Here are the top 12 kickers in the fantasy football world:
1. Nate Kaeding, Chargers: All the factors are in place for Mr. Reliable (in the regular season at least) to have another outstanding campaign. Accuracy? Check. Opportunity? Check. Health? Check. Ideal weather conditions? Check. Kaeding is an elite kicker that will put up some big numbers in 2011.
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: Gostkowski’s 2010 season was cut short after he tore his quad in Week 9, but that injury shouldn’t hold him back one bit this year. Gostkowksi had solid numbers in the three previous seasons before the injury (averaging 135 fantasy points) and you know Tom Brady and company will move the football and give him lots of work.
3. Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders: Last year Janikowski had a breakout season when he scored 142 points and led the league in field goals made. The question is: Can he do it again? Oakland’s offense is improving (see McFadden, Darren) so Janikowski should get plenty of chances to show off his booming leg.
4. Rob Bironas, Titans: The Titans offense was in shambles last season and that made Bironas’ performance all the more impressive: he had the second-most fantasy points for a kicker. Bironas hasn’t missed more than five kicks in each of the last four seasons, so even if Tennessee’s offense can improve just a little, it will go a long way to helping Bironas’ numbers.
5. Mason Crosby, Packers: Accuracy has been an issue throughout his career (he’s never finished above 80 percent in field goals made) but when you are playing behind an explosive offense like the Packers, you’ll get plenty of attempts. Crosby’s high ranking is due as much to his performance as to the team he plays for.
6. Garrett Hartley, Saints: Hartley had a very up and down 2010 season. He went from losing his job, to getting it back to missing only one kick from Week 7 onwards to signing a big fat contract extension. The Saints have faith in Hartley and so should you. Drew Brees and the Superdome is a good combination for a strong fantasy year.
7. Alex Henery, Eagles: For the first time since 2000, the Eagles have someone other than David Akers kicking full-time. The rookie out of Nebraska has the credentials to be successful — he is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. We know the Eagles will have no issues moving the football, but converting in the red zone is a whole different story. Henery is primed for a breakout season.
8. Josh Brown, Rams: Brown was the victim of being stuck playing for some bad offensive teams in St. Louis, but that is no longer the case. The Rams have a lot of offensive potential now that Sam Bradford is running the show, so look for Brown to keep putting points on the board in 2011.
9. Neil Rackers, Texans: Rackers’ accuracy has made a lot of Houston fans forget about Kris Brown (Rackers has ranked in the top 11 in accuracy in each of the last three seasons). The Texans have a dynamic offense and it’s always good to have a kicker who knows how to put it through the uprights consistently.
10. Matt Bryant, Falcons: Bryant may be 36 years old but he is showing no signs of slowing down. He’s got all the pluses to have another successful season: accuracy, strong leg, playing in a dome with an explosive offense. Bryant missed just three field goals last season and was impressive from long range, going 9-of-11 from 40 yards out or more.
11. Adam Vinatieri, Colts: No field goal list would be complete without Vinatieri. Sure, Peyton Manning and the Colts offence are very efficient in the red zone, but the veteran will still get his chances. Because of his accuracy and experience, Vinatieri could be a valuable part of your fantasy team this season.
12. Dan Carpenter, Dolphins: For a while last year, Carpenter was the hottest thing since sliced bread — he had five games with 12 or more fantasy points. Impressive. Not so impressive? He missed 11 of his 41 attempts. The Dolphins offense will have its issues again in 2011, but Carpenter could be a bright spot.