I have a tendency to do things backward. Sometimes I eat dessert before actually eating dinner. I once negotiated a car's price at a dealership before test-driving it, or even looking at it. And I routinely buy concert tickets before I have any idea who's going with me.
I also spend a lot of pre-draft time thinking about the end of my draft, and who I want as my kicker.
Yes, I know that's a bit strange. But I look at it this way: Why obsess over the first few rounds of your draft when other owners will dictate what you do there? The guys you want will either be there, or they won't. It all depends on what everyone else does. Would Todd Gurley be a third-round steal? Sure, and you can dream about it. But it's not really up to you, is it?
If the guy you want is there, you'll take him. If not, you'll adjust. You'll get good players, and maybe they'll even be the guys you targeted before the draft. But maybe they won't. You'll find out on draft day, and not before.
But the end of the draft works a little differently, right? Sometimes the guy you want will get taken right before you pick, but it's usually a free-for-all where people take the trash nobody wants and hope it turns into treasure. A lot of times the guys you want are just sitting there. People aren't exactly fighting for these guys. You might like three or four scrubs -- I mean, gems -- and they could all be there when it's your turn to pick.
That includes kickers, the most important "not important" position in fantasy football. Nobody cares about kickers because they're all interchangeable, and the difference between a great one and a decent one might be a couple of points. So what's the difference?
The difference is a couple of points, of course. And how many times have you lost a nail-biter by one or two points? Continuing that thought, how many times have you missed the playoffs by one game, or maybe a tie-breaker? A couple of points here or there could be the difference between a title and getting trash-talked by the guy in your league who simply prints out a list the morning of the draft. And his trash-talking probably won't even be original, either. He'll probably just print up a list of insults and use them on you. And you'll still have to take it.
Nobody wants that, so I encourage you to give some extra thought to the end of your draft, and your kicker. You want a kicker who's reliable, who plays on a good offense and who has an attractive schedule during the most important part of the fantasy season: The first few weeks.
Wait, what? The first few weeks? Yeah, I'm doing things backward again. Everybody's concerned with weeks 14-16, but I'm thinking about weeks 1-6. Why? Because the playoffs don't matter if you don't reach them. If you're on the bubble with a few weeks left, you'll probably be dealing with injuries, or have to shake things up. So who knows who will be on your roster by then? You'll have other things to worry about besides the kicker.
But if you can get off to a strong start, the plan can stay in place. And if a kicker can help do that, he's earned his spot. And if he has a bad playoff schedule, so what? There will be plenty on the waiver wire.
I don't worry about playoff schedules on draft day. I worry about making the playoffs on draft day.
With that in mind, let's cut to the chase: My sleeper pick at kicker this year is Phil Dawson. The Cardinals are a good (but not great) team, and they should be settling for a bunch of field goals. And five of his first six games are in a dome. In fact, 11 of his 15 fantasy-relevant games are in domes, including week 16 if you make it that far. He's accurate and he's experienced. He'll help Arizona win some games, and he might help you win a couple as well.
Getting him for your team shouldn't be too hard, either. He's not a Gostkowski or a Bailey. He's just Phil. And I know he's just a kicker. But, like lawyers, everyone likes to make jokes until you need a good one. I think he's a good one.
I know, you just spent time reading a column about the end of your draft, and who to take at kicker. It's not as much fun as imagining getting Mike Evans in the third round. The difference is, you'll never get Evans in the third. But you can get a good kicker who can make a difference. If not Dawson, then find one you like and target them. It's a better use of your time than thinking about players you won't get, and scenarios that won't happen. While everyone else is dreaming about endless permutations at the beginning of the draft, you can help yourself at the end of it. If your draft is coming up this week, I hope you'll do just that.
Do you prepare for the end of your draft? Do you care about the kicker at all? Who looks good to you? Share your thoughts below.