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Pick right kicker, defense to chase title

Some fantasy football leagues, those perhaps run by monsters who are gluttons for punishment, play through Week 18. But with so many star players usually sitting for the final week of the NFL regular season, reasonable leagues have their champions crowned by the end of this week.

If you are playing for your championship, congratulations. You have just one more hurdle. The skill players for your starting lineup should be, injury permitting, all set, but you can still tweak some things to gain even the slightest edge over your opponent. Are you sure you have the right kicker and defense/special teams ready to go?

Most scoff when you bring up kickers, but just ask those who used Chase McLaughlin two weeks ago or Matt Gay last week. McLaughlin kicked five field goals, one of more than 50 yards, and three extra points, and Gay kicked three field goals, two of more than 50 yards, and six PATs.

Mason Crosby celebrates making a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Getty Images

Digging deeper, we found their opponents, the Vikings and Broncos, ranked in the bottom two teams in points allowed by kickers. If either Mason Crosby or Harrison Butker are available, you may want to consider using one of them. Should neither be available, the teams that allow the next-highest kicking points are the Bengals, Saints and Steelers — so Tyler Bass, Jake Elliott and Justin Tucker are in play. If you are concerned about the weather in outdoor stadiums, take a look at Cameron Dicker and Matt Prater.

Choosing the right team defense can be a little trickier, as you need to check your individual league’s scoring. Points allowed can be difficult to navigate at times, so your main focus should be turnovers. The Colts lead the league in giveaways and have Nick Foles at quarterback, so the Giants, who are fighting for a playoff spot, should be a strong play. Opponents of the Rams, Broncos, Bears, Saints and Texans should be next, as those teams allow the highest fantasy points per game to team defenses. The Eagles and Jaguars are probably your best options, as both rank well in takeaways this season.

With the way the 2022 NFL season has gone, nothing is guaranteed, so looking for different ways to edge out your opponent is a must. Kickers and defenses might be your last resort.

With losses of players like Jalen Hurts and Derrick Henry, every champion is in need of a hero, and if that hero comes in the form of Younghoe Koo, then so be it. So long as you bring home that championship.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice, player projectionsinjury updates and more.

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