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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Five disappointing groups

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

UPDATED TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS

Fantasy performance is based on individual statistics, but team success or failure can also make or break a player's value.

Just look at how the early-season success stories of the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks have infiltrated fantasy rosters. From reliable goaltending (e.g. Pekka Rinne, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller) to offensive defensemen (e.g. Mark Giordano) to standout rookies (e.g. Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau) to steals up front (e.g. Radim Vrbata, Brock Nelson), these developments have led to a positive fantasy ripple effect.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is in full swing, so NHL.com has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

But remember, it's a two-way street. The unpredictability of hockey can turn a seemingly complete roster on paper into shambles over the course of a season.

Let's take a look at the five most disappointing team forward groups based on preseason expectations. Each player in question is listed with his current Yahoo ownership and is discussed in the accompanying outlook.

BOSTON BRUINS

Forwards in question: Patrice Bergeron (95%), Milan Lucic (87%), David Krejci (IR - 78%), Brad Marchand (68%), Loui Eriksson (55%), Carl Soderberg (30%)

Outlook: Lucic will benefit largely from the return of Krejci, which will shift Soderberg and Eriksson back into more productive third-line roles. Injuries on the blue line, most notably Zdeno Chara, and the trade of Johnny Boychuk have heightened defensive responsibilities of Bergeron and affected team plus-minus totals. Marchand dealt with injury earlier this season but still has a strong rating and collects points, penalty minutes (PIMs) and shots on goal (SOG). Patience should do the trick with these Bruins forwards. The only one of these worth dropping is Eriksson if his struggles continue a few weeks after Krejci returns. Meanwhile, a healthy lineup could make Seth Griffith and/or Reilly Smith fantasy-relevant again.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Forwards in question: Matt Duchene (97%), Nathan MacKinnon (95%), Gabriel Landeskog (88%), Jarome Iginla (72%), Ryan O'Reilly (52%)

Matt Duchene
Center - COL
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 18
SOG: 77 | +/-: -4
Outlook: The big concerns are Semyon Varlamov's injury, Colorado's goals allowed per game average (3.22, 27th in NHL) and the possession numbers dating back to last season. There has been significant regression and the team lost a step when Paul Stastny departed in free agency. Landeskog needs to be retained for peripheral categories (PIMs, SOG, hits). In one-year leagues, consider selling MacKinnon or Duchene for the right price, but don't even think of dealing either in a keeper format. MacKinnon especially had a great second half as a rookie and is shooting the puck at a high rate this season. O'Reilly and Iginla appear to be coming around, but it's best to include them in trade packages to address your roster needs.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Forwards in question: Anze Kopitar (98%), Jeff Carter (93%), Marian Gaborik (75%), Tyler Toffoli (70%), Tanner Pearson (29%)

Anze Kopitar
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 9 GAMES
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 12
SOG: 43 | +/-: 2
Outlook: Toffoli has struggled after a hot start but is rarely a minus player, so he's not hurting your weekly output. Kopitar is the ultimate buy-low candidate, as it would be shocking if he finished the season anywhere near the depths of his current 40-point pace. Pearson is worth dropping in shallow leagues, as he has been ineffective and is not as self-sustaining as Toffoli at this stage of his career. If the trio of Gaborik, Kopitar and Justin Williams picks it up, Carter will fall back into that secondary scoring role in which he thrived during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If possible, take a wait-and-see approach until Gaborik returns before making any rash decisions to sell any of the defending champions.

MINNESOTA WILD

Forwards in question: Thomas Vanek (75%), Mikko Koivu (38%), Mikael Granlund (14%)

Thomas Vanek
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 9 GAMES
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 14
SOG: 39 | +/-: 0
Outlook: Assuming Vanek's latest top-line trial doesn't pan out, it's time to part ways with him if you haven't already. Vanek's SOG rate is way down (season average: 1.56; career average: 2.79) and he has only two power-play points in 25 games despite 3:33 per game in those situations. Pominville and Koivu are riding four-game point streaks, but Koivu is no longer worth owning in shallow leagues because of single center eligibility and major inconsistencies. Granlund should also be dropped in small leagues but is still young and remains an intriguing deep-league asset as long as he develops alongside Zach Parise.

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Forwards in question: David Backes (92%), Alexander Steen (DTD- 87%), T.J. Oshie (73%), Paul Stastny (59%)

T.J. Oshie
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 9 GAMES
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 45 | +/-: 1
Outlook: Stastny's current three-game point streak is a rare boost for the Blues from anyone other than Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera or Jaden Schwartz this season. Tarasenko has kept the team afloat with elite-level production despite being drafted on average in the 15th round. Each of the four St. Louis players in question had considerably higher average draft positions. Oshie has gone pointless in 16 of 21 games this season and Backes hasn't been much better. Steen, Backes and Oshie are dual eligible in Yahoo leagues, and Backes holds added value because of PIMs and hits coverage. Backes, like Kopitar, is a solid buy-low option. Oshie is the least desirable fantasy player among the four on this list and should be dropped in shallow formats.


TRENDING UP

Andrew Ladd, LW, Winnipeg Jets

Andrew Ladd
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 9 GAMES
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 21
SOG: 85 | +/-: 5
There has been an added emphasis on defense in Winnipeg this season with quite a bit of line shuffling as a result. But the dust is settling and the band of Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler is back together. Ladd has back-to-back multi-point outings (two goals, three assists) and the three have combined for 13 points over the past two games. The 28-year-old is covering shots on goal (85), penalty minutes (25), rating (plus-5) and power-play points (six) through 28 games and have delivered added value in hits leagues (71).

TRENDING DOWN

Valtteri Filppula, C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning

There is a ton of offensive firepower in Tampa Bay, but not always enough to go around. Filppula, a fixture among the Lightning's top-six group last season, was playing alongside Steven Stamkos earlier in the season but has gone into a cold spell since assuming a depth role at even strength. He's tied for 12th in the NHL in power-play points (11 in 28 games), but that's been the extent of his production lately. He has no goals and three assists over his past nine games, with two of those helpers coming with the man advantage.

Mika Zibanejad
STATS PRIOR TO DEC. 9 GAMES
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 13
SOG: 42 | +/-: -1
KEEP AN EYE ON

Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, Ottawa Senators

Zibanejad, 21, is centering Ottawa's most productive line with Bobby Ryan and rookie Mike Hoffman. He had a career-high four points in a comeback win against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday to extend his point streak to four games (four goals, three assists). Ottawa made a coaching change Monday, but Zibanejad has been a bright spot that should continue to be featured under in-house replacement Dave Cameron. The young forward is dual eligible and five-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so he should be on every deep-league owner's radar.


TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

These rankings are based on expectations for the season ahead. Value is quantified by line combinations, overall upside and past performance in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal).

1 Sidney Crosby, C (SAME) 51 Gabriel Landeskog, LW (+2)
2 Steven Stamkos, C/RW (SAME) 52 Nikita Kucherov, LW/RW (+12)
3 Evgeni Malkin, C/RW (SAME) 53 David Backes, C/RW (+1)
4 Tyler Seguin, C/RW (+2) 54 Brock Nelson, C (+13)
5 Claude Giroux, C/RW (SAME) 55 Blake Wheeler, RW (+4)
6 Corey Perry, RW - IR 56 Mike Cammalleri, LW/C - DTD
7 Ryan Getzlaf, C (+2) 57 Milan Lucic, LW (-2)
8 Patrick Kane, C/RW (+3) 58 Jiri Hudler, LW/RW (+10)
9 Jakub Voracek, RW (-1) 59 Gustav Nyquist, C/RW (-3)
10 John Tavares, C (-3) 60 Jarome Iginla, RW (+1)
11 Phil Kessel, RW (+1) 61 Mike Ribeiro, C (+10)
12 Alex Ovechkin, LW/RW (-2) 62 Tyler Toffoli, RW (SAME)
13 Rick Nash, LW/RW (+3) 63 Johnny Gaudreau, LW (+16)
14 Joe Pavelski, LW/C/RW (SAME) 64 Tyler Bozak, C (+5)
15 Jamie Benn, LW/C (-2) 65 Derek Stepan, C (-8)
16 Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (+1) 66 Ondrej Palat, LW (+12)
17 Zach Parise, LW (+1) 67 Eric Staal, C (-15)
18 Pavel Datsyuk, LW/C (+5) 68 Johan Franzen, LW/RW (+7)
19 Jonathan Toews, C (SAME) 69 Bobby Ryan, LW/RW (NR - IR)
20 Patric Hornqvist, RW - DTD 70 Jason Pominville, RW (+2)
21 Filip Forsberg, LW/C/RW (+1) 71 Nick Foligno, LW (-6)
22 Ryan Johansen, C/RW (-2) 72 Kris Versteeg, LW/RW (+9)
23 Logan Couture, LW/C (+2) 73 Valtteri Filppula, LW/C (-13)
24 Daniel Sedin, LW (+5) 74 Tomas Tatar, LW (+12)
25 Henrik Sedin, C (+5) 75 Andrew Ladd, LW (+17)
26 Taylor Hall, LW/C (SAME) 76 Derick Brassard, C (+6)
27 Nicklas Backstrom, C (-3) 77 Jaromir Jagr, RW (-1)
28 Tyler Johnson, C/RW (+10) 78 Marian Gaborik, LW/RW - DTD
29 Radim Vrbata, RW (+16) 79 Brandon Dubinsky, LW/C (NR - IR)
30 Henrik Zetterberg, LW/C (-2) 80 Evander Kane, LW - SUSP.
31 Wayne Simmonds, RW (+8) 81 Brad Marchand, LW (+6)
32 Kyle Okposo, RW (+5) 82 Scott Hartnell, LW (-2)
33 Max Pacioretty, LW (+2) 83 Brayden Schenn, LW/C (-17)
34 Martin St. Louis, C/RW (-3) 84 Brad Richards, LW/C (-1)
35 Matt Duchene, LW/C (-3) 85 Alex Galchenyuk, LW/C (-1)
36 Ryan Kesler, C/RW (+7) 86 Jordan Eberle, RW (-12)
37 Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW (-10) 87 Carl Soderberg, LW/C (-14)
38 Anze Kopitar, C (-4) 88 Alexander Steen, LW/C - DTD
39 Jason Spezza, C (+1) 89 Ryan Strome, C/RW (+5)
40 Patrice Bergeron, C (+1) 90 Ryan O'Reilly, LW/C (+3)
41 James Neal, LW/RW (-5) 91 Tommy Wingels, RW (+9)
42 Joe Thornton, C (-9) 92 Sean Monahan, C (+3)
43 Marian Hossa, RW (+1) 93 Steve Downie, LW/RW (+4)
44 Ryan Callahan, RW (-2) 94 Bryan Little, C/RW (NEW)
45 Patrick Marleau, LW/C (+4) 95 Loui Eriksson, LW/RW (-10)
46 Jori Lehtera, C (+4) 96 Jeff Skinner, LW/RW (+3)
47 James van Riemsdyk, LW (+1) 97 Nick Bjugstad, C (NEW)
48 Jaden Schwartz, LW (-1) 98 Alex Killorn, LW/C (-9)
49 Brandon Saad, LW/RW (+9) 99 Nick Bonino, C (-9)
50 Jeff Carter, C/RW (-4) 100 Tomas Plekanec, C (NEW)

Just Missed: Chris Kreider (DTD), Joffrey Lupul, Matt Beleskey, Curtis Glencross, Antoine Roussel, Antoine Vermette, Nazem Kadri, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Cam Atkinson, Paul Stastny

Dropped out: Kreider, Roussel, Kyle Turris, Shane Doan

Key injuries: Chris Kunitz, Patrick Sharp (UPDATE: will return to lineup Tuesday; previous rank among forwards: 29), David Krejci, Pascal Dupuis, Valeri Nichushkin

*DTD: Day-to-day; SUSP.: Suspended; NR - IR: Not ranked last week because of injury

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