NFL fantasy: Week 1 Start ‘em… sit ‘em… kickers

Some players seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check if your kicker should start or sit.

Kickers are hard to figure out. That’s why they are always standing alone on the sideline. It is also why NFL fantasy team owners go by historical data more than anything else when picking kickers in the draft. We looked beyond the records of these kickers to predict who could make or break your first week’s fantasy game.

START THIS GUY: Matt Prater, Detroit (vs. Arizona)

Arizona will keep stopping the Detroit offense and the field goal team will keep trotting out. In the end, it won’t be the Matt getting paid the big bucks who pulls out the game for the Lions. It will be the other Matt, kicker Matt Prater, who wins the game and most importantly, boots a 40- and 50-yarder among four total field goals and two extra points in Detroit this week.

SIT THIS GUY: Dan Bailey, Dallas (vs New York Giants)

New York comes out this week with a slate of new and old weapons against a damaged Dallas defense. The Cowboys bypass two field goals and go for two points after a third-quarter touchdown in an effort to claw back into the game. In the end, Bailey is held to one extra point and a short field goal in a tough game for Dallas.

START THIS GUY: Brandon McManus, Denver (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

McManus has a big leg, especially in the thin air of Denver. The Chargers have a lot of firepower, but the Broncos’ defense keeps things close enough for Vance Joseph to call for three field goals before things are done. Two extra points, a 50-yarder and two more from within 40 put McManus among week one’s kicking leaders.

SIT THIS GUY: Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis (at Los Angeles Rams)

The Colts’ offense might not score at all without Andrew Luck behind the backup center. Vinatieri might lose opportunities to fourth-down conversion attempts as the game wears down. We’ll be nice and say a late field goal prevents the shut out- from 41 yards.

START THIS GUY: Blair Walsh, Seattle (vs Green Bay)

Blair Walsh is still not happy about being released by Minnesota last season. He wants to do everything he can to show them it was a mistake… like kicking four field goals and hitting two extra points against Green Bay this week. Nothing too long, just another perfect week.

SIT THIS GUY: Graham Gano, Carolina (at San Francisco)

There are enough waiver-wire kickers available right now to make trading Graham Gano impossible. It looks like rookie kicker, Harrison Butker, will wind up on the practice squad before opening day. Meanwhile, the Carolina offense is adapting to the new, conservative Cam Newton at quarterback. It could lead to more field goals, but here’s a hunch. It’s hard to kick when you are looking over your shoulder. The new offense gets three touchdowns, but only one field goal attempt, which Gano misses.

Too-easy-to-write-about top three

Matt Bryant, Stephen Gostkowski, and Justin Tucker.

Week 1 flash in the pan prediction

Jacksonville’s Jason Myers kicks four field goals, including a 51-yarder and the game-winning 54-yarder in the Jaguar’s week one upset over the Houston Texans.

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.