Kicker probably is the least important position in fantasy football, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely overlooked.
Having a kicker who gives you double-digit points on a consistent basis can eliminate headaches and prevent you from losing games because of a goose egg. But picking a high-scoring kicker can often be a crapshoot, as production usually depends on a number of factors — opposing defense, weather, offensive output, etc.
A handful of kickers seem to put up solid numbers each year no matter the circumstances, and as long as you don’t reach too much, those are the guys you want on your team.
Let’s find out who they are.
1. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots (Bye week: 10)
Gostkowski is deadly accurate, and he gets plenty of chances to show off his skills. The 30-year-old is the first kicker in NFL history to score more than 140 points in three consecutive seasons, and the Patriots have ranked in the top three in kicking points in five of the last seven years.
2. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos (4)
The Broncos score a ridiculous amount of points, and they play a mile above sea level. While Prater’s field-goal opportunities might not be as high as Gostkowski’s, those two factors almost guarantee that he won’t lay any duds in 2014.
UPDATE — Prater will miss the first four games of the season with a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. No kicker is worth stashing on your bench, so take him off your draft board.
3. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (11)
Baltimore loves kicking field goals, and that makes Tucker an elite option. Tucker tied Gostkowski for the NFL lead with 38 field goals made in 2013, and the Ravens have scored 130 or more kicking points in three consecutive seasons.
4. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks (4)
Hauschka has missed just five field-goal tries over the last two seasons, and he certainly had plenty of chances. The NFC West looks especially loaded defensively, though, which could somewhat limit Hauschka’s production this year.
5. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers (9)
A healthy Aaron Rodgers will have a major impact on the Packers from a fantasy standpoint, and that includes the kicking game. Crosby scored the eighth-most points among kickers in 2013, and if Rodgers plays the whole season, that ranking will go up.
6. Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers (8)
Since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011, the 49ers have attempted more field goals than anyone else in the NFL. That’s good news for owners of Dawson, who posted an amazing string of eight consecutive games with double-digit fantasy points to end 2013.
7. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts (10)
Vinatieri’s still got it. The 41-year-old netted 35 field goals last season, second only to Gostkowski and Tucker, and he plays half of his games in the comfort of a dome. As long as Andrew Luck and the offense continue to improve, Vinatieri is a sure-fire top-10 pick.
8. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers (10)
Novak hasn’t been the most consistent fantasy kicker in recent years, but when he’s on, he’s one of the league’s best. The Chargers led the NFL last year with more than 20 percent of their drives ending in field goals, and if they keep that pace up in 2014, Novak owners should cash in big.
9. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys (11)
Dan Bailey is one of the league’s most accurate kickers, and while the Cowboys don’t produce a ton of field-goal opportunities, he makes his money on long-range kicks, booting nine from 50 yards or more over the last two seasons.
10. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears (9)
Gould attempted just 29 field goals in 2013, tied for 18th in the NFL. Yet the Bears’ offense appears poised to put up more huge numbers in 2014, and even if his production is extra point-heavy, Gould should produce a solid output.
Need to print a Positional Rankings Cheat Sheet for draft day? Here you go.