Kicker Corner Week 10: Back to Badgley

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“We wanted the points.”

Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia -- like many coaches who feign interest in maximizing points -- explained his baffling Week 9 decision making with the above comment. Bisaccia wanted the points, which is why he ditched a possible six points for a slightly-more-certain three points not once, but twice inside the ten yard line in Vegas’ loss to the Giants.

It was, in many ways, throwback fourth-down decision making, a reminder of how things used to be before nerds broke down the doors to NFL front offices and locker rooms, pushed their glasses up the bridge of their nose, and said, well actually, you could forgo field goals and punts in favor of fourth-down aggressiveness that could (should) increase win probability.

Judging by his goatee, Bisaccia seems to have precious little use for analytics. He’s a gut guy, an incurious football guy who “wants points” enough to settle for chip-shot field goals over touchdowns. It’s not only frothing analytics dorks who disagreed with the Raiders’ field goals inside the ten yard line while trailing against the miserable Giants. The numbers weren’t happy either: Vegas’ win probability with the field goal attempt was 44.8 percent, about 2.5 percent lower than if they had tried to punch it into the end zone.

Bisaccia decided against attacking a New York defense giving up 24 points per game and intentionally lowered his team’s chances of winning. If I weren’t soulless and capable of rooting for a team, I would be apoplectic.

The Raiders lost, 23-16.

Bisaccia’s mind-numbingly horrendous decision making reminded me of a conversation I had with my eight-year-old son, who for some reason wanted to learn blackjack. We played a dozen hands one night, and with a rudimentary understanding of the game and its main objective, my kid made all the mistakes you’d expect him to make. He hit on 17, he stayed on 16 with the dealer showing a face card, he got overly aggressive with his (fake) betting after a couple exciting wins.

I explained the general strategy of what to do with a 16 in blackjack. He digested the information, promptly hit on 16, and came up with 23. That, I told him, was the right move. Don’t worry, I said. Well done. No, my kid blurted, it wasn’t the right call because it didn’t work. If it had been the right move, I would have won the hand, he said. I tried for thirty seconds to explain the concept of prioritizing process over the subsequent results, giving up when my son plugged his ears and demanded I deal the next hand. I obliged and hoped experience would drive home the points I failed to make.

I imagine I got a small, bitter taste of what it's like for an analytics nerd stuffed in the basement of Raiders headquarters.

Week 9 Results

Michael Badgley (IND) vs. NYJ
1/1 field goals
9 fantasy points
Rank: t-9th

Jason Sanders (MIA) vs. HOU
1/1 field goals
6 fantasy points
Rank: t-17th

Now for some all-important kickers notes…

-The Chargers are now 6.07 field goal attempts under expectation. We can thank head coach Brandon Staley’s hyper-aggressive red zone play calling for that. It’s limited opportunity for Bolts kickers throughout the season, though new Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins managed two field goals last week against the Eagles. Hopkins, dispatched by Washington for reasons unknown, certainly fits the kicker process in Week 10 against Minnesota. The Chargers are 2.5 point home favorites in a game with a 51.5-point total. You could do worse than Hopkins this week.

-The Football Team continues flailing in the blackness of the kicker abyss, signing journeyman Joey Slye and releasing legend Chris Blewitt on Tuesday. Slye will kick for his fourth team of 2021 this Sunday against the Bucs. You are not legally allowed to start a kicker on a 9.5-point underdog, however. This is what the founders intended.

-Mason Crosby has been abysmal in 2021. He’s made a not-so-nice 69 percent of his field goals, and he cost the Packers a chance to upset the Chiefs last week with two misses. There is a point where we care about a kickers’ accuracy -- I think we’ve reached it with Croz. He’s hands off this week against the Seahawks.

-Randy Bullock very nearly qualified as a streamer this week. Maybe he should be added to the below kickers. My interns are looking into it. The Titans are three-point favorites against the Saints this week, meaning Bullock is a process fit. He had multiple field goals in four of five games before his non-game script-related goose egg last week against the Rams. Tennessee is 1.23 field goals over expectation this season.

-The Patriots are an alarming 6.76 field goal attempts over expectation. It’s been, as you might imagine, quite the boon for Nick Folk, fantasy’s No. 1 kicker through Week 9. Folk has been good (91.4 percent conversion rate), and you’re probably starting him this week against the Browns. Just beware of potential regression as the season wears on. Folk is available in 33 percent of leagues.

Plug-and-Play Kickers

Tyler Bass (BUF) at NYJ: Bass mustered seven fantasy points last week in what was Josh Allen’s worst pro outing. He’ll be fine. He’s once again a process darling in Week 10 with the Bills listed as 13-point favorites against the Jets. Six of eight kickers have notched multiple field goal tries against Gang Green this season. Bass’ matchup gets even better if Zach Wilson gets the start over franchise QB Mike White.

Matt Prater (ARI) at CAR: The Cardinals should have Kyler Murray back for Week 10. Vegas assumes so, anyway, as Arizona started the week as six-point favorites and are now favored by ten over the disintegrating Panthers. Arizona is 2.73 field goal tries under expectation. Prater is a premiere Week 10 option.

Justin Tucker (BAL) at MIA: Tucker is primed to go off in Week 10 against a Miami team allowing the most field goal attempts (21). The Dolphins have a worse chance of beating the Ravens than I do of winning a showdown contest with a kicker in the captain spot. Baltimore has attempted the 14th most field goals (17) and are 0.87 attempts under expectation. That’s excellent.

Brandon McManus (DEN) vs. PHI: Available in 59 percent of leagues, McManus should be slotted into fantasy lineups this week with the utmost confidence. Denver is among the worst red zone offenses -- converting 55 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns -- and the Broncos are 2.5 point home favorites against the Eagles. McManus has been predictably productive in Denver wins, averaging three field goal attempts per victory.

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. KC: This is the exceedingly rare week in which I grant you permission to use a kicker on an underdog. The Chiefs are on the road, favored by a mere 2.5 points, unable to separate from some of the NFL’s worst teams in recent weeks. There’s zero evidence Kansas City is a better team than Vegas right now, and three of the past four kickers to face KC have had multiple field goals. Rich Bisaccia’s penchant for suboptimal decision making is certainly a factor in Carlson’s weekly floor.

Matt Gay (LAR) at SF: That the Rams are somehow only four-point favorites against the hapless Niners speaks to the overestimation of Kyle Shanahan as some sort of football genius. Clearly, he's not. And clearly, the Rams will run roughshod over the 49ers. Gay, with multiple field goals in seven of nine games, stands to benefit.

Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs. ATL: We’ll assume last week’s meltdown against Denver was a blip that will be soon forgotten for the Cowboys (and those who drafted Dallas players in the first few rounds). The Boys are at home this week, favored by nine. Legatron should be fine. He had ten field goal attempts in the three games before Dallas’ Week 9 disaster. The Cowboys are 0.13 field goal tries under expectation on the year.

UPDATE: Zuerlein has been placed on the COVID-19 list and is in doubt for Week 10. Whoever kicks for Dallas should be startable in 12-team formats.

Editor’s Note: Play for FREE! Download the NBC Sports Predictor app, make picks and win huge, weekly jackpots. Get started here!

Week 10 Streaming Options

Michael Badgley (IND) vs. JAC (24 percent rostered)
Before we delve into the matchup here, I’m obliged to note Colts head coach Frank Reich’s recent hedging on whether Rodrigo Blankenship will get his job back when he’s fully recovered from his hip injury. I’ve dispatched an intern to Indianapolis to keep close tabs on the Colts’ kicker situation headed into Week 10. Whoever kicks for the horseshoes is very much worthy of your consideration.

The Jaguars, per sources, are not suddenly a defensive juggernaut that should leave fantasy managers and opposing quarterbacks quaking in their boots (or slippers, if you work from home). Forget Jacksonville’s surreal, Lynchian Week 9 upset of the Bills and count on the Colts marching up and down the field against one of the NFL’s most porous defenses.

Indy is a 10.5-point home favorite here with an implied total of 29. Probably the Colts won’t have a total that high for the next decade. Badgley, as he did in Week 9 against the dead-on-arrival Jets, makes for a superb process play in Week 10.

Could Badgley’s Week 9 stat line have been better? Seeing how he ended with six extra points and one field goal, I would say yes, it could have been much better. Some aggressive play calling near the goal line and the Jets’ inability to stop the Colts’ running game turned Badgley’s final numbers into the middling variety. Nevertheless, we persist. Eight teams have attempted more field goals than the Colts, who stand 0.57 field goal tries over expectation through nine games.

The Jags are allowing 2.13 field goal tries per game; six of eight kickers to face Jacksonville have attempted multiple field goals. We’ve had great success streaming kickers against Urban Meyer’s crew. Let’s do it again without blinking. It’s hard -- your eyes get dry -- but possible.

Chris Boswell (PIT) vs. DET (20 percent rostered)
The Boz -- we’re calling him The Boz -- banged through three lengthy field goals in the Steelers’ Monday night referee-assisted victory over Chicago a week after suffering a concussion on a cheap, un-penalized headshot by a Browns defender. Boz’s Monday night heroics came in a stadium clearly constructed by someone who hates kickers. It was, in short, a victory for our movement. Well done, Comrade Boz.

Boswell is a perfect process play in Week 10 with the Steelers at home, favored by 9.5 points over a Detroit team that’s allowed the most field goal tries (21) this year even after their Week 9 bye. The Lions have allowed multiple field goal attempts to seven of eight kickers this season. Five of those kickers have scored double-digit fantasy points. That’s what happens when teams have three (or four) quarters of wildly positive game script.

In Pittsburg wins this season, The Boz has averaged a solid 2.4 field goal attempts. The Steelers should have little issue bulldozing the marshmallow-soft Detroit defense on Sunday, hopefully producing two or three (or more) field goal tries for Boswell. One word of caution: Make sure there’s not some sort of ugly weather situation in Pittsburgh before deploying The Boz.

The Steelers are 2.46 field goal tries over expectation through Week 9.

Ryan Succop (TB) at WFT (37 percent rostered)
I’d like to once again remind faithful Kicker Corner readers that I would violate several federal statutes if I did not recommend a widely available kicker on a heavily-favored team with a gargantuan implied total. I am nothing if not a law and order advocate.

That’s what we have with Succop, available in 65 percent of leagues after fantasy managers (wisely) dropped him to waivers during Tampa’s Week 9 bye. The Bucs are 10-point road favorites against Washington with an implied total of 30.75 points -- the second-highest of the week. Succop should be considered as a floor play rather than a ceiling option (I realize how funny this sounds when describing kickers) because the Bucs are pretty dang good at turning red zone possessions into six points. Only five teams have been more efficient in the red zone this season, in fact.

Succop has three games this season in which he didn’t attempt a single field goal. He piled up 14 extra points in those contests. There’s certainly a chance the Bucs run wild against the Football Team and Succop ends with five or six extra points. But the process says he’s a good option against a Washington defense that’s allowed multiple field goal tries in four of their six 2021 losses. The Football Team has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to enemy kickers this year, thanks to all the positive game script their opponents have seen in another lost season.

Succop definitely has regression on his side if Tom Brady can be generous for once and not score a touchdown every time he takes the field. The Bucs are 5.67 field goal attempts under expectation this season, among the most extreme in the league. Succop is a sensible Week 10 option, if not one who could be undercut by his team’s offensive dominance.