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Brandon McManus
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Kicker Corner

Old McManus Had A Farm And A Good Matchup

by C.D. Carter
Updated On: December 29, 2020, 10:54 am ET

Kickers need to hit the weight room and hit it hard if they're going to remain part of fantasy football. 

Rodrigo Blankenship, listen up. You're spindly, bro. You don't have to get jacked like DK Metcalf, but a few lifts and some push ups wouldn't kill you. Same with you, Dan Bailey. Work those triceps a bit. Bulk up that chest. Ryan Succop, this applies to you too. Do some chin ups once in a while. Take a look at Joey Slye. Dude has legit biceps. Joey ain't skipping arm day, that's for sure. 

Why do kickers need to bulk up if they're going to remain relevant in fantasy football? Because the high-testosterone fantasy managers who cry for the abolition of kickers every time someone misses an extra point is directly related to kickers' physicality. That's right: fantasy players hate kickers because they're not part of the body breaking and brain bruising that happens in every NFL game, every week, every year. They're not tough. They don't get crushed or do any crushing. All they're doing is putting their foot on the ball. They're not sacrificing their health and well being like the other guys on our fantasy squads. 

The only solution is for kickers to get big, to become Real Football Players who absorb and dish out big hits. I want to see Blankenship sprinting downfield on every kickoff, throwing his body at oncoming blockers and ball carriers. I want to see Younghoe Koo knocking a kicker returner's mouthpiece out, then standing over him, arms flexed, jaw set. Cairo Santos should be upending opponents on the regular, humiliating them before a TV audience. Kickers need the backing of tough guys. 

This is the only viable future for kickers in fantasy football. Please guys, do it for the kicker touts. We don't want to learn how to code. 

Week 16 Kicker Review 

Ryan Succop sucked. There's no way around it. The Bucs had one of the most dominant offensive performances in recent memory and Succop managed a measly five points, missing two extra points and a field goal that would have saved his miserable day. I stand by the process, which was predicated on the Bucs having a hilariously high implied total against a Lions Defense being ripped through the air and on the ground. Tampa had 588 yards against Detroit. Usually that'll work out for kickers. 

Meanwhile, Cairo Santos made two field goals and was the week's seventh highest scoring kicker with 11 points against the Jaguars. So we have that going for us, which is nice. Cody Parkey fell victim to negative game script as the Browns struggled without their top four wideouts. He finished with four points while bricking an extra point. 

Week 17 Kicker Plays 

Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. Vegas 

Expected field goal attempts: 29.56

Actual field goal attempts: 29

We're rolling with the Broncos' franchise player in Week 17 against the Raiders. McManus is right on schedule with his expected field goal attempts this year largely because Denver stinks in the red zone. McManus has multiple field goal attempts in eight of 14 games this season, which isn't bad considering how awful the Broncos' offense has been. The team will let the big-footed McManus kick from anywhere -- technically, this isn't part of the kicker process, but it relates to teams' willingness to try field goals on the edge of field goal range. Denver tries field goals on 85.17 percent of fourth downs inside the 33 yard line, the sixth highest rate in the NFL. The Raiders, meanwhile, have allowed the eighth most field goal tries this season. Enemy kickers have had 16 field goal attempts against the Raiders over the past five weeks, a remarkably high number. While the line on this game varies, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Broncos as a 1.5-point favorite in a game with a 50.5 point over/under. There's plenty of reason to believe game script won't be a major issue for McManus in Week 17. He's out there on 85 percent of waiver wires. 

 

Mike Nugent (ARI) at LA Rams

Expected field goal attempts: 35.67

Actual field goal attempt: 29

The above expected and actual field goal numbers are for the Cardinals as a team this season. Zane Gonzalez remains on IR, leaving the wily veteran Nugent as the team's Week 17 kicker. The line on this game is very much to be determined. We know Jared Goff and Darrell Henderson -- along with Cam Akers -- will be out against Arizona. The Cards, in other words, should see a good amount of neutral and positive game script against the Rams in this must-win game. Nugent has seen gobs of opportunity in his three weeks as Arizona's kicker, making all seven of his field goal tries and all six of his extra points. I don't care all that much that the Rams have allowed the tenth fewest field goal tries. That's all out the window with the team's key -- and devastating -- injuries. LA has been generous to opposing kickers when game script has gone sideways, as expected. They've given up nine field goal attempts over their past three losses. Nugent is available on every waiver wire except for leagues run by Nugent family members. 

 

Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) at Houston

Expected field goal attempts: 35.14

Actual field goal attempts: 26

This, of course, assumes Gostkowski will come off the reserve/COVID-19 list before Sunday's game. If he doesn't, whoever kicks for Tennessee should be a viable fantasy option. Gostkowski is now further under his expected field goal attempts than almost any kicker in the league. His Week 17 matchup is sweeter than the disgustingly sweet candy my grandma used to leave out for the holidays. Houston has allowed multiple field goal tries 12 times in 2020, including two attempts by Gostkowski when these teams played in Week 6. Gostkowski missed both of those kicks, but we're ignoring that this week. Opportunity is all we care about in this space. Tennessee is a 7.5 point favorite here in a game with an eye-popping 56 point over-under. My eyes: they've popped. 

 

 

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.