With many leagues in the semifinals of fantasy football playoffs, here's why you need to pick up and start Washington Football Team kicker Dustin Hopkins against the Seattle Seahawks. (NOTE: All rankings are based on ESPN Standard scoring, which includes one point per reception.)
(All fantasy football analysis is based on the opinions of staff writer Zach Selby and editor Kyle Stackpole.)
Start: K Dustin Hopkins
Hopkins deserved to be on the fantasy football waiver wire the first half of the 2020 season. He was only averaging about 1.7 field goal attempts per game, and he missed four of them to go along with a missed extra point. Those misfires led to Hopkins ranking 29th among kickers with 5.4 fantasy points per game.
But since Washington's bye week, Hopkins has been one of the most consistent and productive fantasy kickers in the NFL. He's put up at least nine points the past six games and had a season-high 14 points with three 40-plus-yard field goals and two extra points against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 7. Since Week 9, only Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders has scored more than Hopkins' 68.0 fantasy points.
"Sometimes you get into a little bit of a slump," head coach Ron Rivera said of Hopkins after the Steelers' game. "He worked his way out of it and he's been solid, he really has. And just really happy with what he did, again, working himself through his situation, and it was a tough field to kick off of today, too."
The Seahawks have been superb against kickers recently -- allowing just 3.4 fantasy points per game -- but they are still giving up an average of 24.9 points (18th) and 390.3 yards (27th) overall. So, even without starting quarterback Alex Smith and starting running back Antonio Gibson, Washington should be able to consistently move the ball against a struggling defense.
And if Washington gets into the red zone, there is a good chance it will settle for a field goal. Washington has only scored touchdowns on 56.1% of its red zone trips this season, which ranks 24th, and that number has dipped to 44.4% the past three games. That has resulted in a lot of field goal attempts for Hopkins, who has converted eight of his last nine.
"The thing that I was proud of with Dustin is that even though he missed kicks, he kept it manageable, meaning there hadn't been multiple misses in games," special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor said. "He had a dogged determination to keep going. I would say just the determination to get through it, the work he put to get through it, and now you can definitely see that now he's been in a more consistent role that that's just helped him a little bit when he's operating."
So check out your waiver wire; it's almost a guarantee that Hopkins will be there. He is only rostered in 2.8% of all ESPN fantasy leagues.
And unless you have one of the league's top kickers, you should be picking up and starting Hopkins. He'll only help you advance to the fantasy championship.