As the Olympic break begins Terry Campkin takes a look at some fantasy overachievers.
It’s hard to believe that we are at the Olympic break already, but here we are and those of us in H2H leagues probably only have three matchups left before playoffs start (scary, right?). Despite the fact that there isn’t much regular season left, most leagues trade deadline has not yet passed so over the next two weeks I am going to take a look at some players who are overachieving/underachieving and identify whether they should be a trade target, or trade bait.
As a fantasy hockey GM it is always important to keep a big picture perspective. This is obviously true in keeper leagues but it is equally important in one-year leagues. If a career 60 point player has 55 points in his first 52 games, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will get 35 in his next 30 but so often I see GMs making their decisions based on the 52 game sample, rather than the 8 season sample. The Olympic break provides a great opportunity for us to ground ourselves and identify players who are performing significantly different from our expectations and determine whether or not it will keep up over the final two months of the season.
To perform my analysis, I run two simple reports in Fantasy Hockey Geek: first, I run a league ranking based on the Dobber preseason predictions, then I run a league ranking based on the actual season to date numbers. I compare the two rankings and look for players who have large differences. I found at least 20 relevant players when I did this, but today I will detail three of them for you:
(Today’s numbers calculated using a Yahoo! 12 team league measuring G, A, +/-, SOG, PPP, Hits):
|Player||Projected Rank||Actual Rank (to date)||Improvement|
|David Krejci||133||23||+ 110|
|Alex Steen||214||55||+ 159|
|Duncan Keith||94||12||+ 82|
The above chart lists three NHL veterans with a large amount of history to base preseason projections on, but in every case you can see that they are obliterating their projected ranks. Let’s take a deeper look inside each player to see how they are doing this:
(For my preseason prediction numbers, I prorated the output down to match the number of games played this season)
Looking at Keith’s actual numbers vs. his predicted ones, you can see how only a couple of category improvements can have a large impact on a player’s value. His goals and hits are actually slightly lower than we thought they would be while his +/- prediction was bang on, so those three categories are not driving the increased value.
Where Keith owners are seeing the biggest benefit is in Assists, Shots and PPP all of which went from predicted numbers that were good to actual numbers that are great. He is 1st, 7th and 8th (respectively) in those categories for defensemen this season. The gains in these three categories have catapulted Keith’s value 82 spots from where he was projected, the question is – can he sustain it?
I worry about Keith’s ability to maintain this pace because to me, he is a 45-50 point guy with the ability to jump to the 60s from time to time. His five seasons before the current campaign had point totals of 44, 69, 45, 40 and 47 (pace). That is a remarkably consistent output with one big outlier in there. It is very interesting to me that the previous outlier occurred in the last Olympic season – could this be a thing with Keith? That year, when Keith returned from the Olympics he continued to perform well but in the last ten games of the season he put up four points, which is much closer to his career pace.
Another thing to look at with Keith is that his high assist total is being padded drastically by secondary assists. Of the 39 assists he has playing 5 on 5 or 5 on 4, a whopping 27 of them are secondary assists. In 2011-12 he only had 14 secondary assists for the entire season. I wouldn’t want to bank on a spike in secondary assists being sustainable.
The increased shot and PPP rate are factors and the fact that Chicago has jumped to the 4th ranked PP this year gives me hope for Keith to continue his torrid pace for this season, but if I am in a keeper league I am definitely selling high on Keith. In a one year league, I would personally sell high as well assuming that you actually are selling HIGH. Let’s be clear: sell high is not sell OFF. If somebody wants to pay for Keith as the 12th best player in the league, then I would listen to offers.
Looking at David Krejci’s actual vs. predicted production you can see a very similar story as to what you have seen with Keith. One thing that has really opened my eyes doing this analysis today is the importance of powerplay points. I have always known/said that PPP are a rare stat and therefore extremely important but Fantasy Hockey Geek really demonstrates this through the Krejci and Keith rankings. With both players, the spike in PPP is the #1 cause of their drastic increase in value.
Krejci is a different animal to me than Keith though; he is a guy that I have never really been that high on. Back in 2008-09 when he scored 73 points and everybody was jumping on board the Krejci bandwagon, I was bearish because of his low (146) shot total. His shot output has been going up moderately over the years, but since 2008-09 his powerplay output has been poor, so his value has never really risen. This season however, Kreci already has 17 PPP which is his most since that 2008-09 season and that combined with his consistently good +/- and improving shot totals have propelled him up the league rankings.
Krejci’s improvements with the man advantage can be directly tied to his team as Boston sits 6th in the league with a 20.2% conversion rate which is leaps and bounds better than the 26th ranked PP they had last season. The last time Boston’s PP was this good? You guessed it: 2008-09. Since Krejci’s value is so closely tied to his PP production, I would expect his value to remain close to this level for as long as the Bruin’s powerplay is successful. I believe that the addition of Krug to the Bruins’ top unit is exactly what the B’s powerplay needed, so I think that their success with the man advantage will continue.
With all of this in mind, my recommendation would be to HOLD David Krejci. If it’s possible to target Krejci from a rival GM (citing his low SOG and five straight sub-65 point seasons) then it would be advisable to do so, but that may prove difficult given his current output.
Alex Steen has been one of the most talked about fantasy stars this season due to his incredible goal scoring surge and ridiculous shooting %. His overall value of 55 is well above what was predicted and it would be even higher if he hadn’t missed time with injury.
Looking at the comparison of prediction vs. actual production you can see that there are a couple of key things driving the increase in Steen’s value. His Assists, Hits and even Shots are pretty much aligned with where we would have thought. The increased PPP and his +15 will have had an impact on his value to be sure but the big number to note here is obviously the 28 goals. If Steen indeed had the 12 goals that were predicted for him, he would place 126th in the league in that category but his actual 28 goals put him 4th.
The “is it sustainable” inquiry for Steen is the million dollar question. We have been waiting all season for Steen to cool down and he just doesn’t seem to be doing it…..or does he?
Steen presents the perfect example of a player where if you focus on the overall numbers you don’t get the whole story. Looking at his season numbers you can see that his 28 goals are based on a shooting % over 18 and that he remains at a point per game through 45. That is no small sample size and you may want to make the argument that he can keep it up for the entire season. Take a look at the numbers a little closer though:
|October & November||25||20||31||84||29.8|
Steen has “gotten fat” off of two ridiculously good (and fortunate) months to start the season. Since then, he is playing at a 61.5 point pace which is much more in line with his season production and the only real difference is that his shooting % went from out of this world, back to his career levels.
Now, Steen does have a lot of qualities I like in a fantasy hockey player: he shoots at a good clip, his contributions to + I believe to be sustainable as long as his PPP increase is related to his move to the top line in St. Louis.
All of those factors lead me to believe that he is indeed worth more than the 214th rank that he was projected at to start the season. With Steen, I truly think the only aberration is his incredible shooting % to start the season. So how would Steen look if all else was equal this season, but he was shooting at his career clip of 10%? Let’s take a look using the “What-if” tool on Fantasy Hockey Geek, keeping in mind that Steen would have only 15 goals this season if he was shooting 10%:
|Alex Steen – What If?||102||15||18||15||152||10||27|
I absolutely love the What-If tool on FHG – it allows me to use my own input into a player’s stats and calculate how valuable they would be if I am correct. In the case of Steen, FHG shows me that a simple shooting % regression would drop his ranking by 47 positions. Both of the rankings (actual and what-if) are understated due to the games Steen has missed, but it’s the difference that we need to focus on: Steen’s unsustainable, inflated numbers probably have him overrated by upwards of 50 spots in your league currently.
Two other factors worry me with Steen. First off, this is (was) a contract year and you always want to be cautious with the guy who pulls off a career year and then gets paid. Granted, Steen already “got his” in December, but that only solidifies my point. Looking at Steen’s split stats you can see that his points per game are way lower since signing the contract. If you don’t want to blame shooting % regression for his decline (I do) then you could always point to the contract. The second factor that I don’t love with Steen is that he is a band-aid boy who will miss about 10 games per season.
If you can’t tell by everything I have laid out on Steen above, I am a big SELL HIGH on him. As I said, Steen is a guy who I would like on my team and I even targeted him in the summer, but right now his production is up there with the big boys so if you can flip Steen into a more consistent contributor than your team will be better for it. Think: Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Evander Kane and depending on your league format you will be laughing, especially in a keeper.
Now is the time where shrewd managers make the tough calls and take calculated gambles to push their team over the top for a championship. Checking player’s current value and comparing it back to what we thought at the beginning of the season (as well as their previous production) is a great way to objectively find some players on your team that may be prime sell high candidates. Using Fantasy Hockey Geek makes this process incredibly easy and accurate. Do the same analysis today and you will find a number of other overachievers, who you can potentially use to push your team over the top.