Introducing the Official Arrowhead Guys Kicker Rankings

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You thought we were going to stop at punters? Of course not. Kickers are another position where the way we measure them isn’t ideal. Sure, there’s field goal percentage, but not all field goals are equally challenging.

So before we get to the rankings themselves, here’s a bit of explanation for how I came up with these rankings (which I’m sure you will all read carefully and not just skip to the rankings themselves).

Methodology

First, I got data from the NFLFastR database, more specifically their 4th down data. Since I’m using 4th down data, these rankings only include 4th down field goal attempts. I’m also not including extra points. This is a bigger deal than punts, since there are sometimes field goal attempts on earlier downs when a half is ending, but I don’t think they would affect the outcome much. If anything, those field goal attempts would skew the rankings, as they have a huge impact on win probability.

For kickers, I did rankings two different ways.

The first is similar to the punts. For every field goal attempt, I took the win probability added for that kick (specifically using the Vegas win probability, which accounts for how good the teams are) and compared it to the expected win probability added for a field goal attempt in that situation. The more win probability added, the better, of course. I compiled these averages for each kicker, and eliminated players who had fewer than 16 attempts over the course of the season, and voilà, there’s the list.

One important note: There’s a difference between comparing the outcome of the play to the regular win probability. On 4th down you have 3 options; kicking a field goal, running a play and trying to get the 1st down, or punting. Regular win probability accounts for all of those options. But for these rankings, we don’t want that, since it would be comparing the outcomes of field goal attempts to the outcomes of going for it. That’s why I had to use their 4th down data to specifically compare field goals to what the average attempt would produce.

The second ranking is simply comparing the field goal percentage to the expected field goal percentage at that spot. For each kicker, I averaged the expected percentage for all of their attempts and compared it to their actual field goal percentage. So if their average attempt had an expected percentage of 0.75, and in reality they made 0.8, they’d have a Percentage Above Expected of .05.

Ok, now to the lists.

2020 Rankings

By Win Probability Added

RankTeamKickerFG AttemptsWPA Per FGA
1SEAJ.Myers240.0182
2NYGG.Gano300.0177
3GBM.Crosby180.0135
4ATLY.Koo320.0123
5DENB.McManus320.0120
6MIAJ.Sanders320.0109
7KCH.Butker290.0104
8LAM.Gay190.00765
9PITC.Boswell200.00723
10DALG.Zuerlein370.00538
11TBR.Succop390.00505
12LVD.Carlson320.00437
13CHIC.Santos290.00414
14NEN.Folk250.00347
15BUFT.Bass400.00333
16SFR.Gould190.00199
17CARJ.Slye310.000672
18CINR.Bullock24-0.000134
19WASD.Hopkins31-0.000153
20CLEC.Parkey23-0.000174
21INDR.Blankenship34-0.000598
22HOUK.Fairbairn26-0.00118
23PHIJ.Elliott17-0.00284
24TENS.Gostkowski23-0.00324
25DETM.Prater23-0.00402
26NOW.Lutz27-0.00467
27BALJ.Tucker28-0.00751
28MIND.Bailey19-0.0169
29LACM.Badgley28-0.0281

By Field Goal Percentage Above Expected

RankTeamKickerFG AttemptsFG%eFG%FG% Above Exp
1SEAJ.Myers2410.7770.223
2GBM.Crosby1810.8230.177
3NYGG.Gano3010.8310.169
4DENB.McManus320.8750.7540.121
5ATLY.Koo320.9690.8500.118
6MIAJ.Sanders320.9380.8250.112
7KCH.Butker290.9310.8420.0894
8PITC.Boswell200.950.8660.0845
9NEN.Folk250.920.8640.0558
10TBR.Succop390.9230.8730.0496
11LVD.Carlson320.9380.8920.0457
12CHIC.Santos290.9310.8860.0451
13LAM.Gay190.8950.8570.0378
14SFR.Gould190.8420.8200.0224
15CINR.Bullock240.8330.8120.0214
16PHIJ.Elliott170.8240.8030.0202
17BALJ.Tucker280.8570.8400.0169
18DALG.Zuerlein370.8110.8010.00972
19CARJ.Slye310.8390.8320.00672
20CLEC.Parkey230.8700.8680.00165
21BUFT.Bass400.8250.827-0.00195
22HOUK.Fairbairn260.8850.892-0.00751
23INDR.Blankenship340.8820.894-0.0121
24DETM.Prater230.7830.803-0.0201
25WASD.Hopkins310.7740.824-0.0498
26NOW.Lutz270.7780.845-0.0675
27LACM.Badgley280.750.843-0.0932
28TENS.Gostkowski230.6960.797-0.101
29MIND.Bailey190.6840.817-0.133

Analysis

Both lists are very similar, and the top kicker in both is Seattle’s Jason Myers, who got a snub from both the All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl. He was perfect on field goals, despite facing some of the toughest situations in the NFL.

The actual 1st team All-Pro was Miami’s Jason Sanders, who ranked 6th on both lists. The NFC Pro Bowl kicker was Younghoe Koo, who ranked 4th and 5th on these lists. Overall, not terrible selections.

The most interesting result was Justin Tucker. Commonly considered the best kicker in the NFL, he was the AFC’s Pro Bowl selection and the 2nd team All-Pro. The data doesn’t agree, as he was a dreadful 27th in win probability added, and a firmly below-average 17th in field goal percentage above expected. To be fair to him, his reputation was deserved, as he was 2nd on both lists in 2019. I don’t think it’s crazy to argue that he simply had a down year.

For Kansas City’s Butker, he showed very well, ranking 7th on both lists. I think that’s about where us fans would have ranked him. Former Chiefs Ryan Succop and Cairo Santos also weren’t too bad.

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rip58
09/01/2021 12:47 pm

I know I’m late to the party but thank you Tony, I didn’t think an article would be interesting regarding kickers but you proved me wrong

Nasrani
08/31/2021 3:11 pm

Just for metrics’ and comparison’s sake… how would Succop and Santos have fared on these lists?

Nasrani
Reply to  Tony Sommer
08/31/2021 3:53 pm

Ah I see them now. To be fair I just sort of scrolled through this until I saw “Butker” and where he ranked.

upamtn
08/31/2021 2:58 pm

comment image

Chief-Blinders-On
Reply to  Tony Sommer
08/31/2021 2:32 pm

Kick it?

Great stuff Tony. With Butker, we have a helluva Kicker:

Nasrani
Reply to  Chief-Blinders-On
08/31/2021 3:10 pm
Chief-Blinders-On
Reply to  Nasrani
08/31/2021 4:22 pm
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