Stephen Gostkowski scored 26 points more than the No.12 kicker last season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In truth, I don't believe you can actually have a "bargain" kicker or a "bust" since the difference between the best kicker in a given year and the 12th-best kicker is negligible.
Over the course of the 2008 season the No.1 scorer Stephen Gostkowski (143 points) scored 26 points more than the No.12 kicker Nate Kaeding. That difference, over the 16-game schedule, is equal to 1.625 points per week or not enough for me to EVER pick a kicker before the final round.
For the years 2003-2007 the difference between the best kicker in the league and the 12th-best kicker (the worst starting kicker in your 12-team league) was just 2.525 points per game. And that includes the 2003 season when Jeff Wilkins was head and shoulders better than anyone else (39-for-42 including four over 50 yards) so 2008 was not an aberration.
Even if you wanted to take the "best" kicker in the league, finding him is difficult.
Over the five-year period from 03-07 there has not been a repeat winner. Using one point for extra points, three points for field goals and bonus points for made field goals over 50 yards, Jeff Wilkins won in 2003, Adam Vinatieri in 2004, Jay Feely in 2005, Robbie Gould in 2006 and Mason Crosby of Green Bay won in 2007. In fact, there were 27 different kickers qualifying in the top-12 during that span. Only one kicker, Shayne Graham made the "cut" in all five years. Graham finished 30th in 2008.
But for those of you who insist on picking kickers early, here is my analysis:
Bargains - John Carney, Joe Nedney, John Kasay, Jason Elam
Carney wasn't even on the Giants roster until late August when starting kicker Lawrence Tynes went down with a left knee injury. The Broncos had been interested in Carney before he signed with New York last season and appear to still be interested in him as a replacement for inconsistent Matt Prater.
Fair Market Value - Stephen Gostkowski, Rob Bironas, David Akers
Gostkowski was the No.2 kicker picked, behind Nick Folk, and he lived up to his billing by edging out Carney for the kickers fantasy scoring title.
Overpaid - Nate Kaeding, Mason Crosby, Jeff Reed, Martin Gramatica
Crosby, the 2007 top-scoring kicker, couldn't crack the top-12 in 2008 as the Rodgers' led offense didn't rack up as many points as the Favre offense of the previous season.
Busts - Shayne Graham, Adam Vinatieri, Phil Dawson, Nick Folk
Folk was the top-ranked kicker in pre-season (ADP - 111.60), but when the Cowboys offense went south, so did his opportunities. He only missed two kicks, but attempted just 22 field goals (versus 40 attempts by Gostkowski).