Week 7 Kickers: Get Folk, Folks

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Josh Lambo can confirm that life, in fact, comes at you fast.

Lambo went from the most accurate kicker in pro football to getting the boot this week following fill-in kicker Matthew Wright’s game winning field goal against the Dolphins last Sunday. Lambo, a Jacksonville mainstay who made 94.6 percent of his kicks from 2017 to 2019, was released Tuesday morning in favor of Wright, who had made a grand total of four NFL field goals going into the Jags’ Week 6 game in London.

Wright made three of his four London attempts, including the clutch 54-yarder on a gorgeous little draw, and now he’s the team’s starter. And Lambo is on the proverbial street.

The 2021 season has been a living nightmare for Lambo. He blew five kicks -- three field goals and two extra points -- before being made inactive. The hope, it seems, was for Lambo to work through the yips and come back to the team as his normal, accurate self. Lambo had turned down interview requests ahead of the Jaguars' overseas trip, unwilling to discuss his confidence issues after the team had put him on notice.

Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer saw no reason to extend Lambo’s confidence-seeking mission after Wright -- a software engineer as of August -- showed his stuff against Miami. Maybe that's right, maybe it's wrong. Maybe right and wrong have nothing to do with it. It's inarguable brutal though.

Lambo, fantasy’s sixth highest scoring kicker two short years ago, is now without a job, reliant on a kicker injury somewhere in the NFL if he’s going to play again in 2021.

I’m hoping the $3.5 million Jacksonville has to pay Mr. Lambo will soften the blow of his fall from grace.

Week 6 Results

Evan McPherson (CIN) at DET
2/2 field goals
11 fantasy points
Rank: 7th

Mason Crosby (GB) at CHI
1/1 field goals
6 fantasy points
Rank: t-16th

Chase McLaughlin (CLE) vs. ARI
0/0 field goals
2 fantasy points
Rank: 23rd

Now for some all-important kicker #notes…

The Colts are 3.47 field goal tries over expectation after six weeks, yet their kickers keep putting up respectable stat lines. Curious! This week, the horseshoes are four point road underdogs to the 49ers (I’m not sure how the Niners are favorites against anyone at this point). Michael Badgley, filling in for the injured Rodrigo Blankenship, made his only field goal try of Week 6 against Houston, along with all four of his extra point attempts. I suppose you could do worse than Money Badger in Week 7, if only barely.

On the other side of the 49ers-Colts Week 7 matchup is Joey Slye, who -- to his great credit -- has never missed arm day. He’ll get another start this week with Robbie Gould dealing with an old man groin strain (I can relate, per reports). The 49ers are four-point home favorites and the team is 3.61 field goal attempts under expectation, meaning Slye technically fits the process. The Colts, being bludgeoned in the red zone this year, have allowed just six field goal tries -- the second fewest in the league. I’d prefer Slye over Badgley if you’re scraping bottom in Week 7.

A week after I deemed Jason Sanders -- the worst kicker draft pick in 2021 fantasy leagues -- a locked-in starter, I think he’s playable again. The Dolphins are at home and slight underdogs to the Falcons (bleak stuff), and Sanders has multiple attempts in two of the three games in which Miami has hung with their opponents. Tua’s return is good for Sanders too. The Dolphins, converting a lowly 57 percent of their red zone visits into TDs, are 0.1 field goal tries over expectation.

Outside of a Week 4 outburst against New England, Ryan Succop has mostly been useless for fantasy purposes. The Bucs, it turns out, prefer touchdowns to field goals and have the personnel and wherewithal to make it so. Succop, with one or zero attempts in four of his six games this season, is never a sure thing, even when Tampa is a heavy favorite with a monster total. That’s the case this week against the Bears. Apparently lots of fantasy managers are deploying Succop -- fantasy’s 16th highest scoring kicker -- every week. You can probably do better in Week 7. Tampa is 3.34 field goal tries under expectation through six games.

Wil Lutz -- who was good when the zoomers were toddlers -- could return this week for the Saints. You might gravitate to the formerly productive kicker because you recognize his name and have good memories of his many big games with Drew Brees at the helm of the New Orleans offense. Things are different now with Sean Payton running some sort of grinding offense designed to win by as few points as possible. Whatever the Saints are doing this season, they’re crushing opponents in the red zone, turning a league-high 92.9 percent of their red zone visits into touchdowns. Relatedly, the Saints have a league-low four field goal tries. Though he shouldn’t be a priority add, Lutz will fit the process this week against the Seahawks (if he plays).

You’re going to want to start Brandon McManus on Thursday night against the injury-ravaged Browns. It could end up being a fine process play too if Baker Mayfield (shoulder) and both starting running backs sit. As of this writing, I’m legally barred from recommending McGoatus as a set-it-and-forget-it Week 7 option. You see, the Browns are 3.5 point home favorites. Until that changes, I’d prefer one of the streamers over McManus. He’s been a victim of negative game script of late, attempting just three field goals over the past three weeks following his red-hot start to the season. The likelihood of Denver seeing at least neutral game script against the struggling Browns could keep McManus afloat on Thursday. The Broncos are 0.46 field goal tries over expectation.

Now for the hard part: Do not, under any circumstances, feel compelled to hang on to Tyler Bass through his bye week. It could trim months off your life to drop fantasy's top scoring kicker to the waiver wire to make room for a running back or receiver you might need in Week 7, but trust me when I say it's the right move. Well-meaning folks have asked me this week if they should drop Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley to keep Bass on their roster. I may never recover from such a query. No. Do not do any such thing. And please, don't galaxy brain your team to death and take a zero at the kicker spot. Kicker are replaceable -- that's the point of this column. Kickers don't matter. Bass' second half schedule doesn't matter. Hold Bass on your bench if you can. If you simply have no wiggle room with which to work during this bye week apocalypse, cover your eyes, choke down the bile, and drop Bass. I'll hold your hand if that'll make it easier.

Plug-And-Play Starters

Matt Gay (LAR) vs. DET: The Rams are at home and favored by 6.9 million against a lifeless Detroit team. Gay has multiple attempts in five of six games. You’re rolling him out once again in Week 7.

Matt Prater (ARI) vs. HOU: The Cardinals could break records this week if Houston had any chance of hanging with Kyler Murray’s offense. Prater, with the Cards listed as 17 point favorites, should be in your lineup. My interns would like to apologize for doubting Prater in Week 6.

Daniel Carlson (LV) vs. PHI: Carlson is averaging a healthy three field goal attempts in Vegas wins this season and the Raiders enter the week as three-point home favorites against Philadelphia. The Raiders’ 25.75 point implied total isn’t bad either. Vegas is 1.94 field goal tries over expectation.

Justin Tucker (BAL) vs. CIN: You’re rolling with fantasy’s No. 2 kicker this week against the Bengals. The Ravens are seven-point home favorites who should run roughshod over Cincy’s defense. The Bengals, meanwhile, have given up the seventh most field goal attempts (13) this season.

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Week 7 Streaming Options

Nick Folk (NE) vs. NYJ (35 percent rostered)

Folk’s frightening gap between his expected field goal tries and his actual attempts narrowed considerably last week. For the first time in 2021, Folk didn’t have a single attempt. And he’s still third in field goal tries through Week 6. The Patriots are now 3.9 field goal attempts over expectation, which, yes, makes me a little queasy.

(Quick digression: Folk likened coming back from a crucial missed kick -- like his late miss against Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 4 -- to Top Gun's Maverick getting "back in the saddle" after losing best friend and fellow pilot Goose. Adjust your ranks.)

Unlike last week, Folk is a rock solid process play in Week 7 against a Jets team giving up the most field goal attempts per game (3.2), with all five kickers to face the Jets logging multiple field goal attempts. Four of those five kickers have managed at least nine fantasy points. Things have been good and fun if you’ve streamed kickers against Gang Green this season.

New England is at home, favored by seven points, with a 25-point total -- the sixth highest of the week. Folks has benefited bigly from the Patriots utter failure to turn red zone possessions into touchdowns, thanks mostly to conservative play calling from an offensive coordinator who has zero trust in his rookie QB. The Patriots have scored a touchdown on 44.4 percent of their red zone visits in 2021, the third lowest rate in the NFL. They were dead last in red zone touchdown rate before their Week 6 red zone success against the Cowboys.

Folk’s viability doesn’t hinge entirely on New England being atrocious inside the 20. It certainly doesn’t hurt though. Nine of Folk’s 14 field goals this season have come into 40 yards. In other words, the gimmes have been plentiful for the old vet. He’s as good a streaming play as you’ll see all season against the Jets.

Younghoe Koo (ATL) at MIA (46 percent rostered)

It feels a little like cheating to tout a kicker rostered in nearly half of fantasy leagues. Go ahead and call the cops. I’m happy to argue my case before a jury of my peers.

Kicker streamers aren’t working with much in Week 7. Hopefully, you’ve landed on an every-week kicker option and no longer have to read my drivel. That is the point, after all: To find a waiver wire play who magically transforms into a reliable option so you can dedicate more brain power to things like changing your car’s horrifying air filter or cleaning your disgusting keyboard or vacuuming your filthy office. None of these chores apply to me.

Koo was a streamer two weeks ago against the aforementioned Jets, when he hit two field goals and three extra points on his way to a dandy 11-point outing. Atlanta enters Week 7 as a slight favorite (1.5 point) against a Miami team in freefall after a humiliating overseas loss to the Jaguars. You may have seen future Hall of Famer Matthew Wright nail all three of his field goals, including a long, winding bomb in the Jacksonville win over the fish (they’re mammals). Well, Wright isn’t the first kicker to thrive against the Dolphins in 2021. Five of six kickers to face Miami have scored at least nine fantasy points, and all but one (Nick Folk in Week 1) has notched multiple attempts.

Opponents are gouging Miami’s injury-plagued defense this year. Only the Seahawks and the Football team are allowing more yardage per game than the Dolphins, and only the Falcons and the Football Team are allowing more points. Considering all this, Atlanta’s implied total of 24.5 points seems low -- real low.

Koo is a better process play than he seems. The Falcons are 2.02 field goal tries under expectation through five games.