2013 Preseason Kicker Cheatsheet

In my last post, I wrote about using the science of statistics, namely regression analysis, to find a correlation between the success of NFL kickers and some other easily tracked stat.  As an example, if a fantasy football team owner knew that the best kickers come from teams that are adept at running the ball, a kicker could simply be chosen from a team that racks up rushing yards.  That was not what I learned, however.  Surprisingly, even a kicker’s accuracy or range did not significantly reflect on his success.  The keys, I learned, was in the propensity of the kicker’s team to score points, and to a slightly lesser degree, his team’s ability to win.

Using this new-found knowledge as my premise, I decided to create a kicker cheatsheet.  But not only are offenses taken into account.  I also looked at defenses and the schedule each kicker will face.  Naturally, just as the best kickers come from offenses that have the ability to score points and win games, that success is offset by good defenses.  Further, the data is weighted.  There is an approximate 56-44 ratio between the r squared values for scoring points and winning games, and this cheatsheet takes that into account.

The bottom line is that a great deal of thought and gnashing of teeth went into this cheatsheet.  It is based entirely on hard numbers and inspired calculation.  Unlike other cheatsheets, individual hunches do not play a part.  Of course, there will always be outliers – kickers that end up having a great fantasy season against all logic – but a person can go crazy trying to identify those players.  When a system is sound, it’s best to leave gut feelings out of the equation.  (Ever seen the movie Moneyball?)  The chances of landing a top-5 kicker are much greater if you leave your supposed intuition at home.

In my cheatsheet, I list the starting kicker for each team.  Bear in mind, however, that the rankings do not take into account individual kicker situations.  For example, you can be sure that the kicker for the 2013 Packers will be very productive, but Crosby individually is struggling.  If he continues to have difficulty (and he has so far this preseason), at some point the Packers may have no choice but to replace him.  Selecting Crosby as your kicker is a high risk, high reward deal.  Personally, I would be willing to take a chance on him if I were able to get him later in the draft.  If he does eventually get the axe, you can always find a decent replacement.  (A handful of low profile kickers seem to surprise each season.)  Regardless, use caution with some of the kickers.  Besides Crosby, I’ve noted in parenthesis others that I’ve heard are experiencing problems as well.

Lastly, this cheatsheet assumes all field goals to be worth 3 points, and all PAT’s as 1 point.

Without further ado, I present to you Football Weblog’s 2013 preseason kicker cheatsheet:

  1. Matt Prater Den
  2. Mason Crosby GB (Worst FG accuracy in league last season – on short leash)
  3. Stephen Gostkowski NE
  4. Steven Hauschka Sea
  5. Matt Bryant Atl (Suffered back tightness in preseason)
  6. Kai Forbath Was
  7. Randy Bullock Hou
  8. Dan Bailey Dal
  9. Garrett Hartley NO
  10. Adam Vinatieri Ind
  11. Justin Tucker Bal
  12. Mike Nugent Cin
  13. Phil Dawson SF
  14. Josh Brown NYG
  15. Graham Gano Car
  16. Blair Walsh Min
  17. Rian Lindell TB (Replaces injured Lawrence Tynes.  Not sure what happens when Tynes recovers.)
  18. Robbie Gould Chi
  19. Shaun Suisham Pit
  20. Rob Bironas Ten (Dubious training camp)
  21. David Akers Det
  22. Nick Novak SD
  23. Caleb Sturgis Mia
  24. Billy Cundiff Cle (Volatile situation.  Cundiff signed on Sept. 3.)
  25. Greg Zuerlein Stl
  26. Dustin Hopkins Buf
  27. Nick Folk NYJ
  28. Alex Henery Phi
  29. Sebastian Janikowski Oak
  30. Jay Feely Arz (Shaky preseason)
  31. Josh Scobee Jac
  32. Ryan Succop KC


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