SFB11 Strategy: Why You Shouldn’t Draft Kickers Early

by Michael O'Connor ·

Move aside Running Backs Don’t Matter. The Kickers Don’t Matter movement is here to help you win your Scott Fish Bowl division in the name of charity. Kickers have joined the party for #SFB11, but you may notice that PlayerProfiler’s Scott Fish Bowl Rankings and Projections have zero kickers inside the top-80 players. Here’s a breakdown of the scoring system posted on the official site:

Given these rules, it almost seems they were designed specifically to emphasize the importance of each kick at the expense of the kicker’s overall upside. Instead of having the harmless upside of scoring five points, a 50-yard attempt now has an 8-point delta (five points for the make, but minus three for the miss). You actually have something to lose now. Fantasy’s safest position is no longer risk-free, and the best choice we can make is to fade the hype.

Historical Performances of Kickers

Kickers have always been the kid that was picked last in gym class, and for good reason too. There’s never been much variation between the top kickers in any given year. In most cases, it makes more sense to draft handcuffs and stashes as opposed to wasting early picks on kickers. 

The new scoring system sounds exciting. You might even think that the top kicker could be a potential starter for your SuperFlex lineup. Unfortunately, even the best of the best don’t appear to put up enough points worthy of making them a viable starter for your team. Here’s how the top five kickers in each of the last four seasons would have scored using this format:

Other than the monster year in 2017 where each of the top five kickers averaged over over10.0Fantasy Points Per Game, there’s likely only going to be one kicker scoring double-digit weekly. Now you might be thinking it makes sense to reach on the best kickers because clearly they’ll score more points; however, here’s where the next five kickers in each year finished under the #SFB11 scoring format:

From the two tables, we see that the average K3 over the last four years only scores 1.5 more Fantasy Points Per Game than the average K10 – (just 24 total points). Despite this, ADP data from The FF Engineer shows the top three kickers coming off the board in round 12, with the next batch of kickers not being drafted until round 17 or later. Why are people drafting top-ranked kickers so high and ignoring the rest? 

Because now we’re back to the age old question of ceiling versus floor.

Ceiling vs. Floor

@Lindellions of @FF_Confidential has been a major proponent of drafting kickers, and has shown that the median PPG ranks of the top kickers last season were higher than names like Michael Gallup, Chase Edmonds, and Jerry Jeudy

Now why would I bring that up if I’m trying to tell you why you shouldn’t draft kickers? Because similar to a line from Jakob Sanderson’s recent article on dead-zone RBs, drafting a kicker is a floor play in a game which requires ceiling to win. 

For the players listed above, the average standard deviation in points was 6.5 Fantasy Points Per Game. Now, compare that to the average kicker standard deviation in points at 3.1 Fantasy Points Per Game and things start to become more clear. The skill position players are twice as volatile as kickers in this format, thus kickers have the higher floor but the lower ceiling.

If you want a shot at winning your division in #SFB11don’t draft a kicker early!

Who Should You Draft Instead?

By round 11, you’ve theoretically filled out your entire starting lineup from each of the other positions. Drafting a kicker for stability is still a good idea if you wait for the right moment. Once your roster is filled out, you want players with high upside that would see a production premium in the event of an injury to the starter. Your kicker is likely to start every single game, so there isn’t as much volatility in expected points per game.

Given our Scott Fish Bowl Rankings and Projections and the ADP data from The FF Engineer, Harrison Butker (K3) is projected to score just 10 more points than Brandon McManus (K12); yet Butker is currently drafted five rounds ahead of McManus! Don’t waste an earlier pick simply because you think Butker could be the K1 in scoring. It’s not worth the price.

At Butker’s current ADP, you can get Rashod Bateman, DeVante Parker, and Rondale Moore. Additionally, for the Zero RB fans out there, RBs with potential upside like Darrynton Evans, Latavius Murray, Darrell Henderson, and Alexander Mattison should all be drafted instead of safer kickers. Take the skill players with higher ceilings before you draft a kicker because of their floor.

That being said, there does come a point where stability matters. When you get to McManus’ ADP, you’re looking at players like O.J. Howard, Malcolm Brown, and Hunter Renfrow. These are players that will never see your starting lineup; and should you find yourself backed into a corner because of injuries and bye weeks, having a Brandon McManus, Wil Lutz, or Jason Myers on your team is the safer play.


Closing Remarks

The current state of kicker ADP is wildly disproportionate given their projected point totals. So when the kicker run eventually begins in the 12th or 13th rounds, capitalize on the opportunity to draft a fringe flex player with starter upside instead of wasting a pick on a guy you can get five rounds later.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of #SFB11, and I hope this advice helps you and your team be much more successful while contributing to a great cause!