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Buffalo Bills fantasy football primer: kicker

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Steven Hauschka is a reliable fantasy option

When the Buffalo Bills moved on from Dan Carpenter this past offseason, they almost immediately signed veteran kicker Steven Hauschka to replace him. Looking at their struggles with extra points since it was moved back to a 33-yard kick, one would assume that Hauschka isn’t someone on whom a fantasy owner can rely to score consistently. However, Hauschka has been very good over his career, and his propensity for making long field goals gives him an added value in leagues that give kickers a bonus for making field goals of more than 40 yards.

According to Yahoo!, Hauschka is projected to finish 20th among kickers this year, scoring 125 fantasy points. That’s how many points he scored last year, as well, following a year where he scored 148. The “ugly” statistic on Hauschka’s resume was his extra point percentage, as he has missed 10 of 89 PATs since the new kick length was adopted in 2015. However, for fantasy purposes, many leagues do not deduct a point for missed extra points—many leagues penalize kickers for missing field goals, but unless your commissioner toggles the settings, extra point misses won’t count against your kicker. So, if you’re thinking of avoiding Hauschka because of his PAT misses, it may not hurt you.

Hauschka’s real strength lies in his ability to make 50-yard kicks. For his career, he’s 16 of 24 from that distance, and he hasn’t missed one of that length since 2014. If you go back to the 2013 season, he’s 12 of his last 14 from 50-plus. Factor in his success in kicks of 40 yards or more (he’s hit 52 of 65 in his career), and you have a kicker capable of scoring 4 or 5 points at a clip. His 87.2% career made field goal percentage ranks him 3rd among active kickers, behind only Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens and Dan Bailey of the Dallas Cowboys, and just in front of Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots.

Gostkowski’s average draft position is pick 77.5, with an average round drafted of 8.9. Hauschka is currently going at pick 105.4, putting him in the 11th round on average. Personally, I think that’s way too early for either guy—especially Gostkowski—but I don’t believe in drafting kickers until the final rounds of a fantasy draft. If you’re hellbent on having Buffalo’s kicker on your team, you may have to spend a pick that would be better spent on someone at a more valuable position, such as wide receiver. Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers, for example, has an average draft spot of pick 110.5. (Man, I want these guys picking kickers before Randall Cobb in my league!)

Once we’ve had the chance to watch some preseason games, we’ll update these projections and add some of our own.

This is the fifth installment of our Buffalo Bills’ fantasy football preview series. We’ve already covered quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends.