NFL Position Ranking Roulette: Top 12 Special Teamers for the 2021 Season
Welcome back to a new twist on the Position Ranking Roulette series! This time around, I'll be predicting where players at each position will rank at the end of the 2021 season. These lists will include upcoming rookies, so expect to see at least one or two on every list. The analysis/breakdown will be a little shorter since this is prediction based, plus some players may change teams either before or midway through the season.
These lists may be silly, they may raise some eyebrows, but, most importantly, they will open eyes to the possibilities of who could pop off next season. Without further ado, here are my top 12 special teamers for the 2021 season:
Photo: Indianapolis Colts/Matt Bowen
12. Luke Rhodes - Indianapolis Colts
Deja vu! As long as Luke is in the NFL, it's almost a guarantee he'll make the list since he's the best long snapper in the league. On top of having perfect snaps, I'm gonna go out on a whim and say he scores a touchdown on a fumble he forces on a punt return this season.
11. Wil Lutz - New Orleans Saints
With uncertainty surrounding the offense for the first time in over a decade, New Orleans may need to lean on their special teams more than normal. Given they have a top 10 kicker in the league, this should be an easy choice to make in crunch time situations. I predict Lutz will make 35 out of 39 field goals, and go 10 for 11 from 40+ yards out.
10. Jason Sanders - Miami Dolphins
After taking the number 1 spot following the 2020 season, Sanders falls back to Earth and performs a little less consistently. He'll still rank in the top 10 for kicking, as Miami's offense still tries to find its identity. I predict Sanders will make 42 out of 44 field goals, and his only two misses will be from 55+ yards out. Even though these are similar numbers to last year, I think he will not get as many game winning kick opportunities, and both of the misses will be to win the game.
9. Rodrigo Blankenship - Indianapolis Colts
After being ranked the best rookie special teamer in 2020, Rodrigo capitalizes on that performance and has a big 2021. Rodrigo only kicks 33 field goals, but only misses once, making his rate 32/33. He won't have to hit a field goal longer than 50+, which slides him down the list.
8. Jack Fox - Detroit Lions
After a great 2020 campaign, Jack Fox stays consistent in the 2021 season. He will finish the season with 49.7 average yards per punt, with 31 inside the 20 yard line. He will also have solid net yardage, averaging 43.8 net yards per punt.
Photo: GettyImages/Nic Antaya
7. Cordarrelle Patterson - Atlanta Falcons
Cordarrelle is the best return man in football, and has been for a long time. He continues his dominance returning kicks, as he will get 40 returns for 1,215 yards and 3 TDs. This will put him at a career high in touchdowns, as well as his 4th highest average yards per return mark.
6. Justin Tucker - Baltimore Ravens
Justin Tucker just finished his 9th NFL season. To put it in perspective, if he were to play 9 more years, on a 16 game pace, and kicked at the same field goal percentage he has for his career, he would have 582 field goals made at the end of his 18th season. If he kicked for 20 seasons, he would crush Vinatieri's field goal record with 646 field goals made. What's crazy is that he will play an additional 11 games over that span, due to the schedule moving to 17 games a season, and he may finish with 670 field goals made by the end of year 20. Given this, I think Tucker will come out and have a monster season, knocking in 37 field goals on 39 attempts, and hit 6 out of 7 from 50+ yards.
5. Tress Way - Washington Football Team
Tress Way is due for a career year, and given Washington's strength of schedule is on the tougher side (.504), they may be punting at a higher rate. Tress Way will punt 62 times, for an average of 50.2 yards a punt, with 33 inside the 20 yard line. He will also net 46.1 yards per punt.
Photo: USA Today/Mark J. Rebilas
4. Matt Prater - Arizona Cardinals
With Arizona's kicking problem solved, Prater looks to have one of his most dominant seasons yet. After having his worst season kicking since 2007, Prater will bounce back and hit 40 of 43 field goals, 8 of which from 50+ yards. He will also hit 3 game winners during the regular season.
3. Michael Dickson - Seattle Seahawks
After signing a huge extension, Dickson will lead all punters with a huge average of 52.7 yards per punt, with 35 of them landing inside the 20. He will add to that with a great net yardage of 49.4 yards per punt as well.
2. Younghoe Koo - Atlanta Falcons
Following a great 2020 season, Koo picks up where he left off and dominates for the Falcons. Koo will kick 44 field goals and make 42 of them, the same numbers as Sanders, but will hit 11 of 11 from 50+ and have 2 game winning field goals.
Photo: Associated Press/Brett Duke
1. Harrison Butker - Kansas City Chiefs
Butker could very well be the next GOAT kicker, and 2021 will be his breakout year to do so. Butker will go 33 for 33, a perfect season! 6 of those will be from 50+, and 13 of them will be from 40-49 yards. With the amount of offense the Chiefs will generate, Butker will get more than enough looks to prove that he is one of the best kickers in the league.
Photo: USA Today/Robert Hanashiro
It'll be interesting to see how many kicks each team will attempt since there will be 17 games. I think teams will not be taking as many risks going for it on 4th down, since they have an additional game to make up ground. I also believe teams will rely heavier on kicking, as they will look for more ideal field position, rather than trying to chuck the ball downfield in a pinch.
Join me next time as I cover the top 12 linebackers for 2021!