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Fantasy Hockey: Defense Tiers

Drew Doughty excites me. And also he is a pretty good defenseman.
Drew Doughty excites me. And also he is a pretty good defenseman.

Tier ye, tier ye!!!!


Sorry. Once I thought of it I had to use it. Anyway, continuing to ...

(Hold on, am I fired?? ... No?! Wow.)

Continuing to, uh, roll these out. As I was saying.

OVERVIEW: Defense value is the most wide-ranging aspects of fantasy hockey, depending on league setup. No other position can be worth so much or so little depending on the rules of your particular league. In some leagues (generally ones with separate scoring modifiers for forwards and defense) top D can have every bit as much value as top forwards or top goalies. In other leagues (generally where the scoring is standard across all positions) they are not as integral to your fantasy glory. With that in mind, we can certainly piece out the different tiers among blueliners. Right to it after the jump:

TIER I - We Five Kings.

Mike Green, Washington

Duncan Keith, Chicago

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles

Dan Boyle, San Jose

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit

No warts on any of these guys. They're five of the best offensive defensemen in the league, they have little or no injury history and they all play on dynamic offensive teams. Green's the best of the bunch, but it wouldn't surprise to see any one of these guys lead the league in scoring next season.


TIER II - Juuuuuuust A Bit Outside.

Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia

Tyler Myers, Buffalo

Tomas Kaberle, Toronto

Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta

Shea Weber, Smashville

Mark Streit, New York Islanders

Brian Campbell, Chicago

Zdeno Chara, Boston

Brian Rafalski, Detroit

Andrei Markov, Montreal

There's a lot of talent in this tier, and each of these dudes has the skill and opportunity (to varying degrees of course) of playing alongside those Tier I studs. But this is also the tier where the questions begin. Gonchar's always hurt. Pronger just went under the knife. Is Markov alive healthy? Can Myers' offensive game match his debut? Who is going to help Kaberle, Enstrom, Weber and Streit pad their stats? Can Campbell, Rafalski and Chara bounce back after sub-par years by their lofty standards? The answer to some of these questions will be yes, but some of them will be no. They just aren't the can't-miss, sure-fire targets found in Tier I. So they're in Tier II. Boo-f***ing hoo Chris Pronger. Shut up.*

TIER III - Guys Who Are Modestly Worse Than The Guys Above Them.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim

Christian Ehrhoff, Vancouver

Bryan McCabe, Florida

Erik Johnson, St. Louis

Keith Yandle, Phoenix

Alex Goligoski, Pittsburgh

Dion Phaneuf, Toronto

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary 

Ran out of pithy tier titles. I know, I couldn't even do anything with "Lubomir" ... wild. Anyway. These are all pretty safe 10-goal, 40-point bets who have ceilings even higher than that. Johnson, Yandle and Goligoski are up-and-coming rearguards (teehee) who could be poised for breakout seasons. Goligoski's power play time bears monitoring. If he's on the first unit with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin he could be a real gem. Phaneuf and Bouwmeester were terrible last season, but there is no way they're actually that bad. There just isn't. Expect bouncebacks to at least 40 points and possibly much higher.


TIER IV - Unsexy 40-Point Producers.

Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota

Kurtis Foster, Edmonton

Ryan Whitney, Edmonton

Ian White, Calgary

Alexander Edler, Vancouver

Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers

Filip Kuba, Ottawa

Pavel Kubina, Tampa Bay

Andy Greene, New Jersey

Ryan Suter, Smashville

Jack Johnson, Los Angeles

Tom Gilbert, Edmonton

Dennis Wideman, Florida

James Wisniewski, New York Islanders

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit

The difference here, between Tiers III and IV, are with upside. Tier IV players are still fairly safe bets to finish around 40 points, but they lack the 50-point upside of those ranked above them. They also aren't quite as strong goal-scoring threats and for the most part play on worse teams (so, worse +/-).

TIER V - Back End Contributors/Upside Picks.

Joni Pitkanen, Carolina

Marc-Andre Bergeron, Edmonton

Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix

Anton Stralman, Columbus

Carlo Colaiacovo, St. Louis

Fedor Tyutin, Columbus

John-Michael Liles, Colorado

Mark Giordano, Calgary

Kyle Quincey, Colorado

Adrian Aucoin, Phoenix

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa

Zach Bogosian, Atlanta

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay

Joe Corvo, Carolina

Ron Hainsey, Atlanta

Paul Martin, Pittsburgh

Roman Hamrlik, Montreal

Dmitri Kulikov, Florida

A bunch of 30-point guys in here, and some young players whose upside makes them as valuable. Of the group, Karlsson, Bogosian, Hedman and Corvo have the best upside. They're still probably a year or two away from moving up a few tiers, but it's certainly possible they arrive ahead of schedule. The rest aren't bad options for the back end of your fantasy defense if you league is deep enough.


TIER VI - Meet The Leftovers.

Stephane Robidas, Dallas

Dennis Seidenberg, Boston

Brent Seabrook, Chicago

Derek Morris, Phoenix

Sami Salo, Vancouver

Keith Ballard, Vancouver

Marc Staal, New York Rangers

Matt Gilroy, New York Rangers

Guys you will be cycling through on the waiver wire, hopefully. If you draft any of these dudes your name is probably Mike Milbury. Robidas might be tempting at some point, but the guy set a career high point total by a full 15 points at age 33. Avoid. Avoid avoid avoid!!! Staal and Gilroy have talent/potential, but it has yet to manifest itself as anything other than a pipe dream. Things can change, of course, but there isn't much reason to believe they will.

(*I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say that to his face. But I'm in my living room and he is not so SUCK IT!!!!!*)