|Fantasy Hockey Geek: A Deep Analysis||Tweet|
|Written by Paul Nielsen|
|Wednesday, 12 September 2012 15:55|
Katharsis is stuck in the mud in his head to head league, generally a threat to barely make the playoffs if things go well, but he doesn’t feel like a title is reasonably within his reach. Let’s see what we can do about that!
Team Name: Little Lebowski Urban Achievers
Date of Analysis: September 2012
Format: 12 Team H2H (Roto style), Daily Lineup changes
Rosters: 2C, 2LW, 2RW, 4D, 2G, 5BN, 3IR, 8 Farm
Scoring categories:G, A, +/-, PIM, PPG, PPA, SOG, GWG :: W, GAA, SV%, SHO (8:4)
Number of keepers: 12 keepers with no restrictions, plus 8 farm
Keepers declared by: July 15th
Hosting service: Yahoo
Roster slot GP: No limit
Season add/drop limit: 3/week, up to 40 max.
Trade limit: None.
Trade deadline: Usually early-mid March.
Team Assets at Time of Deep Analysis:
Roster: Little Lebowski Urban Achievers
C – Kopitar, Lecavalier
LW – Semin (RW)
RW – Backes (C), Purcell
D – Chara, Byfuglien, Green, Goligoski
G – Rask, Varlamov, Crawford
Farm – van Riemsdyk, Strome, Tarasenko, Coyle, Colbourne, Lindback, Lack, Grigorenko (all farm-eligible for the entire 2012/13 season)
Background and Environment:
Katharsis gave us this rundown of his team and the league:
This league has been around since June 2009, formed with a group of guys from a fantasy hockey forum where I first started posting and learning the ins and outs of building a successful team. All of the managers are active, knowledgeable guys, which makes it both very competitive but also extremely challenging. Trades happen fairly infrequently from what I read about in other keeper league on the forums; we have had some big deals go down, but largely it’s a tight and tough league to make deals in.
My team is, and has been from the start, in the worst spot to be: 7th-9th place. It’s the Maple Leafs of fantasy hockey – always just strong enough to miss the playoffs, but never weak enough to land a game changer at the draft. I’d easily say the inaugural draft was the worst one I’ve ever done (my late first round pick was Lecavalier… enough said there), and combined with it being nearly a full keeper and trade difficulties, it takes a long time to change your teams’ fortunes… especially when you always finish where I have. It’s also worth mentioning that the top 6 six teams have largely remained unchanged and are pretty stacked when compared with the bottom 6…
Anyways, all of that history aside now, here’s where I stand now.
I feel like the team might be good enough to get into the playoffs as a low seed as soon as this coming season with Rask being a #1 again and bounce backs from Green, Semin and Lecavalier, but is clearly not a contender against the big teams in this league (Whalers, Sloppy Seconds, NATO, etc) when you match up rosters. Ideally, therefore, I want to aim to be a serious contender in 2 or 3 seasons, but even then it’ll be a tough uphill climb.
I like my farm, and would rank it in the top 3 of the league, but I’m still missing a game breaker. Tarasenko is the best shot to fill that, but he’s still a big question mark as to how he’ll do in the crowd in St.Louis. Strome, Coyle, and Grigorenko should all be valuable pieces and the talent is there, but still lots of uncertainty with each one for different reasons.
As for my pro roster, I’ve got my “stud” C in Kopitar, stud G in Rask, and have two studs, maybe three on D if Green bounces back. I lack both power and depth on the wings, which is where I’ve been setting my trade sights on, but so far the only pieces people want in return are Kopitar and Rask. My ideal trade goal is to move some of my D and newfound G depth for W help, and that’s been the focus of my talks with other teams, since a few have some big holes in net and others at D.
A Look at League Strategy:
In order to understand player value and formulate strategy, we’re going to use the League Breakdown to look at what type of player, at each position, is the lowest that should be owned. Note that these numbers are based on Dobber’s projections for 2012/13 – pre-season projections are always optimistic:
What does this tell us about strategy in this league?
What this says is that the ideal skaters to target are gritty shooters with decent +/-… a team full of players like that will give you a bigtime edge in G, PPG, GWG, SOG, PIM, and +/-. That leaves A and PPA to shore up – you can really see the divide between playmakers and shooters in how this league values players.
How vulnerable is a team to injuries in this league? It’s not so hard to weather the storm of injuries in this format. There are 3 IR slots, players can be “slotted in” from the farm, and twelve teams each with a roster of 17 players that means that there should be good availability on the wire of players who go on hot streaks but otherwise don’t really justify ownership in a top-204 league (12 teams x 17 players per team).
In addition to that, what matters is that it’s a playoff format: it’s a viable (wise!) strategy to hold injured stars on IR for the bulk of the season, only to play the last 20 games of the year and put you over the top. Given that Katharsis has told us that there’s kind of a top-6/bottom-6 divide in the teams, it sounds like he’ll need every bit of help to make the playoffs.
While farm players can be called up to the main roster at any point, there is a 3-day waiver period once they’re sent back down where they can’t be called up again. That wrinkle negates any real strategic advantage to having farm-eligible players actually playing in the NHL because it prevents the effective “deepening” of the bench of players to pull by letting you squeeze out more GP in a given matchup. Too bad, that’s a clever one.
We’ve generated rankings for this specific league setup based on stats from the 2011/12 season so as to not give away Dobber’s 2012/13 projections for free. Buy the Draft Kit, and you get access to the full set of Dobber’s stats.
A summary of the results is in the table below, and to guide how we think the players will do in the future, there’s also a column showing the players’ FHG value using Dobberhockey’s projections for the coming season.
We’ve considered van Riemsdyk and Tarasenko as bench players while the other farm skaters in Strome, Coyle, Colbourne, Lack, and Grigorenko are unlikely to make a meaningful impact this season. Even Tarasenko is a stretch… he could certainly produce roster-worthy numbers this year on a hot streak, but breaking 24 G and 33 A (the threshold for roster-worthiness we found from the League Breakdown) over the course of the season would be a huge success.
Now the goalies:
Again, we’re counting Lindback among the roster players because of the opportunity he has in front of him.
Katharsis figures his team is a bubble team to make the playoffs. We’ll use the Team Evaluation tool to identify specific needs. As with the rankings, we won’t give away the detailed results (which include Dobber’s projections) for free, but here’s the high level view:
The results aren’t really too much of a surprise: with four goalies projected to be their team’s starter for the season, goaltending is the least of Katharsis’ concerns. The flipside of that coin is that all that value tied up in goaltending means his scoring stats for skaters are a little short of where they need to be. This makes for a fairly easy analysis because we’re not seeing any particular low-hanging fruit when it comes to categories to target: simply put, the man needs scoring.
With the step forward in goal on this team and expected bounceback seasons from Goligoski and Green, this should be a playoff team.
Katharsis has a bit of a problem with his team: the five stat categories that are his biggest need are primarily the scoring stats of PPA, A, PPG, G, and SOG. That points to a team-wide need, and one that isn’t likely to be addressed too meaningfully in the draft, since with twelve keepers per team and twelve teams, he’ll be looking at players starting in the #150 range.
The centres are pretty good, though we disagree with Katharsis’ comment that he’s got a stud in Kopitar. In this scoring format, Kopitar is NOT a stud on account of his relatively weak PIM and SOG numbers. He was the #12 centre using last year’s stats, and the projections for 2012/13 have him at #15. That’s a solid player, but definitely not a stud.
Lecavalier is a decent #2 centre, but isn’t much better than a waiver level player at centre. If he has a strong bounce-back year there is upside there, but doesn’t give a ton of confidence.
One of the hardest positions to fill in fantasy hockey, the LW, is close to bare on Katharsis’ team. Alex Semin is a solid player to have in this format, because his expected production of something in the 30G/30A range makes him a valuable own in this format, and with a new team there’s always the potential for him to absolutely explode back above 80 points. He shoots, sees good PP time, and gets more than his fair share of GWG too.
At RW, things aren’t so bleak, but they’re not rip-roaring strong either. Backes is a solid play as he should be steady in the 50-60 point range along with solid SOG numbers, fantastic PIM, and a steady +/-. There isn’t too much offensive headroom, but he’s so steady he’s the type of player to build around.
On first look, Teddy Purcell had a nice fantasy season in 2011/12 and his chemistry with the crew in Tampa is reason for optimism going forward. Let’s look a little closer though: his PIM total are absolutely terrible, and he doesn’t shoot the puck very much at all… his stats in both of these categories are below waiver replacement level. That’s bad. He’s also got a pretty short resume to give you loads of confidence in his ability to repeat. So, while Purcell is the type of player we’d generally recommend staying away from because he’s so deficient in a few categories, he fills the glaring need for scoring on this team.
Wow, what a strength. Chara and Byfuglien are absolute rocks around which to build a D core. Both were top-5 D in this format last year, and both should hover around the same mark again this coming season. Byfuglien is an absolute monster in this format with his G, PIM, and SOG. Chara dominates +/-, PIM, and SOG. Couldn’t ask for two better guys.
Mike Green, in his free-wheeling days, was even more jaw-dropping than those two, and if he regains a portion of his form then he’s a huge boost. With a new coach in Washington, now is definitely the time to hold him and hope for a rebound.
Likewise, Goligoski should be in for a good season. He’s coming off a pretty rotten year, but Souray and his bomb of a point shot won’t be the centre of the Dallas attack this year. What can one say about an attack centred around Eriksson, Benn, Roy, Whitney, and Jagr? It’s an attack with a lot of weapons and one that is clever and tricky. Goligoski will have loads of time with the puck on his stick, feeding to those guys – lots to like about that situation. His PIM numbers and SOG aren’t that great, so he could be ideal trade bait to shore up some weaknesses at forward.
Another strength for this team. Now that Tim Thomas is out of the picture in Boston, Rask is the guy. He has a bit of growing to do in order to prove that he can carry the mail for a complete season, but he’s mature and has shown it over good periods before so there isn’t much reason to believe he isn’t up to the challenge.
Varlamov will continue to share time with Giguere in Colorado, but he’s maturing and will even out the kinks in his consistency. He went on some pretty ridiculous hot streaks last year, which are wonderful things to latch onto in a head-to-head league.
Corey Crawford is tough to peg. If he holds onto the job as the starter in Chicago, he’s good for wins. His GAA and SV% are pretty pedestrian though. He comes without too much draft pedigree. A hot streak and the general aura that surrounds Chicago in many GMs’ mind plays very favourably for flipping him during a hot streak.
On paper, the crew Katharsis has here is a strength, but how useful a strength is it? We mentioned in the opening paragraph the value of cycling farm-eligible players onto the roster as a way to effectively deepen the bench.
However, the players that are sitting on the farm and not seeing NHL time are a waste of space when it comes to in-season production. If their future upside, in-line with the planned time for your team to be competitive for a title, is meaningful then they might be worth holding. You need to be wary of falling into one of the biggest pitfalls in fantasy hockey: using up roster space on the tantalizing allure of “future production”, oblivious to the fact that it’s costing your team now.
We’ll talk about van Riemsdyk, Tarasenko, and Lindback first. These three players are all locks for NHL action this year. Van Riemsdyk is listed at LW but may see time at centre in Toronto – the pressure is on him to step it up this season. He’s a solid depth option, but should yet command a starting spot in this league.
Fantasy Hockey Geek is a huge fan of Tarasenko, and thinks that he has tremendous upside along with a very complete, NHL-ready game, already proven for multiple seasons against men in the KHL. He hasn’t crossed the pond to play in the AHL, and the media bites from St Louis staff indicate that he is expected to play a major role on the season. Just how much? Tough to know. He can sit on the farm until he’s ready, and we think he’ll be a good one.
Lindback was acquired by Tampa Bay to be their starter. He needs to prove he can do it over a full season, but the opportunity he has to produce is massive and he is eligible for the farm for at least two seasons.
The remaining names of Coyle, Colbourne, Strome, Lack, and Grigorenko all will make an NHL impact over the next few years but exactly when and how much of an impact are very much up in the air. Our view is that Lack and Grigorenko have potentially elite upside, but that it won’t turn into meaningful fantasy production for a few years. Coyle, Colbourne, and Strome all sit in the “could be a pretty good player” camp so we think their ideal use is as pieces of trades to upgrade the core of the roster.
Because the core of teams in this league is pretty static and there aren’t too many trades executed over the course of a year, we’re a little torn between the options Katharsis has with his team:
Approach 1 – re-allocate some value:
This means moving some parts with the intent to make your roster of 17 as good as possible this year. The key strengths to move from are clearly goaltending and D, while centre and both wings can be meaningfully upgraded.
The problem that the roster has is that it’s just too light on scoring. More of that!
In a 12-team league, sitting on four starting goaltenders should be seen as a pretty clear advantage and there should be a solid market of buyers. Positional scarcity says that there will be buyers! We noticed that Dubnyk is sitting on the wire and will be available in the draft, which would certainly hamper the goalie market, unless of course Katharsis managed to draft him! Flipping a goalie for a shoot-first winger or centre that does pretty well on the PIM would be a prudent move.
We also identified Goligoski as a prime piece to move, though he could certainly help with the A and PPA categories, which are a need. The challenge here is that there is a fair amount of good D available in the draft, so that reasonably holds back trading options. Once teams are drafted the mid-season market should be a bit better.
Kopitar is perceived by many to be a stud, but in this scoring format he simply isn’t one. If there’s a large gap in perceived value – ie some GM values him as a stud and is willing to pay a “stud” price for him – then there’s probably a compelling case to pull the trigger.
So, in gunning for this season we’d look at the roster like this:
Secure pieces (8): Kopitar, Semin, Backes, Byfuglien, Chara, Green, Goligoski, Rask
Primed for an upgrade (5): Lecavalier, Purcell, van Riemsdyk, Varlamov, Crawford, Lindback
Farm (6): Tarasenko, Coyle, Colbourne, Strome, Lack, and Grigorenko.
So in summary:
We think that this team, with some appropriate tweaks could slide into the playoffs and possibly make some noise if it gets the right bounces. Is that enough? That brings us to
Approach 2 – target the 2014/15 season to win the title
First, let’s be clear: there is no such thing as “improving the team as I go” and being competitive in 2 years. The two strategies are not entirely exclusive, but they do not line up completely. In focusing on a target that is a few years down the line, it allows the GM the freedom to take on injured players and make other decisions that are advantageous in the longer-term but directly hurt their competitiveness on the 1-year timeframe. This eliminates the “should I sacrifice short-term for longer-term” dilemma that GMs are constantly faced with and allows for clarity of mission.
Going with Approach 2 means “I’m not satisfied to squeak into the playoffs. I want to be #1 in the regular season and have a powerhouse team that is a favourite in the playoffs.”
Approach #2 is harder. It means making every decision with the intent to produce bigtime in 2014/15. It means drafting not for production to your roster, but for trade value. In order to be successful here, it means concentrating as much talent as possible in the 12 roster keepers, and making aggressive trades (ie overpaying) to accomplish it. Two years should be enough time to overpay to concentrate talent, then recover the lost depth by being active in trades and on the wire.
Going with approach #2 also means moving this year and next year’s draft picks for upgrades to the team’s keeper core and for early picks in the 2014/15 season that will give the depth to support a title run. This can be hard to do, but holding those picks or drafting with them is not aligned with a strategy of gunning for the title a few years down the line. There really isn’t anyone in the draft that’ll upgrade the core of this team.
Stud player goes down with a season-ending injury? Pay a non-injured price for them and get them on your roster.
In this approach, we’d look at the team this way:
Hold and see how they do: Semin, Green, Goligoski, Tarasenko, Lindback
Move before they decline due to age: Lecavalier, Chara
Improve or dish: Everyone else
This approach takes nerve and confidence in your ability to assess players. Corey Perry goes down with an injury? Offer Kopitar and see what happens. If Lundqvist twists his ankle and misses half the season and his owner, a contender, is nervous? Offer Chara + Lindback and see what happens.
Acquire Jonas Hiller. Anaheim’s schedule for the coming season as well as the past two has had a disproportionate number of games on the “off” nights of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The Anaheim started is a spectacular own in a daily starts head-to-head league because it’s very rare that he’ll be sitting on the bench while your other two goalies play.
Especially with the farm prospects you have, wait until their hype is highest (early impact!) and package them with roster players to improve your core of 12. Remember, the expectation should be that prospects put up big numbers in their fourth NHL season. If they do more than that you should consider it a nice bonus, but that should be the expectation
Wrapping it up:
It’s a tough call which way to go from her, and we leave that in Katharsis’ capable hands. He knows what he needs to do and he knows the assets he has available – he just needs to pick a path!
|Last Updated on Thursday, 13 September 2012 15:50|