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Week 1: Fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings 2016-17 lists most valuable standard-league assets during regular season

by Brian Metzer / Correspondent

All season long,'s Brian Metzer will rank the top 50 fantasy defensemen 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.

These rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season. Value is quantified by defense pairs, 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.

Each fantasy season comes with a fresh sheet of ice. Whether players meet expectations, take the next step forward or fail to live up to the hype, there are implications across the League.


But sometimes when a player recaptures his former glory, it can steal the show. There's no better example of that trend in the first week of this season than Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green .

Green, 31, had his first NHL hat trick in the Red Wings' 5-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, and has five points in three games. Last season he didn't get his fifth point until Nov. 16, his 12th game. He is skating on the Red Wings' top pairing next to Danny DeKeyser and leads the Red Wings in ice time per game (23:42). He also is anchoring their first power-play unit and getting the second-most ice time per game with the man-advantage (2:37), behind forward Thomas Vanek (2:39). His sample size this season may be small, but Green has eclipsed 70 points twice in 11 previous NHL seasons and is available in nearly half of Yahoo leagues (53 percent owned).

Another big surprise has been Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell, who was signed Oct. 7, five days before the start of the regular season. He is reaping the benefits of sharing the ice with Connor McDavid, with three assists, a plus-4 and five shots on goal in four games. He hasn't shed his reputation as an elite shot blocker either, with 14 this season. Russell (32 percent owned) has shown the ability to put up points in the past, with 34 in 79 games with the Calgary Flames in 2014-15. So his scoring surge could continue with exposure to a very talented group of forwards.

The weak points of Russell's fantasy profile so far are his lack of shots on goal (five) and power-play time (26 seconds per game). That said, he has been paired with veteran Andrej Sekera in a top-four role and is averaging 21:23 per game.

Another player experiencing an early resurgence this season is Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks. He leads Anaheim skaters in ice time per game (24:46) and has four points, two power-play points and 11 shots on goal in four games. He leads the Ducks in power-play ice time per game (4:44) and is on the first unit with defenseman Sami Vatanen and forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. The Ducks have struggled out of the gate, in part because of five straight road games to start the season, but they could turn things around quickly as they did last season. Fowler's power-play goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday came off of a lightning-quick one-timer from the right circle. He has a chance to return to the 40-point form of 2010-11, his rookie season.


Trending Up

Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche was drafted among the top 100 players on average, but teammate Erik Johnson (31 percent owned) has been just as productive with superior category coverage through three games. The No. 1 pick of the 2006 NHL Draft has three assists, two on the power play, with 10 shots on goal, in his first three games. Fantasy owners also should make room for the Columbus Blue Jackets' Zach Werenski (22 percent owned). He was featured in's waiver-wire piece Monday, and rightfully so after he had a power-play goal, an assist and nine shots on goal in two games. He's paired with Seth Jones at even strength and is manning Columbus' first power-play unit, usage that suggests the rookie could be here to stay in the fantasy realm.

Video: SJS@CBJ: Werenski snipes first NHL goal on power play


Trending Down

Dougie Hamilton of the Calgary Flames is coming off of back-to-back 40-point seasons and he'll likely get there again. You just might have to be patient because he has shown a propensity for being a slow starter since arriving in Calgary. He had five points in his first 24 games last season but finished with 43. That total was buoyed by a strong March that saw him get 14 points in 16 games. He may be on a similar path this season; he has no points through four games despite a high volume of shots on goal (14).


Worth Noting

- Nathan Beaulieu (8 percent owned) of the Montreal Canadiens has drawn the plum assignment of skating on a pair with Shea Weber. He's averaging 20:02 of ice time per game, with 2:02 coming on the power play. The 23-year-old has one power-play assist and a plus-6 rating in three games. Brandon Carlo (7 percent owned) of the Boston Bruins is another young defenseman who has pulled an ace assignment, skating on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Carlo, 19, is averaging 21:35 per game and has a plus-7 rating with two points in three games.

- Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins left their 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday because of an undisclosed injury. Coach Mike Sullivan gave no update on his status after the game.

- The Arizona Coyotes could get a boost during their current six-game road trip with the possible return of defenseman Michael Stone . Stone (43 percent owned) has been out because of a knee injury that cut short his strong 2015-16 season, when he had 36 points, including 14 on the power play, in 75 games.

Video: ARI@OTT: Stone punches in a rebound to pad lead


Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen

These are Brian Metzer's first defensemen rankings for the 2016-17 season.

1. Brent Burns, SJS
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT
3. P.K. Subban, NSH
4. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI
6. Kris Letang, PIT (DTD)
7. Roman Josi, NSH
8. Drew Doughty, LAK
9. John Carlson, WSH
10. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI
11. Mark Giordano, CGY
12. Victor Hedman, TBL
13. Duncan Keith, CHI
14. John Klingberg, DAL
15. Shea Weber, MTL
16. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF
17. Justin Faulk, CAR
18. Keith Yandle, FLA
19. Aaron Ekblad, FLA
20. Tyson Barrie, COL
21. Torey Krug, BOS
22. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL
23. Brent Seabrook, CHI
24. Alex Pietrangelo, STL 
25. Ryan Suter, MIN
26. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS
27. Dougie Hamilton, CGY
28. Colton Parayko, STL
29. Seth Jones, CBJ
30. Jake Muzzin, LAK 
31. Sami Vatanen, ANA
32. TJ Brodie, CGY
33. Ryan McDonagh, NYR
34. Mike Green, DET
35. Trevor Daley, PIT
36. Anton Stralman, TBL 
37. Nick Leddy, NYI
38. Morgan Rielly, TOR
39. Alec Martinez, LAK
40. Zdeno Chara, BOS
41. Michael Stone, ARI (IR)
42. Cam Fowler, ANA
43. Mattias Ekholm, NSH
44. Matt Niskanen, WSH
45. Matt Dumba, MIN
46. Erik Johnson, COL
47. Brian Campbell, CHI
48. Andrej Sekera, EDM
49. Adam Larsson, EDM
50. Zach Werenski, CBJ

* DTD: Player is day to day because of injury
* IR: Player is on injured reserve but expected to return soon

Remaining restricted free agents: Hampus Lindholm (ANA), Jacob Trouba (WPG)

Just missed: Kris Russell (EDM), Brandon Carlo (BOS), Mark Streit (PHI), Jeff Petry (MTL), Alex Goligoski (ARI)

Key injuries: Niklas Kronwall (DET), Michael Del Zotto (PHI)

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