We have covered a lot of ground so far as we enter the fourth week of our 2014 fantasy hockey draft kit. Week one served as an introduction to the year, outlined our draft kit schedule, league setup details, and a list of important offseason changes. We kicked it up a notch in weeks two and three and provided rankings for each position - center, left wing, right wing, defense, and goalkeeper - as well as a consolidated rankings list for the upcoming season. We released our breakout picks on Monday, our sleepers on Wednesday, and will continue on with our bust candidates today. 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 base many of my articles on them and provide updates on each league 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.
Week four will concentrate on the breakouts, sleepers, and busts for the 2014 season. These terms are used liberally throughout fantasy sports, but everyone seems to have a different definition of what each term means. As such, before we start with the lists, I'm going to define how each of the breakouts, sleepers, and busts will be determined in this draft kit.
Breakouts - Many definitions will separate career years from breakouts. A career year would be defined as a player who will obtain the best year of their career and effectively defines their ceiling going forward, the best that player can be. Future years will be valued as if they cannot better that year. Breakout years are typically defined as the year that serves as a stepping stone for that player to develop into a significant asset. Typically these two definitions look the same at the time in question, the differentiating factor becomes what they do after the fact in the coming years. As such, a listed breakout player in this draft kit will not differentiate between the two and will simply be expected to perform at a level substantially better than their career average. Whether it is to be a career year or a breakout will be determined after the fact. And in accordance to the subjective nature of what is a breakout, public perception and recognition plays a part in determining if it is a breakout or not. Breakouts are frequently young, high upside and highly volatile, players where the range of outcomes for the season is significant. The high volatility nature and lack of a career base to compare against makes players in the early stages of their career prime candidates to breakout.
Sleepers - For the purposes of this draft kit, a sleeper will be defined as anyone who is likely to significantly beat their average draft position (ADP). Sleepers are often confused with breakouts as they are both seen as players to target in drafts and many players are both breakouts and sleepers. The differentiating factor is what the comparison is against. A breakout is a comparison of the player against themself and aims to project the career trajectory for that player. A sleeper is a comparison of the player against all others and aims to project value at their relative ranking. As such, it's true that many players bridge the gap and are defined as both breakouts and sleepers while others can be only one or the other. Sleepers aren't distinguished by any one type or factor, however many of my listed sleepers will be veterans as I will have already talked about some of the younger sleepers in the breakout section.
Busts - Despite the relative simplicity of what constitutes a bust player, there are still two predominant definitions. The first is defined as any player who has a poor year. The second, and more complete, definition is defined as any player who has a poor year relative to their ADP. Busts are the inverse of sleepers, instead of outperforming ADP, they underperform relative to ADP. As such, it's possible for a player to score 60 points (a healthy point total for a bench or reserve player) and be considered a bust if they were a first round draft pick and expected to score at least 82 points or a point per game.
With those definitions out of the way, lets get to this years bust candidates. Totally overvalued, these are the players that ruin your chances at a championship season. Where they are being drafted, there is either no room for them to return value as they are being drafted for their upside already or they have such a low floor due to risk that it's just not probable for them to return value at their ADP. It would be really easy for me to pick the guys who have been recently injured in training camp this year, but that's not fair and it's not good analysis on my part. It's cheating. So I'm going to stay away from Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Drouin, Derek Stepan, Jordan Staal, and Josh Harding and let the market adjust accordingly to their loses. They're falling down draft boards as we speak. Just be careful not to let them fall too far, they could make for some fantasy sleepers if that happens. Here are the players that I think are draft day busts this year:
These Premier Picks will Sink your Team:
Ben Bishop - Big Ben is everything we want to see in a goalkeeper. He has size (he's actually the tallest goaltender in NHL history) and reach to go along with good reflexes and instinct. But he is coming off a torn ligament in his wrist in April and just before training camp started he said it still wasn't quite fully recovered. He's expected to be back in full health by the time the season starts, but that's not much time to prepare and I'm worried that the lost time will reduce his effectiveness between the pipes. Also, will he more susceptible to re-injuring it during the early season and will it have actually fully healed? Combine the injury risk with the fact that last year was the first year in which he was the number one goaltender and the Lightning being a more offensive than defensive team and I'm expecting some regression. He finished last year as the 19th ranked player and comes into this year as the 20th ranked player. People are already expecting him to repeat last year's performance, but for me that is the best case scenario. Don't take him at the end of the second round, early third. Grab someone more reliable and take him around the end of the fourth round if he's still there (he won't be). Your early picks are the picks that you can't afford to waste. They won't necessarily win you the league, but they can lose it for you in a hurry if you make a mistake.
Eric Staal - I've got to say that I've always though Staal was overrated in fantasy circles. He's had three good 80+ point or point a game seasons (one was the lockout shortened season a couple years ago if you pro rate it) and a number of alright 70 point seasons, but he is routinely drafted as if he is going to return to the one magical year he posted 100 points and led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup. He's falling towards the end of the fourth round this year based on a terrible season last year, but I think this is still too high. The team around him hasn't gotten any better and should continue to drag him down. He finished last year as the 75th ranked player and I see a very similar year in store for him. It would be nice to see the Hurricanes get their stuff together and put Jeff Skinner on his wing, but I have no faith that they'll make the right decision this year. His center only eligibility further represses his value. Let him sit out there until the end of the sixth round.
The Middle Rounds are Where your Team Differentiates Itself from the Others:
Drew Doughty - First of all, Doughty is a hell of a defenseman and I think he's a great player to help build a team around. In real life. In fantasy, he's pretty ho hum. He'll give you around 40 points every year and be an every category contributor. This is still quite good and ranks in the top 10-15 at the position, but he's being taken far earlier than that as a top five defenseman. His late fifth round ranking this year should realistically be late eighth round once you factor in the fact that Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov, and Alec Martinez are all growing into larger offensive roles on the Kings. The middle rounds of a draft are crucial and you can't afford to miss here. This is where championships are made.
Rick Nash - The good Rick Nash is an elite power forward capable of putting his team on his back. The bad Rick Nash isn't even noticed in the game. I was low on Nash before the news broke about Stepan's injury, but this only makes his situation that much worse. The Rangers don't have the proper offensive fit to allow Nash to prosper. I foresee another 60 point, middle of the road year for him. Let someone else pay the late fifth/early sixth round price for the big name player. Use your picks better and avoid him until the eighth round.
Jeff Skinner - I like beating up on Hurricanes players this year as I see them as one of the worst teams in the NHL this year. Skinner is a great talent who is never utilized correctly. He's often been on the second or third line when he should be skating alongside Eric Staal and Alexander Semin on the first line. Most people are expecting him to continue to progress this year, but I'm not expecting much different than his rookie season/last season. Thirty or so goals, thirty or so assists, terrible rating, barely any penalty minutes. Good player, great potential, but the team and his situation is going to hold him back again. He's being ranked in the late fifth or early sixth round, but I wouldn't venture out to him until the eighth or ninth round.
Steve Mason - I'm going to come right out and say that I don't know what to expect out of Mason this year, but I believe the probability of him disappointing owners is greater than the probability of him pleasing owners. He has tempted us before with a great Calder Trophy winning rookie season before exploding in each of the next four seasons with the Blue Jackets. Somehow though, a trade to the Flyers two seasons ago (the Flyers and their ridiculously poor goaltending history of all teams) has seemed to turn his career around. Did he just need a kick in the ass or is he just tempting us again? I don't trust him. His history doesn't lend any reason to trust him. Philly's goaltending history doesn't lend any reason to trust him. I think he's a prime candidate to regress this year, but he's one that I seriously wouldn't be surprised one way or the other if he out performs or under performs his ADP. He's going in the sixth round and ahead of guys like Brian Elliot which I think is a mistake. I don't really like calling his name until the eighth to tenth rounds.
Bobby Ryan - I'm not feeling the love for Mr. Robert Stevenson this year, although I love his back story. The loss of Jason Spezza will lead to Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris taking on a greater scoring responsibility and having to play against other teams number one pairing all year. I think they're going to struggle. I also think that the Senators have taken a step back this year and the poor team overall will decrease his value. He's going in the seventh round after a season in which he ranked 123rd and lost some time due to injury. I think this year will be a touch better for him, but he won't respond in check with your expectations if you take him before the ninth or tenth round.
These Late Round Picks Won't Take Long to get Stapled to your Bench or Even Dropped:
Brandon Dubinsky - Dubinsky is another player who is a far better person to have on your real team than your fantasy team. He has many of the intangibles, is a great leader, and plays with passion, but he doesn't fill the stat sheets. Last year was his second best year at 50 points and that's about all you can expect out of him, he's not going to deliver any more. He won't hit 200 shots or score too many powerplay points, but he will contribute about a penalty minute a game which is pretty good. He's second line material in Columbus and has typically been used as a shutdown forward throughout his career. Does any of this sound like a top 100 player to you? Because it doesn't to me. There is far more skill and opportunity to find in the tenth round than Dubs and I'd let him slide to the thirteenth round before taking him.
Mike Green - If you're still waiting for Mike Green to approach the player he used to be you can stop. Stop it right now. His ceiling right now should be considered 50 points, not 70 anymore and even that's being fairly generous. I doubt he'll even reach 40 this year. The Capitals have brought in Matt Niskanen to take over the reigns as the club's top offensive defenseman while John Carlson continues to show why he is the club's best overall defenseman. Add to it his injury concerns and poor defensive ability which takes him off the ice and there is little to be optimistic about. He's being taken around the tenth round when he should be relegated to a bench role on your fantasy squad and be taken in the fifteenth round as an upside flyer.
Dan Boyle - I hate to say it because I really do like Boyle, but he's in the same position as Green in terms of significantly declining value. Age is creeping up on him and his recent move to the Rangers puts him in a far more defensive system than he was with the Sharks whom he has played for for so long. He is also no longer the top offensive option on the blue line as he finds himself behind Ryan McDonagh on the depth chart. All said and done, you're paying a tenth round pick for the name of a guy who's going to return fifteenth round value.
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