Is it time to buy stock in underachieving Flyers forward Claude Giroux?
Each week in my Geek of the Week columns, I try to profile a player whose value is considerably higher or lower than what other GMs perceive in the hopes that you can use that insight to target/trade a player accordingly. This week I am going to profile a player whose value (both real and perceived) has fluctuated greatly in opposite directions in recent years: Claude Giroux.
Seriously: what is going on with this Claude Giroux guy anyway? Is he the budding young dynamo who is nipping at the heels of the Crosby and Ovechkin, or is he a glorified Justin Williams? With the help of the tools at Fantasy Hockey Geek, I’ll take a deeper dive into each season (with Giroux’s perceived value in parenthesis) and answer that question:
2011-12 (Undervalued – fairly valued)
Going into 2011-12 you probably could have obtained Giroux at good value, but as his season progressed and he was on his way to a 93 point season and there was talk of him joining the ranks of the top 5 guys in fantasy hockey along with Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and Stamkos. He managed to finish third in league scoring and almost single handedly eliminated the Penguins from the post season, leading his coach to refer to Giroux as the best player in the world. As it turns out, that quote may have been the exact “TSN Turning Point” for Giroux, as it has all gone downhill from there. The Flyers went on to lose in four straight to the Devils in the next round and Giroux’s PPG average has fallen by about 1/3rd of a point from 1.21 that season to 0.89 since. Let’s take a look at the FHG numbers to see how valuable Giroux was back in 2011-12. For all analyses today, I will use a Yahoo! standard 12 team league measuring G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG and Hits. The numbers/values would obviously change depending on league settings, but Giroux is fairly well rounded so his rankings should be similar amongst a lot of league formats.
You can see from the above that in his best season, Giroux was the 20th most valuable player in this league led by his 93 points but supported by his all-around solid peripheral numbers. Other than points, Giroux’s biggest strength is in his PPP where he frequently is amongst the league leaders. His hits and +/- are decent for a guy who is providing such good offensive production and his 242 shots on goal are decent for a RW and great for a C (Giroux has duel eligibility). His RW eligibility would make him especially valuable in leagues that count faceoffs won.
Needless to say, if you had Giroux on your team that season then you were probably quite pleased with his output, not only because he provided solid production across all categories, but also because he wouldn’t have been drafted in the top 20. His 93 points were 17 higher than his previous year total so at the time, Giroux was a bargain. 2011-12 was probably the only season that you would have got good value drafting Claude though, as the Giroux hype was at an all-time high going into the strike shortened season. That playoff series against Pittsburgh alone likely shot him up 10 slots on draft boards the following summer. I doubt there has ever been one shift that has had more of an impact on a player’s perceived value than this one.
2013 (extremely over-valued)
All of this 2011-12 greatness set-up huge expectations for fantasy GMs everywhere as evidenced by his average draft position (ADP) of fourth overall – which was actually higher than both Ovechkin and Crosby! Talk about a market overreaction! Managers were obviously taking Giroux’s four year growth trend (27, 47, 76 and 93 points in consecutive years) and extrapolating him for an even better season in 2013. In retrospect though, it seems that what happened with Giroux is he had his “magical fourth year” in 2011-12 and then his 2013 numbers came back to what our expectations should be. Here is how FHG valued him last season:
You can see above that along with Giroux’s point decline last season came a dip in his overall value. His point total was pretty much the only thing driving his value downward last season though, as he was still getting decent shots and his hit pace was actually slightly up while his poer-play production continued to rank amongst the elite. As a point per game player who was third in the league in power-play points Giroux certainly still was a very viable fantasy asset, but he sure wasn’t a top 5 player to own and anybody who bypassed Ovechkin to draft Giroux would be long regretting that strategy. What we saw last year was a classic pitfall of a market overreaction and a players’ perceived value swinging far past the level of his actual value. Giroux’s fantasy value was severely overrated and those who bought into the hype would have suffered.
Going into the current season, people’s expectations should have already been a bit tempered and his ADP of 16 suggests that the Giroux hype machine was indeed slowing down but not coming to a halt nearly fast enough. If Giroux were to repeat his performance from last season then 16th overall is way too high to be selecting him, considering his value was in the 30s last season. Even if you thought that Giroux’s output were to match his career best though, the FHG data tells us that 16th overall is a slight reach. With his best season ever slotting him as the 20th most valuable and his previous season output being 31st, there is no way I would have drafted Giroux in the top 2 rounds this year.
Take Ryan Getzlaf as a comparison: he WAS over a point per game in 2013 as well as five of the past six seasons. His ADP was 43rd overall this season, a full two rounds later than Giroux despite the fact that FHG shows that the two players had essentially the same value last year (Getzlaf was 25th).
Let’s now take a look at how Giroux is contributing this season:
As the 85th most valuable player this season, Giroux is once again killing the GMs who used a high pick to obtain him. If you are one of the GMs out there who drafted him in the first two rounds, I am sure you would agree that Giroux was over-valued coming into this season and not contributing even close to what a second round pick should. To this point in the season, the shots and hits are still there with Giroux but he has a clear dip in goals, assits, +/- and even his bread and butter catergory – PPPs are down slightly. Given the stability of his shot and hit numbers and Giroux’s high level of talent, his current value of 85th is pretty much as bad as it is going to get for Giroux. I would be far more concerned if there were a coinciding drop off in shots.
Right now, I believe that fantasy GMs don’t know what to make of Giroux and I think that the pendulum may be starting to swing the other way. For the first time since September of 2011, it may be time to BUY on this guy, particularly if there is a GM in your league who is getting frustrated.
As a side note: I LOVE to look at opposing team’s slogans as insight into potential bargains. When the Giroux owner posts: “#$!!’ing Giroux, what a waste of a top pick!”, I am sending an offer of Hertl and Nielsen for Giroux right away!
Giroux’s terrible start is well documented and his total season contribution looks poor (85th overall value); but things are never as good as they seem nor are they ever as bad as they seem. When Giroux’s point total spiked at 93, GMs everywhere overrated him, but now that he is on pace for under 60 points you are going to see GMs start to under value him. Giroux may not be a 93 point guy but he certainly isn’t a 60 point guy – the truth of course, lies somewhere in the middle. Take a look at the how Giroux has been performing over the past month using FHG data since November 13th (this is one of my new favorite things to do):
Giroux again is contributing at a point per game pace while improving on his +/- and PPP and subsequently is calculated as the 20th most valuable player over this time frame which would suggest that he simply had a really poor start to the season. In the first two months, he converted less than 6% of his shots, which is about half of what he has done over the course of his career. Giroux continues to shoot as frequently as his previous productive campaigns and he obviously is still seeing top line and top power-play minutes. There is enough here to convince me that Giroux’s season has simply been a victimized by a slow start. His three points in nine games to start the season is a bad result in a very small sample size while his 20 points in the next 23 games seems to be more representative of who Giroux really is. When you factor in the more recent production along with his 2010-11 season where he was pretty much a point per game player, combined with his 2013 season where he was exactly a point per game player I think the picture is pretty clear here: Claude Giroux is a point per game player who happened to have a great 4th year and who also happened to have a slow start to this season. Eliminate those two outliers and we know what we can expect from Giroux going forward.
The most realistic view of what to expect from Giroux going forward would be his 2013 season where (as shown above) FHG calculates him to be the 31st most valuable player in the league so don’t go drafting him as anything more than that going forward and please, please never allow him to be drafted ahead of Ovechkin ever again. Some GMs out there may be starting to sour on Giroux though, so if you can acquire him for an Alexander Steen (for example) especially in a keeper league then I would pull that trigger in an instant.
Claude Giroux is a great example of how one player can go from overvalued to undervalued over a short period of time in their career. Using the tools provided at FHG, you can really get an idea of what a player’s TRUE value is and adjust your game plan to take advantage where the perceived value does not match the actual value. I managed to avoid Giroux like the plague when he was being talked about in the same breath as Ovechkin, but now that he has the same point total as Shane Doan, I am going to start kicking tires. You should too.
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