In my first TWO installments, I profiled players (Subban & Ott) who had tremendous actual value in comparison to their average draft position. This week, I am going to put a different spin on things and demonstrate a player who is being significantly OVER-valued on a regular basis: Jordan Eberle
I would like to start by saying that, as a fan: I absolutely love Eberle. He is a heart and soul guy, a clutch performer and he plays on an up and coming, exciting young hockey team. He is everything that I would want from a player on an NHL team that I cheer for. He just isn’t what I want on my Fantasy Hockey roster.
Let’s take a look at the numbers from last year.
Eberle was a 30 goal scorer, (almost) a point per game player, a power play contributor and he was tied for 15th in overall scoring in only his second NHL season! Surely he is worth his average draft position of 35, right? Wrong.
Let’s run the numbers through the Fantasy Hockey Geek:
(2011-12 Season stats for a Yahoo! Standard 12 team league: G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)
Eberle’s actual value last year was 141st, right around where Milan Michalek and Andrew Ladd were ranked. The difference being that the 2 comparable players are being drafted in the 14th and 15th round. Eberle is being drafted in the third.
So why is Eberle ranked so low when he puts up such great numbers? The answer is simple: Eberle has two categories in this league where he is exceptionally low (SOG and PIM), and he isn’t great in +/- either. Guys like this are a killer to fantasy hockey teams. I understand that all players can’t be good at all categories, but a successful GM simply cannot afford to have his 3rd round pick being a non-factor in two out of six forward categories.
I think of it this way: In leagues of this format, you are essentially trying to fill six buckets as quickly as you can. If your 2nd or 3rd best forward is only contributing to 3 or 4 of those buckets, then you are going to be hard pressed to compete with the shrewd managers in your league who drafted players that can fill five or six buckets at a time.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there with Eberle (sorry Jordan, but I am going to pile on now!). Eberle was ranked 141st in that league when he actually had a very strong year. But what if his 2012 year isn’t as strong as last season? What if he was in a league that included some of those other categories that Jordan isn’t so great at?
Eberle in leagues of different formats:
In the comments of my last article on Steve Ott, a reader (cdubb) mentioned that Eberle was picked in the second round of his league that has Yahoo! Standard categories with the addition of hits: another category where Eberle falls short. In that particular league, FHG calculates that Eberle’s true value was 161st in the entire pool last year. Ouch! I would wager a fair sum of money that the GM who took Eberle in second round will not be winning this pool.
Eberle’s change in production next year:
In the 2012 Dobber’s Fantasy Guide, he and Angus do a fantastic job of using advanced stats to predict where a player’s numbers from last year may be inflated, and Eberle is one of those guys. His 34 goals came, with a shooting percentage of 18.9%. Furthermore, his team’s shot percentage while Eberle was on the ice was third in the entire league last year. Are those numbers sustainable? I say no. Even if Eberle’s shooting percentage only decreases to his career level (which is still high at 15.4%), his goal total would dip to 28.
With Eberle being so young, and so much talent coming into Edmonton, one may argue that he has another level to hit, but this will be offset by the expected decline in shooting percentage to a more reasonable level. If Eberle doesn’t shoot more, his point output will not improve and his true value will continue to be very low in pools that count categories other than goals and assists.
Now I can sit here all day and say that I don’t think Eberle’s point totals are going up next year, but that is just my opinion: not fact. You may disagree with me and that’s fine. But how high exactly would Eberle’s point total have to go for him to be worthy of being picked 35th overall? To answer this question, I took another look at the “what-if” analysis tool provided at Fantasy Hockey Geek as part of the Season Toolkit. The 35th highest value player in that format last year, had a FHG value of 51. Eberle’s FHG Value as shown above was 15. So what would he need to do to get up to 51?
The above chart shows one scenario that could get Eberle’s true value up to his average draft position. If he becomes a 90 point player and gains an additional: 2 goals, 12 assists, +6, 20 SOG and 10PPP: then he would have a FHG Value of 51. That would make him the 35th best player in the pool, and he would be worthy of his current average draft position. That is a HUGE jump that would be required, simply for you to get fair value on your pick. But at FHG, we always want better than fair value on our picks!
I know it may be hard to swallow that Eberle would need to get 90 points, just to be the 35th best guy in this league, but here is how the math works: he is so exceptionally bad at the categories he is bad at, that he needs to be exceptionally great at the categories he is good at, just to offset the production you are giving up in those other categories.
Thinking back to those six buckets: if one guy on the team is only working on filling three or four of the buckets, then he had better be filling them up pretty damn quickly because everybody else on the team is going to need to focus on the buckets he is leaving out. Unless Eberle starts shooting more, or spending some time in the penalty box – he is going to be very hard pressed to get his true value up to his draft position.
Eberle is a great player. He is young, exciting and awesome to watch. But at the 35th overall pick in your draft, he is killing your fantasy hockey team. To find more examples of GM-killers like Jordan Eberle, be sure to sign up to Fantasy Hockey Geek
Check back next week, for my next Geek of the Week. A lot of the drafts going on right now are for keeper leagues, so I am going to identify a defenseman who you can draft for his upside, but reap the benefit of his value now.