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Red zone scoring percentage — measuring a defense’s propensity for stopping opponents from scoring touchdowns inside the 20 — can be a reliable guiding light in streaming kickers.
A single-minded focus on red zone scoring percentage is misguided, of course, as we know that kicker scoring is closely linked to solid quarterback performance and a generally positive game script. It all came together last week for Nick Folk, who posted a tidy 13 fantasy points against the Bears, thanks to four field goals on Monday Night Football.
Chicago, headed into Week 3, had only allowed touchdowns on 30 percent of opponents’ red zone possessions. Vegas projected the Bears-Jets tilt to be relatively high scoring and there wasn’t a real reason to think Gang Green couldn’t move the ball against a nicked-up Chicago secondary.
Folk was the week’s fourth highest scoring kicker, while our other two kickers, Dan Carpenter and Nick Novak, were the 21st and 15th highest scoring kickers, respectively.
The high-minded folks at Rotoviz have given us a very useful tool in identifying the week’s best kicker options, as this week the site unveiled its shiny, new Streaming Kicker App. The end, apparently, is nigh.
Shaun Suisham (PIT) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs
I’m not sure how Suisham — the Steelers’ most potent red zone weapon — is available in more than 80 percent of leagues, but he is. Pittsburgh, once again devoid of big pass catchers who can consistently, you know, catch touchdowns, seems more than fine settling for three points. The Steelers have scored touchdowns in the red zone 44 percent of the time in 2014.
There’s no doubt that Suisham will benefit from a positive game script against an atrocious Tampa defense that has been tormented by quarterbacks through three weeks. Tampa has allowed six field goals this season, giving up 9.3 points to opposing kickers. Vegas projects the Steelers to score 26 points against the Bucs, meaning Suisham will have his chances to put up points. Grab him if you can.
Robbie Gould (CHI) vs. Green Bay Packers
Available in more than 70 percent of leagues, I see Gould as a premiere kicker in the Bears’ matchup with their division rival. Vegas has this one pegged as the third highest scoring affair of Week 4 and Green Bay is allowing touchdowns on just half of their opponents’ red zone possessions.
Gould, the third most accurate kicker in NFL history, should have plenty of opportunity. I wouldn’t blame anyone for using Gould over any other kicker in Week 4.
Shayne Graham (NO) at Dallas Cowboys
Graham’s not my favorite play — I’d much rather use Gould or Suisham — but he’s playing in a game that could easily eclipse 60 total points. If you have to use Graham this week, just consider it an investment in a scoring fest between two teams with no D in Big D.
Here’s the thing about rolling with a Saints kicker: New Orleans is always pretty good in the red zone. The Saints, through three weeks, are scoring touchdowns on 69.4 percent of their red zone possessions — the fourth best mark in the NFL. For a little perspective, consider that the Jets are scoring touchdowns in the red zone at a 33 percent clip.
If you can’t grab Gould or Suisham, snag Graham and pray to the fantasy deities that the Cowboys can stop Drew Brees and company a couple times in the red zone.
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