By nature, fantasy hockey can be very unpredictable. And this year has been no exception.
Many players drafted low on average in Yahoo! leagues (P.K. Subban, Alexander Semin, Jakub Voracek, Antti Niemi) have turned out to be some of the most valuable fantasy assets in the game. For owners, bold draft choices like these often lead to fantasy championships.
Average draft position in standard Yahoo! leagues provides a strong indication of the fantasy expectations surrounding a particular player coming into the season. When comparing ADPs with current ownership numbers, it's becomes quite clear which players have been the biggest "steals" from a fantasy standpoint.
With only a week to go in the regular season, let's take a look at five players who were taken on average with the 150th pick or later in Yahoo! drafts and are now owned in at least 70 percent of leagues. These are five of the biggest fantasy steals League-wide because they have produced at an elite level despite being passed over in drafts. They have played in the vast majority of their team's games to this point as well, allowing their fantasy owners to reap the benefits all season long.
Analysis: Leads NHL with a plus-30 and has registered a positive rating in a League-high 25 games this season. If this was an 82-game season, Dupuis would be on pace for 38 goals, which would shatter his career-high of 25 from last season. And his elite-level production has not wavered after Sidney Crosby's injury, either, as the dual-eligible forward has mustered three goals, seven assists and a plus-7 in seven games since his MVP-caliber linemate was sidelined.
Analysis: Let's be honest. No one expected Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri to post nearly a point per game over the course of 40-plus games. The 22-year-old forward has set career-highs in every offensive category (17 G, 24 A, plus-14, 21 PIM, 8 PPP, 97 SOG) and has kept Toronto in the thick of the playoff race despite star forward Joffrey Lupul being injured for most of the season. Kadri is also one of only three players League-wide to treat his owners to two hat tricks this season, with Chris Kunitz and Alex Ovechkin being the others.
Analysis: Ladd put forth strong category coverage last season for Winnipeg, posting a career-best 265 shots to go along with 50 points and 64 PIMs. But he had seven different stretches of at least three games without a point last year, which -- together with his minus-8 rating -- made owners hesitate to take him early in drafts. He has had at least one shot on goal in 42 of his 44 games and ranks among the top 25 in the NHL in goals (18, T-13th), multi-point games (11, T-22nd) and multi-goal games (3, T-14th). He's nearly matched his point total from last season in a shortened season and has been one of the most consistent players the League has had to offer in 2012-13.
Analysis: Currently only behind Niemi among goalies in Yahoo! overall rankings, Bobrovsky has simply stunned the fantasy world with his prowess across the board. After the Blue Jackets acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, few expected him to be a commodity at all, considering he was joining a team that had finished last in the NHL standings. But owners who took a chance on the 24-year-old have been rewarded in a big way, as this workhorse has willed teams into the fantasy playoffs by going 15-5-3 since the beginning of March, allowing two goals or less in 18 of those 23 outings. He is among the League leaders in wins (18, T-9th in NHL), save percentage (.931, 2nd), goals-against average (2.03, 6th) and shutouts (4, 4th).
Analysis: Beauchemin has thrived alongside Ducks offseason acquisition Sheldon Souray all season long, and fantasy owners who caught onto one of the trendiest defenseman on the market have struck gold. The veteran blueliner went undrafted on average in Yahoo! leagues, yet has ultimately become a borderline top-100 overall asset as we near the end of the regular season. He is tied for 20th in the League among defensemen with 22 points and tied for ninth among all skaters with a plus-20. His plus-minus stands as the second-highest total by a defenseman behind only Souray (plus-23). Beauchemin's power-play ice time is up compared to last season and he's eclipsed the century mark in blocked shots too. He's provided steady production for his fantasy owners -- many of whom likely waited too long to select a defenseman in drafts before lucking out with this waiver wire addition.