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

by Brian Metzer / Correspondent

All season long, 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.

When your season starts to go awry, change can sometimes be the only answer. 

In fantasy, that change typically comes in the form of roster moves, but, in reality, it can escalate into something more significant like replacing a coach. In-season coaching changes can flip the fortunes of a season, as it did for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008-09 and 2015-16 and the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. General managers sometimes go this route to jumpstart their teams.


Four teams have opted to make coaching changes since the start of the regular season - the Florida Panthers (Nov. 27), New York Islanders (Jan. 17), St. Louis Blues (Feb. 1) and Boston Bruins (Feb. 7). Even if the moves don't result in a Stanley Cup championship for any of those teams, there is a good chance they could help you make a run at a fantasy title. With new coaches come new roles and responsibilities for players. New systems can free up offensive talent, creating more fantasy value. 

Here's a look at a few under-utilized fantasy assets that could see enhanced value following the recent coaching changes by the Islanders, Blues and Bruins. 

The Islanders have played nine games since replacing Jack Capuano with Doug Weight, going 6-1-2 to roar back into Stanley Cup Playoff contention. Nick Leddy (50 percent owned) continues to trend upward with seven points since the coaching change. Johnny Boychuk (40 percent) has two points and has seen an uptick in SOG (26) in seven games played under Weight, and Dennis Seidenberg (7 percent) has three assists and is plus-4 since the move. 

But the sneakiest pickup in deep leagues could be Calvin de Haan (7 percent owned). The 25-year-old ranks second behind Leddy among Islanders D-men in scoring with five points in the past nine games. He is plus-4 and has one PPP and 14 SOG. He has 23 blocked shots in the span and has played at least 20:00 in all but one game. He's likely to set career highs in multiple categories before the end of the season; he has 14 points, is plus-11, and has 134 blocks and 73 SOG in 51 games.

Video: BUF@NYI: de Haan taps in pass from Quine

The Blues have played four games since Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock, going 3-1-0 and exploding for 14 goals in the span. Colton Parayko (70 percent owned) has led the way among St. Louis defensemen with five points, a plus-5, one PPP and seven SOG in the span. Kevin Shattenkirk, who has three assists and eight SOG in the span, is ranked 85th among all players in Yahoo and continues to be the subject of trade rumors in his contract year. Alex Pietrangelo has two points (one PPP) in four games, but Parayko is clearly the keeper-league gem with all the uncertainty surrounding Shattenkirk. 

We'll have to wait until Thursday to see the Bruins play for the first time under Bruce Cassidy against the San Jose Sharks after Claude Julien was fired Tuesday. Torey Krug, 90th among all players in Yahoo, leads Bruins defensemen by wide margins in points (33), PPP (15) and SOG (158), but Zdeno Chara (41 percent owned) has shown signs of life lately. The veteran had three assists and five SOG against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and has at least three SOG in six straight games. He also scored a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 31. Look to see whether Cassidy will incorporate Chara into the power-play equation.


Trending Up

Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets has been a steady riser since mid-December and he's really heating up lately. The 22-year-old scored a goal in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, giving him three goals, eight points and 24 shots in his past seven games. Jones, owned in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues, has 17 points in 24 games since Dec. 18. He warrants greater ownership considering he's tied for eighth among 'D' in points per game (0.61).

Video: CBJ@DET: Jones picks the corner for overtime win

Trending Down

Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens is third among defensemen and 38th overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings, but is going through another one of his cold stretches. He hasn't had a point in his past five games, and he's minus-2 with nine SOG in the span. This marks Weber's third stretch of at least four games without a point this season, with his worst drought coming from Nov. 29 to Dec. 20 when he was scoreless in 10 games. It's very likely his offense will ramp up again in the near future, but monitor the situation as fantasy trade deadlines loom. His value is still high enough to make him a movable asset to address another positional need.

Worth Noting

-- Roman Josi returned to the Nashville Predators lineup against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and had five SOG. His next game reminded fantasy owners how valuable the puck-moving defenseman could be down the stretch; he had two assists, one on the power play, and two SOG against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. 

-- Toronto got Morgan Rielly (33 percent owned) back in the lineup Feb. 2. The Maple Leafs have scored 15 goals in four games since Rielly has returned, and he has three assists in the span. He could be a nice fantasy addition if his shooting percentage corrects itself (1.0; one goal, 98 SOG). Also keep an eye on Nikita Zaitsev (11 percent owned), who has eight points (three PPP) in his past 11 games. 

Video: DAL@TOR: Zaistev scores PPG through screen in front

-- It's no surprise Brent Burns of the Sharks is by far the highest-scoring defenseman since Jan. 1 (22 points in 17 games). But the second-leading scorer at the position over that span is Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who has 14 points and seven PPP in 19 games. 

-- Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers is going through a very rough stretch and has been a healthy scratch in three straight games. It could be a good time to pounce on him in a dynasty or keeper format, but his short-term fantasy value has plummeted. He's outside the top 250 overall players in Yahoo (261st).


Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen

These rankings were last updated Feb. 8 

1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME) 
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME) 
3. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (SAME) 
4. Victor Hedman, TBL (+1) 
5. Kris Letang, PIT (+1) 
6. Shea Weber, MTL (-2) 
7. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (SAME) 
8. Drew Doughty, LAK (SAME) 
9. Duncan Keith, CHI (+1) 
10. Justin Schultz, PIT (+1) 
11. Ryan Suter, MIN (-2) 
12. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+1) 
13. Zach Werenski, CBJ (-1) 
14. Roman Josi, NSH (NR - INJ.
15. Torey Krug, BOS (+1) 
16. John Carlson, WSH (-1) 
17. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (SAME) 
18. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (SAME) 
19. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME) 
20. P.K. Subban, NSH (-6) 
21. John Klingberg, DAL (SAME)   
22. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (SAME) 
23. Colton Parayko, STL (+2) 
24. Justin Faulk, CAR (SAME) 
25. Seth Jones, CBJ (+1) 
26. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-3) 
27. Mark Giordano, CGY (-7) 
28. Brent Seabrook, CHI (+1) 
29. Mike Green, DET (-1) 
30. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (SAME) 
31. Jake Gardiner, TOR (SAME) 
32. Matt Niskanen, WSH (+7) 
33. Nick Leddy, NYI (+3) 
34. Matt Dumba, MIN (+1) 
35. Cam Fowler, ANA (-1) 
36. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (-2) 
37. Andrei Markov, MTL (-5) 
38. Ivan Provorov, PHI (+2) 
39. Morgan Rielly, TOR (NR - INJ.
40. Tyson Barrie, COL (DTD
41. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-14) 
42. Trevor Daley, PIT (SAME) 
43. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (+2) 
44. Jeff Petry, MTL (-6) 
45. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-1) 
46. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (-3) 
47. Nikita Zaitsev, TOR (+2) 
48. Jacob Trouba, WPG (+2) 
49. Alec Martinez, LAK (-8) 
50. Adam Larsson, EDM (NEW

*NR - INJ. - Not ranked last week because of injury 

Dropped out: Nathan Beaulieu (MTL), Mark Streit (PHI), Jake Muzzin (LAK) 

Key injury: Tyler Myers (WPG)


READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings

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