Kickers are figuratively booted to the curb during draft season.
Players come off of the draft board in the final two rounds, with some owners saving that final slot for one final running back or wide receiver pickup. During the year, many owners employ the "churn-and-burn" and play the matchup game on a week-to-week basis. Few owners end the year with the kicker that made the opening day lineup (Mason Crosby, Nate Kaeding and Stephen Gostkowski with select others).
So, in that spirit, let’s get rolling on the "Lineup Calls" for this week’s matchups.
Top 5 Kickers
(other than Mason Crosby or Nate Kaeding)
David Akers at San Francisco
Akers was trotted out for PAT conversions with Michael Vick under center. I’m anticipating that he’s active this weekend with Kevin Kolb under center, but I expect to see more of those drives stalled in the red zone. The 49ers played inspired ball last week and nearly upset the Falcons on the road. This is a battle against a desperate San Francisco team, and I suspect that Akers rates as the Philly hero of the day.
The Bengals’ offense is moving the ball, but red zone efficiency has yet to be achieved. Nugent has already converted 10 field goals this season, including a huge 54-yard boot. He’s a tremendous play this week against the Buccaneers, as the Bengals are starting to put together more drives. Tampa Bay ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of total defense, allowing a shade under 20 points per game. Nugent will convert multiple field goal tries once again.
Neil Rackers vs. New York Giants
What else needs to be said? Rackers rates as a borderline weekly play given the proficiency and dominance of the Houston offense. Whether the running game is dominating (like last week or Week 1), or Schaub is airing it out, this team can move the ball. The Giants’ defense (save last week’s exhibition of madness) has been susceptible to big plays. New York ranks 22nd in total defense, having surrendered 22 points per game.
Longwell has converted only three field goals and four PATs through the Vikings’ first three games. I suspect that things get rolling this week following the bye week. No, I’m not anticipating a monster game against this Jets defense. However, the addition of Randy Moss does open up the offense and should put Longwell in position for multiple field goal tries.
Matt Prater at Baltimore
What? Yeah, that’s right. I’m not anticipating a huge scoring barrage out of the Broncos, but the pass-happy Denver unit should be able to find some spots in the secondary. He’ll earn every point he scores this week, as we may be watching Prater boot long-distance tries.
John Carney at Arizona
Carney is slated to get the start again this weekend against the Cardinals. The Cardinals are in disarray right now, and the defense appears headed for another long day against Drew Brees. Carney takes full advantage of a multitude of opportunities.
Folk missed a 30-yard field goal early in the Week 4 win over Buffalo, leaving fantasy owners positively bewildered. He rallied to convert a field goal later in the game and powered through five PATs. Fantasy owners have been reticent to get onboard Folk, but this is a great spot for a plug-in play.
Gould may go on to be the week’s top performer. Of course, that would mean that Todd Collins was able to produce under center or that the offense was aided by the efforts of the defense (tell me Julius Peppers isn’t ready for the return to Carolina). I’m normally a believer, but the loss of Cutler makes Gould a huge question mark this week.
Matt Bryant at Cleveland
Bryant converted the game-winner in last week’s squeaker against the 49ers. He’s emerged as a weekly fantasy option, having converted 10 field goals and nine PATs through the first four weeks to lead the NFL in points. Is the pace sustainable? I suspect that we see a moderate slowdown this weekend on the road.