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Week 15: Fantasy top 100 forward rankings for 2016-17

NHL.com lists most valuable standard-league assets during regular season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

All season long, NHL.com will rank the top 100 forwards for standard Yahoo leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, shots on goal). Players with long-term injuries have been removed from this list. Positions indicate eligibility in Yahoo leagues.

These rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season. Value is quantified by line combinations, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard leagues. Changes in value each week are based on recent performance and/or lineup trends.

One of the most important qualities in a fantasy forward is power-play usage. The vast majority of the top-tier assets have it, and players who get consistent minutes with the man-advantage offer coverage of the power-play points category, as well as goals and assists. 

That said, an underrated fantasy strategy is to monitor the even-strength points and even-strength points-per-60-minutes leaderboard, then take advantage of surprising players near the top of those lists. As valuable as the top PPP producers can be, it's also important to have a few strong even-strength point producers, because that type of production directly correlates to plus/minus, another standard-league fantasy category.

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 50 DEFENSEMEN | TOP 25 GOALIES

Here are some even-strength point specialists who are readily available in fantasy and are worth owning in most standard leagues the rest of the way.

 

Conor Sheary, PIT (54 percent owned) -- The splash effect of Sidney Crosby has never been stronger. Crosby leads the NHL in points per game (1.35), with Sheary and right wing Bryan Rust (RW, 6 percent) along for the ride. Sheary, who's tied for eighth in even-strength points (32) and leads all Pittsburgh Penguins forwards at plus-17, has seen his ownership rise more than 20 percent this past week. Rust has multiple points in three of his past four games, and Sheary has a four-game point streak with six goals and three assists in that span.

Video: BOS@PIT: Sheary roofs his second goal of the game

 

Jason Zucker, LW/RW, MIN (33 percent) -- The Minnesota Wild roll three strong lines and have seen a number of even-strength specialists take the next step this season. Breakout stars Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle have carried the spotlight, but Zucker and Nino Niederreiter (LW/RW, 47 percent) rank first (31) and fifth (25) on the Wild in even-strength points. Zucker has scored all but one of his 32 points this season in even-strength situations. Among players with a minimum of 500 minutes played this season, Zucker leads the NHL in 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes (3.04), according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. He's tied for second in plus/minus (plus-27).

 

Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NSH (34 percent) -- Arvidsson, who's playing on the first line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg of late, has 21 of his 29 points at even strength. He missed two games earlier this month and did not score a point in four games upon returning, but has responded with a three-game point streak, totaling one goal, three assists, plus-5, one PPP and nine SOG. If the Nashville Predators get healthy and turn it on in the second half, Arvidsson could well sustain this surprising start. If your fantasy league counts shorthanded points, Arvidsson ranks second in the NHL with four behind New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, who has five.

Video: NSH@EDM: Arvidsson chips home game's first goal

 

Bo Horvat, C, VAN (21 percent) -- Horvat scored a goal on five SOG Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks, pulling him even with veteran Henrik Sedin for the Vancouver Canucks' scoring lead (31 points in 48 games). The 21-year-old center leads Vancouver in even-strength points (24) and has had a much more stable season (minus-1) than Henrik (minus-11) and Daniel Sedin (minus-7). If you're in a keeper league, get your hands on the Canucks' No. 1 center of the future.

 

Pavel Buchnevich, LW/RW, NYR (18 percent) -- Michael Grabner (LW/RW, 52 percent) has been the even-strength story of the season; he leads the NHL with 20 even-strength goals and is tied for second on the Rangers in even-strength points (27, trailing Mats Zuccarello's 31). But a recent development has been the return of Buchnevich from a lengthy absence with a back injury. Buchnevich has scored 11 of his 14 points in 16 games at even strength, and has six points in as many games since rejoining the Rangers, playing on a line with Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad. Get your hands on him before his ownership catapults in Sheary-like fashion.

Video: NYR@TOR: Buchnevich cashes in on loose puck in front

 

Others worth consideration: Andre Burakovsky (LW/RW, WSH; 27 percent), Scott Hartnell (LW, CBJ; 21 percent), Zack Smith (C/LW, OTT; 7 percent), Andreas Athanasiou (C/LW, DET; 4 percent)

 

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Worth Noting

-- Patrik Laine, who has missed the past eight games because of a concussion, could return to the Winnipeg Jets' lineup against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Forwards Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little have stuck together on the second line, so Laine will likely be back up top with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. Andrew Copp replaced injured Drew Stafford (lower body) and scored a goal on Winnipeg's first line against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, but Laine will promptly re-take that spot once he returns. Laine, despite missing the past two weeks, is tied for seventh in goals (21) and remains a top 20 overall fantasy asset. 

-- Thomas Vanek (LW/RW, 39 percent owned) of the Detroit Red Wings is day to day with a lower-body injury. He will miss Detroit's game against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday and his ownership should be monitored closely in the coming days. He has been held without a point in each of his past two games, but had a seven-game point streak prior to that on the second line with Athanasiou and Frans Nielsen. Vanek, who has 31 points and seven PPP in 36 games, is also a fixture on Detroit's first power-play unit. His ownership has dipped by 5 percent in the past day, so there's a chance he could become available in your league.

Video: PIT@DET: Vanek reaches to chip home a rebound

 

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Top 100 Fantasy Forwards 

These rankings were last updated Jan. 24

1. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT (SAME) 
2. Connor McDavid, C, EDM (SAME) 
3. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH (+1) 
4. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT (+1) 
5. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI (-2) 
6. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (SAME) 
7. Auston Matthews, C, TOR (SAME) 
8. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL (SAME) 
9. Joe Pavelski, C/RW, SJS (SAME) 
10. Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI (+1) 
11. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI (-1) 
12. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG (+2) 
13. Jakub Voracek, LW/RW, PHI (SAME) 
14. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT (+1) 
15. Cam Atkinson, RW, CBJ (+1) 
16. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (+1) 
17. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL (DTD) 
18. John Tavares, C, NYI (+6) 
19. Patrik Laine, LW/RW, WPG (NR - INJ.
20. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (-2) 
21. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (-2) 
22. Claude Giroux, C, PHI (-2) 
23. Ryan Kesler, C, ANA (-1) 
24. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (-1) 
25. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL (+1) 
26. Corey Perry, RW, ANA (+2) 
27. Jack Eichel, C, BUF (-6) 
28. Eric Staal, C, MIN (-3) 
29. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM (+1) 
30. Jeff Carter, C, LAK (+1) 
31. Alex Galchenyuk, C, MTL (DTD) 
32. Alexander Radulov, LW/RW, MTL (SAME) 
33. Mitchell Marner, C/RW, TOR (+1) 
34. Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT (+2) 
35. James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR (SAME) 
36. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG (+1) 
37. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS (-8) 
38. Nick Foligno, LW/RW, CBJ (-5) 
39. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH (+1) 
40. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, PHI (+2) 
41. Mikael Granlund, C/LW/RW, MIN (+4) 
42. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (+2) 
43. Ryan Johansen, C, NSH (+6) 
44. Nazem Kadri, C, TOR (+2) 
45. Alexander Wennberg, C, CBJ (-7) 
46. Jonathan Drouin, LW/RW, TBL (-5) 
47. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (-8) 
48. Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR (-5) 
49. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (-2) 
50. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT (-2) 
51. Kyle Okposo, RW, BUF (SAME) 
52. Mark Stone, RW, OTT (SAME) 
53. Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW, BUF (SAME) 
54. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD (SAME) 
55. Logan Couture, C, SJS (+1) 
56. T.J. Oshie, RW, WSH (+5) 
57. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (+1) 
58. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH (+4) 
59. James Neal, RW, NSH (-1) 
60. Joe Thornton, C, SJS (-5) 
61. Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR (+4) 
62. Charlie Coyle, C/RW, MIN (+2) 
63. Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA (-6) 
64. Derek Stepan, C, NYR (+15) 
65. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY (+15) 
66. William Nylander, C/RW, TOR (-3) 
67. Marian Hossa, RW, CHI (+4) 
68. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ (-18) 
69. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (+9) 
70. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (-1) 
71. Artem Anisimov, C, CHI (-11) 
72. Rick Nash, LW/RW, NYR (SAME) 
73. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (+1) 
74. Rickard Rakell, C/LW, ANA (+2) 
75. Anthony Mantha, LW/RW, DET (-8) 
76. Justin Williams, RW, WSH (+6) 
77. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (+11) 
78. Sam Gagner, C/RW, CBJ (+12) 
79. Jason Spezza, C/RW, DAL (-13) 
80. Kevin Hayes, C/RW, NYR (DTD) 
81. Patrick Maroon, LW, EDM (-11) 
82. Milan Lucic, LW, EDM (-9) 
83. Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN (-6) 
84. Sam Reinhart, C/RW, BUF (+2) 
85. Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (-17) 
86. Conor Sheary, LW/RW, PIT (+8) 
87. J.T. Miller, C/LW/RW, NYR (+5) 
88. Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM (+1) 
89. Alexander Steen, LW/RW, STL (+3) 
90. Matt Duchene, C/RW, COL (DTD) 
91. Evander Kane, LW, BUF (SAME) 
92. Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA (DTD) 
93. Victor Rask, C, CAR (-9) 
94. Zach Parise, LW, MIN (-9) 
95. Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, NYR (SAME) 
96. Mikko Koivu, C, MIN (DTD) 
97. Bryan Little, C, WPG (+2) 
98. Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA (NEW
99. Jason Zucker, LW/RW, MIN (NEW
100. Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN (NEW

*NR - INJ. - Not ranked last week because of injury 

Dropped out: Robby Fabbri (C/LW, STL), Marcus Johansson (LW/RW, WSH), Henrik Zetterberg (C/LW, DET) 

Just missed: Viktor Arvidsson (LW/RW, NSH), Kyle Turris (C, OTT), Jaden Schwartz (C/LW, STL), Mikael Backlund, C, CGY (NEW), Michael Grabner (LW/RW, NYR), Tyler Bozak (C, TOR), Anders Lee (LW, NYI), Michael Frolik (C/RW, CGY), Kyle Palmieri (RW, NJD), Bo Horvat (C, VAN), Pavel Buchnevich (LW/RW, NYR), Patrick Eaves (RW, DAL), Radim Vrbata (RW, ARI), Josh Bailey (LW/RW, NYI), Andre Burakovsky (LW/RW, WSH) 

Key injuries: Steven Stamkos (C, TBL), Aleksander Barkov (C, FLA), Tyler Toffoli (C/RW, LAK), Brendan Gallagher (RW, MTL), Jonathan Huberdeau (LW, FLA), Max Domi (LW, ARI), Tomas Hertl (C/LW, SJS), Thomas Vanek (LW/RW, DET)

 

READ: Last week's Top 100 forward rankings

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