Every football season, owners are looking for that certain free agent that can make a difference in a fantasy league. It was typically players like Arian Foster or Michael Vick, but a kicker?
Kickers tend to be the most overlooked players in football. They are usually last in line for scholarships in college, they seldom practice with the rest of the team and fantasy football owners typically make them one of their last picks on draft day.
The difference in value for kickers isn't that great. In 2011, the point spread from the second-best to the 10th-best kicker was basically one point a week.
But from second to first can be a different story. There was a 30-point spread between David Akers and John Kasay last season, and a few years before that Neil Rackers was rewarding his owners.
Picking a kicker can be tricky. Not only is an owner looking for a player with a strong leg, he has to play on an offense that is good enough to get into scoring position, but also lacks the clutch players that will routinely convert red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.
It also doesn't hurt if he plays on a team with a defense that is prone to takeaways, as the field is typically shorter and field goals more likely after a turnover.
Those were the factors that led to Akers being a fantasy star in 2011, and that are playing in Tucker's favor this season.
I don't want to take anything away from Ray Rice. He's perhaps the best running back in the NFL, and he is a primary reason why the Ravens will work their way into field goal range.
But Joe Flacco hasn't proven to be an elite red-zone quarterback, and the Ravens receivers and tight ends haven't exactly screamed "touchdown machines." To be fair, though, that group has combined for as many touchdowns as any team this season.
Baltimore will win games this season with a great defense and running game, mixed with a solid passing attack. That combination will provide plenty of point after touchdown attempts, but will also lead to a lot of field goal opportunities.
That is part of the reason Tucker is leading all kickers in fantasy points after the first two weeks of the season, averaging 16 points per game in standard NFL.com leagues. He's yet to miss a kick in the regular season, converting all six field goal attempts (five of which have been from 40+ yards).
He's added seven extra points, and no kicker has more field goals or extra points this season.
Tucker has made a 56-yard attempt and hit from 51 yards twice, setting a Ravens record and a new personal best.
RT @pmgleason: Justin Tucker is the first Raven kicker to ever make two 50-plus-yard FGs in a game (56 and 51 yards).— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 16, 2012
A few owners may not want to drop Akers or a kicker like Matt Bryant or Jason Hanson. But every owner should be looking for a spot on their roster that isn't producing and make a move for Tucker—provided he hasn't already been signed.