Mamas, don't raise your babies to be kickers.
I used to reserve that phrase for running backs, as the position has transformed into human beings being treated as so much well-sculpted meat poured into a football uniform and tormented until it can no longer function, at which point another sack of meat with a football helmet is inserted to take a ferocious beating until it becomes physically unfeasible.
Running backs have it bad. The worst, actually. But kickers face a very different (likely) fate: they are replaceable, so a prolonged cold streak will put them fresh out of a job, as we saw this week with Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.
It was four short years ago that Walsh was crowned as fantasy football's top kicker on the strength of an unbelievable 10 field goal of 50 yards or more. He was so good in 2012 that fantasy footballers had bowel movements in 2013 reaching for the Vikings kicker in the late middle rounds of their drafts. Life comes at your fast, as the old folks who want to be young say on the Twitter machine.
A kicker, barring some unforeseen catastrophe on an attempted tackle, gets to leave the NFL with his brain intact -- a luxury that few players have after toiling away in the modern day gladiator arena. But a kicker's job is seemingly always on the line, subject to the briefest of lulls. That's not to say that Minnesota should have kept Walsh as its kicker -- his psyche was clearly ruined forever when he flubbed a gimme field goal last year against Seattle in the playoffs. A kicker, like a golfer, lives between his ears. Absence confidence and the shortest of memories, he can't succeed after a nationally televised debacle. It's the plight of the kicker: screw up and you're gone.
Mamas, raise your babies to be long snappers.
Adam Vinatieri (IND) vs. Tennessee Titans ($5,000): The Colts' old man kicker is one of a few high-priced options with solid Week 11 matchups. I'm highlighting Vinatieri because he's $100 cheaper than this week's top-priced kicker, Dan Bailey, and because the Titans have allowing 2.2 field goal tries per contest. Only nine teams are allowing more fantasy production to kickers this season than the Titans, who saw Vinatieri notch 10 fantasy points against them in Week 7. Vinatieri is 12th in field goal attempts this season despite a pretty dramatic opportunity falloff after his nuclear hot early season performance. I'm not trying to ram Vinatieri into my lineups, but I'll use him where he fits.
Dustin Hopkins (WAS) vs. Green Bay Packers ($4,800): The Packers, suddenly being gouged through the air on a weekly basis, have become one of our central targets. Kickers have managed at least a dozen fantasy points in five of the past seven games against Green Bay's swiss cheese defense. That includes a cool 13 fantasy points last week from Ryan Succop, one of fantasy's least productive kickers in 2016. Hopkins has a lot going for him outside of the dandy Week 11 matchup: the Washington kicker is third in field goal attempts and second in conversions. Sources tell me that's not horrible. I'm working hard to confirm. Vegas has pegged this contest with the third highest total of the week, giving us the green light to chase the points Hopkins could rack up a nice total against a Green Bay team that has seen 14 field goals attempted against it over the past six weeks.
Matt Prater (DET) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars ($4,600): No 2016 kicker taek column would be complete without pushing the kicker facing off against Jacksonville, who once again gave up plenty of field goal opportunities in Week 10. Last week was the first week since Week 2 that a kicker failed to notch double digit fantasy points against the Jags. Prater, who has the 12th most field goal tries per game, is likely to have fairly high ownership this week in all DFS contests, so he might not be ideal for tournaments (though his low price make him borderline unavoidable). Kickers are averaging 2.9 field goal tries per contest against Jacksonville. Prater, in a game sporting a decent Vegas total, has all arrows pointed toward a mouth-watering fantasy floor.
Ryan Succop (TEN) at Indianapolis Colts ($4,500): No team gives up more field goal tries per game than the Colts, as you might know if you read this taeky space every week, so any minimum priced kicker playing Indy should be on our degenerate radar. Only three kickers have failed to crack the 10-point mark against the Colts this season, and that has more to do with accuracy (here's looking at you, Mason Crosby) rather than opportunity. Succop has been a beneficiary of Tennessee's offensive bonanza, averaging 10 fantasy points over the past four weeks. There's little reason to believe that the Colts, one of three teams allowing more than 400 total yards per game to opponents, will stop Marcus Mariota and his merry band. Succop represents a cheap DFS investment in a contest with a sky-high 52.5 Vegas total.
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