Every position on the football field is important. Some positions are part of a bigger unit while some positions are focused squarely on working against another one or two. Not many take as much focus from fans, their peers, and themselves as special teams players.
For this article, we’re combining the top special teams’ players. Here we’re breaking down the top five punters and top five kickers in the entire NFL. No more honorable mentions. We’re just here for the best of the best.
Top 10 Special Teams Players
5 | Riley Dixon | New York Giants
Riley Dixon can never seem to catch a break. Somehow 2020 was his least busy year, and he still kicked the ball 65 times for the New York Giants. His net average distance may have been down this past year, but his new career-long and ability to pin opposing teams put him among the league’s best specialists.
Dixon saw his workload decrease dramatically since joining the Giants from the Denver Broncos in 2018, and even more so since then. In 2020, Dixon set a new career-long 71-yard punt and was able to pin teams within their own 20-yard line 28 times. He also only put the ball out of bounds twice, giving his team’s defense every opportunity to make big stops and giving the Giants a true special teams weapon.
4 | Thomas Morstead | UFA
At the time of writing this, Thomas Morstead is a cap casualty. The NFL cap dropped a huge 16 million dollars, leading to Morstead’s release from the club he had spent his entire career with. Since entering the league in 2009, Morstead has been one of the steadiest punters in the NFL.
In 2020, Morstead was not far off his career average excellence. He routinely flipped the field for the New Orleans Saints‘ strong defense and was instrumental in another NFC South winning season. I don’t expect the 35-year old to retire or sit out for a season, as he’ll land on his feet with another franchise sooner than later.
3 | Michael Dickson | Seattle Seahawks
Michael Dickson had a third straight year of top-tier performances in 2020. The only thing keeping him out of the top two is longevity and two incredibly talented players ahead of him.
Since joining the NFL three years ago, Dickson has been one of the best punters in the league. He rarely has kicks blocked or returned for big gains, he routinely pins opponents deep in their own territory, and he can flip the field from anywhere. With another dominant year or two under his belt, Dickson could be the absolute best in the NFL.
2 | Johnny Hekker | Los Angeles Rams
Johnny Hekker is just one of three current Los Angeles Rams who played with the team in St. Louis. The veteran special teams’ star had a down 2020, but that still puts him among the best punters in the NFL.
Hekker’s ball placement is historically elite, and 2020 was no different. He stranded opposing offenses 28 times. However, his ability to keep the ball inbounds or off the ground seemed to waver at times. Hekker will bounce back, much like most of his punts.
1 | Tress Way | Washington Football Team
Simply put, Tress Way is a workhorse. And a darn good one at that. He has had to punt at least 70 times in six seasons out of his seven in the NFL.
Way isn’t the best punter just because he does it a lot, he both also does it well. He hasn’t had a punt blocked in five years, and last season, he didn’t have a single punt out of bounds. He averages 26 punts inside the 20 per year, making him the best punter in the league.
| Kickers |
5 | Younghoe Koo | Atlanta Falcons
Younghoe Koo has successfully rebounded from being the butt of jokes with the Los Angeles Chargers to a Pro-Bowler with the Atlanta Falcons. Simply put, Koo’s 2020 season was an incredible turnaround.
At times, Koo singlehandedly kept the Falcons in games. He missed just three extra-point attempts and two field goals all year. The most impressive stat of his: Koo was eight-of-eight on field goals from beyond 50 yards.
4 | Jason Sanders | Miami Dolphins
Jason Sanders and Koo had fairly similar 2020 seasons. Sanders had a strong rookie year, suffered a sophomore slump, and rebounded as one of the better kickers in 2020. Sanders helped elevate a young team into a borderline playoff team in the Miami Dolphins.
He hit all 36 of his PAT attempts, and only missed three field-goal attempts. All three of Sanders’ misses were not chip shots by any means, as each of his missed field goals were from at least 40 yards, and one was 50+.
3 | Greg Zuerlein | Dallas Cowboys
Greg Zuerlein had a down year in his first with the Dallas Cowboys in what has been a roller coaster of a career. For the most part, Greg the Leg has been an above-average NFL kicker, but he has had his down years.
Zuerlein is ranked as highly as he is for a few reasons. Firstly, he tends to have rebound years after average years. Last season, he only hit 82.9% of his field goals, a lower rate for him. He also hasn’t lost any leg strength, hitting a 59 yarder in 2020. Expect Zuerlein to be back among the top special teams’ players next season.
2 | Jason Myers | Seattle Seahawks
Jason Myers had his foray into the elite company of special teams players in his one season with the New York Jets. In the two seasons since Myers has not left that tier. In 2020, Myers was almost perfect.
That exactly describes Myers’s season simply due to extra-point attempts. He missed four extra points but went 24 for 24 on field goals. Myers is one of the best in the business.
1 | Justin Tucker | Baltimore Ravens
Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL, and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Anytime I see him miss either a PAT or field goal, I’m genuinely surprised. He averages 90% hit field goals in his career.
2020 seemed to be a down year for just almost everyone, Tucker included. Even so, Tucker put up elite numbers. He only missed three field goals, and two were from 50 yards or longer.
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