Everyone knows that the most important, highest-scoring slots on your fantasy football team are your QB/RB/WR/TE. But when you get to the playoffs, you have to assume that virtually everyone will have elite options at almost all positions. The margin of victory in the playoffs is razor thin, so at FST we hunt for every possible change you can make that might have even a three to five point total impact on your final score – Very often those points are the difference between a win and a loss.

With that in mind, today we’re going to examine notable kicker matchups, both good and bad, so you can field your best possible lineup when the games count the most!

Playoff matchups we like

Shayne Graham AR, @CHI, ATL

Graham comes in ranked 18th among kickers for yearly points. This means he should be freely available in all leagues. I like Graham for several reasons, one being the Saints are still in the playoff hunt, and should be playing full-bore during Weeks 14-16. Another factor is the two home games, which take place in the Superdome – Weather will not be a factor. Finally, both home games are against atrocious defenses, and the lone road game opponent (Chicago) yields 31% more fantasy points to kickers than league average.

Mason Crosby ATL, @BUF, @ TAM

The Packers are scoring points in bunches. Crosby has been over the 10 point barrier three weeks in a row. He’s used to kicking outdoors in ridiculously cold weather, so I’m not going to hold that against him at all. And none of these three teams are going to be able to come close to stopping the GB offense. Crosby’s still out there in about 20% of leagues – make certain he’s owned in yours.

Shaun Suisham @CIN, @ATL, KC

Did you know Suisham has been the sixth best fantasy kicker on the season? It’s somewhat relative because the Steelers have their bye this week, but that can be even better for forward thinking fantasy owners because he’s being dropped everywhere. You can take advantage as early as now, and might be able to wait until next week to grab him if you need the roster spot. Pittsburgh’s road opponents (CIN and ATL) are go-green matchups, at +31% and +27%, respectively. Better yet, the Steelers opponent in Week 16, KC, features an excellent run defense that could certainly stall a few drives from 25-35 yards out, leading to field goal attempts. Fantasy weeks are so often decided by 5 points or less, and if you have a middling kicker, grabbing Suisham for the playoff run might just help you win a week you would have otherwise lost.

Playoff matchups we don’t like

Caleb Sturgis BAL, @NE, MIN

Sturgis might have the worst matchups of any fantasy kicker during the playoff weeks. You never want to see an @ Foxboro late in the year (weather, Patriots are pretty good) but even the home games are bad. Baltimore allows 35% less than league average to kickers, and Minnesota allows 25% less. With three negative matchups on the docket, I don’t want any part of Sturgis.

Adam Vinatieri @CLE, HOU, @DAL

Vinatieri has been the overall number two kicker in fantasy this year, so I’m not certain how much you’re going to care, but I wanted to note this nonetheless: His three playoff-week contests are against teams that are all giving up less points to kickers than the league average, and two of those teams (CLE and DAL) are 20% or more below said league average. This means that the Browns and Cowboys are either getting quick three-and-outs, or giving up big-play touchdowns, and not much in between. I own Adam and I’m planning on rolling him out there regardless, but if a Crosby was on the wire I think I would make the swap.