Whether we play for honor, bragging rights, money, or for simple amusement, countless fantasy football players spend mass amounts of their hard earned free time (or at work --admit it, you've done it) planning their "strategic" maneuvers for fantasy football glory. A position often kicked (pun intended) to the curb is the kicker position. They don't account for all that many points, have a greater number of factors that affect their productivity, and are consequently inconsistent. They are afterthoughts. They are the "Oh-It's-The-14th-Round-And-I-Don't-Have-A-Kicker-Yet" pick. With a little luck however, kickers can be the nice little cherry on top of your fantasy league domination.
Choosing a kicker is tricky business. I always look for kickers who are 1) accurate, 2) on a team with a good enough, but not great, offense, and 3) can make long field goals. As a Chicago Bears fan, my criteria has fit well in drafting Robbie Gould. If you draft a kicker on a prolific offense, they'll get their points, but might miss out on some compared to the good kicker on the mediocre offense who gets more opportunities because his team isn't dancing in the endzone on every other possession. Gould has been a go-to kicker for a while because there were times when the man was more or less the Chicago Bears offense.
Here in 2012, Gould is once again an attractive option. He has always been accurate (his career 85.7% accuracy rate should illustrate that), but in the last few seasons has really developed a knack for making longer field goals. He's 9 for 10 on field goals over 50 yards the last two seasons; he also drilled a 57-yarder to beat Washington in the Bears' second preseason game. However, Gould has also been less accurate (by his standards) the last few years in the 40-50 yard range --where he's only 10 for 17 the last two seasons. But from under 40 yards, Gould's career numbers are 108 for 113 (and all five misses are from over 30).
We can't say for sure just how much the Bears' offense will improve numerically, but I think it's safe to assume they will improve. Gould should get plenty of opportunities both on the extra point circuit as well as the field goals. While your kicker might not make or break your fantasy season, having a good one can give you those few extra points between a win and a loss. Gould could be that kicker.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan and a perennial fantasy football player, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.