Winning at daily fantasy involves a strong overall knowledge base.
You need to know which quarterbacks are in good position to put up points via the touchdown pass. You have to lean on running backs who are set to rack up the touches, and wide receivers who are the focal points of their offense. Victory often hinges on finding the hottest tight end play, or the defense that has the matchup most conducive to scoring.
But when it comes to selecting the right kicker, most people don’t have the slightest idea how to maximize value - and that’s just as important as any other positional analysis. (Okay, so maybe hitting on quarterback or wide receiver are more important, but good kicker knowledge still matters.)
The variance between kickers in season-long fantasy isn’t that great, which makes waiting on a kicker the proper strategy. But that isn’t the case in daily fantasy, where the top kicker might wind up with 15 or even 20 more points than the bottom option.
Simply put, it’s time to funnel more time and effort into identifying which kickers have the best opportunity for a high score. Here are some things to consider when rostering your DFS kicker:
The most basic premise behind selecting a solid fantasy kicker is that bad weather equals bad performance. Who could possibly enjoy kicking a football 40 yards through a narrow set of uprights with torrential rain or swirling snow impeding his view?
While there isn’t definitive proof that kickers fare better in domes than they do outdoors, there is plenty of evidence that good weather is conducive to positive kicking performances. Opting for kickers in warm-weather climates or domes should yield solid results.
It may seem like oversimplifying things, but you should always look to target kickers in games where the Vegas total is among the highest of the week. More scoring equals more opportunities for kickers to rack up points, even if the majority of scores in the game come from touchdowns.
Pay attention to game spreads, as well. A team trailing by a sizeable margin in the second half is less likely to settle for field goals, making its kicker less valuable in daily fantasy. Conversely, a team that jumps out to a lead is more likely to opt for field goals late, increasing kicker value.
Good, but Not Great Offences
Ideally, you’re looking for your daily fantasy kicker to have multiple field goal opportunities in a given game - and that has the best chance of occurring on teams that struggle to convert red-zone appearances into touchdowns on a consistent basis.
Examine each team’s red-zone proficiency; the higher the success rate, the lower the chance that your kicker will be attempting field goals over extra points. While you want to pick a kicker on a high-scoring team, you actually hinder your fortunes on teams that score TDs in bunches.
It’s Where You Start AND Where You Finish
How your kicker’s team finishes drives isn’t the only performance-related metric to consider. Where it starts them is also important. Take a look at the average starting field position of teams you’re considering, and opt for those that begin their drives closer to the opposing end zone.
The premise here, like the ones above, is simple: the shorter the distance between your kicker’s offence and the end zone, the less yardage required to get into field-goal range. Teams that can consistently carve out great starting field position will end up with more valuable DFS kickers.