116

-17%

 

J

Elam

129

115

-11%

S Graham

131

115

-12%

 

J Reed

124

117

-6%

L Tynes

125

107

-14%

 

D Akers**

122

71

-42%

J Kasay

121

100

-17%

 

S Graham

122

131

7%

MVanderjagt*

121

72

-40%

 

 

 

 

 

 

* 2006 only 10 games played

 

 

** 2005 only 12 games played

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2003

2004

% change

 

 

2002

2003

% change

J Wilkins

163

89

-45%

 

J Feely

138

89

-36%

M Vanderjagt

157

119

-24%

 

J Carney

130

102

-22%

M Stover

134

117

-13%

 

SJanikowski

128

94

-27%

J Kasay

125

84

-33%

 

MGramatica

128

81

-37%

G

Anderson

123

88

-28%

 

R Longwell

128

120

-6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001

2002

% change

 

 

 

 

 

J Wilkins

127

94

-26%

 

 

 

 

 

M Vanderjagt

125

103

-18%

 

 

 

 

 

J

Elam

124

120

-3%

 

 

 

 

 

K Brown

124

71

-43%

 

 

 

 

 

If you look at the list carefully, you will notice that out of those 30 guys, 29 failed to make it to the list the following year. What?! That can’t be true! But it is! The numbers don’t lie; it is indeed a 96.7 failure rate! Those same 29 that missed breaking the 120 barrier twice in a row, not only missed it but typically saw a dramatic decline in production.  

On average the top tier kickers combine to produce 23% LESS points the following year. And when you look at the top spot alone, the average decline goes to 33%. Only 1 out of 30 (

Shane Graham) posted a gain after making the top 5. He rose a modest 7% from 122 points in 2004 to 131 points – but then he slid back out of the top tier in 2006 to 11th place with 115 points. And this only goes to prove the point, unlike the big dog QBs, like Manning and Brady, RBs like Tomlinson and Steven Jackson, WRs like Marvelous Marvin, and TEs like Gates and Gonzales, we should not expect to see the same leading kickers year after year. Moreover, we should expect them to disappear.

Think about it. While the sites all rank kickers, they give them some obscure A-B-C rating, refusing to put numbers to work.

And it feels right when we go with our gut and want last years top kicker. But that is precisely the exact wrong thing to do. My initial feeling tells me that Robbie Gould should be a great bet, but the numbers tell me it’s a sucker bet. The numbers tell us to expect Robbie Gould’s numbers to slip from 143 points to roughly 96 (yes, that is 33% less, the average drop for the leading kicker over the last 5 seasons). Furthermore I would expect Nate Kaeding to slip from 136 to around 105-112 (an 18-23% decline). And while 112 points is pretty decent, it really isn’t worth wasting a 9th round pick trying to be sneaky is it?

Now some of you might be satisfied thinking we now know what kickers to avoid, understanding that it makes more sense to build depth at other positions rather than getting fancy. But there are those of you out there, like me, saying “well, who should we target then?” “Is there a trend that we can identify to find where these top flight kickers come from?” Let’s look at how those top tier kickers performed the year prior, and how big of a jump they made to get to the top:

 

2006

2005

% change

 

 

2005

2004

% change

R Gould

143

82

+74%

 

J Feely

148

94

+57%

N Kaeding

136

112

+21%

 

N Rackers

140

94

+49%

J Wilkins

131

117

+12%

 

S Graham

131

122

+7%

M Stover

121

113

+7%

 

L Tynes

125

109

+15%

 

 

 

 

 

J Kasay

121

84

+44%

 

 

 

 

 

MVanderjagt

121

119

+2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004

2003

% change

 

 

2003

2002

% change

A Vinatieri

141

112

+26%

 

Jeff Wilkins

163

94

+73%

J

Elam

129

120

+8%

 

MVanderjagt

157

103

+52%

J Reed

124

100

+24%

 

M Stover

134

96

+40%

D Akers**

122

114

+7%

 

J Kasay

125

11

+1036%

S Graham

122

106

+15%

 

G

Anderson

123

90

+37%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002

2001

% change

 

 

2001

2000

% change

J Feely

138

115

+20%

 

J Wilkins

127

89

+43%

J Carney

130

113

+15%

 

MVanderjagt

125

121

+3%

S Janikowski

128

111

+15%

 

J

Elam

124

103

+20%

M Gramatica

128

97

+32%

 

K Brown

124

107

+16%

R Longwell

128

104

+23%

 

 

 

 

 

There were only six instances where it was a single digit percentage jump. Unfortunately, there were 17 instances when it was more than a 20% pop. That means 56.7% of the time, a 120 point kicker was just about a 100 point kicker the year prior.

So guess what, while the numbers tell us not to expect repeat performances from Gould and Kaeding, they don’t really tell us who is in line for the throne. For every “superstar” kicker that pops up and has a big year, there is some other no-name guy that does it too. Rats, I was hoping that a foolproof method of predicting the best kicker would emerge, but it didn’t. All we can see is that we are just as likely to have an “C-rated” kicker break through the 120 point barrier as we are an “A” or “B” rated player.

To reinforce the point, think back to last year – whoever had Robbie Gould in your league claimed him off waivers in the 2nd or 3rd week. Nobody drafted that guy, because he only scored a woeful 82 points in 2005. And while Kaeding was a decent kicker, with 112 points in 2005, nobody went up to the 9th round to get him because nobody would have predicted 136 points. The clever guy who grabbed a kicker in the 9th grabbed Rackers, and was rewarded with 116 points, the same that you could have gotten from Joe Nedney who probably wasn’t drafted, and if he was, it was in the last round.

My suggestion for drafting your fantasy kicker: Don’t complicate it by trying to outsmart everybody else. There is a 96.7% chance that the top kickers from 2006 will not be the top kickers in 2007, and a 56.7% chance that the top guys are going to come from the middle of the pack. So there is no point in trying to move up for anybody at all. You should do what we know you should do, just take whoever is staring you in the face in the last round.

Even if it is Rian Lindell. 

With 102 points last year, he is just as likely as anybody to be this year’s secret weapon.

 

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com launched in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is (or has been) home to some of the most talented and respected writers and content creators in fantasy football.