|Fantasy Indicators of Success (2010): Defensemen||Tweet|
|Written by Ryan Ma|
|Tuesday, 09 November 2010 13:29|
(NOW CLOSED - Dobber's note - the first person to comment below the name of the Phoenix blueliner with the most shots on goal gets into the draw for a free putter from Musty Putters)
Last year, I began the column by discussing a widely debated topic in fantasy hockey. Do defensemen really make a major difference in fantasy pools? As much as many fantasy poolies want to deny it, defensemen do play a vital role on influencing the outcome of your fantasy league. Last season, I pitted three offensive players with three defenseman. But based on comments from last season’s column, I’ll try to make it more realistic with a typical Yahoo! six-by-four setup. Let’s visit this example:
Team A (top four ranked D-men + 25th/26th ranked at each C, LW, RW)
Team B (Top two ranked at each C, LW, RW + four ~48th ranked D)
As you can see, owning a combination of quality D almost cancels out owning the top-two of each of the offensive positions. Team A is pretty far off in terms of plus/minus and PIMs, but the rest you could say are within ballpark figures. But then again, it’s probably not realistic for you to own all of Stamkos, Richards, Ovechkin, Ryan and Perry in your pools. If you do, you’re probably going to be pretty happy all year long regardless of the quality of your D. At the end of the day, I think we’ve drawn a pretty clear conclusion that defense plays a pretty vital role and definitely cannot be ignored especially in very competitive fantasy pools. Now take that valuable fact and see if you can make some valuable changes to your fantasy squad.
Last week, we examined a couple of factors that help determine the fantasy value of a goalie. This week we’ll examine a couple of factors that affect the fantasy value of defenseman. The fantasy value of a blue-liner can easily be identified by interpreting two main stats, PP ice-time and SOG. The reasoning behind it is very simple. PP ice-time usually separates players who are offensive-minded from those that are defensive-oriented. The more PP time they receive usually equates to more opportunities they’ll have to score with the offensive advantage. On a similar note, SOG usually maintains a similar line of thought. The more a defenseman shoots, the higher the chance it goes into the net or creating offensive chances. The opposite also holds true, the less a defenseman shoots, the lower the chance that the puck goes into the net and the lower the offensive opportunities. Now that we’ve established clear indicators on determining the fantasy value of defenseman, let’s take a closer look at most of the defenseman from the Western Conference.
NOTE: These ramblings are based on one-year leagues, and not meant for keeper/dynasty leagues.
Nothing really new to report out of Anaheim. If you’ve been following Dobberhockey over the course of the summer and so far this season, you’ll pretty much have most of the Ducks news covered. Visnovsky is on a 71-point pace. I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to think that he’ll finish the campaign with that much, but leading all Western Conference blue-liners is certainly a strong possibility. The biggest surprise is probably the full-time status of Fowler. Injuries as well as a lack of depth have forced the Ducks to keep Fowler with the big club. I’m certainly surprised to see him garner more PP ice-time than Lydman. If it wasn’t for the lack of SOG I’d stick a buy sign on him, but I’ll leave him as a watch candidate for now. If you are in a league that counts HITs/BS, I’d make a strong pitch for Mara. The 22 PIMs along with 19 SOG could help in plenty of different ways if you can swallow the lack of points. Lydman, Syvret, Lilja and Brookbank won’t garner enough fantasy value to be of impact in fantasy leagues.
The Calgary D have only contributed 20 of the 93 total points that the Flames have tallied so far this season, which isn’t exactly a great ratio. A couple of risers/decliners have caught my eye. Giordano has quietly amassed 31 SOG and five points in 13 contests along with plenty of PP ice-time. If you can get your hands on him, he could be a very valuable own as the fantasy season progresses, especially if you have HITs/BS as peripheral categories in your pools. Same could be said of White, but he doesn’t have the upside in SOG (or HITs/BS) as Gio. J-Bo is the most over-rated player in fantasy hockey! He carries a huge name, but never seems to produce as one. Use his name to get a better return. Regher has made a name as a shut down D, but that’s all he really is. Pretty good in the real-world but not in fantasy hockey. Leave Sarich, Staios and Mikkelson alone.
The early-season injury to Campbell really shook things up for the Hawks blue-line, but now that he’s back, it appears that things have settled back down. As I mentioned a few weeks back, with a combined 57 HITs, 56 BS and 71 SOG, is there a more valuable defensive pairing in the NHL than Keith and Seabrook? The Hawks are currently averaging just 2.82 goals scored per contest, compared to 3.20 last season, so there is a bit of room for improvement for the rest of the season. Look for Keith and Seabrook to pick up some of the slack. I’ve never been a big fan of Campbell, as all he brings to the table is pretty much only points. He doesn’t pick up enough of the peripheral stuff (PIMs, SOG, HITs and BS) to be of great fantasy value. I wonder if the Hawks regret shelling all of that money out to Hjalmarsson in the off-season. $3.5 mil is a steep price to pay for zero points, 11 SOG and a minus eight rating. I’d be happy to do that for 500k. Boynton, Cullimore and Scott have no significant fantasy value to be owned.
What a difference 12 months makes, as Liles is out of coach Joe Sacco’s doghouse and right into the center of the ring. He just looks so much more energetic on the ice compared to last campaign. Quincey has gone completely the opposite way as he’s still searching for his first point of the season. The ice-time and SOG are still there, so it’s probably just a matter unlucky bounces at the moment. Liles is just on fire, and I don’t see Quincey unseating him in the foreseeable future, so look for Liles to remain in the driver’s seat for the rest of the season. A player that you probably need to keep a really close eye on is Holos. Although the numbers don’t really show it, but the few odd Avs contests that I’ve watched, I’ve been fairly impressed with his play. The writing (PP ice-time and SOG) is on the wall for him to breakout offensively fairly soon. Wilson, Hannan, Cumiskey and Foote are all WW material, so don’t worry too much about them at the moment.
The Jackets’ blue-line corps is in a bit of disarray as they have Methot, yes Methot! leading the team in defensive scoring. You know things are in trouble when a scenario like this is happening. The Jackets are currently averaging just only 2.38 goals per game, and I fully expect that to increase as the season wears on, which is why I’ve listed Stralman and Tyutin as both “buy” candidates. They just have too great of stats to finish the season with 25 and 13 points respectively. I’ve always been a fan of Kris Russell, but I think he needs a few more years to fully develop his offensive game. Expect 20-25 points from him this season, but that’s probably about it. Holden was an interesting scenario, I don’t know much about him, but it definitely shocked me to see that he’s was averaging the second most PP ice-time in Columbus. He was recalled to replace Russell when he was out with a groin injury, but has recently been sent back down to the minors, so no need to worry about him. Klesla, Methot, Commodore and Hejda won’t produce enough fantasy value to be of worth this campaign, so leave em on the WW.
Despite tallying eight points in 12 contests, Robidas numbers (overall and PP ice-time + SOG) have actually taken a dip compared to last year. Owners probably couldn’t care less as long as he’s putting up the points. Even though Niskanen has more SOG and just as much PP ice-time as Robidas, he only has a total of three points in 13 contests. The positive is that his current 1.62 SOG per contest average is at a much higher than his career 1.39 average. He’s currently only one percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, but keep an eye on him as his value could increase throughout the year. For those of you who are in really, really deep leagues, you also might want to keep an eye on Daley. He’s garnering plenty of ice-time and SOG. A 30-point, 100 SOG season could be in store for the 27-year old. Skrastins, Fistric, Grossman and Woywitka will ride the WW pine.
For those of you who bought really low on Lidstrom at the draft table, give yourself a pat on the back. On average, Lidstrom was drafted as the eighth overall defenseman (round 6.1) in Yahoo! leagues to the surprise of many. With 15 points in 13 contests, it appears that the vintage Lidstrom is back. If you are an owner stand pat. Rafalski has been injured for much of the season, so his numbers are a bit skewed. Look for him to entrench himself as the number two blue-liner in HockeyTown as the season progresses. It appears that the Red Wings are back to their old scoring ways as they’re currently averaging 3.23 goals scored per contest, which is pretty close to the league leading 3.52 average that they had in 2008-09. That season Kronwall picked up 51 points, and with the PP ice-time/SOG that he’s currently receiving, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up similar numbers this campaign. Stuart has been the main beneficiary of Rafalski’s injury. Now that he’s returned, look for Stuart’s fantasy value to plummet. Sell now if you are a Stuart owner. Ericsson, Salei and Kindl won’t garner enough value to be owned.
The bulk of the defensive scoring from the Oilers has come off the stick of Whitney which is a surprise since he’s taken a grand total of only 14 SOG. Foster has taken almost three times as much SOG but has garnered four points less. I’d expect those stats to adjust appropriately as the season progresses. Gilbert has been the middle of the range but not really a lot of points to show for it. Remember last season when he started off with 13 points in the first 61 contests, then rattled off 20 in the final 21. Well he’s on a similar pace to start the season, but will he finish the same way? Smid and Peckham don’t have very much value except for leagues that tally HITs/BS. Vandermeer and Strudwick is pretty much valueless.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings stats are a bit skewed because of Doughty’s injury, (concussion), so you kind of have to interpret them with a grain of salt. The biggest gainer from Doughty’s injury was JJ as he picked up the bulk of the PP ice-time. He has nine points in 13 contests and is really on a roll. Doughty’s return will hurt JJ’s overall value, but even with DD in the line up, Johnson was still averaging 4:57 with the man advantage. At 74 percent Yahoo! owned, he’s great value for a sleeper pick. Doughty’s numbers are awful, but if you consider that he’s missed six contests with the head injury, they probably aren’t really as bad as they seem. If you are playing against weak competition, which base their decisions solely on stats, you might be able to scam DD on the down-low. The rest of the Kings won’t have much fantasy value to be so leave ‘em be.
The bulk of the fantasy value in Minny will be from the big three of Zidlicky, Burns and Barker. Both Zidlicky and Barker have been bothered by groin injuries, so their productions have been a bit limited. Zidlicky has been the clear winner of the ‘three horse race,’ as he’s positioned himself onto the top PP unit with Burns and Barker relegated to second unit duties. The only knock on Zidlicky is that he’s never been a big shooter, so his overall fantasy value is devalued a bit. I stuck a sell sign on Barker only because I don’t think there’s enough room for three defenseman on the same team, to all produce “solid” numbers. He’s the odd one out when he’s only garnering only 1:39 with the man advantage. There should be better and more productive options available on the WW than Barker. I don’t see very much value from Falk, Schultz, Stoner or Zanon.
Weber leads the way with 36 SOG, but surprisingly trails Franson in points, which is surprising considering Franson is averaging almost 10 minutes less per game than Weber. Keep a close eye on Franson, especially since Suter is on the IR with a lower-body injury. According to the Tennessean, coach Barry Trotz has publicly stated how important Suter is to the Predator’s blue-line and how they sorely miss his absence. I’d use his IR status to see if you can pry him away from his owner on the cheap. Bouillon is surprisingly picking up plenty of PP ice-time, but doesn’t have the offensive upside to do anything with it. Klein, O’Brien and Sulzer are all shut down D, so not much fantasy value there.
I don’t really follow the Coyotes all that much, (I don’t think a lot of people would honestly admit that they do), but the numbers really shocked me when I was doing my research. It’s been years since I recall anyone not named Jovanovski to dominate the Phoenix PP, but that’s exactly what Yandle is doing. He’s averaging twice as much PP time as Jovo, and garnering a tad more SOG. If you’ve been following Dobberhockey for a while, I’m sure he’ll be well known in your books. JovoCop isn’t that far behind, but the lack of PP time decreases his overall value slightly. Aucoin is a pretty steady 30 point, 60 PIM, and 100 SOG guy. If you don’t aren’t looking for anything more than that, he’s a pretty consistent producer. The rest of the blue-liners are filled out by the seasoned veteran Morris and three youngsters in OEL, Lepisto and Schlemko who all have slight upside, but not enough to be fantasy worthy.
The loss of Rob Blake in the off-season really left a glaring hole on the Sharks blue-line. It appears that they haven’t found anyone to fill the void, as everyone except for Boyle has been struggling offensively for the Sharks’ blue-liners. At the beginning of the season, my marbles were placed in Vlasic’s bag, but with an average of only less than a minute on the PP each contest, it appears that he won’t get the opportunity to fill the empty shoes. Demers is really the only other option as his 3:07 on the PP highlights. The SOG aren’t bad, as he’s on pace to finish with 130+. The Sharks’ second unit is nowhere near the talent of the top-line, so Demers won’t garner the same offensive opportunities as what Boyle would obtain on the top unit. But if an injury were to happen to Boyle, Demers’ value would skyrocket. I don’t see much fantasy upside with Wallin, Huskins and Murray.
EJ received the most hype out of the St. Louis blue-line in the pre-season, but 12 contests in and he’s finding himself with plenty of competition surrounding him. The main competition had come from Colaiacovo, but he sustained a concussion and has missed the last few contests and will probably miss a few more. The biggest gainer has been youngster Pietrangelo as he’s currently leading the Blues’ defenseman in scoring and only trailing EJ in SOG by two. He was a former fourth overall pick from the 2008 NHL Entry draft, so he does have plenty of offensive upside. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 40+point season from AP by the end of the season. Strachan, Polak, Brewer and Jackman have minimal value so leave em on the WW.
There’s a plethora of fantasy value in Vancouver as I can see four or five players with plenty of upside for fantasy pools. Ehrhoff had the edge last campaign, but I feel that’s he’s giving way to Edler this season. Edler is just producing a tad better stats in SOG and ice-time than Ehrhoff, so if you have a chance to get your hands on him, definitely make a strong pitch. Ballard is a fantasy asset when he averages 20+ minutes per contest, but not when he’s averaging just 13+. Consider him a sell candidate while he still has some value because of his “big name”. Hamhuis is fine for now, but the lack of PP time will catch up to him as the season progresses. I’m not entirely sure of the Canucks cap status, but when Sami Salo returns from his injury, something probably has to give. I labelled Bieksa as a buy candidate, because he’s the most likely candidate to be moved. If he is going to be moved, it’ll probably be for his offensive prowess (Columbus/St. Louis), so that should be something to be looking forward towards if you are a Bieska owner.
Questions or comments? Like always I’ll be ready and willing to discuss them with you in the comments section below. We’ll see you next week, as we go through the Fantasy Indicators of Success 2010 for wingers from the Western Conference.
Ryan Ma said:
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 11:04|