Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy forwards in his weekly segment: "The Front Line." From updated rankings to players you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy forwards insider all season long.
UPDATED TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS
Only two players this season have recorded five or more points in a single game, and both of those performances came on the same night.
On Nov. 14, teammates Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin combined for 11 points in the Dallas Stars' 7-3 victory against the Calgary Flames. Benn finished the evening with an NHL-best six points (one goal, five assists), while Seguin posted four goals and an assist (Tomas Hertl is the only other player to have scored four goals in a game this season).
It didn't take them long, but Benn and Seguin have quickly become one of, if not the best duo in the NHL. If you were fortunate enough to land either player on your fantasy roster, it has paid immense dividends through the first quarter of the season.
* based on Yahoo fantasy leagues
As you can see in the table to the right, both players currently have exceeded everyone's draft-day expectations. However, I was always extremely high on Benn -- prior to this season, I predicted he'd finish as a top-15 overall fantasy player, and I still believe he will.
Benn is the prototypical fantasy player -- he can contribute in every category. Seguin, no stranger to fantasy dominance, lacks the penalty minute presence Benn offers, which is why I rank Benn one spot higher than Seguin (21 and 22 respectively).
||Team goals with
getting a point
|J. Benn & T. Seguin
|A. Ovechkin & N. Backstrom
|R. Getzlaf & C. Perry
|P. Datsyuk & H. Zetterberg
|D. Sedin & H. Sedin
Regardless, the Dallas tandem has been the most productive twosome in the NHL. Benn and Seguin have each recorded a point on the same goal 17 times this season, two better than any other NHL duo (see table).
Seguin leads the Stars with 12 goals, and of those 12 tallies Benn has recorded the primary assist on seven of them, including three of Seguin's four goals in his performance against Calgary. It's become clear Benn seems to be the playmaker and Seguin is the finisher of this dynamic pair.
While Seguin's shooting percentage (21.8) will be nearly impossible to sustain over the course of a full season, it wouldn't surprise anyone if he remained a top-25 fantasy player all year long.
Benn's shooting percentage (10.6) is actually below his career norm (12.1), so there's a chance we see his goal totals increase, and as I've said many times, I believe he's a point-per-game caliber player. Add in his penalty minute potential and he's one of the most complete fantasy players in the game.
Both forwards have also proven to be very consistent this season. Benn has tallied at least one point in 14 of 20 games this season, while Seguin has done the same in 13 of 20. Not only that, but Benn has recorded a plus rating in 13 games and Seguin has done so in 11 games. They have delivered in just about all ways at the quarter mark of the season.
Even without their 11-point outburst against the Flames, Benn and Seguin were already fantasy stars capable of carrying one's team to a title. If you have either player on your team, enjoy the ride. And if you were lucky enough to land both, you've got a great shot at bringing home a championship.
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild --
Center - MIN
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 17
SOG: 51 | +/-: 5
Considering Koivu's had three 60-plus point seasons in his career, he might be the player most deserving of a Yahoo ownership spike -- he's currently at 63 percent, which is just absurd, especially considering the tear he's been on of late. Koivu has three goals and six assists in the past six games. His shot totals might not overwhelm you (51), but he makes up for that with solid power play production (seven power-play points) and a good rating (plus-5).
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche -- Like Koivu, Stastny's shot totals aren't impressive (32), but he's got 15 points and a plus-10 rating in 19 games for the Avalanche. Since his slow start (one point in his first four games), Stastny has notched at least one point in 11 of the past 15 contests, proving to be a consistent and reliable fantasy player.
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes -- Doan, one of the hottest players in the League right now, is just three goals away from matching the total amount he scored last season. The Phoenix captain has 10 goals in 20 games after finishing with just 13 in 48 games last season. Eight of Doan's goals have come in the past nine games and if he's available in your league (35 percent), don't hesitate to grab him.
Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes -- Semin left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury, and while we don't know exactly how long he'll be out for he had been struggling anyway. Always known to be one of the streakier players in the NHL, Semin has just three goals and nine points with a minus-6 rating in 20 games. I wouldn't drop him just yet, but if the injury news gets worse, you might want to consider finding a replacement.
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings --
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 7
SOG: 58 | +/-: 7
Brown won't necessarily hurt you in any fantasy category, but he's not exactly helping a lot in goals or assists. Brown has three goals and four assists in 21 games and has been held without a point in six straight contests. He certainly helps more if you're in a league that counts hits (72), but I think Brown should definitely be benched and possibly even dropped if you're in a shallow league.
Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers -- Fleischmann got off to a solid start with six points in his first six games, but he has cooled off in a big way. The Panthers forward has one point in his past six games and only one goal in his past 10. Fleischmann drops 19 spots in my rankings and you can likely find someone better on waivers.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings -- Toffoli was recalled from the American Hockey League on Nov. 2 and has recorded at least one point in six of his seven games since then (four goals, four assists). With Jeff Carter sidelined, Toffoli has been playing on the Kings' second line alongside Mike Richards and Dwight King. He's also receiving 2:14 of power-play ice time per game where he's delivered two assists with the man advantage. Just 21, there's plenty of room for Toffoli to grow and he happens to be available in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.
TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS
These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.
||Sidney Crosby, Penguins (same)
||Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (+4)
||Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (same)
||David Krejci, Bruins (-3)
||John Tavares, Islanders (+1)
||Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (+4)
||Corey Perry, Ducks (-1)
||Justin Williams, Kings (+2)
||Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings (+1)
||Tomas Hertl, Sharks (+3)
||Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (-1)
||Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (+8)
||Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (+3)
||Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (-5)
||Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (-1)
||Kyle Turris, Senators (+3)
||Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (-1)
||Mike Richards, Kings (+6)
||Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (+2)
||T.J. Oshie, Blues (+9)
||Daniel Sedin, Canucks (-2)
||Loui Eriksson, Bruins (+12)
||Zach Parise, Wild (+3)
||Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (same)
||Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (+3)
||Ryan Callahan, Rangers (same)
||Henrik Sedin, Canucks (-1)
||Kyle Okposo, Islanders (+2)
||Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (-4)
||David Perron, Oilers (+2)
||Anze Kopitar, Kings (+1)
||Johan Franzen, Red Wings (NR)*
||Logan Couture, Sharks (+1)
||Cody Hodgson, Sabres (+1)
||Chris Kunitz, Penguins (-4)
||Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (+2)
||David Backes, Blues (+3)
||PA Parenteau, Avalanche (-10)
||Bobby Ryan, Senators (+1)
||Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (-10) DTD
||Jamie Benn, Stars (+10)
||Frans Nielsen, Islanders (+6)
||Tyler Seguin, Stars (+4)
||Paul Stastny, Avalanche (+13)
||Joe Pavelski, Sharks (+2)
||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (+1)
||James Neal, Penguins (same)
||Chris Kreider, Rangers (+5)
||Martin St. Louis, Lightning (-5)
||Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+1)
||Patrick Marleau, Sharks (+1)
||Mike Cammalleri, Flames (+2)
||Eric Staal, Hurricanes (+1)
||Pascal Dupuis, Penguins (-2)
||Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (+1)
||Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers (+3)
||Alexander Steen, Blues (+6)
||Vincent Lecavalier, Flyers (+2)
||Jason Spezza, Senators (-7)
||Shane Doan, Coyotes (+14)
||Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (+1) DTD
||Dustin Brown, Kings (-10)
||Taylor Hall, Oilers (+2)
||Bryan Little, Jets (+10)
||Joe Thornton, Sharks (same)
||Brad Marchand, Bruins (same)
||Claude Giroux, Flyers (+2)
||Jakub Voracek, Flyers (+2)
||Evander Kane, Jets (-5)
||Chris Stewart, Blues (-1)
||Derek Stepan, Rangers (+3)
||Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (+2)
||Matt Moulson, Sabres (+5)
||Jaromir Jagr, Devils (+9)
||Milan Lucic, Bruins (+5)
||Steve Downie, Flyers (NR)*
||Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+6)
||Nail Yakupov, Oilers (same)
||Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (-3)
||Blake Wheeler, Jets (same)
||Thomas Vanek, Islanders (-3) DTD
||Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers (-19)
||Ryan Kesler, Canucks (-1)
||Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (NR)
||Jarome Iginla, Bruins (+1)
||Alex Killorn, Lightning (-2)
||Mikko Koivu, Wild (+10)
||Carl Hagelin, Rangers (-7)
||Jason Pominville, Wild (+2)
||Mats Zuccarello, Rangers (-2)
||James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (same)
||Mikhail Grabovski, Capitals (-1)
||Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (+3)
||Scott Hartnell, Flyers (+3)
||Jordan Eberle, Oilers (same)
||Patrik Elias, Devils (NR)*
||Andrew Ladd, Jets (+2)
||Valtteri Filppula, Lightning (NR)
||Brad Richards, Rangers (+3)
||Marcus Johansson, Capitals (NR)
* Appeared on injured list last week
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Alexandre Burrows, Teemu Selanne, Sam Gagner
Injured: Steven Stamkos, Rick Nash, Matt Duchene, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Skinner, Jeff Carter, Brent Burns, Daniel Alfredsson, Ray Whitney, Nathan Horton