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2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (Ks 1-12)

[K RANKINGS 13-24internal-link-placeholder-0]

Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

  • Player
  • Analysis

Let's just get this out of the way: Akers is going to disappoint fantasy owners in 2012. What else can you think about a kicker who set NFL records in field goals attempted (52), field goals made (44) and who also made seven field goals from 50-plus yards? There's really nowhere to go but down, right? Even so, Akers has been absolute fantasy gold over the past four seasons, connecting on 32-plus field goals a year during that span. Kicking for a 49ers team that has issues scoring in the red zone has its privileges, and for Akers it means being the likely first kicker off the board in most fantasy drafts.

Janikowski battled a hamstring injury for a good portion of 2011. That needs to be known because you'd never be able to tell just by looking at his numbers. Last year was one of the best of the veteran's career, as he approached career highs in field goals made and field-goal percentage. He did set a career mark by making seven field goals of 50 yards or more; all of which reinforces why Janikowski has been a fantasy favorite for the better part of the last few years. At times his accuracy can be a frustration, but as long as he still has that booming leg, Sea Bass will remain a top-five fantasy kicker.

The 2011 campaign was arguably the best in Crosby's five-year career. The problem for fantasy owners was settling for a lot of extra points and not as many field goals. But, man, did he make a lot of extra points (68 to be exact), most in the NFL. The most encouraging news about Crosby is that he made more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts, the first time he broke that plateau. The 2012 Packers offense might not be quite as potent as it was in 2011, but it still has the potential to score a lot of touchdowns. Crosby will still be a top-five kicker, so long as you don't envision a ton of long attempts.

Bailey's rookie season in Dallas might best be remembered for the two times he was frozen by timeouts, once by his own coach, and once by the opposition. What will likely be overlooked is that Bailey made the third most field goals in the NFL last season. He also set a franchise mark for consecutive field-goal conversions. The young kicker won't ever be confused for Sebastian Janikowski, as Bailey attempted just four field goals from 50 yards or beyond and his long for the season was 51 yards. But he was nearly automatic inside of 40 yards, making 20 of 21 attempts. If he can stay frosty (instead of frozen) in 2012, he's certainly a top fantasy option.

Gostkowski bounced back nicely from a quadriceps injury that limited him in 2010. He's not a boomer, having attempted just five field goals of 50 or more yards in six seasons, which is why he'll need to be more accurate to have elite fantasy appeal. In that respect, Gostkowski was middle-of-the-road last season but was helped by the 59 extra points he made. He should be a top-10 fantasy kicker by virtue of the Patriots offense, which is never short on creating scoring opportunities. That makes Gostkowski, who finished third in fantasy points at his position, a lock to open the 2012 as a surefire starting option in all leagues.

Once considered an elite kicker in fantasy football, Hartley missed the entire 2011 season due to an injured hip. That was the second time in the last three years that he'd missed significant time, so there's clearly some cause for concern about his durability. That's not something you usually worry about with a kicker. On the flip side, playing on a team with an explosive offense that turned John Kasay into a top-notch fantasy kicker last year makes Hartley a potential No. 1 option at his position. At 26 and with a strong, accurate leg, he could develop into a top-10 kicker in all leagues. Hartley will be worth a late-round look as a viable No. 1 fantasy option in most drafts.

Prater is coming off a 2011 season that saw him convert four walk-off field goals, but he was rarely a reliable fantasy option. The veteran finished a distant 29th in points among kickers and made just 76 percent of his field goals. That's down more than 12 percent from his 2010 total. Still, Prater could re-emerge into a top-10 fantasy kicker this year behind an offense that should put up a pile of points with Peyton Manning under center. In fact, it's tough to envision Prater not improving on the 25 field goal attempts he had in 2011. He'll be worth a late-round look as a potential No. 1 fantasy option.

In his seven seasons with the Bears, Gould has been one of the NFL's most consistent kickers, connecting on more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts in every season after his rookie year. Considering the winds and the often-suspect footing at Soldier Field, that's no small feat. Also, Gould has finished no worse than 14th in fantasy points at his position over the last three years, including a 10th-place finish in 2011. With the prospect of more scoring opportunities in a Bears offense that should be better with Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush in the mix, Gould should still be considered in the late rounds as a low-end No. 1 fantasy option this season.

Hanson continues to be an ageless wonder. How can you say any different about a 42-year-old entering his 21st NFL season? He made hay behind a high-powered Lions offense in 2011, converting all 54 of his extra-point attempts. Beyond that, he had relatively light duty with a mere 29 field-goal conversions. While he can still show off a big-time leg at times (Hanson's long was 51 yards in 2011), his accuracy from beyond 40 yards is waning. Still, despite his extended age, it's hard to look past Hanson as a low-end No. 1 kicker, especially after ranking eighth in fantasy points at the position in 2011. Consider him in the late rounds.

Earlier in his career, Bironas was considered one of the better kickers in fantasy football. While he's no longer on an elite level, he also hasn't finished worse than 13th in fantasy points at his position in the last three years. In 2011, Bironas ranked tied for ninth in points while making an impressive 90.6 percent of his field-goal attempts. He will have top-10 potential this season, as the Titans offense should be improved with Kenny Britt back in the mix and the expectation for the old Chris Johnson to return. Overall, Bironas is worth a late-round look.

Kaeding's future in San Diego could be in jeopardy following a poor 2010 that was followed up by missing the 2011 campaign due to a torn ACL suffered on the opening kickoff of the year. The upside for the veteran is that he's had plenty of time to recover. The downside is that his replacement, Nick Novak, did an adequate job and will make less than half of what Kaeding is due in 2012. That means a kicker competition in camp is almost imminent. If the Chargers decide to keep Kaeding around, he has the ability to be a top-five fantasy kicker. But he's also just as likely to be unemployed, so be sure to keep tabs on his status over the summer.

After stops with the Giants and Buccaneers, Bryant seems to be enjoying his time indoors with the Falcons. The veteran made a league-best 93.1 percent of his field goal attempts during the 2011 season, including making both attempts from 50-plus yards. He also scored 130 fantasy points for the second consecutive year, though he fell seven spots in the rankings based on the points in 2011. With another slate of home games in the dome, plus trips to New Orleans and Detroit, Bryant will have plenty of chances for climate-controlled kicking in 2012. He should be considered a potential low-end No. 1 fantasy kicker in the late rounds.

[K RANKINGS 13-24internal-link-placeholder-0]

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