All this week the Washington Post has been rolling out its fantasy football rankings by position, finishing up Friday with the top 30 kickers. Gene Wang offers his best bets at the position for 2014.
Top 20 Ks
1. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos: No need to overthink this one. Any place kicker on a team with Peyton Manning running the offense is all but guaranteed to be the first at his position off the board.
2. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers: The top two place kickers happen to play on the same teams as the top two quarterbacks, and it’s hardly a coincidence. With Aaron Rodgers back, don’t be surprised if Crosby challenges for the most points in the NFL.
3. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots: If TE Rob Gronkowski plays a full season and is truly healthy again, then Gostkowski (league-high 158 points in 2013) could give Prater and Crosby a run in that category again.
4. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens: It seems the Ravens always have a high-end place kicker, and Tucker is no exception. His numbers would have been better if Joe Flacco didn’t throw 22 interceptions.
5. Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers: Even at the advanced football age of 39, Dawson is in line for another quality season, especially with WR Michael Crabtree healthy and the offense generating more big plays.
6. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks were eighth in scoring last season, and Hauschka benefited by finishing with 143 points. Only three place kickers had more.
7. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers: In his third season with the Chargers, Novak produced a career year with 144 points, the third most in the league. He went 2-for-2 on field goals of 50-plus yards and 9-for-9 from 40-49 yards.
8. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts: The future Hall of Famer scored 139 points last season for the second highest total of his career. His leg appears as strong as ever as evidenced by his 4-for-6 showing on attempts of 50-plus yards.
9. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys: A combination of leg strength and accuracy allowed Bailey to make all 10 of his attempts from 40-49 yards and 6 of 7 from 50-plus yards.
10. Nick Folk, New York Jets: It’s not as if anyone expects the Jets to reach the end zone regularly, so Folk may have plenty of opportunities to finish off drives with field goals.
11. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears: Kicking for one of the most potent offenses in the league was a mixed blessing for Gould, who made 45 of 46 extra points but went 26-for-29 on field goals.
12. Shayne Graham, New Orleans Saints: After signing late last season with New Orleans, Graham attempted only two field goals. He’s on track to keep the job though, and any place kicker on the Saints is worth owning.
13. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons: One of the league’s most dependable place kickers scored his fewest points (111) in four years, but expect a bounce-back season with WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White presumably healthy.
14. Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will play home games outdoors this season, which downgrades Walsh’s value. Still he remains one of the better options considering he made 10 of 10 from 50-plus yards as a rookie in 2012.
15. Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills: Last season’s 10th leading scorer signed a four-year contract worth $10 million after making 33 of 36 field goals, including 14 from at least 40 yards.
16. Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs: Steelers fans still haven’t forgotten or forgiven Succop for missing a field goal that would have beaten the Chargers and sent Pittsburgh into the playoffs last season.
17. Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers: Possessing one of the strongest legs in the league, Gano went 6-for-6 on attempts from 50-plus yards, but his 88.9 percent accuracy rate ranked 17th.
18. Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams: After a rookie season in which he made 7 of 13 from 50-plus yards, Zuerlein attempted only two from that distance last year. He did improve his overall accuracy though by nearly 20 percentage points.
19. Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles: Coach Chip Kelly’s offense can score at a prolific pace, but Henery didn’t really take advantage, missing 23 of 28 field goals for an accuracy rate (82.1) that ranked 23rd.
20. Nate Freese, Detroit Lions: Detroit spent a seventh-round draft pick on Freese in the 2014 draft. He is competing against Giorgio Tavecchio for the starting job on a team with one of the league’s highest scoring offenses.