2015 Outlook: The gap between Gostkowski, the leader in fantasy points per game for kickers with at least six appearances, and No. 10 on that list was 28 points, by far the smallest of any position. That's why you should not draft any kicker early. Still, Gostkowski is the best. He consistently finishes first or second in fantasy points per game at the position. A study conducted by the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective found that the link between offensive yardage and kicker performance is rather direct. Once Tom Brady returns from his Deflategate suspension, the Pats' offense will be as good as ever. And so will Gostkowski.
2015 Outlook: Vinatieri hit 96.8 percent of his attempts in 2014, leading the league in accuracy. A study conducted for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2013 confirmed what we all knew to be true: "From distances of greater than 20 yards, being indoors is strongly associated with higher field goal success. And the significance of this association appears to increase along with the length of the attempt up to 50 yards." The Colts, of course, play indoors. So until Vinatieri regresses (he has finished third in fantasy points per game in each of the past two seasons), the Colts' famously accurate veteran is a great option.
2015 Outlook: Hauschka's steady, strong usage vaults him into the top tier at the position. He has averaged 36 field goal attempts over the past two seasons, ranking 10th and third, respectively. One of just three kickers to finish in the top seven in fantasy points per game over the past two seasons, Hauschka has thrived on kicks between 40 and 49 yards in that span, hitting 20 of 25 attempts. A reliably larcenous defense and a steadily improving offense combine to buoy Hauschka's value heading into the 2015 season.
2015 Outlook: Tucker has converted 89.8 percent of his field goals in his three-year career -- the highest qualifying accuracy mark in NFL history. Tucker has also averaged eight attempts from beyond 50 yards over the past two seasons. His brilliant 2013 effort saw him make the most field goals (38) and score the most points (140) in a single season in franchise history. His 61-yard conversion vs. the Lions that season in Detroit remains the longest field goal ever made in a domed stadium. He's consistent and accurate, and he has a huge leg. A great combination.
2015 Outlook: The Eagles acquired Parkey as an undrafted rookie in a 2014 preseason trade with the Colts for running back David Fluellen. Not only was he the franchise's first rookie to make the Pro Bowl since TE Keith Jackson in 1988, he set an NFL rookie scoring record with 150 points, breaking Kevin Butler's record with the 1985 Bears. Parkey's average kicking distance at home was 37.4 yards, helped by four successful attempts beyond 50 yards, which suggests Chip Kelly trusts his young kicker to convert from distance. On one of the league's most productive offenses, Parkey is often in a position to produce.
2015 Outlook: Prater has finished in the top 12 in fantasy points per game at the position in each of the past three seasons, one of only four kickers to sustain such production over that span. Leaving the Broncos' top offense and the friendly effects of the altitude in Denver, Prater nonetheless thrived in Detroit last season after serving an early suspension. In fact, he averaged 0.74 more field goal attempts per game for the Lions last season than he did in 2013 while working with Denver's extra-point-filled touchdown circus.
2015 Outlook: Bryant finished last season fifth in fantasy points per game for kickers with at least six appearances. When Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense have been healthy, Bryant has generally been effective, if not nearly elite, in per-game production. An average of nine fantasy points per game nearly assures a top-10 season; Bryant has averaged 8.8 fantasy points over the past three years and hasn't missed from between 40 and 49 yards in the past two years. We'll take a kicker like that working with a strong passing offense in an indoor environment.
2015 Outlook: Despite averaging just 1.9 field goal attempts per game over the past three seasons -- a good deal below his peers -- Bailey has still produced strong results. He finished sixth in fantasy points per game last season and ninth in 2013. He has converted 92 percent of his career attempts between 40 and 49 yards; the league average from this distance was 79 percent during that period. Bailey is one of four kickers who ranked in the top 12 in fantasy points per game in each of the past three years. He also hit 79 percent (11 of 14) from beyond 50 yards the past two years; the league average was 64 percent.
2015 Outlook: Carpenter has topped the meaningful nine points per game threshold in both of his seasons in Orchard Park. While there is a correlation between offensive accomplishment and kicker production, it's not an undeniable determinant: Carp was second in field goals made (34) last season on a languid offense that ranked 26th in yardage and 28th in first downs.
2015 Outlook: Crosby has hit nine of 14 attempts beyond 50 yards over the past two seasons, a nice rebound from a disastrous 2012 campaign that saw him go 2-for-9 from that distance. Working alongside a high-powered offense that ranked first in points last year has offered Crosby consistent scoring opportunities, with fantasy point averages of 9.6 in 2013 and 8.8 in 2014, eighth and seventh, respectively. Late-season weather concerns could diminish the enduring value of retaining Crosby.
2015 Outlook: Tied with Phil Dawson for the most field goals from 50 to 59 yards (17) over the past three seasons, Walsh regularly averages over 37 yards per field goal attempt, an unquestionably healthy average distance. Walsh is still cashing fantasy checks from the 2012 season, when he finished first among kickers with a robust 10.3 fantasy points per game on his way to being the only rookie selected first-team All-Pro. But since enjoying aberrational success from 50 to 59 yards as a rookie -- he hit all 10 of his attempts from that distance -- Walsh has returned to earth.
2015 Outlook: If you want to roster someone born in 1975, Dawson is undoubtedly your guy. The main fear for his 2015 season will be continued decline from his stellar 2013 debut with the 49ers. San Francisco fans are likely reminded of veteran kicker David Akers' stint with the team, which saw him similarly dominate in his first year in the Bay Area only to disappoint in Year 2. Last season Dawson's 80.6 field goal percentage marked his worst rate since 2006.
2015 Outlook: An undrafted rookie out of Clemson, Catanzaro enjoyed a strong debut season in the pro ranks. Impressive accuracy -- he ranked 10th in field goal percentage among NFL kickers in 2014 and set a franchise record for points by a rookie -- suggests there's some upside past his awesome name. Last season Catanzaro made his first 17 field goals, tying him with Kai Forbath for most consecutive made field goals to begin a career. Such impressive accuracy inspires some confidence for big outings with an Arizona offense that could be special if Carson Palmer can return to form.
2015 Outlook: Yes, it's true that in 2012, Folk was 32nd in fantasy points per game at the position. But he has finished in the top 14 in each of the past two seasons with a respectable average of 8.4 fantasy points per game. The key to Folk's modicum of recent success stems from an offense prone to stalling, combined with consistent trust and usage from former coach Rex Ryan. His average of two field goals per game compares favorably with the perennial top kickers and offers some hope for another strong season as a streaming asset.