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Never Draft A Kicker In Yahoo! Fantasy Football

The default format for Yahoo! Fantasy Football allows you to leave your draft without drafting a kicker. You don't need to leave the draft with a full roster. You do need to pick up a kicker before the season as you'd take a zero if you left that slot blank. Is it worth it to skip taking a kicker for an extra reserve you may just cut between now and Week 1?

I think the answer is yes. Here's the case for not taking a kicker.

First, kickers are almost random. The fantasy football community does a poor job of predicting who will be a top kicker.
Since 1998, kickers taken in the top 125 overall of ADP haven't finished in the top 12 at the end of the season in fantasy points by a whopping 61 percent of the time (35 of 57). And those are kickers that fantasy owners were excited enough to take in the first 11 rounds of a 12-team draft.

It gets even worse when you look at all the kickers taken in an average draft. In a 12-team league that starts 9 players (QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, K, DEF) and has an eight person bench (a roster of 16), there are 192 draft selections. Kickers since 1998 taken in the top 192 overall of ADP have finished outside the top 12 at their position 75 percent of the time. So you have a 25 percent chance that your kicker is going to be someone better than freely available on the waiver wire.

Meanwhile, a considerable amount of players that end up with significant fantasy value end up undrafted.
Just look at the last three years at the number of players that finished in the top 192 in VBD (so ranked against their position) that were undrafted or taken outside the top 192 picks.

2010 - 85 players (including No .1 in overall value/VBD, Arian Foster; and 3 of the top 10 in VBD)
2011 - 77 players  (including No. 9 in overall value/VBD, Cam Newton)
2012 - 75 players  (including No. 5 in overall value/VBD, Alfred Morris)

So on average over the past three years, you had a 41 percent chance that an undrafted player would finish the season in the top 192. Of course, it's not that easy since there are a lot of undrafted players. But I'd assume that most of those undrafted players who finish in the top 192 were on the cusp of being drafted. They're backups, rookies and players who a team couldn't find a roster spot in the preseason.

And it's not clear when those undrafted players accumulated their value according to my study. Maybe it was after a starter got hurt in Week 7.

But the overall trend here is pretty clear. The odds are the kicker you take, especially if you take one lower in the rankings, is highly likely to not finish in the top 12 among kickers. You'll probably be dropping him at some point. At the same time there's a significant chance that some undrafted player will become a top 192 player.

Why not take the free option on a reserve and pick up your kicker based on who's available in free agency?

Comments

By: malf922
On: 8/14/2013 11:38:00 PM
And I see that you put that theory to the test in our draft tonight. Good luck to you, sir.
 
By: MJWillis
On: 8/15/2013 6:29:00 AM
I like the idea but I'm in a 12 team league with only 4 total FA moves in a year. You wouldn't suggest it then would you? Every year I leave the draft with either 2 kickers or 2 defenses, based on your info here it would seem that I should always leave with 2 Defenses and lock in one of my waiver moves for a kicker on bye week. Thoughts?
 
By: schoenke
On: 8/15/2013 8:22:00 AM
If you don't have unlimited free agent moves, then that definitely changes the equation. I'd draft a kicker then. You'll need in-season moves to fill holes and you don't want to forgo that. But in the standard Yahoo league, you can pick up guys at will ... so no reason not to pick up a kicker later.
 
By: koolaid677
On: 8/15/2013 9:16:00 PM
I don't get it? Don't draft a kicker so I get an extra player that I will just have to drop for a kicker?
 
By: schoenke
On: 8/15/2013 10:25:00 PM
Here's an example. In the 12-team Stopa Law Firm league I drafted tonight I took 3 TEs. You start 2 TEs. I took Witten, Dickson and Ausberry. I'll drop one of Dickson or Ausberry depending how they look heading into week 1. I get an extra three weeks to see if Dickson is healthy, Ausberry has the job, etc. That's worth it more than a kicker.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 8/15/2013 11:45:00 PM
Not worth it if you draft a day before the season, but in mid-August, definitely skip K and defense and gamble on some backups who could be worth a ton if the starters get hurt.
 

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