Fantasy Football Got Its Ass *Kicked* This Weekend
There is a memorable scene in season 3, episode 7 of the popular television series, “The League.” Rodney Ruxin demands that Taco Macarthur, notional Nostradamus of the series, set his fantasy football lineup and replace his bye week players without help or be dismissed from the league for non-participation. Taco responds, meandering his way through the simple process of click and drag, by talking himself through it:
“Okay. The top part is empty [player on a bye week]. So, I need to put a kicker there.”
Unlike any competent fantasy participant, the perpetually stoned and unemployed musician unknowingly reveals his strategy. It is, by this point, a running joke that Taco “can never have too many kickers” even though every league in the history of fantasy football (that I know of) only allows ONE starting kicker. In the scene, Pete Eckhardt helps Taco through it by jokingly miming which players to insert.
But what if Pete didn’t help Taco? What if Taco was allowed, in some alternate universe, to only start kickers. Well, in Week 10 of the 2020 fantasy football season, Taco would have wiped the floor with the competition.
Kicking on Sunday first caught my eye during the Los Angeles Chargers–Miami Dolphins game when play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel emphasized how the Dolphins kicker, Jason Sanders, was perfect on field goals (19-for-19) in 2020. The classic broadcasters’ jinx resulted in Sanders first errant boot of the season, but it was his only miss out of four attempts — six if you include extra points.
At the same time, a duel between kickers was taking place at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, between the Buffalo Bills Tyler Bass and Arizona Cardinals Zane Gonzalez. Gonzalez connected on all four of his field goals and two extra points, but Bass one-upped him by knocking home three field goals from 50+ yards (54, 55, 58). Earlier in the day, Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater was a perfect three-for-three, including a game-winning field goal from 59 yards out. That was not even the longest kick of the day, as the Seattle Seahawks Jason Myers smashed a 61-yarder at the end of the first half.
What in the shiva bowl was going on?
There were so many absurdly good kicking performances on Sunday that I needed something to put it in perspective. How valuable were kickers for fantasy purposes? There is a reason kicking is usually the last — or second-to-last — position filled on a roster. On Sunday, however, 28 placekickers combined to hit 93% (53-of-57) of their field goal attempts. Twelve different kickers registered 10 or more fantasy points.
To test my theory about how ridiculous this weekend was — perhaps the greatest weekend of all-time for the position — I stacked my fantasy team up against, yes, the top nine kickers.
Here’s what I found:
I would have gotten SMOKED. Not even DeAndre Hopkins de facto Jordan commercial on a last-second ‘Hail Murray’ could have saved my week against that line of iron legs, all taking turns to imprint the letter L into my team’s backside. Ironically, my kicker, Randy Bullock, was one of just nine around the league to attempt only one field goal (he made it). Regardless, it seemed like a rejuvenation of football’s most underappreciated position.
But hold up, Evan.
You stacked your pitiful (half-point PPR) team against the cream of the kicking crop. That seems a little unfair to guys who had tough weeks — I am looking at you, Jared Cook — and others like Chris Carson, who sat due to injury. So, what would happen if we stacked the week 10 all-kicking lineup against the best of the best? Well, if we take the scoring leaders at each position, entering week 10, by average points per game — byes and injured players aside — here is what we get:
The kickers are neck and neck!
The sum of the best in the NFL, by most standards, was as valuable to fantasy owners as the sum of the guys to whom no one gives a second thought. For all of you daily fantasy degenerates, a lineup featuring the listed players would have cost an average of nearly $8,300 — on DraftKings. You would have received the same amount of points, and perhaps winnings, by spending an average of just $4,000 on a team of kickers.
Obviously, this is a fictional scenario. But realistically, we have to show some love to the guys who do not generally receive any. I can admit my first instinct is to cringe any time a kicker prepares his pendulum swing because I do not feel confident that he is going to split the uprights. Best case scenario, the kicker drills it, no problem. Worst case, he walks off of the field with the same face as Tigers Woods on Sunday at the Masters after carding a 10 on the Par-3 12th hole. Most of the time, it seems like the latter. The misses stick with us longer than the makes, yet this weekend might redirect that impulse.
We know that Taco loves kickers because he does not understand the way fantasy football operates. Some leagues have that one person. The person who never submits a waiver claim after draft night. The person who accepts a ridiculous trade midway through the season because their friend asked them to hand over all of their good players. The person who thinks that Giovanni Bernard is actually Italian and DK Metcalf’s name stands for Donkey Kong — Metcalf is probably a better athlete if we are being honest. But every once in a blue moon, that person pulls off the upset of the season. Their team, compiled like The Island of Misfit Toys, sinks yours with moves so irrational that all you can do is tip your cap.
This is my proverbial tip of the cap. To fantasy football players everywhere who only want kickers on their roster. To the Tacos of each league who could care less if they started Devontae Booker or Devante Adams. To the ones who, through no actual aspiration for success, win ugly. You may be few, but this weekend, you got the last laugh.
After all, you can never have too many kickers.