All season long, NHL.com 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 Winnipeg Jets are quietly back in the Wild Card picture in the Western Conference after a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. There have seen plenty of ups, downs and injuries along the way, but they boast a strong core of fantasy assets and a top 10 offense (2.89 goals per game, ninth in NHL).
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 FORWARDS | MVP FOR EACH TEAM
The Jets have five players, Blake Wheeler (14th), Mark Scheifele (17th), Dustin Byfuglien (30th), Nikolaj Ehlers (40th) and Patrik Laine (46th), ranked among the top 50 overall in Yahoo's performance-based fantasy rankings. Byfuglien, third among defensemen in Yahoo behind Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks) and Shea Weber (Montreal Canadiens), remains the leader in fantasy production on the Jets defense. But two other defensemen have emerged behind him and have been very productive of late.
Jacob Trouba (38 percent owned) and Josh Morrissey (1 percent owned) do different things for the Jets, but each can bolster your fantasy defense in his current hot streak.
Trouba, drafted ninth in the 2012 NHL Draft, is known for his shutdown ability and physicality, but has shown flashes of becoming an offensive resource. He scored 10 goals and 29 points as a rookie in 2013-14, which set high expectations that he's struggled to live up to. He's been derailed by injuries and usage through the years, but appears to be finally taking the next step.
Video: ARI@WPG: Trouba punches home rebound in front
The 22-year-old has been paired with Tobias Enstrom and is seeing 1:27 per game on the power play. He has seven points (one PPP), 24 SOG and is plus-4 in his past six games. This burst has pushed his season total to 21 points in 38 games, putting him on pace for a career-high 37 points if he plays 67 games. Trouba is also on pace for a career-high 162 SOG and is a great source of hits (65) and blocks (75).
Morrissey, meanwhile, is skating on Winnipeg's top pair next to Byfuglien, but has remained under the fantasy radar. That needs to change because he's quietly having a strong rookie campaign.
He has been a point producer at every level and that dates back to his days with the Price Albert Raiders in the WHL. It's taken Morrissey time to get comfortable with his offensive game in the NHL, but it is definitely starting to surface in the New Year.
Morrissey had one goal and seven points in his first 46 games this season, but has come close to matching that in his past seven with one goal and six points. He doesn't see much power play time, but played 4:00 with the man-advantage against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 26. He's plus-3 in his past seven games and has been racking up hits (90) and blocks (73) all season. If there is one drawback in Morrissey's game at this point, it's that he isn't shooting the puck enough. He has 51 SOG in 53 games.
All in all, Trouba and Morrissey carry more value in dynasty or keeper formats, but have proven their short-term worth as well this month.
Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov returned against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday after missing 19 games with a lower-body injury. He paid immediate dividends with an assist and was plus-2 in Montreal's 5-2 win. Markov played 17:43 with 0:40 on the power play. He saw his ownership drop to 53 percent when sidelined, so there's a chance you can grab him off the waiver wire. The 38-year-old has been limited to 32 games but has 22 points, a plus-9, eight PPP and 44 SOG. He ranks sixth among defensemen in points per game (0.69). Three other high-profile defensemen also returned Tuesday: Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, and John Carlson of the Washington Capitals.
Video: MTL@CHI: Markov goes top shelf with wrist shot in 2nd
Damon Severson of the New Jersey Devils has a respectable total of 22 points (nine PPP) in 51 games, but 18 of them came in his first 33 games. He has four points in 18 games since. He has not scored a goal since Nov. 15, and has seen his fantasy value significantly diminish in the past month. Severson is a talented offensive player who could eventually get back on track, but his current slump and minus-23 (second-worst in NHL) has made him too much of a fantasy liability.
-- Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (upper body) could return to the lineup soon. He took part in their morning skate Tuesday, but did not play against the Penguins.
-- Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets went through a tough stretch that saw him total five points in a 16-game span, but has bounced back in a big way. The rookie has two goals, three assists, one PPP and is plus-5 in his past four games. He's tied for fourth among 'D' in PPP (17).
-- Adam Larsson (14 percent owned) of the Edmonton Oilers continues to be a great source for plus/minus. He scored a goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, giving him five points and a plus-11 in his past seven games.
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated Feb. 1
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME)
3. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (SAME)
4. Shea Weber, MTL (SAME)
5. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME)
6. Kris Letang, PIT (NR - INJ.)
7. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+1)
8. Drew Doughty, LAK (+1)
9. Ryan Suter, MIN (-3)
10. Duncan Keith, CHI (-3)
11. Justin Schultz, PIT (SAME)
12. Zach Werenski, CBJ (SAME)
13. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (SAME)
14. P.K. Subban, NSH (-4)
15. John Carlson, WSH (-1)
16. Torey Krug, BOS (+1)
17. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (-1)
18. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-3)
19. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME)
20. Mark Giordano, CGY (-2)
21. John Klingberg, DAL (-1)
22. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-1)
23. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+1)
24. Justin Faulk, CAR (-2)
25. Colton Parayko, STL (-2)
26. Seth Jones, CBJ (+3)
27. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-2)
28. Mike Green, DET (-2)
29. Brent Seabrook, CHI (+1)
30. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (-2)
31. Jake Gardiner, TOR (-4)
32. Andrei Markov, MTL (NR - INJ.)
33. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-1)
34. Cam Fowler, ANA (SAME)
35. Matt Dumba, MIN (SAME)
36. Nick Leddy, NYI (+1)
37. Tyson Barrie, COL (NR - INJ.)
38. Jeff Petry, MTL (DTD)
39. Matt Niskanen, WSH (-3)
40. Ivan Provorov, PHI (-1)
41. Alec Martinez, LAK (-1)
42. Trevor Daley, PIT (-1)
43. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (SAME)
44. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-11)
45. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (-3)
46. Nathan Beaulieu, MTL (-2)
47. Mark Streit, PHI (-3)
48. Jake Muzzin, LAK (SAME)
49. Nikita Zaitsev, TOR (+1)
50. Jacob Trouba, WPG (NEW)
Dropped out: Sami Vatanen (ANA), Damon Severson (NJD), Nick Holden (NYR), Ryan Ellis (NSH)
Key injuries: Roman Josi (NSH), Morgan Rielly (TOR), Tyler Myers (WPG)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings