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Kickers should always be drafted late

Over the five years there has not been a repeat winner as highest-scoring kicker.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Many fantasy owners like to think it is a big deal to get the best kicker in the draft, but after analyzing the data for the last five years, I have come to the opposite conclusion.

There is very little incentive to draft a kicker high and therefore you should leave your kicking choice until the last few rounds.

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).

The difference between the best kicker and an average kicker in your league over the five year period was 1.8 ppg. Your early and mid-round picks are best used elsewhere.

Even if you wanted to take the "best" kicker in the league, finding him is difficult.

Over the five years there has not been a repeat winner as highest-scoring kicker. Using one point for extra points, three points for field goals and bonus points for made field goals over 50 yards, Wilkins won in 2003, Adam Vinatieri in 2004, Jay Feely in 2005, Robbie Gould in 2006 and Mason Crosby of Green Bay last year.

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. Matt Stover, Jason Elam, Vinatieri and Nate Kaeding all made the list four times.

That would seem to indicate if you picked one of them you would be happy, but in 2007 six new kickers (50%) made the top-12 list including the top-four scorers: Crosby, Stephen Gostkowski, Rob Bironas and Nick Folk. The top-12 averages 4.25 "newcomers" each season.

My best advise is to pick a kicker from a top-12 scoring team because their kicker has a 75% chance of being a top-12 kicker (45 out of 60).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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