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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Atkinson, Mrazek top Jensen's fantasy sleepers list

Thursday, 09.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Top-tier players at each position are needed to compete for a fantasy title, but late-round, under-the-radar options with upside, known as sleepers, can pay large dividends.

Fantasy sleepers are found late in drafts with a chance to outperform expectations, but this concept needs to be distinguished from breakout, draft bargain, and bounce-back candidates. Breakouts (i.e. Jakub Voracek, Vladimir Tarasenko in 2014-15) usually are obtained in the 90 range, or a little later in drafts, but can reach superstar production after showing signs of promise in the past. Draft bargains (Blake Wheeler, Radim Vrbata, Scott Hartnell in 2014-15) have pedigree but are overlooked. Bounce-backs, whether injury (Pekka Rinne, Kris Letang in 2014-15) or performance (Rick Nash, Braden Holtby in 2014-15), have a track record of fantasy relevance that comes with a factor that hindered their ceiling the previous season.

Fantasy top 30 goaltenders: Preseason rankings

Wednesday, 09.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

As part of NHL.com's preseason fantasy hockey draft coverage, NHL.com will preview each of the three positions this week, with Pete Jensen on forwards, Brian Metzer on defensemen and David Satriano on goalies. These positional outlooks will include the writer's individual standard-league rankings, offseason reaction and all the strategy and advice you'll need on draft day.


OVERVIEW

It's no surprise that Carey Price is the No. 1 goalie in fantasy hockey. Price won the goaltending Triple Crown last season, leading the NHL in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933) on his way to the Vezina and Hart trophies.

Price, who had nine shutouts, allowed one goal or fewer in 29 starts and two goals or fewer in 44 starts (two-thirds of his total starts). He had a .950 save percentage or better in 30 starts. The list can go on and on, but the bottom line is he should be drafted in the mid-to-late first round shortly after forwards Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. He was the only goalie in the top 10 in Yahoo's season-ending rankings (No. 2, behind Ovechkin) and was one of three goalies (Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild, No. 15; Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals, No. 16) to be ranked in the top 20.

Fantasy top 60 defensemen: Preseason rankings

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

As part of NHL.com's preseason fantasy hockey draft coverage, NHL.com will preview each of the three positions this week, with Pete Jensen on forwards, Brian Metzer on defensemen and David Satriano on goalies. These positional outlooks will include the writer's individual standard-league rankings, offseason reaction and all the strategy and advice you'll need on draft day.


OVERVIEW

Year in and year out, defense is the most overlooked position in fantasy hockey, and that is a head-scratcher.

Yes, the focus is and should be on forwards and goalies, but it is folly to punt on a position that makes up one-third of your starting lineup in standard Yahoo leagues.

Last season, 27 defensemen had 40 or more points; of those, 11 had 50 or more and three had 60 or more. That highest tier is led by our top-ranked defenseman, Erik Karlsson. The Ottawa Senators captain is a rare breed in that he is capable of outscoring most of the second-tier forwards in the NHL. He had 21 goals and 66 points last season, with 30 coming on the power play. His 292 shots were first among defensemen and fourth in the League, and these numbers should be replicated with a young and hungry team around him.

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Preseason rankings

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's preseason fantasy hockey draft coverage, NHL.com will preview each of the three positions this week, with Pete Jensen on forwards, Brian Metzer on defensemen and David Satriano on goalies. These positional outlooks will include the writer's individual standard-league rankings, offseason reaction and all the strategy and advice you'll need on draft day.

OVERVIEW

Alex Ovechkin, who turns 30 on Sept. 17, is in his prime and the most valuable fantasy player in the game. He led the NHL in goals, power-play goals and shots on goal by wide margins last season, and was second in power-play points and tied for fourth in points. Since 2012-13, no one has more goals, PPP or SOG. His peripherals (58 penalty minutes, 259 hits in '14-15) solidify his standing, and he went from a minus-35 in 2013-14 to a plus-10 last season, addressing his lone weakness.

The Washington Capitals got stronger by adding T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, and one of them will play on Ovechkin's opposite wing. If you're worried about center Nicklas Backstrom's health as the season approaches, up-and-coming Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov is poised to play with Ovechkin in the worst-case scenario. Ovi also retains dual eligibility in Yahoo. Case closed.

Most valuable point pairs to target in fantasy drafts

Eric Goodman - NHL.com Fantasy Staff Writer

Strategy for the first round of fantasy hockey drafts is universal: Take the best player available when it is your turn to pick. But after owners choose the cornerstone of their respective fantasy teams, it makes sense to seek out NHL teammates to link together in an effort to get the most out of your players.

Having a few tandems where each player registers a point when their respective NHL teams score a goal can go a long way in achieving fantasy dominance. The following list takes into account the average draft round (ADR) in Yahoo fantasy leagues of select point-pair leaders. Players like the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin or new Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel are being selected in the first round of drafts and are not included here.

Impact of offseason moves in fantasy by association

Thursday, 09.10.2015 / 7:16 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

David Satriano - NHL.com Fantasy Staff Writer

There are not many factors that would cause you to pass on drafting Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or John Tavares if given the opportunity. If they had different linemates or a new coach, you could still count on them to be productive.

Phil Kessel is primed for a big season after being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he will get to play with Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but he was likely to be chosen in the first round anyway. However, his trade does affect the value of players on the team he was traded from, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Someone will get more of an opportunity to play on the top line in Toronto and fill his role; it could be center Nazem Kadri.

Similarly, forward Patrick Sharp was traded to the Dallas Stars by the Chicago Blackhawks on July 10, and as a result, new teammate Jason Spezza should see an increase in offense.

When drafting, be sure to take into account each player's situation based on what happened this offseason with his current team.

Fantasy draft guide for leagues with hits category

Thursday, 09.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

It's one of the hot debates in fantasy hockey: Is it better to categorize penalty minutes or hits?

Standard Yahoo formats don't take hits into account, but this alternative stat grows with each passing year and is now prevalent in more than one-third of all leagues.

Whether Yahoo will eventually institute hits as a standard category remains to be seen, but the hits inclusion instead of a more arbitrary stat like PIMs would make sense. Though PIMs can gauge the physicality of a player, the stat is centered around tactical penalties, which are detrimental in reality and can reflect undisciplined play. Players who use clean body checks on opponents can help their team regain possession of the puck and generate offense. That said, advanced statistics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs show how valuable possession anchors like Duncan Keith (16 hits in 80 games last season) can be, so hits don't always equate to real-life value.

With so much gray area, the discussion rages on -- but the only things fantasy owners need to be concerned with are their upcoming draft(s) and the categories in your league settings. If you're doing a PIMs league, immerse yourself in NHL.com's top 250 rankings. If you're going the hits route, study this cheat sheet leading up to draft day.

Below are more than 50 players who should be on your radar in hits leagues. Fantasy owners should value these assets a few picks/rounds higher than their standing in NHL.com's rankings depending on the degree of boost provided by their hits performance. For easy reference, I listed additional forwards and defensemen whom you should consider relevant in 12-team hits leagues.

Fantasy keeper leagues ripe with under-23 talent

Wednesday, 09.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

If you're in a keeper league, chances are Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Claude Giroux and the like are already on a roster heading into your draft for the 2015-16 season.

If you're fortunate enough to own one of the upper-echelon fantasy producers, you may be willing to reach for Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers or Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres to add to your keeper group.

The two highly touted rookies aren't the only young players I think you should target in keeper leagues, though. There's elite talent you can get in later rounds.

Overlooked veterans to target in fantasy leagues

Eric Goodman - NHL.com Fantasy Staff Writer

Regardless the size of your league, there usually are a number of fantasy-relevant veterans who slip to the late rounds on draft day. Sometimes a player drops due to a significant injury the previous season, or owners simply forget about an aging veteran who has put up consistent statistics throughout his career.

These five players should be available as buy-low candidates and may provide a great return on your investment:

NHL.com gives 2015-16 schedule advice for fantasy

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

Though much about fantasy hockey is unpredictable -- who will be this season's Devan Dubnyk, and who will come out of nowhere to score 30 goals? -- it's always good to know as much as possible about each team's schedule before drafting.

For example, knowing how many back-to-back sets a team has is key when drafting a goalie. So is knowing a skater’s home and road splits so you know who to draft and which weeks to start them.

And you can't forget to look at game loads the final two weeks of the NHL regular season, usually reserved for fantasy championships. How many games your players have over those two weeks is critical to your chances of winning your league.

Here are five schedule-related notes to keep in mind when drafting:

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