On Johnny Boychuk and finding sneaky value in H2H leagues.
We are entering the home stretch in Fantasy Hockey, with most head to head leagues having only three regular season match-ups remaining before we hit the fantasy playoffs. Over the coming weeks, I am going to try to focus my columns on players who may be available on the waiver wire in your league and may have the ability to help you make that final push over the top. Today I bring you the first of such players: Johnny Boychuk.
Johnny Boychuk is currently 13% owned in Yahoo! leagues, so he definitely qualifies as a player who is widely available. When you consider that his career high in points is 16 and the fact that he has a grand total of FIVE total powerplay points since entering the NHL in 2007, you could reasonably conclude that his low ownership rate is justified. With the help of Fantasy Hockey Geek though, a further look into the numbers would show you that there’s more to Boychuk than meets the eye. Here is what Boychuk is contributing to those that do own him:
You can see that FHG calculates Boychuk as the 120th most valuable player (37th most valuable D) in this league, providing value at a higher clip than such players as Kevin Bieksa (44% owned), Alex Goligoski (44% ), and Mark Streit (83% ). Chances are, you are in a league that rosters at least 37 D so despite his ownership rate, Boychuk should be on your radar. So what makes Boychuk so valuable and why do you want to add him?
I’m not sure whether it’s a function of the players that they draft or the system that they play, but Bruins rearguards tend to shoot a ton. Boychuk is a perfect example of that, posting upwards of two shots per game with minimal powerplay time. The fact that he shoots more than an “offensive” defenseman like Streit is amazing to me. He also shoots more than many other point producers like Kronwall, Markov and Fowler.
Not necessarily renowned for his hitting ability, Boychuk is sneaky-good in this area and it’s where he can make up a ton of value on other bigger names out there. The fact that he has more than triple the hits as a player like Mark Streit, allows Boychuk to make up for what he lacks in other areas like Goals and Assists.
This is the category that is obviously driving Boychuk’s value and it’s something that would cause a lot of people to say that the FHG calculated value is “over-inflated”. With Boychuk however, I don’t think this is the case. He plays on a Bruins team that always has players (including Boychuk) near the top of the league in this metric so – while it CAN be a random stat – I don’t believe that it is in Boychuk’s case.
With 16 points in 51 games, Boychuk is hardly an elite scoring d-man but his production has gone up enough this year to make him much more viable in fantasy hockey. The extra ice time he has gained with Dennis Seidenberg in the lineup has helped him out in this regard. Boychuk is currently on a 26 point pace and rising. It wouldn’t shock me to see him put up 30 this season and with the peripherals outlined above that can be incredibly valuable (not unlike a healthy Seidenberg). As a 10-15 point guy, I would be a little more wary of adding Boychuk for the hits and shots, but as a 25-30 point guy you are only giving up about 15 points on some of the bigger names out there while adding a boat load of shots and hits. This is why Boychuk has such stealth value.
So often in H2H leagues, I see a very obvious point get overlooked time and time again: any single category is worth the same amount much as any other category. If you score 100 goals and 200 assists in a given week and blow the other guy out of the water in these two areas but he still gets you in hits and +/- then you are tied 2-2. As fantasy hockey poolies, we are so geared towards goals and assists and while I would say that we should focus on these areas to a degree, the emphasis on pure points is way too high amongst the general public.
Consider where Johnny Boychuk ranks amongst defensemen in the six categories I am measuring today: 2nd (+/-), 35th (hits), 43rd (shots), 62nd (assists), 110th (goals) and 141st (PPP). If you look at the ranks and not the category names, he looks pretty good. If the higher rankings were in more prominent categories (goals and assists) but the lower rankings were in the categories we tend to ignore then all of us would be all over Johnny Boychuk. Let’s apply his ranks in his best categories to goals and assists to illustrate my point: If he were the second best player in goals for example (as opposed to +/-) and that he was 35th in assists (as opposed to hits), he would be a 15 goal 19 assist player with 34 points in 51 games. I guarantee you if this were the case, Johnny Boychuk would be owned in over 80% of leagues, but since the categories he excels at aren’t the sexy ones, he gets ignored. FHG allows us to remove our bias towards scoring categories and understand a player’s true value when considering ALL of the categories that our league measures.
The final point I would like to make on Boychuk is a point I have made about 100 times before: he is a defenseman and defensemen who contribute are extremely valuable in fantasy hockey because they are rare. I don’t even want you to add Boychuk to your starting roster though, I’m asking you to add him to your bench. Another common mistake (this applies to daily leagues with no GP limit only) I see GMs making in fantasy hockey is roster management: if their league calls for 2C, 2RW, 2LW, 4D and 5Bn, they will roster accordingly and have all 5 BN players be forwards due to their higher output.
The thought process is “I would rather have Derek Roy on my bench than Johnny Boychuk right???” WRONG. The fallacy in rostering all of these forwards is that the NHL schedule often has teams playing on the same night and you can’t get all of your forwards in for a game so you have good production from your 10th and 11th forwards on your bench and 0 production in an empty D slot. A rule of thumb I like to use is to fill my bench proportionally with my roster (in the example above 4 out of 10 – or 40% - of your active roster is D, so 40% of your bench should also be D; which would equate to two of the five D slots). Do yourself a favor and add Boychuk as one of those two bench D and you might get him in for two or three games a week and he will chip in with 5-8 shots, 5-8 hits, a couple +’s and maybe even a point or two. He may just be the difference between winning a week or losing a week at the most critical time of the year.
Johnny Boychuk is a sneaky-valuable guy who could just be the pickup you need to power into the playoffs or maybe even elevate you to the bye-week. When you look inside the numbers and analyze Boychuk’s output as I have above, it is pretty easy to see how he could help your team. That takes a lot of time though and we aren’t always going to do a deep dive on a random defenseman. An easier way to find more guys like Johnny who can help you at the most important time of year is to just log onto FHG today and enter in your own league. The players’ values will come up in under 10 seconds and you might be surprised at the number of sneaky-valuable guys you can find yourself.