2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: DST and kicker Tiers and strategy (yes, really)

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Kickers and DSTs are the forgotten heroes of Fantasy Football. Some leagues have banned kickers, others have kicked them and DSTs to the curb. But we haven't forgotten about these vital, precious commodities that have helped shape the fabric of Fantasy Football into what it is today ...

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OK, fine. You're not really buying it. I don't blame you. Kickers are nuisances and Defense/Special Teams units are considered afterthoughts. No one takes them before the final three rounds or so in drafts, and no one spends more than two percent of their budget on them in auctions.

And while I could tell you the logic and science that goes into analyzing these positions, you just won't care. You just want to know when it's OK to draft them so you don't look like an idiot in front of your friends.

I got you.

Basically, DSTs and kickers should be picked in order of expected reliability. If you're taking one before the end of the draft (or spending more than a buck at auction), it's with the expectation that it/he will start every game regardless of opponent. Top DSTs should get picked ahead of the top kickers, but the top kickers deserve some props ahead of the better-than-average DSTs.

There are three acceptable times to draft a DST or kicker:

  • When you love your team so much that you want to lock up a top option to go along with it. That would be like Round 11.
  • When you are indifferent to the remaining quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends available. You might make a stinkface in Rounds 12 or 13.
  • When you have to draft one based on roster requirements. This would mean the last two rounds of your draft.

You should also be aware of your opponents' needs when considering a DST and/or kicker and game plan accordingly. This works better if you're picking toward the end of a round and can see if they've already drafted these positions or not. If they have, you can wait. If they haven't, you can pounce.

Let's get to it. Here are the combined tiers for DSTs and kickers.  

Fourth-to-last round Third-to-last round
Rams DST Chargers DST
Jaguars DST Vikings DST

Eagles DST

Greg Zuerlein

Justin Tucker

Broncos DST

Texans DST

Stephen Gostkowski
Second-to-last round Last round
Ravens DST Wil Lutz
Seahawks DST Harrison Butker
Jake Elliott Matt Prater
Matt Bryant Patriots DST

Bengals DST

Saints DST

Adam Vinatieri

Robbie Gould

Josh Lambo

Dustin Hopkins
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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