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Fantasy Spotlight: The Case For Starting Kicker Dustin Hopkins

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The fantasy playoffs are in full force now, and the competition is getting tougher with each passing round.

For the past month, Redskins.com has been here to help fantasy owners make their way to the championship round by adding Redskins players to their starting lineups.

Last week, we recommended picking up 34-year-old running back Adrian Peterson and starting him against the Green Bay Packers. Those who listened to our sage advice got a big payoff, as Peterson finished with 13.6 points (76 rushing yards and a touchdown).

This week is going to be a little different, though; we're going to make the case for kicker Dustin Hopkins, who has been a big Redskins' contributor throughout the year. That could be the case again this week, so here's why you should pick up and start Hopkins against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Skinny

Hopkins' season has been interesting; the highs have been phenomenal, while the lows have been...not phenomenal. In the first meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles, Hopkins was 2 of 2 on field goals and made three extra points. That was good enough for 11 fantasy points, but he failed to reach that total in the next four weeks combined.

His worst performance, fantasy-wise, came against the San Francisco 49ers in rainy and sloppy conditions. He had -1 points that day, although it is worth noting that the conditions were by far the worst of the year.

Conversely, his best day was three games later against the Detroit Lions. Although rookies Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Terry McLaurin got most of the attention for their performance in the game-winning drive, Hopkins was the true star of the game. He made all four of his field goals and made an extra point, which was good enough for 14 fantasy points.

Hopkins has made 20 of 25 field goals and 12 of 13 extra points this year. According to ESPN.com, he is rostered in 1.1% of leagues.

The Kicker

The Redskins offense is starting to pick up steam, but it has mostly been inconsistent when it comes to scoring touchdowns. However, the unit has regularly gotten in field goal range throughout the year. In fact, Hopkins has attempted at least one field goal in all but two games this year.

Making 20- and 30-yard field goals are all well and good, but the ability to make longer attempts is what makes kickers valuable, both in games and in fantasy leagues. Hopkins hasn't done that much this year, but he does have the ability to do it when it is required. He made a 52-yard field goal last week against the Packers, which was his first of the season. In the five seasons that Hopkins has been with the Redskins, he has made kicks with distances of 54, 53 and 56 yards and has also never dipped below 80% during that span.

The Verdict

Many fantasy websites consider Hopkins to be a "risky" option, and there's some credence to that argument. Kickers are largely only as successful as their offenses, and the Redskins offense has struggled at various points this year.

But the offense is starting to look better as the season winds down. While the Redskins have scored 188 points this year, 63 of those have come in the last three games. They even hit a season-high against the Carolina Panthers with 29 points and three touchdowns.

If there was ever a right time to trust this offense, it's now; with Haskins building a rapport with his young receivers, it can only mean good things for the unit and for Hopkins. So pick him up -- he's almost certainly available in your league -- and put Hopkins in the starting lineup. It's a decision that could make you look like a genius.

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