Special Teams Value: 1 Defense and 1 Kicker Worth Targeting

by Kieran Cottrill ·

In fantasy football leagues, the most subtle advantages can be the difference between winning and losing. And the two least valued positions in all of fantasy football are kickers and defenses. However, there are certain specific kickers and defenses that give you an advantage going into every single week based on advanced stats and analytics. The best part is, they are consistent as gravity.

Justin Tucker: Silent Fantasy League X-Factor

In a fantasy world where owners are starved for performers who are guaranteed to put up consistent fantasy production, Justin Tucker has been the king of consistency. Week in and week out Tucker makes his field goals and extra points regardless of distance. One of the tricky parts of acquiring a good kicker is paying attention to the offense they are involved in. It is almost counter intuitive because getting a kicker in too good an offense leads to a plethora of extra point attempts, not field goals. The optimal fantasy production comes from guys like Tucker in offenses that move the ball but are not potent enough to score touchdowns at will. Joe Flacco and Baltimore’s offense fits the that description perfectly.

If you have the perception that kickers are just minor role players for your fantasy team, think again. If you are lucky enough to have an elite kicker on your team, he will more than likely outscore your secondary running back and wide receivers. For instance, Justin Tucker and Matt Bryant, the top two kickers in fantasy football from the 2016 season, outscored players such as: Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson, A.J. Green, Latavius Murray, Martellus Bennett, Lamar MillerDesean Jackson, Jimmy Graham, and Willie Snead.

Is your kicker going to be one of the top scorers in all of fantasy football? Hell no. But what an elite kicker does is give you a weekly matchup advantage with your opponent. If you have one of the best kickers, you instantly have an extra 10-15 point cushion going into every matchup. In close games that come down to the wire, kickers end up making all the difference in the world.

Kansas City Chiefs: Defense is the Best Offense

There are actually two aspects of Kansas City’s defense in fantasy football that make them a significant piece. Primarily, they simply do not give up any points. Because the Chiefs’ defense is so good at keeping the score low, you are relatively protected from seeing them get shredded. As a result, Kansas City’s defense is almost never going to see a negative point total for the week. They were quietly the 4th highest scoring defense in fantasy football last season in NFL.com scoring formats. They outscored most of the aforementioned names in this article with their final point total. The reason the Chiefs’ defense has such high fantasy upside is because of one man: Tyreek Hill.


Do not make the mistake of forgetting that kick and punt return touchdowns contribute to fantasy defenses’ point totals. Tyreek Hill is absolutely deadly while returning kicks and punts, thus making Kansas City’s defense particularly valuable. This is especially true considering how few teams in the NFL possess a player of his abilities. The only other player that comes to mind is Darren Sproles, and he just suffered a season ending injury. As a consequence, Kansas City’s defense on your team gives you an advantage over your opponent on a weekly basis. It is the same effect seen with having either Justin Tucker or Matt Bryant on your team: an extra 10-15 points per week.

The vast majority of late round picks barely see starting time on your fantasy team. Instead of picking some random fourth wide receiver or running back you have a good feeling about, pick a kicker or defense. Your friends will laugh at you as you snatch Justin Tucker and Kansas City’s defense 3 rounds before anyone even considers special teams picks. However, you will be the one laughing when Justin Tucker and the Chiefs’ defense put up more fantasy points than their top running back and wideout. Picking a special teams player before anyone else is a low risk-high reward initiative. You will never have do spend a pick in the top six rounds and the potential reward is huge. Its time to stay ahead of the curve and recognize the value of special teams in fantasy football.