Defenses and Kickers-Scour the Waiver Wire

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My last positional preview will combine two positions that can prove to be vital to winning, but should be drafted at the end of your drafts.  Every year, you probably hear the same thing-pick a kicker in the last round and don’t pick a defense until the end as well.  It seems that the highest scorers each season for both positions are either undrafted or ranked lower and surprise people.  Think back to the 2011 season-how many of you had the San Fran D ranked high?  In most of my leagues, they weren’t even drafted and ended up being a defensive juggernaut.  Last year, it was the Seattle defense that surprised people.  I expected them to be good, but not that good.  This year, I think the Rams and Bucs defenses will surprise people.  Barring injury, I would expect the usual stalwarts (San Fran, Seattle, and Chicago) to be near the top of the rankings.

When I look at a defense to draft, I usually look for ones who create a lot of turnovers.  Last year, for example, the San Fran D didn’t allow a lot of points, but their turnovers were down a lot from 2011, so they weren’t as valuable.  Chicago was causing a ton of turnovers and was also scoring a freakish amount of defensive touchdowns, so that unit became an excellent fantasy weapon for a good chunk of the season.  I am usually never the first one to draft a defense, and that won’t change this year.  While I’d love to have one of the top three defenses, when the first one goes, there is usually a run because owners panic and want to grab a top rated D.  While this run is going on, I sit back and stock up on depth players that I can use as trade bait down the line.  I will be more than happy to draft a defense like Arizona, Cincinnati or St. Louis a few rounds later than when Seattle gets selected.  It sounds laughable, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets defense surprise people this year.  They have a solid foundation with a lot of young, upcoming players.  They most likely won’t be drafted at all this year, but keep an eye on them as a bye week plug-in.

For kickers, I don’t even look at them until the last round.  The preseason rankings don’t really mean anything.  For example, David Akers was one of the top rated kickers last year and then had one of the least accurate kicking seasons in years.  Undrafted gems like Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker are now top options at the position this year.  I can’t help but laugh when someone drafts Stephen Gostowski in round 12.  While he is a very reliable kicker, the difference between him and Sebastian Janikowski at the end of the season may be like 2 points a game.  When I start to look for kickers, I look for a few things.  First and foremost, I want my kicker to be part of a high powered offense because a kicker for the Jets may not be in position to kick much since the offense will probably be awful and may not cross midfield much.  Second, I like to choose players who kick primarily in domes, as it’s much easier to kick indoors instead of somewhere like Lambeau.  If you can find someone that fits both criteria, you may have your guy.  For me, that would mean someone like Matt Bryant.  I drafted Bryant in every league I could last year and he was very consistent, and I expect the same thing this year.  Blair Walsh is obviously another great candidate as well.  Kickers like Gostowski, Phil Dawson and Justin Tucker are also great options because they are behind prolific offenses that move the ball.  Basically, as long as you select a kicker from a top-15 offense, you’ll be fine.  All it takes is a few long field goals for your kicker to be extremely valuable in a given week.  This wraps up my positional breakdowns.  My rankings for defenses and kickers are below.

 

 

Top 10 Defenses:

  1.  Seattle
  2. San Francisco
  3. Chicago
  4. Houston
  5. New England
  6. Arizona
  7. Denver
  8. Cincinnati
  9. St. Louis
  10. Baltimore

 

Top 10 Kickers

  1.  Blair Walsh
  2. Matt Bryant
  3. Stephen Gostowski
  4. Phil Dawson
  5. Justin Tucker
  6. Matt Prater
  7. Greg Zuerlein
  8. Dan Bailey
  9. Sebastian Janikowski
  10. Garrett Hartley

About Ryan Lewis

I've been participating in fantasy sports for almost a decade. I first started off doing only fantasy football and baseball, but soon grew to love fantasy basketball and hockey as well. For fantasy football, I've participated in a variety of leagues, such as standard, PPR, and auction over the years. In the past 5 years, I've even branched out to fantasy golf and fantasy NASCAR. I've been a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan for 23 years, which has had many ups and downs.

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