Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Late-Round Kickers Who Can Help Win It All
The kicker position is something of a mixed bag. Yes, every fantasy team has one, but not every team really cares who it has. That's mainly because there's little consistency from year to year when it comes to kickers.
Kickers like Stephen Gostkowski, Mason Crosby and Sebastian Janikowski are more or less sure things for a variety of reasons, and all will likely be taken well before the last round, when kickers should be taken.
That leaves a lot of other kickers out there, and selecting one can be about as effective as just throwing a dart at a list of names. Still, there are five kickers poised to put up lots of points based on their situations, which could be the difference in winning or losing your league.
As a note, there really isn't such a thing as a "late-round kicker," simply because you shouldn't take one until the last round. Don't reach for a kicker, kids.
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The Detroit Lions will be flying high this season, thanks to an aerial attack that boasts Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew. The running game is still a question mark, but that won't stop the Lions from putting points on the board.
A lot of those points will be touchdowns, but Jason Hanson will get plenty of opportunities to kick field goals from all over the field.
The Lions have eight games in the comfort of their home dome (nine if you count one away game against Minnesota), which will give Hanson plenty of straight kicks.
The 42-year-old finished with an 82.8 percent success rate when it came to kicking field goals last season, even managing seven from 50-plus yards. That comes in handy for leagues that give points for the longer kicks.
Oh, and 54 point-after tries definitely doesn't hurt either. The Lions will score. A lot. And Hanson will be the prime beneficiary.
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2011 saw the surprise dominance of the San Francisco 49ers, making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game before getting beaten by the New York Giants.
Part of their success has to be attributed to David Akers, the former Eagle who was kind of a big deal in the Bay City.
Akers made 44 of 52 field goals, an 84.8 percent success rate that saw him also boot nine from 50-plus yards. With the emphasis on receivers in the offseason, the 49ers should be able to cover more of the field and get him in range more often than last year.
In fact, 20 of his 44 field goals were from 40 yards out or farther. If the offense can get a little more consistent, he may get quite a few more chip shots if they can't punch it in.
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Dan Bailey has the potential to play on a high-octane offense, assuming that Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray stay healthy.
So far, the receiving corps is banged up, leaving everything to Romo and Murray.
Still, the second-year kicker managed a healthy 86.5 percent success rate on field goals in 2011, a number that will at least remain steady in 2012. What's more, he managed 16 field goals from 40 yards out and farther, with a long of 51 yards.
If the Dallas offense clicks or if the defense improves markedly, Bailey could see his 39 point-after tries increase in 2012.
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The Mile High City belongs to Peyton Manning, but it could be Matt Prater who has just as big an impact on the team's success.
In 2009 and 2010, Prater completed 87.3 percent of his kicks. That average slid a bit in 2011, but four of the 19 he booted through the uprights were beyond 50 yards. He also kicked a career long for him of 59 yards.
Prater never really got a chance to do much, with the inconsistent play at quarterback, but with Peyton at the helm, he'll get plenty of opportunities.
Adam Vinatieri actually had two of his best years when kicking for the Indianapolis Colts.
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The stars may be aligning for Matt Bryant in Atlanta this season.
Julio Jones, Roddy White and Matt Ryan are all getting tons of pre-draft love thanks to the rumblings that the team would open things up a bit and spread the ball more.
And while Michael Turner may be hitting the running back wall, Jacquizz Rodgers is there to smash through it.
A high-octane offense is what a kicker loves to be a part of. Last season, Bryant nailed a whopping 93.1 percent of his kicks, thanks to both his talent and the fact that the Falcons play in a dome.
They'll have nine dome games this year, which will give Bryant the controlled conditions that help a kicker thrive.
The 45 point-after tries from last year should jump up quite a bit, too, if the offense is everything it's being promised.