Geek of the Week explains how to perform the impossible: replacing Steven Stamkos in fantasy.
Every year, there seems to be at least one major injury that will significantly change the outcome of fantasy hockey leagues everywhere. In recent years, we have seen the likes of Sidney Crosby and Erik Karlsson have their seasons cut short. On Monday night, we got new of this year’s (hopefully only) major casualty: Steven Stamkos.
It goes without saying that Steven Stamkos is an elite fantasy talent. It is shocking to me that I have never had the opportunity to own him on any of my fantasy teams, since I play in 3-5 leagues each year and I have valued Stamkos extremely high for about five years. I was one of the unlucky few to lose Karlsson last season though, so if you are a Stamkos owner I do feel your pain. Your season just took a major hit and unless Sindey Crosby happens to be available on your waiver wire, then Stamkos is pretty much irreplaceable as your #1 C. Let’s take a look at the year to date numbers in Fantasy Hockey Geek to see what we have lost in Stamkos:
(FHG rank based on 16 team Yahoo! league measuring G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, Hits. Stats as of Nov 14):
It should come as no surprise to you that FHG calculates Stamkos as being the second most valuable player in the league, behind only Ovechkin and just barely above Crosby. You all know WHY Stammer is valuable, so I won’t work too hard laying it all out, but to highlight:
- Since the 2009-10 season, Stamkos is first in goals in the NHL with 199 and first in points with 363. That’s right, he is ahead of Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin et all and it isn’t really all that close. Ovechkin is second in goals with and he has almost 20% less (166).
Over that same time period, Stamkos missed a grand total of 0 games due to injury, putting in seasons of 82, 82, 82 and 48 games played before going down in game 17 of this season.
- As a centre, Stamkos provides elite peripherals. Finding Cs who shoot isn’t easy, nor is it easy to find Cs who hit. Stamkos does both: amongst Cs with at least 30 points last season, Stamkos was 4th in shots and 7th in hits.
- Stamkos is also lethal on the powerplay, recoding the 10th most PPPs in the entire league last season. He also leads the league in power-play goals over the past five seasons with 66. About 65 of those looked like this.
Given everything I have laid out above, there is a very solid argument to made that Stamkos has been the most valuable keeper league commodity in the NHL over the past five seasons. In any given season, he may be the second-fifth most valuable, but his durability and consistency have made him the most reliable long-term own in all of fantasy hockey since Bill Guerin won his last Stanley Cup.
So if you are a Stamkos owner, hopefully you are adequately depressed now. Chances are, if you own Stamkos – you are pretty much cooked in your fantasy league. Guys like this don’t fall off trees and if you have any sort of competition at all in your league, this loss will be too much to bounce back from. I don’t ever like to give up though and as a Stamkos owner you are in a fail proof situation now. If you give it the old college try and fail, you can always fall back on the “well I lost because of the Stammer injury” crutch….BUT if you could somehow overcome the injury and still win your league, that feat could provide bragging rights amongst your group for years to come. Here are some thoughts on how to deal with the Stamkos injury in your various leagues.
- If you are in a H2H league that has a league playoff, then you are in the scenario with the most hope. Just stash Stamkos on the IR and do whatever you can to scratch and claw your way into the playoffs using some of the players I identify below. Should Stamkos be back before the end of your league’s regular season – you will be back to full force and ready to upset some teams.
- If you are in an H2H league and you DON’T own Stamkos, then you may want to try to acquire him at a drastically reduced price. If you have a strong squad and can afford to give up a mid-level (Tyler Bozakish) player to the current desperate Stamkos owner, then maybe you will hit the lottery and get Stamkos back in time to steamroll your competition in the playoffs. This could be a very good time to take a calculated risk on Stamkos.
- If you own Stamkos in a keeper league and your team was average or worse before the injury, then your only real option is to do a one year rebuild. Sell off your other spare parts for picks and better luck next year.
- If you have Stammer in a keeper league and you are a top team though, maybe you should consider trading him? Is the owner of Tavares a non-playoff team? If so, offer up Stamkos for Tavares. The non-playoff team benefits by improving his keepers for next season as well as performing worse this season and thus improving his draft position. You benefit by being able to compete for a championship NOW. I ran this season’s numbers through FHG to find some guys who are providing Stamkos-like value. If you can flip an injured Stammer for one of these guys (and maybe a little extra) then your shot for this season could still be alive:
These are all great targets that will replace Stamkos and not hurt your overall value too bad. Personally, I would focus on Tavares as being the closest investment to Stamkos long term.
Cumulative leagues (points/roto)
- If you are in a cumulative stat roto (or points) league, then your outlook is the most bleak of all scenarios. Essentially, you will be looking to replace a top 5 sought after player, with somebody on the waiver wire (a 200+ most sought after player). Dobber had a great write-up on the situation outlining who Tampa may use to replace Stamkos. This is a great starting point for how to replace Stamkos on your fantasy squad as these players will be getting Stamkos’ minutes.
- If you need to go to the waiver wire replace Stamkos and the pickings are sure to be slim but using FHG, hopefully you can replace Stamkos with a centre who is valued a little higher than 200+. Here are some of the most suitable centers that I found:
Andrew Shaw (16% owned)
Shaw doesn’t shoot or score as much as Stamkos (who does?), but he is similar in that he is well rounded. Shaw’s hit total almost makes up for the lower shot total. Shaw is also being utilized on the powerplay and while he won’t end up anywhere near as effective as Stamkos on the peeper, it is worth noting that both players currently have four PPPs. FHG ranks Andrew Shaw as the 51st most valuable player in this league format and he is available in 84% of the leagues out there.
Martin Hanzal (28% owned)
Hanzal is the guy I would go to first. Because he is always injured he is usually undervalued, but he has 14 points in 16 games on a Coyote team that is suddenly sixth in the league in GF per game. His hit and shot totals are solid and he has also contributed four points on the PP. This guy WILL miss time with injury, but FHG currently calculates him as the 64th most valuable player in a league of this format, so I would get him in the lineup whenever he is healthy. Over the past two seasons, Hanzal has played at a 54pt pace. In Hanzal’s best-case scenario over 82 games, you might only give up about 35 points and 80 shots vs. Stamkos while gaining 50-100 hits. Obviously this is still a huge loss, but it is a lot more manageable than the full 90+ points Stamkos was going to put up.
Take a flier
My first recommendation would always be to use FHG to find some guys that are providing value now and scoop them up to best replace your loss, but I do recognize that there are deeper leagues out there where Hanzal and Shaw and the like are all owned. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so if your outlook is really poor and your only hope is a miracle – then you are better off trying for a true miracle rather than adding Zach Smith and watching your team fade away:
Tyler Toffoli (14% owned) has shown up on the scene and put up points in every game he has played. He is getting top-6 minutes and regular powerplay time. Toffoli is a bit a longshot this season, but he has more of an upside than somebody like Shaw or Hanzal. He is a must-own in a keeper league, but carries more uncertainty in a one year league. He’s a flier worth taking though if you have lost a stud like Stamkos.
Mark Scheifele (4% owned) started the season as the #1 C in Winnipeg and has been a fantasy hockey bust to this point. He has had some games lately that have shown flashes of his potential though. A player starting the season in the tank and then lighting it up in the second half doesn’t happen too often in the NHL, but you never know. I am not predicting that a second half miracle will happen (in fact I highly doubt it will), but there's a chance. Hey, I saw it happen in 2008-09 when one Steven Stamkos started with 18 points in 45 games and finished with 28 in the final 34.
If you are a Stamkos owner in any league, then my heart goes out to you. It will be an uphill climb from here to be sure. With some of the strategies I outlined though and some of the great finds identified via FHG, hopefully you can replace Stamkos and persevere. To find more potential replacements, enter your league into Fantasy Hockey Geek to see who could be a good fit for your team.
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