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Strickly Panthers: Kasay a fantasy option

Posted Sep 14, 2010

Fantasy football owners who banked on the kicker in supposedly high-octane offenses like the New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys were sorely disappointed in Week 1.

While that trio combined for four PATs and an 0-for-3 showing on field goals, Panthers kicker John Kasay tallied 10 points to earn a share of the NFL lead in scoring among kickers. To boot, Kasay's 52-yarder certainly qualified for bonus points in some scoring systems.

So is it time to pick up Kasay, a free agent in many leagues, and cut ties with Saints kicker Garrett Hartley or the like?

Yes. And no.

If your league rosters are set up to carry two kickers or you didn't draft what would be considered an elite fantasy kicker, Kasay is an intriguing consideration. But if you can carry only one kicker, and that's Hartley or Nate Kaeding for example, patience is probably in order.

Predicting which kicker will shine in a given week is virtually impossible. On one popular fantasy football Web site that prides itself on detailed statistical analysis, Hartley was listed as the top kicker for Week 1 and Kaeding was sixth. Kasay checked in at No. 22.

Over the long haul, however, kickers on the NFL's best offenses generally should find themselves near the top of the fantasy pecking order as well. Six times over the last seven years, the top-scoring kicker in the NFL at season's end played for one of the league's top-four scoring offenses (in the one exception, the offense ranked eighth).

That's because the unpredictably of field goal opportunities makes it possible for any kicker to lead the way any given week, but PATs build up over the course of the season. The Saints – the highest-scoring team in the NFL last season – made just three more field goals than the last-place St. Louis Rams, but the Saints had 60 PATs to just 16 for the Rams.

An example closer to home: Kasay tied for seventh in the preseason with seven field goals, yet he ranked just 22nd in kicker scoring thanks to zero PATs.

Where, then, does this leave Kasay from a fantasy perspective?

Every year, a kicker or two manages to thrive on an average offense that's good enough to get in the red zone a lot but not good enough to get in the end zone consistently enough.

In 2009, Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos and Jay Feely of the New York Jets were part of a tie for seventh place in the NFL in scoring – just four points short of finishing in the top five. Yet, their offenses ranked 20th and 17th in the NFL in scoring.

Kasay looks like he could be that kicker in 2010, so consider adding him and using him when the matchup looks favorable.

Just don't bank on it working out because when it comes to kickers and fantasy football, it's exceedingly difficult to read what's in the crystal K-Ball.


OH SNAP: Even the most sophisticated of fantasy football leagues doesn't include the long snapper, and that's just fine by J.J. Jansen.

"I'll let John and (punter) Jason (Baker) put up the big numbers and score the points," the Panthers' long snapper said. "I want to fly under the radar."

It's usually bad news when a long snapper gets noticed, and that was the case Sunday. Late in the third quarter, with the Giants leading 17-16, Jansen lost control of the ball on a punt snap near midfield in drizzly conditions, resulting in great field position that the Giants converted into a touchdown.

"It just slipped out of my hand," Jansen said. "Field conditions impacted it a little bit, but ultimately that's my responsibility.

"That has never happened to me before. I've seen it once or twice, but it's never happened to me."

Needless to say, Jansen hopes it never happens again.

"Hopefully," Jansen said, "there won't be too much to write about me from here forward."