Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The difference between a kicker getting fantasy owners 12 points compared to five points has the potential to be a deciding factor, when it comes to competing in your fantasy football championship. On many occasions, choosing the right kicker is a crapshoot, yet there are definitely a few trends owners can use to help make the correct decisions.
Our top-ranked kicker has the second-most fantasy points (according to Yahoo) this season, with 146, and has accumulated the most points over the past four games (49). Philadelphia Eagles' place-kicker Cody Parkey has jumped onto the scene as a rookie, and has made a major impact during the 2014 fantasy football season. With the Eagles scoring on just 48 percent of their red-zone possessions, Parkey should continue to have a good amount of field goal opportunities during Week 16.
New England Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski was projected as the top- ranked kicker heading into the season, and has simply lived up to that expectation. He has the most fantasy points among kickers (155) and continues to be a major weapon for fantasy owners. Gostkowski's upcoming opponent, the New York Jets, are giving up the ninth-most points to opposing kickers (8.8 points per game), paving way for New England's kicker to put together another solid outing.
The only guy who has played in every game this season and yet to miss a field goal attempt, is Indianapolis Colts' kicker Adam Vinateri. Not only is he our third-ranked kicker for Week 16, but Vinateri also has the third-most fantasy points (146.0) among place-kickers. The future Hall-of-Famer continues to be as steady as a rock for both the Colts and more importantly, fantasy owners.
The Detroit Lions were in desperate need of somebody to solve their kicking woes. After going through both Nate Freese and Alex Henery, it seems Detroit finally found their man in Matt Prater. Over the past four games he has recorded 44 fantasy points, which is tied for third-most among kickers, and with a juicy matchup against the Chicago Bears who give up the most points to opposing place-kickers (11 ppg), Prater is in line to keep his hot streak going.
Another player who did not start the season with his current team is Denver Broncos' kicker Connor Barth. Fantasy owners need to have confidence in starting him this week against the Cincinnati Bengals, who are giving up the 10th-most points to opposing kickers (8.6 ppg). On top of that, Barth has excelled during his time in Denver, and has put together a four-week span of producing the fifth-most fantasy points (43) at his position (tied with Matt Bryant). All good trends heading into the championship round.