Fantasy positional rankings
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Recent posts by Dan Arkush
Strong offenses and equally strong legs are common denominators among the league's top fantasy foot soldiers.
Seven of PFW's top 10 placekickers performed on offenses that finished in the top 10 in points per game last season. Each of the three that didn't — Miami's Dan Carpenter, St. Louis' Josh Brown and Baltimore's Billy Cundiff — can kick a football a country mile.
1. Stephen Gostkowski / New England Patriots
Key stat: Gostkowski averaged 128 points in his four seasons as the Patriots' PK prior to the 2010 campaign, when a thigh injury limited him to only eight games.
The skinny: New England's normally potent offense (first in points scored in 2010, eighth in total yards) provides Gostkowski with a steady dose of scoring opportunities. Provided his thigh is fully healed, it will be a big surprise if he's not among the NFL's top scorers this season.
2. Sebastian Janikowski / Oakland Raiders
Key stat: The AFC's leading scorer last season finished in a three-way tie for the most field goals from 50 yards and beyond in 2010 (four) and has averaged 4.8 50-yarders the past four seasons.
The skinny: Also taking into account the major improvement in the Raiders' offense last season — it went from 31st to sixth in points scored and 31st to 10th in total yards — "Sea Bass" figures to be the first PK catch in many fantasy leagues.
3. Nate Kaeding / San Diego Chargers
Key stat: The league's leading scorer two seasons ago (146 points) still managed to rank 14th in the NFL in scoring last season despite missing three games with a groin injury.
The skinny: Kaeding gets a major assist from the Chargers' high-octane attack (first in total yards in 2010, second in points scored) and PK-friendly weather conditions.
4. Matt Bryant / Atlanta Falcons
Key stat: With the Falcons scheduled to play four of their eight road games at Detroit, Indianapolis, Houston and New Orleans, Bryant will be kicking indoors in three-quarters of Atlanta's games in 2011.
The skinny: The 36-year-old Bryant's declining leg strength is offset by the fact he kicks for an offense that can consistently move the chains both through the air and on the ground.
5. Mason Crosby / Green Bay Packers
Key stat: Beginning with a 141-point rookie campaign, Crosby has averaged 127.3 points in his four pro seasons.
The skinny: Although his accuracy is way below average, Crosby always will be among the league's most prolific point producers thanks to Green Bay's powerful offense.
6. Dan Carpenter / Miami Dolphins
Key stat: Carpenter's 60-yard cannon shot against the Browns in Week 13 was the league's most prodigious three-pointer last season.
The skinny: After making at least three field goals in six games last season — including back-to-back five-FG outings against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati — Carpenter no doubt has all the tools to be one of the league's most dangerous fantasy placekickers.
7. Josh Brown / St. Louis Rams
Key stat: Brown has made 28 field-goal attempts from 50 yards and beyond since entering the league in 2003, the most in the NFL in that span.
The skinny: A much livelier offense under new coordinator Josh McDaniels bodes well for Brown's fantasy future.
8. Neil Rackers / Houston Texans
Key stat: Rackers' performance six seasons ago for the Cardinals — he made 40-of-42 FG attempts, including 6-of-7 from 50 yards and beyond — might have been the best fantasy PK output in league history.
The skinny: In addition to being a proven long-distance threat, Rackers is among the league's most accurate PKs, as evidenced by his perfect output inside 40 yards last season (19-of-19). Houston's high-powered offense (third in total yards, ninth in points scored) certainly doesn't hurt.
9. Adam Vinatieri / Indianapolis Colts
Key stat: Bouncing back from an injury-plagued 2009 season, Vinatieri finished third in the league in scoring last season with 129 points and was the AFC's most accurate kicker, missing only two FG attempts (26-of-28).
The skinny: Arguably the greatest clutch kicker in league history, Vinatieri and the Colts' Peyton Manning-led offense continue to be a fantasy match made in heaven.
10. Billy Cundiff / Baltimore Ravens
Key stat: The league's leader in touchbacks last season (40) had seven games with multiple three-pointers and only two games without a field goal in 2010.
The skinny: A Pro Bowl selection who signed a five-year, $15 million contract in January, Cundiff is a real good bet to give you more-than-sufficent bang for your fantasy bucks.