esny 2021 fantasy football preview ks
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Yes, kickers matter on a fantasy team. ESNY’s Fantasy Football Preview series continues with the top 10 fantasy kickers in the NFL.

I once heard of a kicker battle in a fantasy league.

I believe once every few weeks, in each matchup throughout the league, both competitors would sit all of their players except their kicker. Thus, two placekickers would battle it out in a matchup that could end with a 12-8 final score.

It’s an awesome idea — something like that would probably provide me with more stress and anxiety than just a regular fantasy football matchup.

Well, anyway, ESNY’s 2021 Fantasy Football Preview series rolls on with this year’s top ten fantasy kickers.

10. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND)

With quarterback Carson Wentz out for up to 12 weeks due to pending foot surgery (according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport), the Colts will temporarily need to rely on their defense and kicking game, the latter of which is led by Rodrigo Blankenship.

When the opportunities present themselves, expect the young placekicker to get the job done.

Blankenship connected on 32 of 37 field-goal attempts last year (86.5%) along with 43 of his 45 extra-point attempts (95.6%).

He additionally converted nine of 11 field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards out.

9. Harrison Butker (KC)

Harrison Butker will certainly receive opportunities to put points on the board thanks to this high-powered Chiefs offense.

He may be a tad bit shaky with extra-point attempts (48 of 54 last year) but does indeed possess range. Harrison connected on all four of his attempts from 50+ yards out in 2020.

8. Cairo Santos (CHI)

Although the state of the Bears offense moving forward (with either quarterback Andy Dalton or Justin Fields) is unclear, Cairo Santos underwent a productive 2020 campaign and deserves to be in consideration for your fantasy team(s).

Santos hit on 30 of his 32 field-goal attempts last year and 36 of his 37 extra-point attempts. He also converted nine of 10 field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards out.

7. Justin Tucker (BAL)

The most accurate kicker this league has ever seen has still got it.

Baltimore’s Justin Tucker hit on 52 of his 53 extra-point attempts and 26 of his 29 field-goal attempts in 2020.

This season-wide performance included him connecting on all nine of his field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards out.

6. Mason Crosby (GB)

Aaron Rodgers is back in Green Bay.

He has a familiar face in Randall Cobb with him as well, along with superstar Davante Adams.

This offense, also led by head coach Mike LaFleur, is expected to be highly productive once again, which should lead to a superb number of opportunities for placekicker Mason Crosby.

Crosby connected on all 16 of his field-goal attempts last year and also led the league in both extra points made and extra-point attempts (59 and 63, respectively).

Mason converted on all five of his kicks from 40-49 yards and all four from 50+.

5. Graham Gano (NYG)

Graham Gano signed with the Giants last offseason after a leg injury caused him to miss the entire 2019 campaign. He was to be the replacement for former Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas, whose 2020 run-in with the law eventually led to his release.

The veteran kicker did not disappoint whatsoever.

Gano connected on 31 of his 32 field-goal attempts. He was additionally 9-for-9 from 40-49 yards out and 5-for-6 from 50+ yards out.

He was undergoing such a productive year, the Giants decided to sign him to a three-year extension following the team’s Nov. 15 win over the Eagles.

4. Ryan Succop (TB)

Ryan Succop will surely receive opportunities to put points on the board.

I mean have you seen this Bucs offense?

Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, and Leonard Fournette should at least reach the placekicker’s range almost every drive if the unit is as dominant as it was during its Super Bowl 55 run.

Succop possesses the talent to capitalize on the opportunities as well — he was 28-for-31 on field-goal attempts and 52-for-57 on extra-point attempts last year.

3. Jason Sanders (MIA)

I’m not high on this Dolphins offense (22nd in yards, 15th in points last year), nor am I that confident in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

But Jason Sanders’ production (and 2020 first-team All-Pro selection) is nothing to overlook, which is why he finds himself in the top three.

Knocking through 36 of 39 field-goal attempts is impressive, and so is converting on all 36 extra-point attempts.

But the range is what stands out.

Sanders was 8-for-9 from 50+ yards in 2020.

2. Daniel Carlson (LV)

The Raiders offense was eighth in the NFL last year in total yardage and 10th in scoring.

Taking that into consideration, along with their kicker’s production, it was an easy choice to throw Daniel Carlson into the top two.

The Vegas placekicker hit on 33 of 35 field-goal attempts (was 4-for-4 from 50+ yards out) and also converted on 45 of 47 extra-point attempts.

1. Younghoe Koo (ATL)

Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo was fantastic last year and is expected to continue that on-field greatness in 2021.

Koo connected on 37 of 39 field-goal attempts (the 37 field goals made led the league) and 33 of 36 extra-point attempts. Not only was he 8-for-9 from 40-49 yards, but he was also a perfect 8-for-8 from 50+ yards.

His efforts earned him a Pro Bowl nod.

Koo was one of the top placekickers in the league in 2020. There’s a chance he can retain that reputation this coming season, which is why you should pick him up in the kicker-friendly draft rounds.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.