You can't spell "due to seriously bounce back" without Dubinsky.
In the first couple rounds of a draft, there really aren’t many “bad” picks and most manager’s strategies are similar: we focus on top end talent that provide elite levels of the more scarce statistics, usually goals and assists. Where I find that most leagues are won, however, is in the mid to late rounds of a draft when you are selecting guys to round out your team and contribute to some of the other categories that less experienced GMs tend to ignored. Today, I have a perfect example of a late round player who can help your fantasy squad in pretty much every format: Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubi is flying a little under the radar this year amongst the general public. Those who are a bit more plugged in have likely started to hear about his strong preseason and he may be starting to climb some draft boards, but he is still going largely unnoticed. Currently in Yahoo! pools, Dubinsky is being drafted 160th overall on average, which is towards the end of the 14th round in a 12 team league. As of last Friday, Dubinsky was only 26% owned across all Yahoo! leagues. I think that number will double before this season is through. Here’s why:
Dubinsky has shown an ability to contribute to almost all of the commonly measured fantasy hockey categories over the years, he just hasn’t often been able to do it all in the same season. Within a variety of the key categories though, Dubinsky has shown flashes of greatness:
• He had two straight seasons over 100 PIMs and was well on pace to go over 100 again in last year’s lockout shortened season.
• He has averaged 2.25 hits per game over the past three seasons which is a 185 hit pace.
• He has twice broken the 50 point mark and was on pace for 57 last season.
• When given the opportunity he has shown that he can contribute on the power-play, with double-digit PPPs twice in his career and again on pace for a career high in PPP last season.
• When given enough minutes and an offensive role, he has eclipsed the 200 SOG mark.
• He has a career FO% of 52.8% and he provides that as a player with LW eligibility. He only played 29 games last season but was on pace for 424 FOW over 48 games which would have put him 24th in the league.
Playing with a young Columbus team, there isn’t currently a ton of competition for good minutes. Dubinsky should see plenty of time on the Gaborik line and get his fair share of power-play minutes. You should also remember that Dubinsky’s best seasons with the Rangers came when he was spending good minutes with Gaborik. He struggled through injury last season, but as Dobber points out in the Fantasy Guide he finished with 16 points in 18 games (73 point pace).
You never want to rely too heavily on preseason performance to predict what kind of a season a player will have but there are some really encouraging signs coming from Dubinsky this fall that show he may be primed to put together a solid year:
(stats as of Friday morning)
• The Dubinsky-Gaborik-Jenner line has been gelling in a big way in the preseason. Dubi and Gaborik are tied for second in preseason scoring with seven points. Jenner didn't just play his way onto the team, but played his way onto the first line (alongside his preseason line-mates).
• Dubinsky’s seven points in five games come despite a low (5.9) shooting % and having 0 PPPs. If his shooting % were to come back to his career average (9.1) and/or he was able to get in on some of the power-play scoring, his production could actually be higher.
• The thing I like the best about what I see, is that Dubi is 7th in the league in shots with 17. Granted, he has done this while also earning some of the most TOI in the league this season, but this total averages over 3 per game which is a very good pace. After getting only 50 in 29 games last season, it is good to see Dubinsky displaying his ability to get the puck on the net this season. The amount of shots also tells me that Dubi is out there creating opportunities and that the points that he is getting are earned as opposed to “cheapies” in an incredibly small sample size.
The three factors above tell me that Dubinsky is indeed a great late round pick for the coming season, almost regardless of your league format. But just how valuable is Dubinsky and where should I draft him? Let’s take run Dubinsky’s numbers from 2011-12 (which was his best season) through Fantasy Hockey Geek to see what kind of upside he has:
(16 team Yahoo! league measuring: G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, Hits)
That season, Dubinsky was the 91st most valuable player in this particular league. That’s great upside for a guy who is only 26% owned right now and being drafted 70 slots after his real value. If you are in a slightly different league that counts PIMs or FW, then Dubinsky’s value would have been even higher than 91.
So that was his value in his career year, but what can we expect from him this year? Running Dobber’s projections through FHG this is what we get:
The Dobber projections have Dubi as the 139th most valuable player in the league, which isn’t great – but is still better than his current draft position. If you want to wait to draft him 139th overall this season then I would certainly support that strategy. Based on everything I laid out above though, I am a little more bullish on Dubinsky. I think that with the opportunities he will be given and the chemistry he has shown with Gaborik he could potentially have a career year. I think a best case scenario could look something like this:
If I run the above numbers through the what-if analysis on FHG, it shows me that Dubinsky would be the 62nd most valuable player in the league. Not bad upside for a guy being drafted 160th. These aren’t outlandish projections or Dubinsky either; I personally think that they only thing Dubinsky needs to achieve the above is to stay healthy. He doesn’t even need to necessarily elevate his play.
One final analysis I was curious to run on Dubi was to see how valuable he would be in a league that measures all of his strengths, so I added PIM and FW to my league in FHG and assumed that Dubinsky would accumulate 100 PIM and 500 FW (both of which are easily achievable for him this season). When I ran this scenario in the FHG, Dubinsky was rated as the 22nd most valuable player! His contribution to all of these categories reminds me of another personal favorite - former Geek of the Week Steve Ott. Obviously, there aren’t many leagues that are as catered to Dubinsky as this, but the example demonstrates his true value: the more categories your league measures – the more valuable Dubinsky is likely to be.
Brandon Dubinsky is a great player to own on your fantasy hockey team who will contribute to almost any category your league measures. He is also a guy with some scoring talent who is currently in a good situation, making him a good sleeper to contribute even higher totals in the offensive categories as well. You need to target Dubi as a mid-late round pick and when he starts to perform at his potential, get him into your lineup and reap the rewards.
To find more late round, high up-side guys like Brandon Dubinsky, sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek, enter your league settings and projections for your own sleeper players to find out exactly how valuable they could be for your team!
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