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Kicker Corner

Gostkowski vs. Jags: a process trusting test

by C.D. Carter
Updated On: December 9, 2020, 1:18 am ET

You drafted Younghoe Koo. You love Younghoe Koo. He's carried you to victory a couple times this season. He's been your highest scoring player once or twice. Koo trotting out for a long field goal try sends a shiver down your spine. 

I get it. 

You couldn't be happier with the Atlanta kicker, who has carried on the tradition of Falcons kickers getting nonstop field goal attempts in a Matt Ryan-led offense that generates lots of yards but not many touchdowns. 

By no means am I saying you should drop Koo for one of the below streaming options. Such an act is a jailable offense in 14 states, the European Union, and most of South America. But I'm here to warn you that Koo is running hot -- really hot -- with field goal opportunity. He's now 6.4 attempts over expectation. Maybe, with the Falcons being a total disaster near the goal line, Koo continues pouring on the points. They only score touchdowns on half of their red zone trips, after all. 

I'm simply asking Koo drafters to manage their expectations in the coming weeks. Koo's rest of season schedule isn't kind. Atlanta plays the Chargers in Week 14 -- a good enough matchup -- but then faces Tampa in Week 15 and Kansas City in Week 16. Patrick Mahomes' Perfect Machine should decimate the Falcons secondary, potentially creating a wave of negative game script that not even our guy, Koo, can overcome. Don't shoot the messenger. Or call him names online. Please. 

Week 13 Kicker Review 

Now to defend the process of playing Dan Bailey in his plum Week 13 matchup against the Jaguars: yes, he was a disaster, and yes, Mike Zimmer probably grinded his molars into oblivion as Bailey missed two extra points and a field goal. Not to mention Bailey had such a wicked case of the yips that he would have missed his chip shot game-winning field goal if it had been a few yards longer. But it's opportunity we seek with kickers (and every other position), so three field goal tries is all we can ask for from a waiver wire kicker (or any kicker, really). The vomitous twists and turns of Bailey's Week 13 performance delivered seven fantasy points to managers who trusted the process. You could've done worse: only seven kickers scored more on Sunday. 

On to our other Week 13 kicker plays. Matt Gay made his lone field goal try on his way to eight points, the seventh most of Week 13, and Mike Badgley missed both of his attempts in a zero-point outing against New England. Honestly, we're fortunate Badgley got two attempts in overwhelmingly awful game script. I know you don't feel fortunate if you rolled with the Bolts kicker. The process, the process, the process. 

A highly-rostered kicker, Mason Crosby, is far enough under field goal expectation that I'm legally required to mention him here. Croz's expected field goal attempts stands at 25.58 while he has 14 actual field goal tries. The hyper-aggressive Packers are roasting defenses in the red zone this year (75.5 percent red zone touchdown rate), which has left Crosby with precious few opportunities. He'll continue to be a solid process-oriented play for the remainder of the regular season, including this week against a horrid Detroit defense. 

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Week 14 Kicker Plays

Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) at Jaguars

Expected field goal attempts: 28.07

Actual field goal attempts: 24

Gostkowski, when this column lived on the Living The Stream patreon page, was colloquially known as Washedkowski. It's mean, I know, but it's not wrong. The aged kicker has missed eight of his 24 field goal attempts along with two extra points in 2020. Any other kicker would have had his hind parts cut from the roster back in September. The Titans have somehow stuck with Gostkowski though -- a high-T move by Mike Vrabel. In Week 14, he could hardly be in a better spot. You may notice a theme of this column is picking on the Jaguars. We're doing it again with Gostkowski this week because the Titans are 7.5 point favorites with an implied total of 30.5 -- the highest of the week as of this writing. Tennessee's offense has consistently posted gaudy yardage totals this year; only five teams have more total yards after Week 13. This glut of yardage has led to 4.1 red zone trips per game, the second highest rate in the league. Gostkowski -- Washedkowski, if you wish -- should be a lock for multiple field goal tries against Jacksonville. This will be your ultimate test in trusting the process. He's available in 79 percent of leagues. 

 

Ka'imi Fairbairn (HOU) at Bears

Expected field goal attempts: 26.25

Actual field goal attempts: 20

Only Denver presents a better kicker matchup this season than Chicago. Kickers are averaging a hefty 2.66 field goal attempts per game against the Bears. The wild part: the past two kickers to face Chicago (Mason Crosby and Matt Prater) had a combined zero field goal tries. Still, the Bears worth targeting in Week 14 with Fairbairn. Houston is a 1.5 point favorite and we can live with their implied total of 23.5 points. The Texans have struggled mightily in the red zone, managing touchdowns on just 54 percent of their red zone possession over the past month. Fairbairn's field goal opportunities have spiked accordingly: he has multiple field goal tries in five of his past six games. Horrifying winter weather in Chicago might push us off Fairbairn by Sunday, but for now, he makes sense as a lovely little process-centric option against a team that never imposes its will on their opponents. Hence, (likely) positive game script for Houston. 

 

Matt Gay (LAR) vs. Patriots

Expected field goal attempts: 28.49

Actual field goal attempts: 15

We're back on Gay in another process-loving spot. Firstly, check out that expected-actual field goal gap. That's the stuff. The Rams are 6.5-point favorites against New England with a decent implied total of 25. Gay, available in 90 percent of leagues, has seven field goal tries in three starts with the Rams. LA averages the fifth most red zone visits per game, and unfortunately for Gay, they score touchdowns on 64.44 percent of those opportunities. Nevertheless! The Patriots are an OK kicker matchup. They allow two field goal tries per game, and opposing kickers have had multiple attempts in eight of 12 games against the Pats this season. Gostkowski is my preference but Gay is a not-hateful fallback option for Week 14. 

C.D. Carter

C.D. Carter is co-host of Living The Stream, owner of DraftDayConsultants.com and author of fantasy football books, including How To Think Like A Fantasy Football Winner. He can be found on Twitter @cdcarter13. He never logs off.