Fantasy Hockey 2011: Top 40 Rankings for Defenseman 1-20

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 27: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Atlanta Thrashers celebrates his third period goal against of the New York Rangers on October 27 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Atlanta defeated the Rangers 6-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Many apologies for the late article but when work, back to school, and other events go on at the same time for a whole week, you find out you lose out on time and sleep. Precious sleeeeeeep. *ahem* Sorry. Anyhoo, here are my top 40 fantasy hockey rankings for defenseman from number 1-20. Stats used are goals, assists, +/-, power play points, penalty minutes and shots on goal. Enjoy!

1) Dustin Byfuglien, Jets - He's about as complete package as you're going to get for your defenseman. Points, penalty minutes, shots on goal and power play opportunities make him the clear choice above others.

2) Lubomir Visnovsky, Ducks - The very definition of an offensive defenseman, he finally puts up a complete season and had a career season with Anaheim. He'll likely still carry his injury prone nature into this season so be mindful of that when drafting him. He does a decent amount of shots and gets some penalties but he's sure to produce on the score sheet for your team when he's healthy.

3) Keith Yandle, Coyotes - Every season he's played for Phoenix, he's bettered himself in almost every way. Still only 25 and with more room for growth, it's possible we're going to see this kind of production from him for years to come. Good penalty minutes and shots on goal but lots of points to help boost your scoring chances from your defenseman.

4) Zdeno Chara, Bruins - Much like Byfuglien, he's a complete player that will contribute in points, penalty minutes, shots on goal but since Boston is better overall team, it's safe to say that his +/- will be quite high.

5) Kris Letang, Penguins - Plenty of points and the fact that he puts up gobs of penalty minutes and shots on goal makes him a great choice as the top defenseman on the Penguins and your team. He's also just 24 years old so he's still some room for growth, which means he could shoot up the ranks if he keeps on doing the same thing or more like he did last year.

6) Shea Weber, Predators - Pretty stable as a one of the better defenseman in fantasy hockey for the last three years, expect more of the same great results from Weber this year with great points, good shots on goal and a decent helping of penalty minutes.

More after the jump...

7) Dan Boyle, Sharks - A slightly down year and he still ends up here thanks to the acquisition of Brent Burns. His arrival should lighten the load on Boyle to help offensively and he may even better himself compared to last year. But in the end, it's for the best to lighten his load since he's 35 and not getting any younger.

8) Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings - A defenseman who pots 62 points last season should not be ranked this low. And you'd be right except he's 41 years old. 41 YEARS OLD! The guy's been playing for a long time and it's like he hasn't missed a step despite his age. Don't look for 62 points from him this year but I think he'll still go strong and put up about 50 points and decent amount of shots. Be mindful that he does not draw many penalties which is excellent in real life hockey but not in fantasy. Look for your penalty minutes elsewhere.

9) Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres - The monster signing of the Sabres shows how much confidence they have in Ehrhoff. Great source of points and shots on goal with some penalty minutes sprinkled on the side, this is the last "stable" #1 defenseman I would take before issues start to come about from the rest of the defenseman here on out.

10) Mike Green, Capitals - Poor guy couldn't catch a break last season. Between his injuries and the offense slumping, you could say it was an off year for everyone on the Capitals team last year. I, for one, have no problem writing off last year as flukish and have him as a top 10 defenseman. The only reason he's down this far is because of his health issues but be mindful that he's only one year removed from his monster season so there's definitely room for an upgrade this upcoming season.

11) Drew Doughty, Kings - Very young and very talented, the only issue here is that he is currently on a holdout with the Kings and it's looking pretty ugly. Still I can't imagine him not being in the Kings uniform this season unless extreme situations start happening. Keep a close eye on the contract situation and as soon as he negotiates or, heaven forbid, is traded, the he might move in the ranks.

12) Tobias Enstrom, Jets - It's kinda crazy that the Jets don't have much to answer for offense but they have two of the better offensive defenseman in the game. Plenty of points and some penalty minutes, the only knock is that he doesn't shoot that terribly much which means he's much more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. Keep that in mind while drafting him.

13) James WisniewskiBlue Jackets - Playing at a pretty good clip last year between the Canadians and Islanders, he's bound to match those numbers as the #1 defenseman on the Blue Jackets team and setting up (in other words, not scoring) with the likes of Jeff Carter and Rick Nash. Don't be surprised if he matches last year's numbers with this year's numbers.

14) Brent Burns, Sharks - The move from the Wild to the Sharks should greatly improve his overall value. Already pretty good offensively and putting up a great amount of penalty minutes, I am thinking he might have another career season in store being paired up with Dan Boyle.

15) Alex Goligoski, Stars - This is no knock on his ability to produce offensively but rather the loss of Brad Richards puts more pressure on everyone else to produce as they have in the past. He's also benefited playing for the stacked Penguins in years past so I am thinking some regression is in store here. Then again, he's got youth on his side since 26 years old and could surprise even me (which I would welcome as a Stars fan). On his own, he's quite talented but can only do much in this kind of team.

16) Chris Pronger, Flyers - He's had trouble with his back and wrist last season and he's already been ruled out for the preseason games. However, he's started skating and the Flyers are hoping he will be ready for the season opener. He's done well to play alot of games despite being dinged up but since he's 36, that might be finally catching up to him. Saying all that, when he's healthy, he's one of the best defenseman out there contributing offensively, shots on goal and penalty minutes. Just be careful not to expect a full season if his back doesn't heal as it should.

17) Andrei Markov, Canadians - Call me a pessimist but if you go through two knee surgeries in the same year, you're not exactly starting out right in my books. I'm sure his eyesight and hands are just fine but for an injury like that, I am in the "let me see it before I believe it" category. He's a good #2 defenseman but make sure there's no nearly as much health risk in your other defensemen you're drafting.

18) Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs - I think a rebound year is in order here from this formerly excellent defenseman. He was already contributing in penalty minutes and shots on goal but I think the points will improve this season but not by much since we are talking about the Maple Leafs. He's a great draft low situation with lots of room to grow and return to his former glory.

19) Mark Streit, Islanders - A shoulder injury torpedoed his season last year but he'll be top dog again this season. I am a bit leery of drafting him since he's coming from a lost season and we'll see how he does when real games are happening but he's another player that can move up the charts if he plays well enough.

20) Duncan Keith, Blackhawks - He a drop in overall production last season compared to his 2009-10 career season. Still he makes for a great #2 with room for growth as the new #1 defenseman on a great Blackhawks team. Great amount of points and shots on goal with some penalty minutes. Think of last season as a baseline and '09-10 as his potential upside.

Also, head on over to Fantasy Hockey Scouts, another SB Nation site, focused on fantasy hockey. They have published their annual Fantasy Scouting Report and Breakout Bible. Check it out. 

There's more to come from the defensemen rankings soon! Thanks for reading and check me out at @MattPTurner!

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