For what just might be the least exciting play in professional sports, we have spent quite a bit of time talking about extra-point attempts this offseason. The NFL approved a much-discussed rule change for these plays at the owner's meetings Wednesday, with a two-game trial run of extra-point attempts coming from the 20-yard line set for the preseason.
The impetus for the move is to inject a bit of intrigue into what has become a completely routine part of NFL games. NFL kickers missed a grand total of five extra points a year ago, all but one of which were blocked. The Fantasy implications of this rule change are obvious, making kickers less valuable by removing those guaranteed points. How much less should we expect kickers to contribute if this new rule is put in place on a full-time basis?
Last season, NFL kickers successfully hit 1,261 of 1,266 extra-point attempts, a 99.6 percent mark that gives credence to those who say the play is less a test of skill than just about any other individual play. Over the last 10 seasons, NFL teams have attempted 329 field goals with the ball snapped from the 20, per Pro-Football-Reference.com's play index. Kickers have connected on 85.4 percent of them, a number that would certainly have the impact the powers that be are looking for.
Based on that 85.4 percent mark for 37-yard field goals, kickers would collectively see a reduction of just 4.5 percent in their Fantasy scoring from a year ago. Matt Prater is the lone player who would have lost out on double-digit Fantasy points, though he has long been a more accurate than average kicker, so he might avoid that dropoff. Of course, more missed extra points wouldn't be the only impact; there would be a trickle-down effect as well.
We might see 100-plus missed extra points with PAT's pushed back to the 20, though coaches would surely respond by tweaking their game plans. An increased reliance on going for two could provide a useful counterbalance for offenses, though one that would further lessen the impact of kickers.
For Fantasy purposes, it is clear kickers are going to be less valuable than ever, as our Dave Richard noted back in January when the rule change was first rumored. The exact ramifications are unknowable at this point, and the 30-game sample size we will be getting this preseason won't tell us everything. Still, we're going to see this change go from the realm of the theoretical to a practical application this fall.