Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 4 kickers

The best kicker in the league is only worth a roster spot if his coach puts him on the field. Who should you put on the field in Week 4?

Stephen Hauschka and Matt Prater each kicked two field goals of over 50 yards last week to lead all kickers with 18 points. 11 kickers in total provided a double-digit boost to their teams, while three of the best kickers from previous weeks huddled at the bottom of the NFL fantasy kickers leaderboard, thanks to offenses that couldn’t get close enough, often enough, to use a kicker.

How about Week 4? Which kickers will have opportunities and which ones will be playing solitaire on the sidelines? Here’s this week’s start ‘em or sit ‘em.

Start this guy: Stephen Hauschka, Buffalo (at Atlanta)

Stephen Hauschka is coming off a week with two long-distance (greater than 50 yards) field goals for Buffalo. Sunday, he travels to Atlanta’s brand-new stadium where the roof might be closed with rain in the forecast. Buffalo will need all the points they can get and coach Sean McDermott will not hesitate to put his strong-legged kicker on the field to pick up a few from any distance.

Sit this guy: Chandler Catanzaro, NY Jets (vs Jacksonville)

Jacksonville comes back from London confident and ready to impose their defensive will on the New York Jets. The Jaguars have played ten quarters of top-notch defense this year. There is no reason to think it will not continue on Sunday. Catanzaro’s opportunities will be minimal and half of them could come against the notorious Autumn breezes of the New Jersey Meadowlands.  There is no home field advantage when your kicker is new to your team.

Start this guy: Giorgio Tavecchio, Oakland (at Denver)

Tavecchio had a slow week thanks to Washington’s total shutdown of Oakland’s offense. This week, they face as big a challenge in Denver. Denver vs Oakland games have a history of being nip and tuck. With the high altitude, Oakland will put their trusted rookie kicker out there for longer kicks than normal. That makes him worth a play.

Sit this guy: Nick Folk, Tampa Bay (vs NY Giants)

Tampa Bay’s defense incurred more injuries this week while the Giants defense comes in determined to win a game for their inept offense. Eli Manning is on to something with his quick short passes but is not finishing many drives. Jameis Winston’s problems against good defenses continued in the Minnesota game. What that means is that New York will win the field position battle most of the day versus Tampa. Don’t bet on Nick Folk getting a wealth of chances to put points on the board.

Start this guy: Jake Elliott, Philadelphia (at LA Chargers)

Philadelphia has a new hero after last week’s 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired against the Giants. No one will remember Elliott missed a 52-yarder as the Chargers bend-don’t-break defense gives Philly opportunities to show off their bright new rookie. The Eagles will need all the points they can get with their own defense missing several key parts, so they’ll take three every chance they get in Los Angeles this Sunday.

Sit this guy: Robbie Gould, San Francisco (at Arizona)

The Cardinals let a game get away from them on Monday night. They are desperate for a victory in front of their home fans Sunday. The veteran defense will put the clamps on the Niners fledgling offense, leaving Gould with few opportunities to put points on the board. Look for other kickers this week.

Week 4 flash-in-the-pan prediction

Justin Tucker is widely regarded as the best kicker in the league, but the opportunities have been lacking in the anemic Ravens offense. This week, Tucker more than doubles his production of the first three weeks as Baltimore rides five field goals and an extra point to a 22-13 upset victory over Pittsburgh.

Full disclosure on Week 3

Last week’s start ‘ems and sit ‘ems were more right than wrong. Two of my starts finished among the top twelve and two of my sits were among the bottom 12.

This week’s picks are dead-on, so make your roster choices carefully. And don’t forget to leave comments if you think I’m a few yards short of a field goal or hitting it straight through. Also, you can send any questions you have about NFL fantasy football to [email protected] We answer as many as we can every Wednesday in our weekly Mailbag post.

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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.