In my first TWO installments, I profiled players (Subban & Ott) who had tremendous actual value in comparison to their average draft position. This week, I am going to put a different spin on things and demonstrate a player who is being significantly OVER-valued on a regular basis: Jordan Eberle



I would like to start by saying that, as a fan:  I absolutely love Eberle.  He is a heart and soul guy, a clutch performer and he plays on an up and coming, exciting young hockey team.  He is everything that I would want from a player on an NHL team that I cheer for.  He just isn’t what I want on my Fantasy Hockey roster.


Let’s take a look at the numbers from last year.




Eberle was a 30 goal scorer, (almost) a point per game player, a power play contributor and he was tied for 15th in overall scoring in only his second NHL season! Surely he is worth his average draft position of 35, right?  Wrong.


Let’s run the numbers through the Fantasy Hockey Geek:


(2011-12 Season stats for a Yahoo! Standard 12 team league: G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)


Eberle’s actual value last year was 141st, right around where Milan Michalek and Andrew Ladd were ranked.  The difference being that the 2 comparable players are being drafted in the 14th and 15th round.  Eberle is being drafted in the third.


So why is Eberle ranked so low when he puts up such great numbers?  The answer is simple: Eberle has two categories in this league where he is exceptionally low (SOG and PIM), and he isn’t great in +/- either.  Guys like this are a killer to fantasy hockey teams.  I understand that all players can’t be good at all categories, but a successful GM simply cannot afford to have his 3rd round pick being a non-factor in two out of six forward categories. 


I think of it this way: In leagues of this format, you are essentially trying to fill six buckets as quickly as you can.  If your 2nd or 3rd best forward is only contributing to 3 or 4 of those buckets, then you are going to be hard pressed to compete with the shrewd managers in your league who drafted players that can fill five or six buckets at a time.


Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there with Eberle (sorry Jordan, but I am going to pile on now!).  Eberle was ranked 141st in that league when he actually had a very strong year.  But what if his 2012 year isn’t as strong as last season?  What if he was in a league that included some of those other categories that Jordan isn’t so great at?


Eberle in leagues of different formats:

In the comments of my last article on Steve Ott, a reader (cdubb) mentioned that Eberle was picked in the second round of his league that has Yahoo! Standard categories with the addition of hits: another category where Eberle falls short.  In that particular league, FHG calculates that Eberle’s true value was 161st in the entire pool last year.  Ouch!  I would wager a fair sum of money that the GM who took Eberle in second round will not be winning this pool.


Eberle’s change in production next year:

In the 2012 Dobber’s Fantasy Guide, he and Angus do a fantastic job of using advanced stats to predict where a player’s numbers from last year may be inflated, and Eberle is one of those guys.  His 34 goals came, with a shooting percentage of 18.9%.  Furthermore, his team’s shot percentage while Eberle was on the ice was third in the entire league last year.   Are those numbers sustainable?  I say no.  Even if Eberle’s shooting percentage only decreases to his career level (which is still high at 15.4%), his goal total would dip to 28.  


With Eberle being so young, and so much talent coming into Edmonton, one may argue that he has another level to hit, but this will be offset by the expected decline in shooting percentage to a more reasonable level.  If Eberle doesn’t shoot more, his point output will not improve and his true value will continue to be very low in pools that count categories other than goals and assists.


Now I can sit here all day and say that I don’t think Eberle’s point totals are going up next year, but that is just my opinion: not fact.  You may disagree with me and that’s fine.  But how high exactly would Eberle’s point total have to go for him to be worthy of being picked 35th overall?  To answer this question, I took another look at the “what-if” analysis tool provided at Fantasy Hockey Geek as part of the Season Toolkit.   The 35th highest value player in that format last year, had a FHG value of 51.  Eberle’s FHG Value as shown above was 15.  So what would he need to do to get up to 51?




The above chart shows one scenario that could get Eberle’s true value up to his average draft position.    If he becomes a 90 point player and gains an additional: 2 goals, 12 assists, +6, 20 SOG and 10PPP: then he would have a FHG Value of 51.  That would make him the 35th best player in the pool, and he would be worthy of his current average draft position.  That is a HUGE jump that would be required, simply for you to get fair value on your pick.  But at FHG, we always want better than fair value on our picks!


I know it may be hard to swallow that Eberle would need to get 90 points, just to be the 35th best guy in this league, but here is how the math works:  he is so exceptionally bad at the categories he is bad at, that he needs to be exceptionally great at the categories he is good at, just to offset the production you are giving up in those other categories.   


Thinking back to those six buckets: if one guy on the team is only working on filling three or four of the buckets, then he had better be filling them up pretty damn quickly because everybody else on the team is going to need to focus on the buckets he is leaving out.  Unless Eberle starts shooting more, or spending some time in the penalty box – he is going to be very hard pressed to get his true value up to his draft position.


Eberle is a great player.  He is young, exciting and awesome to watch.  But at the 35th overall pick in your draft, he is killing your fantasy hockey team.  To find more examples of GM-killers like Jordan Eberle, be sure to sign up to Fantasy Hockey Geek


Check back next week, for my next Geek of the Week.  A lot of the drafts going on right now are for keeper leagues, so I am going to identify a defenseman who you can draft for his upside, but reap the benefit of his value now.

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Smirnoff said:

October 02, 2012
Votes: +1

davidgoodburn said:

... @JW: Fair point on the one year analysis but The numbers don't lie. Eberle is just by far a more valuable asset in actual hockey than fantasy.

If you feel Eberle will improve next year then plug your expected numbers into FHG and see where hIs value is.

Fact still remains that based on last years stats his name value far outweighs his contribution to your fantasy team especially compared to the guys drafted around him.
September 29, 2012
Votes: +0

JW said:

maya has the knife
... Thanks for the response, Terry. Appreciate your added insight, but I still just don't believe!

I know this is based solely on the numbers, but if one is completely two dimensional in how he values players he will get smoked at the draft. Michalek is a guy who scored 40 goals COMBINED in the previous 2 seasons with Ottawa, while missing 32 games. What's going to happen to his FHG value when he posts numbers like he did 2010-11? His value is based on one season, likely a fluke, with no outside influences being weighed in. If you value a player based SOLELY on last season's numbers, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage by ignoring other factors like injury history, age, and pedigree. Eberle is a 70+ point player. Michalek is not. The peripherals can be made up by smart drafting. And I'd like to mention that Eberle is NOT deficient in SOG. He averaged well over 2 SOG per game last season. And he was actually 3rd on his team in +/-. +4 looks a lot better than -16, right Corey Potter? Eberle is a stud, and while I don't know if I'd spend a 3rd round pick on him, I'd love to have him on my team. Michalek leaves a bad taste in my mouth, no matter what the numbers say. He's a huge injury risk and last season was his first and only one with 30+ goals. When you have the chance to draft a stud you should do it, even if you need to reach a bit in terms of draft position. Smart drafting can make up for the categories a stud is lacking in.
September 29, 2012
Votes: +0

T-Camp said:

... Hey guys, Terry here:

Thanks to all as always for the feedback. Agree with me or not, I always welcome some good Fantasy Hockey discussion. I live for this stuff!

@Oil: I 100% agree. I often focus my articles on a Yahoo! standard league, for the simple fact that it is called "standard", which makes it a good place to start. I personally agree with you and I prefer to leave PIMs out and maybe include hits or some other categories. The point on Eberle doesn't change much though, because his value doesn't extend much further than straight points. As cdubb points out: Eberle is pretty bad in most peripherals. Which is why I like...

@Pengwin7's point. I used to always argue that adding points as a category to a league that already counts goals and assists is redundant. But I am coming around to the fact that all it is doing is adding emphasis to the most important aspect of actual hockey: scoring. I am really starting to love this idea. Try adding points as a category and removing PIMs, and run it through FHG: see what it does to Eberle's value!! It would much more closely mimic his NHL value.

@JW: I know that some of the math is hard to believe. But the thing is, it is just that: math. THese are player values based on actual numbers, there are no opinions in the rankings. All I can do is do my best to explain WHY the math works. A few things to consider on your question of Michalek vs. Eberle:

1st of all, they are ranked even (FHG value of 15). Minor point, but it's not like Michalek is #5 and Eberle is #141

2n: just looking at a basic category count, Michalek is better in 3, Eberle in 2, and they are tied in 1. This is oversimplifying to a degree, but still: if the league was Michalek vs Eberle with those scoring settings? Michalek wins. Nonetheless, I want to show you more

One aspect you failed to mention is that Michalek has LW eligibility. Only 5 LW last year had more goals than Michalek. 9 RW had more goals than Eberle. You look at Michalek's 35 and Eberle's 34 and assume they are equal, but they are not because 35 as a LW is much more scarce than 34 as a RW.

The FHG math isn't saying that 20PIMs and 30SOG are worth more than 17As and 5PPPs as you stated. It is saying that an extra 1G, 22PIMs, 32 SOG from a LW was worth the same as the RW that had an extra 17As and 5PPPs last year. Getting that output from a LW last year was statistically equally as difficult as getting Eberle's output in the RW position.

The last point I would like to make, is that you would be best served to take the information from FHG and use it as the valuable information that it is, but not necessarily as a draft list. Nobody is saying to draft Michalek in the 3rd instead of Eberle. Use the information to draft Byfuglien in the 3rd instead of Eberle, and replace Eberle with Michalek in the later rounds. The idea is to use the rankings to understand the true value of players. This is how you win pools. If you are drafting Eberle in the 3rd and I am drafting Michalek in the 13th, then you are in trouble. Because I got myself a stud like Byfuglien or Chara in the 3rd and you got Filip Kuba in the 13th. Give me Buff and Michalek over Eberle and Kuba allll day.

It's all about replacement value and position scarcity. It's really hard to quantify all of that stuff, just looking at the names and the numbers but that's why I use the math and the FHG tools to get a good understanding of value as a key consideration in my drafting strategy.

In short: I am not telling you to take Michalek over Eberle. I am suggesting that you pass on Eberle, take a REAL stud with your high pick and then replace Eberle with a Michalek in the later rounds. Moves like this will win you pools.

Thanks for reading guys - and I look forward to doing it all again next week!


September 28, 2012
Votes: +2

OilOverload said:

... There is no reason for PIM to be considered a mainstay category, if anything it should be a negative to more accurately account for the disadvantage the player has caused their team. Eberle's "fantasy" value takes a hit because he doesn't take lazy hooking penalties when if anything that should be a positive. The biggest problem with fantasy hockey is all these secondary categories have equal value to goals and assist. The only reason to add categories like hits and PIM is to add value to guys that have little influence to the outcome of a real game.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0

cdubb said:

... Actually the league also counts hits, BS and FOW. So his value is even less. Oilers have serious hype as RNH was also second rounder.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0

JW said:

maya has the knife
... So Michalek posts an extra 20 PIMs and 30 SOG and is considered the better value? What about Eberle's extra 17 assists and 5 PPP? Seriously flawed logic.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0

davidgoodburn said:

... Great article.

And this doesn't even mention more competition for minutes with Yakupov coming on board.

Not surprisingly the Eberle owner in my league last year finished dead last and that was with his career year.

Though a few fantasy guides are mentioning Eberle to crack 90 points this year.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0

GMGates said:

... The September Top 100 Roto supports this argument! (Eberle failed to crack the list)

Excellent report, Terry.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Excellent Another fantastic piece.

I'm on the same page, Eberle is a fantastic real-world NHL player, but his lack of SOG & PIM and likely +/- are still 2.5 categories of 6 categories. Well explained.

I actually don't own him in any multi-cat leagues for this reason and don't plan on drafting him either. Love to watch him.

All the more reason, IMO, why leagues should consider including Points in addition to G & A.
September 28, 2012
Votes: +0
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