Week 2 Kickers: Our Man McManus

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What is good for Daniel Carlson will forever be bad for Mike Zimmer.

It wasn’t that long ago -- three years, to be precise -- that the Vikings invested a fifth-round draft pick in the phenomenal kicker out of Auburn. Carlson won a heated training camp kicker competition and started the season for Zimmer’s Vikings, only to be unceremoniously kicked to the curb after blowing two overtime field goal tries against Green Bay in Week 2.

Zimmer, who hates kickers as much as he loves vaccines against deadly diseases, had seen enough after Carlson cost them the game against a hated division rival. Out went Carlson, in came the washed Dan Bailey, and Vikings fans continue their eternal stay in kicker hell.

Carlson then signed with the Raiders and has since made himself into one of the league’s most accurate, most clutch kickers. He was most recently seen nailing a game-tying 55-yarder Monday night against Baltimore -- a laser beam that would’ve been good from 65.

He was fantasy’s fourth highest scoring kicker last year. A mere three kickers made more field goals than Carlson in his breakout 2020 campaign, showing as much range as any kicker in the NFL. Good for him. Bad for Zim.

Week 1 Results

The kicker process delivered what many are calling good results in the season’s opening week. It’s nice when that works out since I can keep my job.

Robbie Gould (SF) at DET
2/3 field goals
14 fantasy points
Kicker rank: 1st

Matt Gay (LAR) vs. CHI
2/2 field goals
12 fantasy points
Kicker rank: t-3rd

Brandon McManus (DEN) at NYG
2/2 field goals
9 fantasy points
Kicker rank: t-13th

Matt Prater (ARI) at TEN
1/2 field goals
8 fantasy points
Kicker rank: 15th

Greg Joseph (MIN) at CIN
1/1 field goals
8 fantasy points
Fantasy rank: t-15th

Ryan Santoso (CAR) vs. NYJ
2/2 field goals
7 fantasy points
Kicker rank: t-17th

Some notes…

-Santoso -- all six feet, five inches, and 260 pounds of him -- drilled both of his Week 1 attempts, missed an extra point, and was given his walking papers on Tuesday (the Panther had an expected field goal attempts of 1.89 against the Jets). Perhaps there’s room for an adult son kicker on another NFL roster. Maybe the Titans, who parted ways with the Money Badger on Tuesday.

-Do not -- I repeat, do not -- chase Joe Slye’s 14 fantasy points from Week 1. The Texans played the league’s worst team and Slye benefited from a bunch of positive game script. That won’t happen often in 2021. Houston is a 12.5-point dog in Week 2.

-Dustin Hopkins will probably be a decent weekly option if the Football Team plays as conservatively as they did in Week 1 against the Chargers. Hopkins made three of four field goals last week on his way to a dozen fantasy points. Washington, for what it’s worth, had an expected field goal attempts of 1.31 last week -- the third lowest in the NFL. Hopkins isn't the worst option in a potentially ugly, low-scoring game this week against the lowly Giants.

Plug-and-Play Starters

Who, you ask with spittle on your lips, would I start over the below streaming options? You want to know. You need to know. It’s a good question -- one that can eliminate the need to read excruciating kicker matchup analysis. Here are the guys I’d start if I rostered them in redraft.

Harrison Butker (KC) vs. BAL: It's never going to be easy to bench Butker (note: never roster two kickers for any reason) with the Chiefs satisfying the kicker process every single week. They're four-point road favorites against the Ravens, who allowed 11 fantasy points to Carlson in Week 1. Keep going with Goatker.

Tyler Bass (BUF) at MIA: Bass made all three of his field goal tries and notched 11 fantasy points in the Bills' Week 1 loss. He was about one field goal over expectation but I give you permission to roll with him again in Week 2. Buffalo is a road favorite with a 25.5-point implied total.

Justin Tucker (BAL) vs. KC: I'm not sure what to tell you about Tucker. I suppose, if you drafted him as an every-week starter, you deploy him against the Chiefs. In no way does he fit the process though. That the Ravens will let Tucker kick from the stadium parking lot always offers some upside that's difficult to quantify.

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Week 2 Streamers

Brandon McManus (DEN) at JAC

We refuse to leave the McManus bandwagon in Week 2. You can try to push us out of the wagon but you will fail. We’re buckled in tight, white knuckled, holding on tight, stubbornly staying for another good matchup.

The Broncos are on the road -- not ideal, admittedly -- against a ghost of a Jacksonville defense that managed to make Tyrod Taylor and the Texans look like the early-2000s Rams last week. Denver is favored by six points with a 25.5 point implied total -- hardly hateful.

Get used to targeting the Jaguars with, well, every position in fantasy. They are and will be a punching bag in 2021 (and beyond). Joey Slye last week connected on all three of his field goal attempts on his way to tying Gould for the most kicker points of Week 1. McManus enters Week 2 with a considerable fantasy floor and (hopefully) a ceiling to match. Play him if you have him.

Ryan Succop (TB) vs. ATL

I am legally required -- per the Kickers on Teams Favored By A Lot (KTFBAL) Act of 1969 -- to recommend Ryan Succop as a Week 2 streaming play.

Tampa is at home against a nearly nonexistent Atlanta defense, favored by a dozen points with the week’s highest implied total (32 points). Succop in Week 1 was held to just one field goal attempt -- which he drilled -- and four extra point conversions while Tom Brady and the Bucs carbed up the Dallas defense for 431 yards. Succop’s expected field goal attempts for Week 1 was 2.25.

The Bucs in 2020 were third in red zone possessions per game (4). In Week 1 against the Cowboys, they breached the zone that is red five times. The Bucs offense making minced meat out of the Falcons defense and converting every red zone attempt into a TD is always a possibility, though Succop should -- at worst -- see a couple field goal tries.

Chase McLaughlin (CLE) vs. HOU

Once again, the FTFBAL Act of ‘69 compels me to tout McLaughlin. The journeyman kicker could not fit the process any better than he does this week against the Texans.

The Browns are at home, favored by a whopping 12.5 points. They sport an implied total of 30.25 points, the second highest of the week. Don’t fret about what Houston did to the hapless Jags in Week 1; the Browns rushing attack alone should pummel the Texans’ vulnerable front seven. Barring complete disasters, the Browns should fall out of bed and pile up a ton of yards against a Houston defense that gave up 332 passing yards to Trevor Lawrence on opening day.

McLaughlin made all three of his extra point tries in Week 1 against KC. He’s made 13 of his past 15 field goal attempts (for the 49ers and Colts) and has converted 35 of 36 extra point attempts in his 16 NFL games.

Cleveland’s expected field goal attempts for Week 1 stood at 2.39. Their actual attempts: Zero. It’s McLaughlin Szn.

Matt Prater (ARI) vs. MIN

The Vikings, fresh off giving up an 11-spot to Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson, are once again looking like a viable target for kicker streaming purposes. Only Denver, after all, allowed more fantasy production to kickers than Minnesota in 2020.

Prater had a solid if unspectacular Week 1 outing in Week 1 against the Titans. The unstoppable Arizona offense will continue pouring on yards this week against the Vikings, and with it, (hopefully) multiple field goal tries. The Cards are 4.5-point home favorites with an implied total of 27.5. There will be points. Don’t abandon your boy, Prater.