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Fantasy Five: Dual position eligibility provides value

by Matt Cubeta /
It's been almost two months since we last analyzed the almighty center position in fantasy hockey and our top two players remain the same: Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos. In fact, those two players are the No. 1 and No. 2 overall ranked fantasy players in standard Yahoo! Leagues. As usual there is plenty of talent to be found among the League's centermen, and although there have been some critical injuries of late (think Datsyuk, Getzlaf, Spezza, Roy), you shouldn't fret too much if you've lost a player -- there is tons of depth to grab off waivers.

Before we get into the rankings, let's discuss one of the most beneficial factors for a fantasy player: dual position eligibility. In the preseason we provided fans with rankings based on where players were slated to start the season. However, as the season progresses, Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues adjust player positions based on how often they have played a specific position. With that said, let's get to the Fantasy Five...

1. Dual position eligibility: Centers

The most common players to gain a second position are usually centers. Whether it's C-and-LW or C-and-RW position eligibility, gaining that multi-functional ability allows fantasy owners to mix up their rosters with ease -- you won't be forced to bench a player nearly as often. Below is a list of the top-10 ranked dual-eligible centers with their two positions, their Yahoo! Ownership and where they currently rank in standard Yahoo! Leagues.

1. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings, C, LW -- owned in 99 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked ninth overall.
2. Jeff Carter, Flyers, C, RW -- owned in 97 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 18th overall.
3. Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks, C, LW -- owned in 94 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 22nd overall.
4. Bobby Ryan, Ducks, C, LW -- owned in 99 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 38th overall.
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings, C, LW -- owned in 99 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 52nd overall.
6. Joe Pavelski, Sharks, C, RW -- owned in 85 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 76th overall.
7. R.J. Umberger, Blue Jackets, C, LW -- owned in 45 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 78th overall.
8. Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes, C, RW -- owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 101st overall.
9. Tyler Kennedy, Penguins, C, LW -- owned in 7 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 172nd overall.
10. Patrik Elias, Devils, C, LW -- owned in 82 percent of Yahoo! Leagues -- ranked 173rd overall.

2. Updated center rankings

These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is based on our most recent rankings from Nov. 16, NOT our preseason ranks. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.) NEW: These rankings now include players that possess dual position eligibility.


Centers that dropped out of last segment's top 25: Jason Spezza, Derek Roy, Marc Savard, John Tavares

3. Trending upward

Henrik Zetterberg -- Despite teammate Pavel Datsyuk being sidelined for the next four-plus weeks, Zetterberg continues to rake for the Wings. Datsyuk was injured after playing only 5:25 on Dec. 22, and since then (including the game on Dec. 22), Z-berg has notched 4 goals and 7 assists during a seven-game point-scoring streak. With 44 points in 39 games on the season, Henrik is right on pace to match his career-high of 92 points back in 2007-08.

Ryan Kesler -- A lot of people didn't see Kesler's 75-point season from last year coming, but they should have seen this one. Kesler has been an absolute fantasy stud with 19 goals, 34 points, a plus-13 rating, 38 PIMs, 14 PPP and 114 SOG. He is currently the sixth highest ranked center in Yahoo! Leagues and if he continues to put up points at this pace, he will easily crack the top-10 center rankings next time around.

Matt Duchene -- Not too many players have been hotter than Duchene in the last month. The addition of former Capitals forward Tomas Fleischmann seems to have done the trick -- in Duchene's 15 contests since Flash joined the team, the sophomore center has recorded 8 goals and 9 assists. Duchene is just 9 goals away from matching last season's total and is putting up stellar point-per-game statistics through 39 games this season, proving he is an elite talent.

4. Trending downward

Ryan Getzlaf -- The Ducks captain was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and was declared out indefinitely after being hit by a puck against the Coyotes on Dec. 28. Details aren't clear, but we do know Getzlaf has multiple sinus factures and is seeing more specialists to determine how long he'll be sidelined for. Either way, this is a definite blow to Getzlaf fantasy owners, but hopefully a timetable will be set shortly and he'll return to the lineup sooner than what seems to be expected.

Joe Thornton -- Thornton seems to be heating up lately, but even still, he takes a drop in the rankings because of a few reasons. First, he only has 60 shots this season, meaning he's on pace for 129 over the course of a full schedule. We all know Thornton isn't a big shooter, but still, we would expect more than 130 shots from a top-tier player of his ilk. Secondly, Thornton, like many other Sharks this season, is a minus-6. Now, there is a silver lining to his poor plus/minus: 21 of his 35 points have come on the power play. The Sharks are a dominant power play force and that certainly helps Jumbo Joe, but remember this, he won't get you too many goals or shots, and he'll likely stay under the even rating.

Marc Savard -- We didn't know what to expect from the talented Savard when he returned from his concussion injury, but most of us were probably hoping for more than just 1 goal in 14 games (and more than 4 assists during that time as well). After averaging over 18:30 of ice time per game in every season since 2003, Savard is only seeing 15:28 this campaign. Of course, the injury might have something to do with that, but Savard is also only seeing 2:38 per game with the man advantage. Simply put, Savard is not being relied on as much as he used to be by the Bruins. Boston is doing quite well in the standings so they don't necessarily have to force Savard into certain opportunities. It is definitely possible Savard gets going at some point this season, but for now, he'll be on the outside of the top-25 centers.

5. Player to keep an eye on

Before missing Thursday's game against the Blue Jackets to attend the birth of his daughter and first child, Mikhail Grabovski had been red-hot for the Maple Leafs. Prior to that game, Grabo had recorded at least one point in six consecutive games and in nine of his previous 10 contests. The 26-year-old center currently has 13 goals and 14 assists to go along with a solid plus-3 rating in 36 games for the Leafs. Grabovski is also known to be a scrappy player, so he'll occasionally help you out in PIMs as well (he has 24 right now).

Grabovski is averaging 18:38 of ice time, with 3:15 of that coming on the power play, while centering Toronto's top line. He certainly should be a hot pick-up in all fantasy leagues as he's owned in just 36 percent of Yahoo! leagues and currently ranks as the 74th overall player. Let's hope the birth of his first child brings even more production from the talented youngster.

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