Week one of our six week fantasy hockey draft kit is complete. We introduced our plan for the rest of the offseason, showed you how to set up an effective league, and outlined the offseason changes. If you missed anything from week one, you can find it all here:
Conversely, if you want to save just one link, I've created a group where all articles in the draft kit will be posted:
Hopefully our week one introduction has got you thinking about, and got you excited for, the upcoming hockey season. Now what you are really waiting for from me is some rankings so that you can start putting together your draft list. They're coming. Soon. Like really soon. But first, I need to explain just how I put my rankings together and how you should be using them.
I start with the Yahoo! player list and pull the applicable statistics that I want to track and rank based on. I use the entire player list because I don't want to forget anyone. Often fantasy managers take the rankings in their online draft application as the gospel truth. Don't do that. Look critically at the full list. They have often buried players way down deep in their ranks, for whatever reason, that you need to be aware of. I will attempt to pull them out for you and in doing so, I look at every single player in the Yahoo! game when putting together my rankings. But just because I've done this, doesn't mean that you should just straight up take my rankings as the gospel truth. Don't do that. My rankings are based off of my predispositions, experiences, and research. And more importantly, because I'm writing for such a large audience, they're setup for the standard size and scoring leagues. Most leagues have their own quirks, tendencies, and customized settings that you will have to account for and change the rankings appropriately. I'm giving you a head start, but there is still work here for you to do.
Upon my review of each player in the Yahoo! universe, I look at last year's stats and try to determine what that meant for them going forward as well as what changes happened during the offseason that might influence the coming season. Was it a career year or a breakout? Was it an off season or the beginning of a decline? Were they the beneficiary of linemates that they no longer have? Was there a coaching change that might impact their value? These are some of the questions I ask myself. In doing this, I create tiers within the position which I am ranking. Tiers are incredibly important as any experienced fantasy manager knows. A straight rankings list can be deceiving as it implies that each player before is inherently better than the player after. Tiers mask this by stating that all players of the same tier have similar value. This is inherently true, all players within a few picks of each other should have relatively similar value. The important thing to remember when trying to draft a good team is that you must value players relative to their replacement cost or the next best player. This is how value is created and I will talk more about this in greater length in our draft strategy piece later this month. Moral of the story for now; tiers are more important than straight rankings. For those of you that don't listen to me, and I know there will be some, I've also ranked the players within the tiers. Take it and use it as you will, just don't complain to me when it's all said and done. You've been warned.
In terms of how I rank, I'm going off a standard twelve team league with standard rosters and categories (if you don't know what this is, please go back and read my Custom Features for Fantasy Hockey Commissioners article). That said, I tend to rank with a bias against penalty minutes as 1) I hate the scoring category in fantasy and 2) I feel that elite skill and scoring ability is far more difficult to find in drafts than goons who rack up penalty minutes. Elite point producers who can also help in penalty minutes will be recognized, but I will always rank points ahead of penalty minutes. It's easy to fill in the bottom of your roster with easy penalty minutes, don't waste good picks on them.
So let's get to it. Our first set of rankings is for the centers. Centers are easily the deepest position in fantasy hockey with many third line centers providing value each year (very similar to wide receivers in football). As such, you will likely draft some dual position eligibility players to fill your wings and you won't want to wait too long to draft them. There is a benefit in grabbing a strong group of centers right off the get go, they really are what will anchor your team and provide the steady balance for you throughout the year. Let's bring out the first tier of centers:
Ok, so that's a rather small tier. It's not my fault, they forced me into it. Crosby is in a league of his own when healthy and I'm hoping that we can put his health concerns to rest as he played eighty games last year. Yes, I know the concussion is still a concern, but he finally played eighty games while easily delivering the highest point per game in the NHL. The Art Ross Trophy was all but wrapped up at the All Star break. He's a stud. Whatever though... health will always be an issue with Crosby which is why this tier has two players. Stamkos led the league in goals per game last year and is arguably the best pure goal scorer in the league. His broken leg last year was a freak injury and not one that owners should be worried about being a recurring problem. He's an elite player in all facets of the game and rightfully deserves to be in this tier. He's about as consistent and safe a pick as you can make.
I'm high on Tavares like no one else seems to be. I get that. But that's because the Islanders are getting better (slowly, but they are) and he is the only player I can see that potentially has the talent and upside that Crosby has. He's going to breakout big soon, it's just a matter of time. If it's not this year, you'll have to watch out for his rating on a so-so Islanders team. Here's a fun question for you. Who has scored the most points in the NHL over the last three full seasons? Giroux. Ya, I know that Crosby and others have been injured, but consistency and durability have to count for something. He was arguably the best player down the stretch last year, making up for a slow start to the season. Malkin is unbelievable. If Crosby is out for any extended time or they ever find themselves on different teams, he jumps into the first tier. Unfortunately, Crosby being on the same team pushes him back a few spots. Everyone else seems to be quite high on Getzlaf and while I love him too, I wonder if we've seen the best from him or if he has what it takes to push into the next tier? He seems to finally have gotten rid of the injury bug that plagued him throughout the earlier part of his career, which is good and he's amazingly consistent, but he's last in my tier two group simply because he's the only one in the tier who I don't think has tier one capability. That said, they are all elite players as evidenced by the fact that no one in tier two will make it out of the first round in any draft (if they do in yours, please invite me - I want in).
|7||Patrick Kane||Chi||C, RW|