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Week 1: Fantasy top 100 forward rankings for 2016-17 lists most valuable standard-league assets during regular season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Fantasy Insider

All season long,'s Pete Jensen 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. Multiple positions indicate dual 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.

Leading up to the season, there are so many references to upside and potential. Some players fall short of those expectations or take time to get up to speed. Others seize the opportunity and quickly enter must-own territory.


We have to start with David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. He was a deep sleeper entering the season and has started with six points in three games with at least one point in each. With a plus-7 rating, one power-play point and 15 shots on goal alongside David Backes and Brad Marchand, you have to wonder if Pastrnak's fantasy ceiling can get even higher once center Patrice Bergeron returns from injury. Pastrnak (LW, 72 percent owned) needs to be scooped up in all formats.

Mika Zibanejad , a preseason sleeper candidate, has four points in his first three games with the New York Rangers and has been instrumental in the resurgence of Chris Kreider. We may be less than one week into the season, but Kreider is among the top five fantasy players based on standard category performance, playing on the power play (two PPP), and racking up points (six) and SOG (18). Zibanejad and Kreider played with Pavel Buchnevich (LW, 4 percent owned), but lined up next to Rick Nash against the San Jose Sharks on Monday with the rookie sidelined because of back spasms. At 59 percent owned and dual eligible in Yahoo, Zibanejad may still be available in shallow formats.

There are plenty more where those forwards came from. Breakout candidate Jonathan Drouin is playing wing on a line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat early on for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has fed off his strong Stanley Cup Playoff showing (five goals, 14 points in 17 games) by scoring three points, two on the power play, with nine SOG in his first two games. He's also playing on a power-play unit with right wing Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman, leading to his inclusion among the top 50 fantasy forwards. Drouin (LW, 83 percent) was drafted and is owned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues.

And, as much as top 10 forward Connor McDavid has lived up to expectations for the Edmonton Oilers, his teammate Leon Draisaitl has earned added respect in fantasy circles. Draisaitl has thrived with five points, two on the power play, and 12 SOG in three games, despite losing Taylor Hall, his frequent linemate last season. Draisaitl has played mostly on the second line but was moved to the first with McDavid and Patrick Maroon against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Draisaitl (C/RW, 67 percent owned) has gained dual eligibility in Yahoo leagues and is clearly a top 75 fantasy forward at this juncture.

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Trending Up

Auston Matthews exceeded even the wildest fantasy expectations in his NHL debut, scoring four goals alongside fellow rookies William Nylander and Zach Hyman. Mitchell Marner (C/RW, 29 percent owned) then stole the spotlight in the Toronto Maple Leafs' second game, scoring the first goal of his NHL career and padding his high shot volume (10 SOG in two games). Matthews has swiftly joined the top 40 fantasy forwards and Nylander cracked the top 100. Marner could be next, especially considering he's playing with James van Riemsdyk at even strength. Get used to seeing at least half of Toronto's top six comprised of rookies.


Trending Down

It's important to be patient early on in the fantasy season. Don't drop players hastily, because you could easily regret it down the line. Nash was playing third-line minutes through his first two games but got a boost from Buchnevich's injury and scored his first goal of the season Monday. Other slumping forwards include Andrew Ladd of the New York Islanders, who's still playing with John Tavares, Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the entire Dallas Stars second line of Jason Spezza , Patrick Sharp and Jiri Hudler . Each of these negative situations can reverse quickly, and even Jenner is worth holding onto because of his strong category profile last season (including hits).


Worth Noting

- Richard Panik (LW, 39 percent owned) has made waves alongside Jonathan Toews for the Chicago Blackhawks, but he's not the only player to benefit from his linemate(s) early on. Jarome Iginla (RW, 33 percent owned) is playing alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on the Colorado Avalanche's top line. Patrick Eaves (RW, 2 percent owned) of the Stars is flanking Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Rookie Travis Konecny (C, 10 percent owned) has three points, a plus-2 and six SOG in two games for the Philadelphia Flyers alongside Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier. Jonathan Marchessault (LW, 15 percent owned) has settled into the Florida Panthers' top line left wing slot alongside surging Aleksander Barkov. Josh Bailey (RW, 2 percent owned), who has points in two of his first three games for the Islanders, has been moved to the top line with Tavares and Ladd, and scored the overtime winner Sunday.

- The Buffalo Sabres have been decimated by injuries to Jack Eichel and Evander Kane early on, but one beneficiary has been Matt Moulson . He scored 30 or more goals in three straight seasons (2009-12) and was nearly a point-per-game player in the shortened season of 2012-13 (44 points, 47 games), but bounced around the season after and has not been fantasy relevant since signing with the Sabres two seasons ago. He has enjoyed a fantasy resurgence early on, scoring two power-play goals on seven SOG in Buffalo's first two games playing on the first man-advantage unit with forwards Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart, and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. With Eichel expected to miss 6-8 weeks because of a high ankle sprain, Moulson (LW, 7 percent owned) should continue to see power-play time and regain his confidence the longer this hot streak lasts.

- The St. Louis Blues, already rolling at 3-0-0, received some positive news on the injury front. Left wing Jaden Schwartz , a top 100 fantasy forward, could return sooner than expected from his elbow injury. Schwartz has added value in points-only leagues, especially if he ends up in his usual spot opposite Vladimir Tarasenko on the top line. The Blues have had Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen on the same line early on, but either Fabbri or Steen could move to center in the near future, especially with Jori Lehtera injured. If Schwartz is not already owned (61 percent), he should be added and stashed in an injured reserve spot until he returns from injury, possibly as early as this week.


Top 100 Fantasy Forwards

These rankings were last updated Oct. 18.

1. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI (SAME)
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH (SAME)
3. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL (SAME)
4. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT (DTD)
5. Joe Pavelski, C/RW, SJS (SAME)
6. Connor McDavid, C, EDM (SAME)
7. Tyler Seguin, C, DAL (SAME)
8. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (+1)
9. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (-1)
10. John Tavares, C, NYI (SAME)
11. Claude Giroux, C, PHI (SAME)
12. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (+5)
13. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL (+1)
14. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT (+2)
15. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL (-3)
16. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH (-3)
17. Corey Perry, RW, ANA (-2)
18. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (SAME)
19. Joe Thornton, C, SJS (SAME)
20. Logan Couture, C, SJS (+2)
21. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD (-1)
22. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI (-1)
23. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (+1)
24. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (+2)
25. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (+16)
26. Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI (-1)
27. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (DTD)
28. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (+2)
29. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT (SAME)
30. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (+2)
31. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH (-4)
32. James Neal, RW, NSH (-4)
33. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG (SAME)
34. Ryan Johansen, C, NSH (+1)
35. Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW, BUF (+3)
36. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (-2)
37. Tyler Toffoli, C/RW, LAK (+5)
38. Alexander Steen, C/LW, STL (+7)
39. Auston Matthews , C, TOR (+29)
40. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (-4)
41. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (+3)
42. Jason Spezza, C, DAL (-5)
43. Milan Lucic, LW, EDM (+5)
44. Jonathan Drouin, LW, TBL (+16)
45. Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM (+5)
46. Zach Parise, LW, MIN (-7)
47. Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN (-7)
48. Matt Duchene, C, COL (-5)
49. Patrik Laine, RW, WPG (+12)
50. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (+2)
51. Kyle Okposo, RW, BUF (+2)
52. Max Domi, LW, ARI (SAME)
53. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, PHI (SUSP.)
54. Jakub Voracek, LW/RW, PHI (SAME)
55. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ (-8)
56. Patrick Sharp, LW/RW, DAL (-7)
57. Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (SAME)
58. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT (SAME)
59. Robby Fabbri, C/LW, STL (+3)
60. Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, NYR (+13)
61. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS (NEW)
62. Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA (-3)
63. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (NEW)
64. Dylan Larkin, C/RW, DET (-8)
65. Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT (-1)
66. Alex Galchenyuk, C, MTL (+1)
67. Andrew Ladd, LW, NYI (-12)
68. Rick Nash, LW, NYR (-5)
69. Jeff Carter, C, LAK (-4)
70. T.J. Oshie, RW, WSH (-4)
71. Ryan Kesler, C, ANA (SAME)
72. Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA (-3)
73. Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL (+5)
74. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM (NEW)
75. David Backes, RW, BOS (+18)
76. James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR (-4)
77. Sam Reinhart, C/RW, BUF (+14)
78. Mark Stone, RW, OTT (-3)
79. Derick Brassard, C, OTT (+3)
80. Marian Hossa, RW, CHI (+10)
81. William Nylander , C/RW, TOR (NEW)
82. Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR (+4)
83. Kyle Palmieri, RW, NJD (-13)
84. Henrik Sedin, C, VAN (-8)
85. Paul Stastny, C, STL (NEW)
86. Alexander Radulov, RW, MTL (-12)
87. David Krejci, C, BOS (-8)
88. Loui Eriksson, LW/RW, VAN (-8)
89. Tomas Hertl, C, SJS (-5)
90. Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW, CAR (-9)
91. Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, ARI (-6)
92. Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET (-3)
93. Boone Jenner, C/LW, CBJ (-16)
94. Andre Burakovsky, LW, WSH (NEW)
95. Jussi Jokinen, LW, FLA (-9)
96. Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR (-8)
97. Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT (-5)
98. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL (IR)
99. Mikkel Boedker, LW, SJS (SAME)
100. Joonas Donskoi, RW, SJS (SAME)

* DTD: Player is day to day because of injury
* IR: Player is on injured reserve but expected to return soon
* SUSP.: Player is serving a suspension
* NEW: Player has been added to rankings this week

Dropped out: Adam Henrique (C, NJD), Justin Williams (RW, WSH), Michael Cammalleri (LW, NJD), Dylan Strome , (C, ARI)

Just missed: Ondrej Palat (LW, TBL), Kyle Turris (C, OTT), Nikolaj Ehlers (LW/RW, WPG), Mitchell Marner (C/RW, TOR), Travis Konecny (C, PHI), Alex Killorn (C/LW, TBL), Richard Panik (LW, CHI), Sean Couturier (C, PHI), Cam Atkinson (RW, CBJ), Shane Doan (RW, ARI), Troy Brouwer (RW, CGY), Eric Staal (C, MIN), Jarome Iginla (RW, COL), Jonathan Marchessault (C, FLA), Matt Moulson (LW, BUF)

Key injuries: Jack Eichel (C, BUF), Jonathan Huberdeau (LW, FLA), Bryan Little (C, WPG), Evander Kane (LW, BUF)

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