Five kickers had more field-goal attempts and three had more makes than Bryant last year, but he still led the league with 158 points thanks, in part, to 56 made PATs -- seven more than the next highest player and 20 more than the next highest with at least 30 made field goals. He was accurate all year, as two of his three misses came from 50-plus yards, while his 98.2 percent PAT success rate was bested by only six kickers, three of whom had fewer than 30 attempts. With the Falcons' offense expected to be elite again, Bryant figures to remain near the top of the scoring list.
Bryant's season lasted just 11 games because of a quadriceps injury, but he was fairly poor even before that, as his 77.8 percent field-goal conversion rate was his worst since 2009. The Falcons' kicker scoring has been fairly close to the team's overall scoring rank in the last three years, ranking 21st in total points last year and 18th in kicker scoring, preceded by rankings of 12th and 13th in 2014 and 20th and 23rd in 2013, respectively. With all of their key offensive weapons back for another season, Bryant could get more opportunities, though given his usage over the past few years, it's unlikely he becomes an upper-tier option at 40 years old.
Bryant tied for eighth with 29 made field goals last season, but he was more valuable in distance-scoring formats, as he made a league-high seven from at least 50 yards. It was a surprising increase in opportunities from deep, as he had never had more than five kicks from that distance in his career. His 10 last year, including two in Weeks 1 and 6, led the league. The Falcons ranked 12th in points (as did Bryant among kickers) and with most of their skill position players returning, there shouldn't be much drop in production even though the team has a new offensive coordinator this year. Bryant should continue to get a fair number of opportunities each week even if his long-distance attempts regress to his previous moderate levels.
Atlanta’s disastrous 4-12 finish left Bryant as little more than a middle-tier fantasy option most places, with the 39-year-old seeing 11 fewer field goal attempts and five fewer PATs than the season prior. On a more positive note, Bryant nailed over 85 percent of his field goals for the fourth consecutive season, a mark that shouldn’t be tough to crack in 2014 with over half his games once again coming in domes. It’s simply a matter of opportunity for Bryant, who could reemerge as a top-flight scorer if the return of a healthy Julio Jones is enough for the Falcons to consistently keep the sticks moving like they did prior to last season.
Coming off a season in which he nailed a career-high 33 field goals and scored 143 points, Bryant has the good fortune of playing nine games in domed stadiums this year and will have his point totals further propped up by a strong Falcons offense. Moreover, Bryant expanded his range last season, hitting 4-of-4 field goals from over 50 yards – two fewer than the total for his entire career. At 38, Bryant is not getting any younger, but his 89.8 percent accuracy rate over his three full seasons in Atlanta makes him one of the most reliable kickers on the board.
Bryant’s 2011 campaign was remarkably similar to that of his previous year. He had just two fewer field-goal attempts (29) and one more PAT (45) while improving his field-goal accuracy from 90.3 percent in 2010 to 93.1 percent last season. The stability of the Atlanta offense under quarterback Matt Ryan and eight games in the comfort of the Georgia Dome should allow Bryant another strong season. The only downside is he’s not a threat from long range – he’s made only six 50-yarders in his 10-year career, including two last year.
Bryant had to win the place-kicking job in training camp last season, but he won't have to compete for it this year. Bryant finished fourth in kicker scoring last season with 128 points and was an impressive 28-of-31 on field-goal attempts. The Falcons ranked third in red-zone touchdowns with 35, which probably cost Bryant a few field-goal attempts; his 31 attempts were ninth in the league while his 90.3 field-goal percentage ranked fourth. The Falcons have a solid offensive nucleus with quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and wide receiver Roddy White. Adding playmaking receiver Julio Jones through the draft figures to help the Falcons' explosiveness. Atlanta ranked eighth with 56 red-zone trips in 2010, and the Falcons should give Bryant plenty of scoring opportunities this season. Bryant is not a long-range threat – he's made four 50-plus-yard field goals in his nine-year career – but he's missed just one field goal inside 30 yards the last five years, and his only miss from 30-39 yards since 2003 came on a blocked kick last season. Bryant has the benefit of kicking in a dome and no potential late-season bad-weather games with two domes on the road schedule in December. Bryant should be one of the top kickers again in 2011.
Perhaps no team from a statistical perspective
was a bigger disappointment than the
Falcons last season. Both Matt Ryan and
Michael Turner suffered injuries, and Jason
Elam was released after missing 7-of-19 field
goals. Bryant was brought in and connected on
7-of-10 field goals, though he was just 1-of-4
from beyond 40 yards. Bryant is coming off two
strong seasons in Tampa Bay, averaging almost
125 points and 30 field-goal makes. If the
health of Ryan and Turner returns, expect an
upward trend for the Falcons kicker in 2010.
Bryant exceeded expectations last season with 131 points (4th) thanks to an offense that gave him a career-high 38 field-goal attempts. The Buccaneers entered the red zone with regularity (56 RZ trips, 10th in league) but not the end zone, scoring touchdowns on just 39.3 percent of their trips inside the 20 (30th). Fewer red-zone trips might be expected this season, as the candidates to replace the departed Jeff Garcia include the likes of Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich and rookie Josh Freeman. The team, however, signed Derrick Ward to revamp the running game. Bryant doesn’t have a strong leg (0-for-6 the last two years combined from 50-plus, and just 5-of-11 from 40-plus last year), so the team brought in former Jet Mike Nugent to compete with him for the job. Nugent was 29-of-36 in 2007, (6-of-8 from 40-49), before missing most of last season with a thigh injury.
Bryant had an impressive 118 points last season
as the Buccaneers surprised many by winning
the NFC South. The Buccaneers might
backslide just a bit as the schedule is more difficult this season (Green Bay and Dallas), which could impact Bryant's numbers. The offense is solid, but not spectacular, so Bryant should finish about middle of the pack. Bryant is also downgraded in leagues that offer bonuses for makes
beyond 50-plus yards, as he has made just two
in his career.
Tampa Bay has finished near the bottom of kicker scoring each of the last four seasons; Bryant made just 17 field goals in 2006 and had 73 total points. While Bryant’s point total could rise with the addition of quarterback Jeff Garcia and/or the return to health of Chris Simms, there wasn’t enough of an overhaul of the Tampa Bay offense to get Bryant the opportunities necessary to be a useful fantasy kicker.
Since Martin Gramatica’s career went off the rails in 2003, the Buccaneers have had trouble with the kicking game. Bryant hit 21-of-25 of his attempts in 2005, including 11-of-13 from beyond 40 yards. The club wasted little time re-signing him in the offseason.
Martin Gramatica kicked himself out of a job and a competition in training camp will determine Tampa Bay’s next kicker. Bryant is the favorite for the job after hitting 40-of-50 FGA in three seasons but has missed six times (18-of-24, 75 percent) from 30-39 yards. Bryant’s competition for the job, Todd France, bounced around training camps the last three years, but has yet to attempt a field goal in a game. When Gramatica was on, the Bucs were among the league-leaders in team kicking points, so the position can provide fantasy value.