This week I am going to profile a personal favorite of mine: Erik Cole. I own Cole in my main keeper pool and he is a great contributor to my team. Cole is a guy that I can count on night in and night out to contribute to my H2H matchup, whether or not he tickles the twine. He’s so good at so many other things that even when pucks aren’t going in he is adding value to my team.
Here’s a look at Cole’s stats from last season:
In many regards, Cole is just an ordinary guy, with very few stats that stick out. His 35 goals last year were certainly good but I do see a dip closer to 30 coming this year based on his high shooting % last season. All of his stats are about average or slightly above average. The key with Cole, as it is with many other hidden gems in fantasy hockey, is that he contributes to virtually every category. Let’s take a look at the FHG numbers from last year
(2011-12 stats for a Yahoo! standard 12 team H2H league counting G, A, +/-, SOG, PPP, Hits)
In this league format last year, Cole was the 65th most valuable player in the entire league and the 14th most valuable RW. He had 6th round value last year and his average draft position this year is in the 14th round (can you say value!) Maybe he won’t be quite as productive this coming year as he was in 2011-12 but there are eight rounds of value with this guy, so he does have a margin for error.
Why is Cole so valuable?
If you are in a H2H format think of how frustrating is it when you own a Teemu Selanne type and he is on a 3 game pointless streak. He contributes virtually nothing to your matchup. You might get 6shots and a hit if you are lucky. With a player like Cole, even when he is cold you can count on him for 10SOG, 8Hits and 2PIMs. When you own multi-cat contributors like Cole it stabilizes a H2H team because the strength in peripheral numbers allows you to grab a few categories even when your team isn’t scoring. Then, when your team is hot you have the ability to dominate your opponent across the board in all categories. This is why guys like Cole who may seem boring are actually the most important contributors to your team. Use your high picks on elite players because you will definitely need them too, but anybody can use their top picks on top players. Where you win pools is when you use your mid round picks on guys like Cole and they act as the meat of your team over the course of a long season.
RW is the new LW
One other key consideration with Cole going into 2012-12 is that he plays RW. The once deep RW position seems to be increasingly scarce in 2012. I have done two drafts so far and in both of them the forward position that most teams struggled most to fill was RW. In the above league, Cole was the 14th best RW last year which is a great ranking for your RW2. If you really want to focus on the shallow RW position, you could draft two stud RW in the first five rounds, follow with Cole in the 12th and have RW be a position of strength for your team while it is a weakness for many others. Drafting a top 3 RW of Sharp, Backes, Cole will have you well on your way to a championship in this league. Trust me, when the rest of the league is filling out their RW with Matt Read and Dainus Zubrus, you will be laughing with your trifecta of top performing RW. Getting this high value RW with a low round pick in 2012-13 will go a long way in assuring your spot atop the podium.
A lot of managers may shy away from Cole because they are worried about his health and because they don’t think that he can repeat what he did last year. Both are very legitimate concerns. I do agree that his production may drop slightly, but even as a 30/30 or 30/25 guy, Cole’s value far exceeds his typical draft position. I plugged the lower numbers into the “What If” analysis tool provided at Fantasy Hockey Geek as part of the Season Toolkit. You can see that Cole still has plenty of value:
Even if Cole did drop to a 30/25 guy, his FHG value of 50 would still have him ranked in the 70s for this league which is well ahead of Danny Briere who is currently being drafted about 50 picks earlier than Cole.
The injury concern is what would scare me more as injuries are always a possibility and Cole has certainly had his share of issues, but it does seem that he may be turning a corner with back-to-back 82 game seasons. In three of the past four seasons he has played over 80 games. Since 2006, he has only played less than 71 games once. I can’t provide any analysis to prove whether he will or won’t get hurt in the coming season but based on recent history he doesn’t seem any more likely to get hurt than most other players in the league.
If these two concerns are causing Cole to drop on draft boards right now, I would encourage you to take advantage of the situation and get Cole at a great value.
Erik Cole is a great meat-and-potatoes guy to add to your fantasy hockey team. He is a guy that you can get in the later rounds, who will provide the value of a mid-round pick. Cole’s ability to contribute to all categories will provide a stabilizing factor to your team week over week; which will help your bad weeks never get too bad, but your good weeks to get so good that you ruin your opponent’s season.
To find more players like Cole and see their value in your league, sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today! And be sure to check back again for my next Geek of the Week.