All season long, NHL.com'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.
The Colorado Avalanche have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs once in the past six seasons and have little chance of getting there in 2017. They are 3-16-1 in their past 20 games and currently last in the NHL standings.
That stretch likely has Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic considering changes in hopes of jumpstarting the team. That could mean significant personnel moves, such as trading pieces of their core like captain Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and/or defenseman Tyson Barrie.
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Forwards of that caliber could fetch quite the return, but a mobile, puck-moving defenseman with the capability to chip in 10 or more goals and 50 points is even more valuable.
It is a tough decision, especially because the Avalanche would benefit from the production Barrie provided over the prior three seasons. Barrie totaled 38 goals, 140 points and 47 PPP in 222 games over the span and became a must-own fantasy player in the process.
That performance pushed the Avalanche to award Barrie with a four-year contract July 31 of last summer. It also had Barrie drafted within the first 100 players in Yahoo leagues this fall (average draft position: 92.7).
Unfortunately, Barrie hasn't produced anywhere near his customary level through 38 games. He's been hot and cold, starting with six points in his first 16 games before rebounding with seven points in his next 11. Then came five straight games without a point.
But he has followed with his best stretch of the season, with seven points and 14 SOG in his past six games. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated into the win column for Colorado (1-5-0 in span), but it at least puts Barrie back on the fantasy grid.
Video: COL@VAN: Barrie nets game-tying goal from the point
Barrie is barely inside the top 300 overall players in Yahoo's performance-based rankings (294th), so his value is still low in the grand scheme of things. He's minus-21, the worst rating among Avalanche skaters and second-worst in the NHL behind Damon Severson of the New Jersey Devils (minus-22).
His recent hot streak has pushed his season totals to 20 points (five PPP) and 93 SOG (11th among D-men). His shooting percentage is low (3.2), a sign that his fortunes could turn for the better in the final three months of the regular season. Barrie, whose ownership has dipped to 76 percent, could also see a value spike if he is traded to a more favorable locale.
The top dogs among Washington Capitals defensemen are John Carlson and Matt Niskanen, but Dmitry Orlov (23 percent owned) is climbing into the conversation. The 25-year-old has made himself fantasy-relevant for short spurts over the course of his five-year NHL career, but this may be his most consistent stretch to date. He has 11 points, is plus-9 and has 23 SOG in his past 14 games. Orlov plays on an offensively gifted team and logs 19:00 per game, including 1:21 of power play time, so he'll continue to get his share of scoring opportunities and could be a nice fit at the bottom of your fantasy roster.
Video: TOR@WSH: Niskanen fakes, sets up Orlov for one-timer
Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks is carrying the best single-season points-per-game average of his career (.55), but it's based on the strength of what he did in his first 33 games. He had nine goals and 22 points with 11 PPP in the span (.67 points per game), and hadn't gone more than two games in a row without a point. That run saw his ownership climb to 84 percent in Yahoo, but the past couple weeks have been problematic. He has no points in his past seven games with a minus-1 rating and 14 SOG. Not including this season, Fowler has twice averaged .50 points per game or better (.53 as rookie in 2010-11, .51 in 2013-14). That said, he's had an up-and-down career to say the least. Definitely have some patience, but Fowler is far from an automatic daily play during this dry stretch.
-- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is getting closer to a return from a lower-body injury. He practiced without a non-contact jersey Tuesday, so fantasy owners should begin managing their roster in the hope he's back in the lineup this week. Faulk was thriving offensively prior to the setback with nine points and 35 SOG in an eight-game span.
-- Jacob Trouba (25 percent owned) of the Winnipeg Jets is riding a five-game point streak with two multipoint outings in the span. Dustin Byfuglien remains at the top of the power-play equation for Winnipeg, but Trouba's performance at even strength in the past month warrants attention from fantasy owners. The 22-year-old defenseman has never scored 30 points in a single season, but has 10 points in his past 11 games.
-- The Montreal Canadiens are still without veteran Andrei Markov, but fantasy owners should keep an eye on Nathan Beaulieu (5 percent owned). The 24-year-old has been productive in his past four games with one goal, four assists and 14 SOG. Three of those points came on the power play, where he has recently patrolled the first unit with Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov and Brendan Gallagher.
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated Jan. 5
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Victor Hedman, TBL (+1)
3. Erik Karlsson, OTT (-1)
4. Shea Weber, MTL (SAME)
5. Zach Werenski, CBJ (SAME)
6. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (+1)
7. Kris Letang, PIT (NR - INJ.)
8. Ryan Suter, MIN (SAME)
9. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (-3)
10. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-1)
11. Duncan Keith, CHI (+1)
12. Roman Josi, NSH (-1)
13. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (SAME)
14. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (SAME)
15. Drew Doughty, LAK (-5)
16. John Carlson, WSH (-1)
17. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME)
18. Mark Giordano, CGY (SAME)
19. Justin Schultz, PIT (+2)
20. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (SAME)
21. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-2)
22. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-6)
23. Colton Parayko, STL (-1)
24. John Klingberg, DAL (+1)
25. Torey Krug, BOS (+1)
26. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-2)
27. Sami Vatanen, ANA (SAME)
28. Cam Fowler, ANA (-5)
29. Seth Jones, CBJ (SAME)
30. Jake Gardiner, TOR (+1)
31. Tyson Barrie, COL (+3)
32. Alec Martinez, LAK (-4)
33. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-3)
34. Jeff Petry, MTL (+5)
35. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-3)
36. Matt Dumba, MIN (-1)
37. Trevor Daley, PIT (+1)
38. Damon Severson, NJD (-5)
39. Ivan Provorov, PHI (-2)
40. Nick Holden, NYR (+4)
41. Matt Niskanen, WSH (+2)
42. Morgan Rielly, TOR (SAME)
43. Ian Cole, PIT (-2)
44. Jake Muzzin, LAK (+2)
45. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (+3)
46. Anton Stralman, TBL (-6)
47. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (+3)
48. Nick Leddy, NYI (-3)
49. Ryan Ellis, NSH (-2)
50. Mattias Ekholm, NSH (-1)
Key injuries: P.K. Subban (NSH), Andrei Markov (MTL), Justin Faulk (CAR), Mike Green (DET), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJS), Mark Streit (PHI), Tyler Myers (WPG)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings