Fantasy Spin: Carlson among top 'D' despite absence

Wednesday, 01.27.2016 / 3:35 PM | Pete Jensen  - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson has missed a month (12 games) because of a lower-body injury, but can still challenge his career-high in points with a maximum of 36 games remaining.

Carlson (96 percent owned in Yahoo), who had a personal-best 55 points in 82 games last season and was on pace for even more this season prior to injury, is considered probable for the well-rested Capitals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Washington has not played since Jan. 19 because of two snowstorm-related postponements last weekend.

Carlson is on pace for 55 points and 177 shots on goal if he plays 70 games.

Despite his lengthy absence, Carlson is 25th in Yahoo's defensemen rankings based on performance to date in standard categories. He's tied for 18th in points (27) and 14th in power-play points (12) among defensemen, and has a chance to boost his strong peripherals in the plus/minus (plus-5) and SOG (86) categories in Washington's 36 remaining games (tied with Philadelphia for most in the League entering Wednesday).

The 26-year-old's return, whether it comes Wednesday or after the NHL All-Star break, should negatively impact Matt Niskanen (71 percent owned), who excelled on the Capitals' top power-play unit in Carlson's absence. Niskanen, whose breakout 2013-14 season for the Pittsburgh Penguins came in a similar role, was the eighth-most valuable fantasy defenseman in the past 30 days with eight assists, a plus-9, six PPP and 27 SOG while Carlson was sidelined.

Niskanen is still worth holding onto in deeper fantasy leagues because Washington's second power-play unit is nearly as dangerous as the first and features top-six forwards responsible for the Capitals being the highest-scoring offense (3.33 goals per game) and most effective power play (27.1 percent) in the NHL. In shallow leagues, take a wait-and-see approach in the days after the break to determine whether to cut the cord on Niskanen.

Here are Brian Metzer's updated fantasy defensemen rankings with Carlson included.

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