Top 10 Punters
When selecting a punter that will assist your fantasy roster, you should look for consistency. Just as place kickers can score you invaluable points, in some leagues punters can be valuable. The punters on this list are guys who will consistently and accurately direct their punts and hopefully land them inside the 10 or 20 yard lines with the ball down as deep in their opponent's territory as possible. Not all of these punters are on great teams, but one thing they all have in common is that they are utilized to keep opponent offenses deep in their own territory. Some of these guys are strategically used to avoid easy scores on weak defenses and buy their offense time to plan a next attack, while others might be used to help strong offensive and defensive pairings retain solid field position.
The listing of the Top 10 punters this season includes guys from both dominant teams (who use their punter as a weapon) and struggling teams (who are forced to utilize their punter to balance poor offensive movement). One thing they all have in common is that they average over 40 yards per punt and have a history of strategically placing punts for low return yardage.
Last season the list looked and played out as follows:
1) Andy Lee
2) Brandon Fields
3) Shane Lechler
4) Donnie Jones
5) Mat McBriar
6) Dustin Colquitt
7) Reggie Hodges
8) Adam Podlesh
9) Nick Harris
10) Tim Masthay
1) Britton Colquitt
2) Donnie Jones
3) Jon Ryan
4) TJ Conley
5) Dustin Colquitt
6) Andy Lee
7) Brandon Fields
8) Shane Lechler
9) Brett Kern
10) Kevin Huber
These rankings are mainly based upon average punt distance. I have found that many fantasy leagues score punting as such: 0.025pts / punted yard and 1 pt / punt downed inside the 20. Some leagues may also award points for placement within the ten yard line.
Punters like Lechler and Lee averaged over 50 yards per punt, but punted less over the course of the season and therefore, guys like Donnie Jones, Jon Ryan, Pat McAfee and the Colquitts gained more points for yards punted. When it came to placement, Jon Ryan, Britton Colquitt, TJ Conley, Brandon Fields and Brett Kern all placed 30 or more punts inside the twenty yard line. For reference, when I say placed I mean a punt downed inside the twenty or ten yard line.
This year's rankings will adjust for these figures and you will see thirteen names listed as I feel there are thirteen high level punters that can be distinguished from the field. The top ten punters have some commentary and players 11, 12 and 13 show 2011 stats for reference. I think these top 13 punters can be viewed as interchangeable depending upon team situations this season.
Jon Ryan averaged over 46 yards per punt with 4,400 total yards in 2011. He landed 34 punts inside the twenty yard line. If you play in a league where punters can gain you points based upon yardage and placement, Ryan should be atop your draft list for this position. I think his services will be utilized by his team and he will prove useful. Ryan also landed 18 punts inside the ten yard line to hold opponents to poor starting field position.
Donnie Jones has been put to work early and often in Houston. Last season he punted for 4,652 yards averaging just over 43 yards per punt. Jones landed 29 balls inside the twenty yard line. I suspect we will see Jones' production remain consistent this season, placing him near the top of the punter list.
Britton Colquitt punted for a total of 4,783 yards last season, averaging over 47 yards per punt. He landed 33 inside the twenty yard line. This season in Denver will be different. How different, depends upon Peyton Manning and the offsense of course. I want to give Colquitt the benefit of the doubt in terms of his performance last season, but in my mind cannot place him as high on this list as he might deserve given his new QB and offensive circumstances. I think Colquitt will perform well when needed, but he might not be needed as much as he was last campaign. If this holds true, his yardage totals may suffer.
Dustin Colquitt averaged 46 yards per punt and totaled nearly 4,100 yards last season. He landed 27 inside the twenty yard line. I do not see much chaning in terms of Colquitt's work this coming season, expect much of the same.
Conley averaged 43 yards per punt last season. His yardage totaled 3,926 with 32 placed inside the twenty and 15 placed inside the ten yard line. Conley will likely have numbers quite consistent from last season this outing. I think he might increase his yardage some and I like his placement statistics.
Shane Lechler is a punter who is always worth your time. Last season he averaged nearly 51 yards per punt over 3,960 punting yards. Lechler placed 27 inisde the twenty yard line and 14 inside the ten yard line. Consistency is the name of the game and Lechler has it.