Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2013 Draft Prep: DST and kicker tiers and strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

No one gets excited about taking a kicker, no one fist-pumps after landing a 'steal' at DST. Just doesn't happen.

They are late-round picks for a reason: Most everyone is in a league with 14 teams or less and the NFL fields 32 teams with one kicker and one DST per. The supply grossly outweighs the demand. If you have one that you don't want to deal with, you send them packing and pick up someone else.

I wish it was that easy at running back.

Play Playoff Challenge!
Player Challenge
NEW Playoff Challenge Championship Edition offers one more way to play postseason Fantasy Football and compete for cash prizes. Join now before time runs out!
Join a new league!

When it comes to DSTs and kickers, we're talking about late, late, late draft picks. Like your last two. I don't care if your league has special rules for DSTs or that kickers get 20 points per field goal. So long as everyone starts the same amount of kickers and DSTs, they're all relative, and there's plenty of them.

They're also fairly tough to predict. Many people will play the matchups for defenses and in many cases they'll be right for doing so but sometimes the underwhelming, uninspiring offense rises up to smack a stud D in the mouth. And kickers could be facing a chance at a multitude of field goal attempts in a matchup only to see his offense dominate in the red zone, leaving him with extra point tries.

I think stats can help paint a picture of what to do with kickers and DSTs, but it's not worth a heavy time investment.

Defensive driving

What I thought we'd do this year is see what the difference was between the first, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th-best DSTs over the last five years (use the size of your league to get an idea of the variance -- e.g., if you're in a 10-team league consider the 10th-best kicker). That should measure just how much stronger the top unit is compared to the fair units and mediocre ones. The 16th-best DST is worth knowing if only because it's the last of the top-half options for a given season.

Top DST 10th best 12th best 14th best 16th best
2012: Bears (253) Falcons (167) Rams (158) Giants (153) Ravens (149)
2011: Ravens (226) Steelers (177) Bills (167) Titans (162) Dolphins (155)
2010: Steelers (238) Chiefs (172) Buccaneers (170) Browns (167) Rams (161)
2009: Packers (239) Panthers (179) Bills (176) Steelers (172) Patriots (169)
2008: Steelers (289) Colts (171) Jets (168) Redskins (162) Cardinals (159)

First, take note of the overall production of the top-ranked DST, delivering on average 14 Fantasy points per game. That's not bad at all. Even if a DST totals 200 points at the end of the season that's 12.5 per game. The goal of every Fantasy owner should be to get a DST that hits that average. But that's not easy. Over the last five years no more than six teams per season have hit that mark. It's a delicate combination of high sack totals, high turnover totals and of course touchdowns scored that push a DST over 200 points.

The next "scoring tier" of DSTs figures to be those that score between 180 and 199 points. But there aren't many of those either -- again, no more than six teams in each of the past five years have scored in that range. And not one of the DSTs that finished 10th in our study produced 180 Fantasy points (11.3 per week).

Start comparing the 10th-best DSTs with the 12th through 16th-best ones and there's no real difference. Maybe 20 points between the 10th and 16th best. Negligible stuff. They're all the same.

Let's boil this down to a really simple premise: You want a DST that puts up points and you know how they put up points. Nothing helps a defense out like a great pass rush -- follow the defenses with impressive pass rushers along with aggressive defensive coordinators and you should be fine. Remember, pressure on the quarterback leads to turnovers and turnovers lead to touchdowns.

What about special-teams play? Maybe you could factor them in if yardage comes into play but with all of the re-tooling the league has done with kickoffs and punt returns there just aren't as many touchdowns. Last year there were a total of 18 punt returns for touchdowns and 13 kickoff returns for touchdowns. That's over 512 games, people. Don't waste your time studying the special-teams units.

If you whiff on getting a DST with a very good pass rush, opt to play the matchups from week to week. It's a little more time consuming because you have to add DSTs to your waiver-wire to-do list every week, but it's kind of fun. Just look for DSTs with favorable matchups and put in a claim for one of them. Then start them. Then after the week's over, cut them if you don't want to use them again. Repeat as necessary until you achieve desired results.

Here are some non-obvious DSTs to get you on your way to begin the year.

Early-season matchups Just Week 1
Browns (vs. MIA, at BAL, at MIN) Buccaneers (at NYJ)
Colts (vs. OAK, vs. MIA, at SF) Chiefs (at JAC)

Kicked up

The difference between the best kicker and the 10th-best kicker from year to year has been an average of 34.6 points. That's just over two points per game, and it's basically the same difference between the top kicker and the 16th-best kicker too!

Top kicker 10th best 12th best 14th best 16th best
2012: B. Walsh (161) C. Barth (135) D. Bailey (130) A. Vinatieri (123) S. Suisham (120)
2011: D. Akers (186) R. Bironas (133) M. Bryant (130) G. Gano (126) A. Henery (120)
2010: S. Janikowski (150) B. Cundiff (117) R. Gould (116) J. Feely (111) J. Scobee (111)
2009: N. Kaeding (152) J. Reed (122) K. Brown (110) R. Gould (109) S. Janikowski (107)
2008: S. Gostkowski (150) R. Bironas (129) R. Lindell (126) M. Prater (124) M. Stover (122)

Kickers are even more random than defenses. Their kicking chances depend on the efficiency of the offenses they play with. The offense can't be so good that they score all the time because it means fewer field goal tries. Only when the coach calls for a field goal does the kicker have the power in his hands, er, feet.

Opportunities are obviously important, relatively more important than a kicker's accuracy in fact. A kicker could make 90 percent of his field goals but what good does that do you when he only attempts 25 tries?

Over the last five years there have been only 29 instances where a kicker makes 30-plus field goals. Only once has a kicker nailed even 40 -- David Akers, 44 made in 2011. Akers also happens to be the only kicker to hit 30-plus field goals four times in the last five years. That's all well and good but he's on a new team this season. Sebastian Janikowski has the second-most 30-plus field goals made season with three.

We could dig in and see just how frequently coaches called on the field goal unit. One problem: Exactly half the head coaches in the league have been at this for four-plus seasons. Nine are entering their second or third seasons and seven coaches are making their NFL debuts in 2013. It's not fair to only research half the league and draw conclusions over which coaches kick the most often. It's also not fair to research which teams kick the most often because of all the mitigating factors that go into kicking.

Finding a foolproof way to draft elite kickers will have to wait. For now, just aim for the big legs on the best offenses. And do it with your last pick (or second-to-last pick if you pick late in the second-to-last round of your draft).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
49ers' Phil Dawson makes only FG try in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) 49ers kicker Phil Dawson was successful on his only field-goal attempt Thursday, making a 40-yard kick in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Dawson was the victim of a flailing performance by the 49ers offense, as the team was only able to put together one long drive in the loss. The kicker has been held to only one field-goal try in each of his last two games. He'll hope to see more chances against the Raiders in Week 14.


49ers' pass catchers share very small pie in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:25 am ET) There wasn't much offense to go around for the 49ers' wide receivers and tight ends in the team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13, with wide receiver Steve Johnson leading the receiving unit with three catches for just 28 yards.

Running back Carlos Hyde led the team with 38 receiving yards, but there was simply no offense to speak of for the 49ers on Thanksgiving. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught three of his five targets for just 18 yards, while teammate Michael Crabtree managed just 10 yards on three catches of his own. Tight end Vernon Davis kicked in two receptions for 13 yards.

The 49ers will hope for a big bounce-back performance in Week 14 against the Raiders.


49ers' Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde sputter in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) The 49ers couldn't find much success on the ground in Thursday's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks, with running back Frank Gore leading the way with 10 carries for just 28 yards and an eight-yard reception in Week 13.

Rookie Carlos Hyde was the more explosive of the two backs Thursday, rushing for 19 yards on five carries while catching all three of his targets for a team-high 38 receiving yards, but the Seahawks defense virtually shut down the entire 49ers offense on Thanksgiving. The pair will look to bounce back in a much better matchup against the Raiders in Week 14.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick shut down in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had no answer for the Seahawks defense Thursday, completing 16 of his 29 passes for only 121 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 17 rushing yards on three carries in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Kaepernick also took four sacks for 21 yards, giving him just 100 net yards of passing offense in the rough outing. He managed to piece together just one significant drive, taking the offense from his own 19-yard line to the Seahawks' 19-yard line before taking a sack on third down and settling for a field goal in the third quarter with the 49ers down 16-0. Kaepernick will look to get back on track in Week 14 against the Raiders.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree quiet in Week 13 after rib, knee issues
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:11 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught all three of his targets for jut 10 yards in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Crabtree was hit by an injury almost immediately on the team's first drive but was able to resume play. The team had announced that he was dealing with a rib injury, but coach Jim Harbaugh added after the game that the receiver was also suffering from a knee injury. He's in line for a few extra days of rest going into his Week 14 matchup against the Raiders.


Seahawks CB Richard Sherman notches two INTs vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:08 am ET) Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman picked off two passes to help spearhead a dominant performance by the Seahawks defense in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

The Seahawks were relentless against the 49ers offense on Thanksgiving, holding the opposition to only 164 total yards on offense and just 3.2 yards per play. Sherman's first interception came on a misfired 20-yard pass from San Francisco's 30-yard line that made it appear the Seattle cornerback was the intended target. His second pick came on one of San Francisco's few trips into Seattle territory as Colin Kaepernick appeared to lose the cornerback in coverage and threw another pass directly to the defender.

The Seahawks defense managed a total of four sacks and three turnovers in the win. They'll look to keep rolling in Week 14 against the Eagles.


Seahawks K Steven Hauschka nails four FGs in win vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:02 am ET) Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka made all four of his field-goal attempts and one extra point in Thursday's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Hauschka was called upon to provide plenty of points with the Seahawks offense continually stalling deep in 49ers territory. He picked up field goals of 21 and 36 yards in the second quarter before adding two more kicks from 35 and 46 yards out in the second half. He's now racked up eight field goals in his last two games, and he takes a 90 percent success rate into a Week 14 matchup with the Eagles.


Seahawks' pass catchers limited by light workload in Week 13
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks tight end Tony Moeaki led his offense with 63 receiving yards on just one reception in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Moeaki caught a pass of about 12 yards near the sideline early in the second quarter and ran past his defender to bring the ball all the way down to the one-yard line before being caught. The Seahawks weren't able to punch the ball into the end zone on the drive, but a dominant performance by the defense meant the points left on the board wouldn't come back to haunt the offense.

The rest of the receiving corps didn't have much of a workload in the win Thursday, with quarterback Russell Wilson completing just 15 passes on 22 attempts. Tight end Luke Willson led the Seahawks with four receptions and six targets, gaining just 39 yards in the game. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse managed three receptions for 34 yards, while wide receiver Doug Baldwin could only haul in two passes for 28 yards. Rookie Paul Richardson was able to catch his only target for six yards.

The Seahawks have a trip to Philadelphia on the schedule in Week 14.


Seahawks' Robert Turbin scores lone TD in win vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks running back Robert Turbin caught both of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown while adding eight rushing yards on four carries in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Turbin grabbed a short pass to the left and was able to work his way towards the end zone and maintain his balance to score a 13-yard touchdown that put his team up 7-0 in the first quarter. The Seahawks would pile on two field goals before halftime in a game where the 49ers had virtually no answers for the Seattle defense. Turbin's touchdown was just his second of the season and his first since Week 2. He'll match up with the Eagles in Week 14.


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch racks up 104 rushing yards Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries while adding a seven-yard reception in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Lynch took a heavy portion of the workload on Thanksgiving as the Seahawks jumped out to an early lead and leaned on the defense. Despite struggling against the Cardinals in Week 12, Lynch has posted three 100-yard performances on the ground in his last four games. However, he hasn't reached the end zone in any of his last three games. He'll look to rectify the recent lack of scoring against the Eagles in Week 14.


 
 
 
Rankings