Today is the day that you've all been waiting for I'm sure. The consolidated rankings. The last of the rankings in the draft kit until the final update just prior to the season start. Please, just promise me that you'll continue to read the rest of the draft kit once you've finished this article. In all honesty, as important as the rankings are, there are equally important topics still to come such as draft strategy. So far I've already introduced the plan for the rest of the offseason, showed you how to set up an effective league, outlined the offseason changes, and provided the rankings for each individual position for the upcoming season. If you missed anything, you can find it all here:
Also, in case you missed it, I'm changing my schedule slightly. In summary, I'm going to do my draft recap and analysis on REAL drafts, not mock drafts. Then, as the year progresses I will continue to provide updates on how we are all doing in the leagues as well as base many of my articles on them as they will provide a good standard league from which to write on. As a bonus, we may have Yahoo! fantasy expert Scott Pianowski join the auction draft.
If you'd like to participate in either draft or just read about the changes, all the info is here:
What are you waiting for, go sign up! The leagues are back and forth between full and not full as participants look at the draft date and time and have scheduling conflicts, so if you can't get in, keep checking in to see if a spot has since opened up.
How I rank players is not changing (if you don't already know how, you can read about it here: Fantasy Hockey 2014-15: Centers Will Anchor your Team). But how I present the consolidated rankings will be changing. Tiers are really only applicable to positions, not to all players in the sport. As such, today you get a list. Use this list for an idea when in the draft to target certain tiers, but use the tiers I provided before for a better understanding of when to grab a guy early or sit and wait. Each draft is different and you can't pick straight off of a list. But here's your list anyway.
|34||Martin St. Louis||NYR||RW|
|72||James van Riemsdyk||Tor||LW|
|204||Michael Del Zotto||Phi||D|
Despite the fact that I've already talked about much of this, let's review some of the big movers from my list to the Yahoo! provided list and some other important things to consider.
Bring on the Riser's:
I'm expecting big things from Cory Schneider this year. He's always had great peripheral numbers and the knock against him has always been a matter of playing time. The full time job in New Jersey is all his now that Martin Brodeur has left town. It's a risky ranking as it remains to be seen how he'll respond to the increased playing time. Will he be as effective? Will he be more prone to injuries? I don't know, but I'm willing to take a stab. If he plays healthy and doesn't lose too much effectiveness between the pipes, he's a tier one goalkeeper this year. I just can't rank him as such without some of these questions being answered first.
Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli are coming off strong postseasons with the Kings. LA has always been a defensive team that struggles to score in the regular season, but maybe that will change with the addition of Gaborik and the maturing Toffoli on the top two lines. The postseason has me convinced that they can get the job done for your fantasy team this year.
I still cannot understand how Dustin Byfuglien is ranked so low in Yahoo!. The 27th ranked defensemen? Ranked 132 overall? He was ranked 40th over the regular season last year. That's ridiculous for a guy that has the rare forward/defensemen dual eligibility and is a major contributor in four of the six categories. Granted he'll hurt you with his negative rating, but that doesn't constitute a drop of 92 spots...
Brad Richards and Brandon Saad are a couple of my favourite buy low's this coming winter. Both should be cemented into the top two lines on Chicago which means ice time with Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa. How can you go wrong? They'll likely be bumped to the second powerplay unit, but that's the only issue I see right now.
Derek Stepan, Nathan Horton, Alex Tanguay, Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Bailey, Pascal Dupuis, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher, and Tyler Bozak are all recipients of a higher ranking due to who they play with. Don't forget that fantasy sports isn't just about the player, but also about the situation. All of these guys are playing on top lines with highly skilled players. Don't forget about them.
It seems that some players grow older and get forgotten about. Or that they are perennially underrated and surprise everyone year in and year out. Paul Stastny and Jason Pominville fit this type. Finding consistency in the late rounds of drafts is every bit as key as finding high upside. Balance is everything.
I'm big on the duo of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson to provide significant value this year, but not as much on either one individually as it remains a true battle for the starting job. I've specifically placed them side by side and at the turn because I think together they will provide elite numbers. If you get one, you must get both and I wouldn't attempt this unless you're drafting at the turn or close to it and are sure that you'll get them both.
And the Faller's:
Ben Bishop is dealing with a return from wrist surgery and has only been a full time starter for one year. He had a great year, no doubt, but can you really rank him as the fourth goalkeeper off the board after the big three? That's what Yahoo! is saying. There is no way I can. I expect a bit of regression anyway and at his draft price you can't afford any regression from last year.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Miller, and Steve Mason are all being taken too highly as well in my opinion. Fleury deals with consistency issues that have been well documented over recent years. Last year was a good year, but what will we get this year? Miller has moved to Vancouver and my expectations of the Canucks aren't as high as other people. I also am of the belief that Miller's play has slipped since his Vezina year. Mason had a good year last year as well, but before last year Philly was where goalies went to die. Seriously, name a good starting goaltender with the Flyers in the last five years besides Mason last year. There are none. With their defense in shambles, I'm not expecting big things from him.
There are always players who are better in real life than in fantasy and receive too much love at the draft table. Drew Doughty and Brandon Dubinsky are examples of this. I'm especially scared of Doughty as Yahoo ranks him the fifth defensemen to come of the board, but he is sharing time on the blue line with Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov, and Alec Martinez. He'll be good, just not that good. Dubinsky isn't a significant contributor in any stat other than penalty minutes and so I can't rank him in my top 100 like Yahoo! has. He's steady, but not that steady.
I'm bumping Jeff Skinner back due to his team situation and the fact that he can't secure a spot on the top line with Eric Staal. He has no one to help him on his line and I think he'll disappoint at 52nd overall. Anton Khudobin gets the same bump because of team situation and the fact that I don't believe his job is as secure as it needs to be to take him at his draft position.
Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris have lost their all-star playmaker Jason Spezza and so I am far more pessimistic on them this year. Ottawa also seems to be a rather inconsistent team as a whole and I don't think they're going to have a very good year.
Rick Nash is in a state of decline since moving to the Rangers and they aren't exactly the most offensive team. He has the big name and the big contract so they'll keep plugging him out there, but don't expect to see him on any of my teams this year. Mike Green and Dan Boyle are similarly going to be having tough times this year. Their offense has been declining in recent years and their teams are starting to notice. Both are going from the top offensive contributor on their team to a secondary role. Green will be behind Niskanen and Boyle behind McDonagh. When the GM is taking note, so should you.
And all the Other Important Things to Consider:
Josh Harding was ranked 32nd in my goaltender list on Wednesday, but we have since learned that he will be out for a month or two with a broken foot. With the goaltending situation in flux in Minnesota, he is no longer relevant to me and has dropped off of my board altogether. While I had Darcy Kuemper the favourite to supplant Harding, I expected that to be through the season, not before it started. Kuemper remains an unsigned RFA and I think the team will be more comfortable having Niklas Backstrom to start the season instead. As such, Backstrom took a significant leap in my rankings today although it won't look like much when comparing to Yahoo!. Kuemper's value meanwhile doesn't change with the news. For now at least. Anyone can take this starting job and the team is giving their fourth goalie last year, Ilya Bryzgalov a look in training camp right now. It remains to be seen whether he'll make it out of training camp and sign on with the club for the season, but the longer Kuemper sits out, the more we have to look at Bryz. He might be in my next updated top 250 before the season starts.
Late edit: Kuemper signed a two year contract late last night. I'm not updating my rankings to reflect this right now due to lack of time, but consider Backstrom and Kuemper about equally valued around maybe a round or so earlier than where Kuemper currently is. Still giving Backstrom the slight edge and Harding and Bryzgalov remain off the board.
Ryan Johansen is another RFA in the middle of a contract dispute. And this one looks nasty with the Blue Jackets accusing Johansen and his agent of extortion and Johansen returning home to the Vancouver area as camp begins. The two sides are reportedly $3.5m apart in contract negotiations which is too bad as I am quite high on Johansen coming into this year. I've still ranked him at 36th overall which is a leap from Yahoo!'s 71st, but I will have to rethink that ranking if he misses much of camp. Early signs say that this could go a little while. His linemates Nathan Horton and Scott Hartnell would also take a hit in this scenario.
If you want a Microsoft Excel version of my rankings, here's the link: Consolidated Rankings 2014.
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