Fantasy Football: Using the Waiver Wire to Get More from You Kicker and Defense
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How is it Week 9 already? Oh well, it does not matter how we got here. All that matters is what we do from this point forward. Sure, if your fantasy football team is stacked, you can just sit back and watch the victories pour in. But we all cannot be so lucky.
Here is the deal: If your fantasy football team has a win-loss record between 2-6 and 5-3, you need to win this week. You probably need to win every week. Sure, a team with five wins has an advantage over a team with only two, but until you have eight or nine wins, nothing is assured.
You cannot win your league if you do not make the playoffs.
So, you need to wring every last point out of your starting lineup. And this does not mean starting John Beck over Philip Rivers because "you have a feeling" that Beck will score more points. I am talking about maximizing the points you get from your kicker and defense this week.
Lets say in Week 8 you started John Kasay as your kicker and the Cowboys DST as your team defense. In "standard leagues" you got two points from those two. Meanwhile, your opponent started Nick Novak as his kicker and the Lions DST as his team defense. Your opponent got 43 points from his defense and kicker. That is a 41-point swing against you.
Most people get the advice about kickers and defenses wrong. The advice is to ignore kickers and defenses during your DRAFT. That is because it is almost impossible to predict the performance of kickers and defenses. Once we have eight weeks of data to look at, we absolutely can place a higher value on these positions.
Before we go any further, a word on team defenses. Every league tends to have their own scoring systems for DSTs. Here are the basic scoring settings I am talking about for this article:
- You accrue points for sacks, interceptions, fumbles, turnovers, safeties, blocks and touchdowns
- You accrue points for special teams touchdowns
- You can gain or lose points based on points allowed
- Yards allowed are not factored into the scoring
Check your league's scoring settings. You should know this already, but you would be amazed at what you miss sometimes. Pay attention to any thresholds for points or yards allowed. Note the difference between what sacks and interceptions are worth.
If you have one of the top DSTs in your league, you are probably starting them this week. These DSTs include:
- RAVENS (@ PIT)
- 49ERS (@ WAS)
- JETS (@ BUF)
- BENGALS (@ TEN)
- TEXANS (vs CLE)
If you do not have one of these options, you need to find another way to go. And scoring five points is not going to get it done. We have to swing for the fences. We need to win this week, remember? So here is what I am looking for in a DST this week"
- A team that can pile up sacks against a team that allows a lot of sacks
- A team going up against a turnover-prone QB
- A team with an excellent kick/punt return game
I don't really get hung up on points allowed. I might try to avoid a game that looks to be a shootout. But then again, those games often provide the greatest number of opportunities for sacks and turnovers. Here are some options I like for my DST in Week 9.
- RAIDERS (vs DEN)
- CHIEFS (vs MIA)
- BEARS (@ PHI)
- FALCONS (@ IND)
As a bonus, if your league heavily incorporates points or yards allowed by your DST, consider adding the CARDINALS (vs STL). It looks like AJ Feely will get one more start for the Rams who are an excellent match-up for any DST. With John Skelton starting for the Cardinals, this game should be ugly, low-scoring and have multiple turnovers.
How often to you change which DST you start?
Now for your kicker. Choosing a kicker is not quite an exact science. And that is putting it kindly. How did John Kasay only score two points against the Rams in Week 8? Because the Saints offense did nothing and he missed his only field goal attempt.
Why did Nick Novak do so good in Week 8? Because the Chargers offense stalled every time they crossed mid-field and Novak got to attempt a bunch of long field goals. And he made them.
What does that tell us?
- We are looking for a kicker who kicks for a good offense. You cannot assume that just because a team has a mediocre offense they will kick more field goals because they do not score touchdowns.
- And that good offense should be going up against at least a halfway decent team and/or defense. A blowout for your offense most likely just means a bunch of extra points for your kicker. One 50 yard field goal is the same as FIVE extra points.
- Kicking in a dome is good.
- Based on his statistics so far this year, you would like your kicker to have a strong enough leg to hit from 50+ yards and you would like him to have been very accurate so far this season.
Here are the kickers that have been good enough this season that I start them every week:
- JOHN KASAY
- MASON CROSBY
- DAN BAILEY
- DAVID AKERS
- NEIL RACKERS
Beyond those options, who else can we use in Week 9? Here are some kickers I would start this week:
- ALEX HENERY (vs CHI)
- NICK NOVAK (vs GB)
- MIKE NUGENT (@ TEN)
- CONNOR BARTH (@ NO)
- LAWRENCE TYNES (@ NE)
Thanks for reading. Have anything to add to the discussion? Please use the comments feature below. Questions are welcome, but please be as specific and detailed as possible. Good luck to all of your teams this week.
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