Hate kickers? Tough cookies cupcake, your league probably still has them. No point in fighting it now because draft season is fast approaching which is why I’m here to help you navigate the kicker landscape. 

Draft Strategy

When it comes to kicker draft strategy there seems to be two extremes. You either target Justin Tucker or rookie sensation Evan McPherson earlier than the kicker run begins or you leave the draft without a kicker, opting to wait until Week 1 to check the waiver wire. 

I tend to fall somewhere in between, passing on Tucker/McPherson (spoiler alert: they’re not my top 2 kickers this year) and instead drafting a kicker in the last or second to last round with the understanding that I’ll turn to streaming the position at some point in the season.  

What To Look For 

What factors into a successful fantasy football kicker? A few simple things go into the weighted grade I give each kicker for rankings. The two that carry the most weight are the team offense and the strength of schedule. Carrying much less weight in the grading system: How many games they play in a dome and whether their head coach is named Brandon Staley. 

Coming out at the top of my rankings were Bills K Tyler Bass, Chargers K Dustin Hopkins, and Rams K Matt Gay. I joke, but really though the only reason Hopkins wasn’t my K1 is because we do have to acknowledge Staley’s penchant for leaving his offense in on 4th downs, even when in his opponent’s territory. 

Favorite Draft Targets

If you’re the lucky winner of a draft pick that caps a round, you can facilitate the start of the kicker run. In that case, I’m targeting Tyler Bass. Since being drafted by the Bills in 2020 Bass has had two top-12 performances. 

Eagles K Jake Elliot is another great draft day target especially for the early part of the year. He’s a guy you don’t have to reach for, can take in the middle of the kicker run, and should produce right out of the gate. Philadelphia gets Detroit, Washington, and Jacksonville in three of their first four games. That’s a streamer’s dream. 

Broncos K Brandon McManus is another fun target. He’s locked into the AFC West, which is sure to be an extremely competitive division chock-full of close games and high-scoring affairs. McManus has been successful in the past, finishing as a top 12 kicker as recently as 2019. Remember Seattle K Jason Myers had back-to-back top 12 finishes in 2019 and 2020. You’ll recall his former QB Russell Wilson is now with McManus and the Broncos. 

Camp Battles to Keep an Eye On 

Lastly, not every team knows who their kicker will be heading into the 2022 season. I’m tracking at least six teams that are in the midst of kicker battles this pre-season. Three of those battles are on teams that fall in the top 12 of my kicker rankings. 

The Dallas Cowboys are hosting Lirim Hajrullahu and rookie UDFA Jonathan Garibay after releasing Greg Zuerlein following the 2021 season. Whichever kicker gets the nod in Dallas, they should see plenty of opportunity in 2022. 

The kicker competition in Tampa Bay has been a long time coming. The Buccaneers signed UDFA Jose Borregales following the 2021 NFL Draft to compete with Ryan Succop. The team kept Borregales protected on their practice squad all season and gave him a reserve/future contract in late January 2022 to give you an idea of how the organization feels about him. 

Mason Crosby (37 years old) and the Green Bay Packers had an up and down season in 2021. However, it wasn’t entirely Crosby’s fault. Green Bay’s entire special teams unit struggled last season. The Packers have brought in rookie UDFA Gabe Brkic who is currently getting all of the reps in camp as Crosby recovers from an off-season knee scope on his kicking leg.

Rodrigo Blankenship is another kicker I’m keeping my eye on. While HC Frank Reich said it was Blankenship’s job to lose, he did say it was an open competition with UDFA Jake Verity. The Jaguars, Lions, and Jets are also hosting kicker competitions but I’m not terribly interested in drafting the kicker from any of those teams.

Linda is a kicker enthusiast and a running back denier. From football to fiction to food, you can find all her takes on Twitter @Lindellions 

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