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
2015 Draft Prep Guide
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
Report: Marshawn Lynch agrees on deal to return to Seahawks
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has reached agreement on a new contract and is returning to the team, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing an unnamed source. 

Lynch was scheduled to make $5 million in 2015, with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. The team was trying to extend his contract, while Lynch was considering retiring from the NFL. 

According to a source, Lynch has decided to play and is on a plane back to Seattle to sign the new deal. 

CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that the Seahawks and Lynch had agreed on a new deal nearly two weeks ago. 


49ers tender Michael Wilhoite, Tony Jerod-Eddie
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) The 49ers have tendered exclusive-rights free agents Michael Wilhoite and Tony Jerod-Eddie, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Friday.

Tarvaris Jackson: I think I could help Bridgewater as his backup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:47 pm ET) With Matt Cassel now in Buffalo and Christian Ponder set to become a free agent Tuesday, former Seahawks backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said he would love to be Teddy Bridgewater's backup in Minnesota.

"I think I could really help [Bridgewater]," Jackson told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think I could help put things in perspective for him with football and outside of football … I feel I can help him just making the game a little easier and kind of learning from my mistakes and stuff."

Jackson started his career with the Vikings in 2006. He has passed for 7,226 yards and 39 touchdowns in his nine-year career.


Tyvon Branch to meet with Chiefs after Redskins meeting
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:40 pm ET) Free agent safety Tyvon Branch is scheduled to visit the Chiefs in the near future, per CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Branch has visited the Colts and is scheduled to meet with the Redskins before he meets with Kansas City's representatives.

The 28-year-old Branch has played seven seasons in the NFL, totaling 476 tackles, 20 passes defensed and four interceptions in his career.


Jaguars sign DE Ryan Davis
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) The Jaguars have re-signed exclusive rights free agent defensive end Ryan Davis to a new deal on Friday, per the Florida Times Union.

Davis, 26, signed with the Jaguars in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. He posted 6 1/2 sacks in 16 games last season for Jacksonville.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Lions tender DL George Johnson, WR Jeremy Ross
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) The Lions gave restricted free agent defensive lineman George Johnson an original round tender, worth $1.54 million, for the 2015 season. The team also announced the exclusive rights tender for wide receiver Jeremy Ross on Friday, per the team's official website.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Brooks Reed not expected to return to Houston
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:35 pm ET) Brooks Reed is expected to explore the free agent market and remains unlikely to return to the Texans, reports the Houston Chronicle on Friday.

Reed spent his first four seasons with the Texans, registering 169 tackles, 14 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Lats season he posted 41 tackles and three sacks.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Chiefs give LB Josh Mauga a three-year, $8M deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Josh Mauga, who was eligible for unrestricted free agency, has agreed to re-sign a three-year deal with the Chiefs worth approximately $8 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The 27-year-old Mauga registered a career-best 103 tackles last season for Kansas City, after spending his first three years in the league with the Jets.


Report: Dolphins won't be able to keep Odrick if they sign Suh
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) The Dolphins might not be able to bring back defensive tackle Jared Odrick if they sign Ndamukong Suh, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

The Dolphins have expressed interest in keeping Odrick, but if he tests the free agent market, he'll likely command a deal in the range of $7 million, which may be difficult for Miami to match if they land coveted defensive tackle Suh.

Odrick started all 16 games in 2014 and totaled 29 tackles up front.


Chiefs cut ties with DT Vance Walker
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:02 pm ET) The Chiefs have released defensive tackle Vance Walker on Friday, per the team's official website. Walker signed a three-year, $13 million deal with the team last year. He registered 19 tackles (14 solo) and two sacks in 2014. 

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


 
 
 
Rankings