Fantasy football: Scouting the kickers

Posted: August 30, 2013

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David Akers, Lions: Kicked a 63-yard bomb in Week 1 and still managed to post the worst field-goal percentage of his career (.690, 29-for-42). The dropoff was due to an injury Akers suffered during a kickoff in which, Akers said, "I did a full-on Charlie Brown." Healthy again, the Lions should be a good fit for a resurgence.

Dan Bailey, Cowboys: Improved his field-goal accuracy from 86.5 to 93.5 percent. Safe pick.

Matt Bryant, Falcons: Bryant turned 38 in May, so it's amazing he hasn't missed a 50-yard attempt in 3 years (7-for-7). Kicks in a dome for a high-scoring team. What more could you want?

Randy Bullock, Texans: Houston's kickers have set the young franchise's scoring record for points in a season each of the last 3 years. Bullock missed all of 2012 with a groin injury, but is the man this year.

Mason Crosby, Packers: As prolific as the Packers are, Crosby's struggles last year do make him a risk. The Packers are so unsure of Crosby, they had two other guys (Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez) competing for the job in camp this week. Green Bay has a bye in Week 4, so be prepared to dip into the waiver-wire pool early, no matter whom they settle on.

Phil Dawson, 49ers: His biggest challenge will be learning the winds and other tricky conditions at Candlestick Park. But after 14 years in purgatory (a k a Cleveland), he should be able to handle it.

Kai Forbath, Redskins: After going 17-for-18 in FGAs last year, Forbath would be a more reasonable pick if the Redskins quarterbacks were more trustworthy.

Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: Is just 3-for-6 on field goals in the preseason, but coach Bill Belichick blames it on the Patriots' trying different players to snap and hold.

Garrett Hartley, Saints: Another indoor kicker with a great offense. Key for Hartley is staying healthy. He played all 16 games last year for the first time in his career.

Alex Henery, Eagles: The kid has a good leg, but his draftability comes down to how much faith you have in Chip Kelly's offense. Also has a bye in Week 12, which helps.

Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders: Gave him a 4-year, $15 million extension that could mean he retires as a Raider. Oakland hasn't done much right these last 10 years, but you can't argue with its kicking game.

Matt Prater, Broncos: In 2011 with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton at quarterback, Prater had 87 points. Last year, with Peyton Manning on board, Prater had 133. Enough said, eh?

Lawrence Tynes, Buccaneers: Scratch him off the cheat sheet. He has a staph infection in his kicking foot, which led the Bucs to sign Rian Lindell last week.

Blair Walsh, Vikings: Went a ridiculous 10-for-10 from 50 yards and beyond. Walsh made more 50-yarders than anyone else attempted.

Greg Zuerlein, Rams: Made seven 50-yarders, but still finished 25th in the league in scoring among kickers. Let someone else get all pumped up, even if "Legatron" is one of the coolest nicknames in football.


On the way up: Phil Dawson, 49ers

On the way down: Mason Crosby, Packers

Riskiest pick: Kai Forbath, Redskins

Late-round look: All of 'em

Please avoid: An early run on kickers. Wait till the last round-and-a-half.

Top rookie: Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins

Sleeper: Steven Hauschka, Seahawks. Has shown a bigger leg in camp after going only 1-for-4 beyond 50 yards last season. With Russell Wilson running the offense, Hauschka should be a fine weekly option. Love that his bye isn’t until Week 12.

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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