When should you draft kickers and team defenses?
All veteran fantasy football GMs know the age-old maxim: never draft a kicker or defense until the last picks of your draft. With rare exception, this is an immutable law of fantasy football; but is it sound advice?
Kee-king a Touchdown
Sports Grumblings' computer, Mighty Max, pulled up the top 12 kickers, by season, since 2004. For this example, we're using the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) scoring for kickers:
Looking at the results, we see some interesting trends:
Over the past three seasons, four kickers made the top 12 each season: Jason Elam, Josh Brown, Shayne Graham and Matt Stover. This is a massive improvement from last season when only Elam had a three-year run at the top.
No kicker was in the top five all three years.
While the top kicker's score was varied 6-8 percent in either direction, the 12th-rated kicker's score was much more stable.
On average, the 12th-rated kicker could be expected to produce close to 77 percent of the top-rated kicker's output.
The lesson: trying to determine the top-rated kicker from season to season is a crapshoot. Furthermore, unlike the other positional players, selecting a "top" kicker isn't likely to result in a top performance. Think about it: we can debate whether LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson or Steven Jackson will be the top-rated runner, but we can likely agree that all three will be within the top 12 at their position. No such luxury with the kickers.