Seemingly in decline prior to last season, the 35-year-old unexpectedly had the best campaign of his lengthy career, benefiting from a 49ers offense that ranked 12th in yards and 27th in red-zone TD percentage. Gould went 17 of 18 from 40-49 yards and made each of his four tries from 50-plus. The 49ers might struggle in the red zone again, as they don't have a proven power back or tight end, and their wideouts lack size.
Gould's perfect accuracy from last season looks nice on paper, but it's worth noting that six of his 10 attempts came in the final two games of the season. Nevertheless, it landed him a job in San Francisco, though the 49ers don't figure to give him a plethora of attempts after Phil Dawson had just 21 in 16 games last year. Even if the offense improves dramatically under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, Gould will have a huge hill to climb to be a solid fantasy option in most formats.
Gould bounced back from an injury-plagued 2013 by hitting a career-high 33 field goals on 39 attempts, allowing him to be one of the more consistent scoring options for a Bears team that was riddled with injuries. In fact, only four teams got a greater percentage of their total points from their kicker than the Bears (37.9 percent), a significant increase from 2014 when only 21.6 percent of their points came from the kicking game, the lowest mark in the NFL. The Bears' offense should be better in 2016 if they can stay healthy, which could reduce Gould's field-goal attempts, but it's likely not going to be good enough to push him to the upper-tier of fantasy kickers with PATs.
Gould entered last season fresh off tying his career high in field-goal percentage (89.7), but he wasn't nearly as effective in 2014 before suffering a season-ending groin injury Week 13. Making matters worse, his attempts were few and far between, as he never had more than two field-goal opportunities in a game thanks to the Bears' lack of red-zone drives (20th) and third-ranked red-zone touchdown efficiency. Jay Feely took over for Gould but was let go in the offseason as the latter is expected to be healthy for training camp. New offensive coordinator Adam Gase should be good for Gould. Gase should engineer more red-zone drives after his success in Denver, and even if the Bears regress in touchdown efficiency, that will also mean more field goals for Gould.
Gould christened his 2013 season with a franchise-record 58-yarder in Week 1 and didn’t seem to look back, tying his career-best accuracy rate with an 89.7 percent mark from the field. Meanwhile, the Bears turned into one of the league’s most productive offensive attacks under first-year coach Marc Trestman, a development that allowed Gould to pick up 45 PATs after hovering between 33 and 37 the previous four seasons. That increased offensive formidability should have third-most accurate kicker in NFL history on track for another season of solid point production, though his long-range opportunities may dry up by December, with three outdoor games in Chicago and one in Minnesota.
Gould was on his way to another solid campaign last season before a left calf strain cost him the final three games and required offseason surgery. He's expected to be fully healthy for training camp and retain his trademark accuracy (career 85.6 percent), but the same old shortcoming remains for Gould – an offense that has hovered around the league average in production since Jay Cutler’s arrival. Adding the 25 points of Gould’s replacement, Olindo Mare, last year would have ranked Gould 12th in kicker scoring with 121 points, his same total from 2011. Expect more of the same.
Gould has been one of the more consistent kickers the last five seasons, attempting 28 to 36 field goals and converting 83 to 89 percent each year. Gould’s unspectacular PAT numbers prevent him from reaching the elite category, however. His 37 last year were actually a three-year high. A healthy Jay Cutler would help this season, as the Bears scored fewer than 21 points in each of the five games Cutler missed. And the arrival of Brandon Marshall should boost the offense as a whole. Gould was 6-for-6 on 50-plus yarders last season, making him 11-for-13 the last three years after going 0-for-2 in his first four years in the league.
Consistently a fringe fantasy kicker, Gould has finished between 12th and 15th in kicker scoring in each of the last three seasons. Everything about Gould’s numbers scream average. His 25 field-goal conversions and 36.3 extra points per season are almost right at the NFL average. Last season, Gould was 25-of-30 on field goals, good for 13th at 83.3 percent. The Bears did not have the expected increase in offensive production in Year 2 under offensive coordinator Mike Martz with just two more touchdowns than the previous season. While Chicago's red-zone inefficiency (45.1 percent, 26th) created field-goal opportunities for Gould, the Bears, for the second year in a row, only mounted 51 red-zone drives (14th). Gould doesn’t get any help from the December schedule as the only game with suitable weather is likely to be Week 17, indoors at Minnesota. After attempting only two 50-yard field goals in his first four years in the league, Gould has converted five 50-yarders the last two years.
Gould was hurt by an offense that scored just
33 touchdowns last season as Jay Cutler’s first
year in Chicago was a disappointment. Cutler
threw a league-high 27 interceptions, and the
Bears were 29th in rushing, which left Gould
with a four-year low of 105 points, good for just
14th in the league. Gould attempted eight fewer
PATs despite the supposed upgrade at quarterback,
and his 24 field goals on 28 attempts
were his lowest totals since 2005.
On a positive note, Gould made a 50-yarder
for the first time in his career, hitting 2-of-3.
Expect Cutler and the Bears offense to improve
in Year 2 under the guidance of offensive guru
Mike Martz, giving Gould more scoring opportunities.
He has three possible bad-weather
games in December, which could be problematic
for the Bears offense.
After an NFL-high 72 field-goal attempts in two years, Gould had just 29 attempts last year. The addition of quarterback Jay Cutler upgrades the offense and should give Gould more scoring opportunities this season. An accurate field-goal kicker (88.1 percent the last three years), Gould has yet to convert a 50-yarder in his career, attempting only two in four years. He also has four possible bad-weather games in December.
Gould might like be one of those dot com
stocks that having peaked is ready to come crashing down. The Bears went from 47 touchdowns
in 2006 to just 33 in 2007 with Gould dropping
from 143 points to 124. With Chicago's skill
positions more in question than ever, plus a suspect defense, this might be the year that Gould's fantasy bubble bursts. Gould's had an NFL-high 72 field-goal attempts the last two years (36 each season), but with this Bears offense, don't count on a repeat.
Gould went from 92 points in 2005 to a league-high 143 points in 2006. Gould’s biggest improvement came from 40-49 yards where he was 12-of-14 last season, compared to just 3-of-8 in 2005. The loss of Thomas Jones coupled with the inconsistent play of Rex Grossman could drop Gould a few notches from the top spot, but he is still worth starting on any fantasy roster. Gould also gets bumped because he has three potential bad-weather games in December.
The Bears offense doesn’t give a kicker a lot of help, but Gould needs to do better than 3-of-8 from 40-49 yards. The club brought in undrafted free agent Josh Huston (Ohio State), so there will be some competition in training camp.