Actionable Info is both the name of my Cars cover band, and a key to making optimal fantasy football decisions.
Yes, even decisions about which kickers to deploy in DFS and our seasonal leagues, since kicker is among fantasy's most predictable positions.
We have a good chunk of actionable information with which to work after the season's first three weeks. We're getting an ever-clearer picture of which defenses give up the most red zone opportunities, passing yards -- which is closely correlated with kicker points -- and field goal tries per week. I'll say this much: I'm much more confident in pinpointing solid kicker plays today than I was a month ago, or even last week.
Only the Rams and Patriots are allowing less than a field goal attempt per game, while five teams -- the Giants, Colts, Titans, Dolphins, and Chiefs -- are seeing three or more field goals attempted against them every week. You'll notice that most of those five squads are being picked apart via the pass. That's not a coincidence.
Opportunity -- not accuracy or efficiency -- is king for kickers (and really, most other positions). The process won't always deliver a kicker piling up a boatload of fantasy points -- see Andrew Franks as the Dolphins inexplicably struggled in Week 3 against Cleveland -- but we must have a process, trust the process, and fill our lineups with kickers who will, at the very least, get a chance to bang through two or three (or more) field goals.
Justin Tucker (BAL) vs. Oakland Raiders ($5,100): Tucker, our favorite pricey play in Week 3 (he managed 17 fantasy points), once again has all signs pointing to another week ripe with opportunity. The Ravens are at home, they're favored, and they're taking on a heinous Oakland secondary that has been gouged to the tune of 1,034 passing yards in the season's first three weeks. Passing yards correlate well with kicker fantasy production, so here we are once again, targeting Tucker. Teams are averaging a healthy 2.3 field goal tries per game against the Raiders. I'm fine paying up for Tucker in Week 4.
Josh Lambo (SD) vs. New Orleans Saints ($4,500): Opportunity should certainly be there in Week 4 for Josh “Rambo” Lambo, the brutal mercenary mentioned last week in this space who put up 11 fantasy points against the Colts. Not only do the Chargers have one of the week's highest implied Vegas totals, but the Saints are allowing a nice, fat 2.3 field goals were game in 2016. Only seven teams allow more field goal tries per game. In picking kickers, we always key in on offenses that could make proverbial hay via the pass, and perhaps no team has better aerial prospects than San Diego against the ghost of the Saints' secondary. I'm having a tough time coming up with a reason -- any reason -- to fade Lambo in any DFS contest this week.
Nick Novak (HOU) vs. Tennessee Titans ($4,500): Novak might be the ultimate contrarian kicker play in Week 4. The memory of Houston's humiliating donut against the Patriots is still fresh, and the Texans' offense has resembled a flaming paper bag of dog excrement so far in 2016. But fear not! Only the Giants and Dolphins allow more field goal attempts per game than the Titans, and the Texans have an implied total of 23.5 points. It's not great, but it's not hateful either. I'd much prefer Lambo, but I can (almost) guarantee that Novak -- who collected a cool 25 fantasy points in the season's first two weeks -- will have a microscopic Week 4 ownership percentage on FanDuel.
Dustin Hopkins (WAS) vs. Cleveland Browns ($4,500): You may have noticed that I didn't include any mid-priced kicker plays in this week's column. That's because there are no mid-priced guys -- if I'm being perfectly honest with you, dear reader -- that I would want to deploy over Novak, Lambo, and Hopkins, who notched 19 fantasy points last week against the Giants. Washington comes into Week 4 with the second highest implied Vegas total (26.25 points) and squaring off against a Cleveland team that has allowed 2.3 field goal attempts this season. It might not be surprising that Hopkins has put up double-digit fantasy points in each of the season's first three weeks, as Washington's offense has moved the ball almost at will via the air. They're just not scoring touchdowns. Enter Hopkins, who has attempted a whopping 11 field goals in 2016. The Browns are one of seven teams giving up more than 400 total yards through the season's first three weeks. Hopkins once again has a solid floor.
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