Kickers and Defenses, For Lack of Anything More Clever

As briefly hinted at in the first piece of your fantasy football guide to guaranteed winning, one of my biggest pet peeves in fantasy is that everyone just says, don’t draft a defense and kicker until the last two rounds. Why do they say this? Because everyone else says it, and much like most Mitt Romney supporters, they’re incapable of formulating independent thoughts. What, too far? Anyway, what’s ridiculous is that guys will draft third quarterbacks, retired wide receivers, an 8th running back, and any number of guys who will never ever be active, or at the very most, perhaps once as a bye week fill in, before they pick a defense or a kicker. Unless I’m missing something, the kicker and defense you pick in your draft are designed to be active in every week but one. Of course, things happen, like bad play and injuries. Defenses and kickers get dropped just like any other position. But isn’t a spot that is going to be filled week in and week out worthy of more than just a end-of-draft throw away pick? Trendy “fliers” in years past like Early Doucet, Chaz Shilens, Devin Aroshmadu and dozens more are consistently outscored by a decent kicker. Same things with blasts from the past, as this year, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, and a load of others will get picked before most kickers and defenses, and will not accumulate anywhere near as many points. Isn’t it worth it to not wait until the end, rather, use an 11th or 12th rounder on a kicker and defense to ensure you get a decent one?

How to pick a kicker: Simple. Find a high scoring offense or a guy a with a long history of being accurate. Guys like Gostkowski, Hartley, Crosby, and Hansen figure to be premium producers. David Akers, Ryan Longwell, and Robbie Gould figure to be guys who are consistent, because throughout their careers, they’ve been accurate. Makes count. Misses hurt. Get guys who either make their kicks, or get lots of opportunities.

How not to pick a kicker: Just grabbing the hometown guy, especially, if the team sucks. Believe it or not, a lot of guys will take the kicker from their favorite team as a sort of homage. It’s weird, I know. It’s also carelessly idiotic. I’m a Rams fan. Sure, it would be easy to grab Greg Zeurlein, especially because indications are in camp he has enough leg to hit from 70. Then you look at the big picture, and the Rams might very well be the only team in NFL history to not score a point over an entire season. And that’s only a slight exaggeration. But the point is, even if Zeurlein is among the best kickers in the league, he will have among the fewest opportunities.

How to pick a defense: The 49rs figure to be one of the first defenses off the board this year, based on their excellent performance last season. That said, they don’t figure to cause nearly as many turnovers this season. They’re a known quantity. Look at takeaway numbers from last year, and ask yourself which of the defenses near the top of the list surprises you the most. For me, I will be looking at defenses like Texas and Arizona this year. Not all that heralded, but if you look closer, you have young, athletic units that play aggressively and get sacks and turnovers. As an added bonus, the Cards have Patrick Peterson returning kicks, and he’s potentially good for a half dozen return touchdowns next year.

How not to pick a defense: By ADP. Know how often the top ranked defense in the preseason has ended up being the top scoring defense in fantasy at the end of that season? Not recently. That’s simply just not how it works, and there’s way more to fantasy scoring for a defense than not giving up that many points.

Got it? Good. Now email us in 6 months and tell us how you dominated your league based on all this priceless advice.

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