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Kicker Corner

Kicker Corner Week 17: Digging Gould Again

by Denny Carter
Updated On: January 2, 2022, 10:37 am ET

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The last thing you want is a long-winded intro to your favorite kicker column on this, our fantasy championship week. So I'll spare you the 800 words on how to approach your fantasy title game and get right to the good stuff, to the content you crave. 

But first, I'll link to my 2014 book on the mental side of fantasy football. 

Week 16 Results

Elliott Fry (KC) vs. PIT
3/4 field goals
13 fantasy points
Rank: t-2nd

Dustin Hopkins (LAC) at HOU
3/3 field goals
12 fantasy points
Rank: 3rd

Jake Elliott (PHI) vs. NYG
2/3 field goals
10 fantasy points
Rank: t-6th

Robbie Gould (SF) at TEN
1/1 field goals
6 fantasy points
Rank: 13th 

For Christmas, you wished for nothing more than kicker notes. Call me Santa. 

-Elliott “Fish” Fry came through for those who put total faith in the process and benefited from his 13-point outing against the Steelers in Week 16. Through positive game script, all things are possible. 

-Daniel Carlson had fallen into kicker purgatory now that the unvaxxed Carson Wentz is out for Week 17. Though the spread in the Colts-Raiders game hasn’t changed as of this writing, I suspect Vegas will be slight road favorites with Wentz out. That makes Carlson, as you already know, a solid process play. Last week marked the first time the Raiders won and Carlson didn’t log multiple field goal tries. The Raiders being one of the worst fourth-down decision-making teams in the league has given Carlson a decent floor even when game script isn’t ideal. I’d prefer the streamers but Carlson should be OK. 

-Cairo Santos -- available in 98 percent of leagues -- makes for an interesting (borderline) Week 17 option. The Bears should have Justin Fields back and they’ll be at home against the most lifeless team in recent NFL history, the Giants. Allowing the eighth-most field goal attempts this season, the G-people have given up three field goals to five of the past six kickers to face them. Less than 49 percent of Chicago’s red zone possessions have resulted in touchdowns. Only the Lions and Giants are worse. 

Plug-and-Play Options

Nick Folk (NE) vs. JAC: Two straight lopsided losses for the Patriots has been not so good for fantasy’s top kicker. He has one field goal try over those two games, proving once again that no one is immune to the process. Folk’s expected field goal numbers -- he’s now 10.12 attempts over expectation -- had become concerning long before his two-game slump. If you somehow survived his Week 16 dud, he gets a Week 17 matchup the zoomers are calling “the nuts.” Jacksonville is allowing the fifth most field goal attempts on the season. Meanwhile, Folk is averaging 3.22 field goal tries in New England wins. The Pats are 15.5-point home favorites. It’s Folk szn. 

Harrison Butker (KC) at CIN: Butker is back for Week 17 thanks to the NFL ditching its COVID-19 protocols. The Bengals allow the 12th most field goal tries, including 11 in their past four losses. Butker, meanwhile, has multiple field goal attempts in every game but one since Week 5. He should be fine in a game with the week's second highest total (51). 

Matt Gay (LAR) at BAL: The Rams head into Baltimore -- which means, as west coasters, they’ll be sleepwalking at kickoff -- as 6.5-point favorites against the COVID-ravaged Ravens. Even if Lamar Jackson is able to play through his high ankle sprain, the Rams’ passing attack should have its way with a horrid Baltimore secondary that lost yet another starter to injury in Week 16. That the Ravens have allowed the sixth-fewest field goal attempts shouldn’t bother those who have smartly rolled with Gay -- fantasy’s No. 2 kicker -- all season. Baltimore’s late-season slide has produced the sort of game script that leads to field goal tries for opponents. Kickers facing the Ravens have eight field goal attempts over the past four weeks; last week, Evan McPherson had three attempts in the Bengals’ trouncing of the Ravens. Gay’s 2021 consistency is attributable to near-constant neutral and positive game script. He’s had multiple field goal tries in all but three games this season. That’s remarkable. The Rams are somehow 2.31 field goal tries under expectation. 

Ryan Succop (TB) at NYJ: Succop has been tough to figure out this year. He has a mere six games with multiple field goal attempts, which is weird for a kicker attached to a high-powered offense. Tampa, it turns out, is really good at scoring touchdowns. Only two teams score TDs at a higher rate in the red zone. Still, he's unavoidably a good option against the Jets in Week 17. New York is allowing the third-most field goal tries (and 2.38 attempts in losses). Succop is a good floor option, at worst. The Bucs sport the week's highest total (29). 

Tyler Bass (BUF) vs. ATL: The Bills -- two-touchdown favorites -- sport the week’s highest implied total (29.5 points). Bass should get all the positive game script in fantasy championship week. Averaging 1.79 field goal attempts in Buffalo wins, Bass is (almost) a lock for multiple tries against the Falcons. Bass, who has plunged to K13 on the season amid the Bills’ late-season downfall, remains an elite option in Week 17. 

Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs. ARI: The Cardinals December slump has been quite good for kickers facing the red birds. Zona -- as the zoomers say -- has allowed three field goals in each of their past three games -- all losses. The Cowboys and their elite defense enter Week 17 as five-point home favorites with the third-highest total (27.75) of the week. Dallas should have little issue with the Cardinals’ faltering defense struggling against the pass and the run in recent weeks. Were Zuerlein’s eight Week 16 extra points annoying as hell? Yes, they were. Nevertheless, we trust the process. 

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Week 17 Streaming Options

Robbie Gould (SF) vs. HOU (26 percent rostered) 
You may accuse me of copying and pasting Robbie Gould into the Kicker Corner every Tuesday. This is a false and frankly, a dangerous accusation. It won’t stand. My attorneys have been notified. 

But yes, you’re playing Gould once again in Week 17. 

The Niners are at home, favored by 13 points over the Texans. Kickers facing Houston have been on a field goal binge of late, thanks in part to the Texans’ offense coming to life and pushing teams to, you know, score points and not take the air out of the ball in the second half. Houston has allowed 13 field goal attempts (and eight kicker fantasy points per game) over their past five contests. Gould, who’s been cold of late with two field goal tries over his past two outings, is a top process option in a game that should see the 49ers bash the Texans’ woeful run defense on the ground.

Does the prospect of Trey Lance make me bearish on Gould? It does not. Lance’s rushing prowess should keep the Niners moving downfield with little resistance. You’re deploying Gould and you’re liking it, you animals. The 49ers are 1.83 field goal tries under expectation. 

Jake Elliott (PHI) at WFT (20 percent rostered)
Elliott, with multiple field goal attempts in the Eagles’ past six victories -- including last week against the G-people -- is a tremendous option in Week 17 against the Team That Plays Football. Philadelphia is a four-point favorite with a 25-point total against a Washington defense that most recently allowed one million points to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. 

Washington is allowing the seventh-highest expected points added (EPA) per play since Week 11, and their once-stiff rush defense has faltered. The Eagles’ elite offensive line and aggressive run offense should have little trouble moving the ball against the Team That Plays Football. Elliott made both of his attempts in the Eagles’ Week 15 win over Washington, totaling ten fantasy points. He checks every process box in Week 17. The Eagles are 0.42 field goal tries over expectation. 

Dustin Hopkins (LAC) vs. DEN (30 percent rostered)
Hopkins came through for the loyal process adherents despite the Chargers seeing three quarters of negative game script against Davis Mills and the Texans. What I’m saying is that we got lucky. Or we can just say “variance” and sound smart about the whole thing.

The Bolts are at home this week, favored by 5.5 points over a Denver team that’s given up 15 field goal attempts over their past six losses. Hopkins, fantasy’s seventh-highest scoring kicker since Week 12, is in yet another good spot. 

That’s unless, of course, you think we can’t count on the Bolts to beat up on an inferior opponent. It was these Broncos (sort of) that crushed the Chargers in Week 12 -- a game in which Hopkins managed one fantasy point, missing his only field goal try. You may have heard Drew Lock is starting for Denver now. I think that changes the calculus and leaves the horsies unable to create any kind of neutral or positive script against LA. Though Elliott and Gould are preferable, I’d play Hopkins before I resorted to Santos. 

Denny Carter

Denny Carter is a fantasy football analyst for NBC Sports EDGE and co-host of Living The Stream. He specializes in kickers. He can be found on Twitter @cdcarter13. He never logs off.