We all know David Backes is a multi-cat beast. But he's still undervalued in fantasy.
The draft for the Dobber Experts League takes place this coming Wednesday and I have been planning feverishly. This league hosts what is probably some of the stiffest competition out there, so you know we all want to have a good showing. As with all of my drafts, Fantasy Hockey Geek is at the core of my prep as I attempt to identify the high value players that I can take at the top, middle and bottom of the draft. The beauty of FHG is that you can customize the output to your league’s settings and it will calculate how valuable each player is in YOUR league. Obviously from league to league, players’ values can vary greatly, so it is important to understand just how good a player is in your particular format (see my article on Understanding Your League for more on this).
Given that my competition in this draft consists of 12 fellow Dobber writers and four avid Dobber readers, I am a little hesitant to give up too much of my strategy but today I will share with you one of the best value players out there who I will definitely be targeting: David Backes.
David Backes is the epitome of a value fantasy player. He is a consistent scorer, who contributes to virtually all of the peripheral categories but his point total is just low enough to keep him out of the top grouping on most GMs’ draft boards. His current Average Draft Position (ADP) is 120 in Yahoo! leagues, which is absurdly low. You would be hard pressed to find any leagues out there where Backes’ true value isn’t considerably higher than that. Let’s take a look at how he is valued in the Dobber Experts League:
(16 team roto league with categories: G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, HitS, W, Sv, GAA)
You can see that FHG calculates Backes as having been the 56 Experts League last season – a far better result than his current ADP. Now consider this: Backes was ranked this high despite scoring only six goals in 48 games! His low goal output was caused by the fact that he only converted on 6% of his shots last season, which is by far a career low. In his previous six seasons, Backes’ shooting % was about double that. Considering his value was 65 spots higher than his ADP on an OFF year, just how high could his value be on a GOOD year? Let’s take a look at the FHG numbers for two seasons ago:
2011-12 was a more typical Backes season: he netted 54 points, converted on 10.3% of his shots and his shot and hit totals were both in excess of 200. He chipped in a fair amount on the power-play and was a respectable +15. Given all of those inputs, FHG calculates him as being the 13 in the league that season, which is incredible value for a guy who is currently being drafted in the 11 round of Yahoo! pools.
So what can we expect from Backes in the coming season?
I think it is safe to say that last season is near the low end for a consistent player like Backes, so consider 56th most valuable to be a worst case scenario (barring injury). I also don’t think that it is reasonable to expect much better than his fantasy-friendly 2011-12. 54 points is about Backes’ wheelhouse and his peripherals were close to his high end that season as well. Given the considerations of these two seasons, I am going to assume that Backes’ value will fall somewhere between 13 and 56. Some other factors to consider on Backes:
- Backes has played incredibly tough minutes in STL. His offensive zone starts last season were a shade over 40% which is incredibly low for the team’s second leading point getter. There is no reason to believe that this trend will change significantly, however if it does – it would only be for the better. He was also 10th on the Blues in PP time per game last season and two of the guys ahead of him are no longer with the team (McDonald and Perron), so there may be more opportunity here (although Schwartz and Roy may have something to say about that).
- Hitchcock has alluded to the fact that he wants more offense this season. I’ll believe it when I see it but again – it’s not like St. Louis is going to play more defensively this year than they did last. There is only room for improvement here.
- As outlined in the Fantasy Guide, St Louis is scheduled to play much easier defenses in 2013-14 than they did a year ago. Last season they faced the 5th best defenses in the league over the course of the season because so much of their schedule was concentrated in-division. This year they face the 23rd best defenses.
- Due to Backes’ role shutting down opponents, his hits are slightly up (270 pace last season) and shots are slightly down (171 pace last season). Depending on his role, these two numbers should move inversely (i.e. if his shots increase, his hits will decrease and vice versa). His total shots + hits should hover around 450 regardless though, which is a great output of those combined stats (he’s easily in the top 10 in the league of shots+hits).
- Backes is also a very solid contributor in PIMs. If your league counts PIMs rather than hits, or happens to count both, he has very high value. I am no tlooking at PIMs here today, but if your league counts them, just enter your league into FHG to see just how it affects his value.
Considering all of the above factors as well as Backes’ prior year performances, I see a 2013-14 for him that looks something like this:
Using the what-if tool on FHG and plugging in my above projections, it calculates that Backes would be the 31st most valuable in the Dobber Experts League, which sounds about right to me. Considering he is being drafted almost 100 spots later than that – I think we have found some good value here.
My recommendation on Backes
For the Dobber Experts League, I will definitely be targeting Backes although I think I’ll keep the round I am targeting to myself for now. For all others out there who like what they see here and are thinking of scooping him, I would say to try to get him somewhere around the low end of his value. If you were to draft him around 60th or 70th for example, you are still getting him way earlier than most other GMs but you will still be getting good value on your investment. If you want to be a little risky and wait to draft him around 90-100 then you could get some serious value – but make sure you don’t miss out on this multi-cat stud!
To do some draft prep work of your own and find some more guys like Backes (trust me, there are lots) sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today!
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