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.
Category coverage becomes a lot more important in a win-or-go-home situation. Every penalty, shot on goal and plus/minus output is crucial in the fantasy playoffs, which begin next week in standard leagues.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 FORWARDS | TOP 25 GOALIES
You likely won't find any top-level defensemen lurking on the fantasy waiver wire, but you can find some diamonds in the rough that can help you down the stretch and through the playoffs. Here are a couple of defensemen who are chipping in across multiple categories and several others that are more specialized that you may want to consider to bolster your attack.
Alex Goligoski (20 percent owned) of the Arizona Coyotes has seen his points-per-game average dip from .45 last season to .42 through 65 games this season, but he's quietly been productive lately, contributing in multiple categories. Since Feb. 1, Goligoski is tied for seventh in points among defensemen with 12 in 16 games. He's added 17 SOG, six PIMs, one PPP and is plus-2 in the span. He has been particularly hot over his past 10 games with eight points, and also has 19 hits in the span for help in such leagues. Goligoski is second on the Coyotes in total ice time (23:05) behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson (24:21), and is averaging 2:05 per game on the power play (five PPP).
Jake Gardiner (52 percent owned) of the Toronto Maple Leafs shoulders a lot of responsibility for coach Mike Babcock. He is getting the third-most minutes per game (21:15) on the Maple Leafs behind Nikita Zaitsev (22:22) and Morgan Rielly (22:16), but is leading the way on the power play (2:32 per game). He's been held scoreless in four straight, but combined for seven points in four prior games. He ranks second among all defensemen since Feb. 1 with a plus-11 rating in 17 games, and has already set NHL career highs in points (32) and plus/minus (plus-23).
Aaron Ekblad (80 percent owned) of the Florida Panthers has struggled offensively, but is among the NHL's best in generating SOG. Skating on the top pair with Keith Yandle, Ekblad ranks second among defensemen and eighth overall with 219 SOG. He has 24 SOG in his past three games. In his past 11 games, he has combined for six points, four PIMs, three PPP and 50 SOG. There's a chance he could be available in a shallow league, and his shot volume alone can help you win that category.
Video: NYR@FLA: Ekblad wrists home PPG to cut into deficit
Brian Campbell (17 percent owned) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (1 percent owned) skate on the Chicago Blackhawks' second pair and have emerged as plus/minus specialists. Campbell leads the NHL with a plus-15 since Feb. 1, and has three points, 10 PIMs and 13 SOG in that 13-game span. van Riemsdyk is plus-9 in his past nine games with three points and 14 SOG in the span.
Mark Borowiecki (16 percent owned) of the Ottawa Senators isn't the first name you'd think of for fantasy production, but he's your man for help in the PIMs and/or hits category. He has 27 PIMs in his past five games and leads the League with 122. He also leads the NHL in hits (284).
Justin Schultz (81 percent owned) of the Pittsburgh Penguins has quickly bounced back after a quiet offensive stretch. He's been asked to shoulder a larger load in the absence of injured Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta, and he has done a masterful job. The 26-year-old has combined for five points (three PPP), four SOG, and is plus-1 in two games since productive veteran Mark Streit (26 percent owned) joined the Penguins. The scoring outburst has pushed Schultz over the 40-point plateau (44) for the first time in his career, and he's set NHL career highs in assists (33), plus-minus (plus-28), PIMs (22), hits (46) and PPP (16).
Video: BUF@PIT: Schultz gets fortunate bounce off his skate
Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes had nine points in 13 games between Jan. 10 and Feb. 11, and his stock was finally rising in fantasy circles. Unfortunately, he's been trending the other way ever since. Before scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, Faulk was stuck in a nine-game scoreless drought. His production has been hurt by the Hurricanes' struggles of late; they have two wins in their past 12 games. It's been hard to keep Faulk active in fantasy leagues through this dry patch, but he's a talented offensive player who can break out at any time down the stretch. That said, Faulk's five SOG Tuesday marked only the second time he's had more than three SOG in a game since the beginning of February (14 games).
-- Philadelphia Flyers defensemen Radko Gudas (24 percent owned) and Michael Del Zotto (3 percent) had strong games in their 6-3 win at the Buffalo Sabres. Gudas had three points, one SOG and was plus-5, and Del Zotto had two assists, five SOG and was plus-5. Gudas covers PIMs (63) and hits (228) well with some offense sprinkled in, making him a viable streaming option down the stretch.
-- Tyson Barrie (59 percent owned) of the Avalanche had his best offensive game of the season against the Hurricanes on Tuesday with three points (one PPP) and three SOG. He's ranked 350th in Yahoo but remains among the top 40 defensemen based on bounce-back potential the rest of the way.
Video: CAR@COL: Barrie, Andrighetto combine for pretty goal
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated March 8
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME)
3. Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME)
4. Kevin Shattenkirk, WSH (SAME)
5. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (SAME)
6. Duncan Keith, CHI (+1)
7. Shea Weber, MTL (-1)
8. Drew Doughty, LAK (+1)
9. Roman Josi, NSH (-1)
10. Torey Krug, BOS (SAME)
11. P.K. Subban, NSH (SAME)
12. Justin Schultz, PIT (+1)
13. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (-1)
14. Ryan Suter, MIN (SAME)
15. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+1)
16. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-1)
17. John Carlson, WSH (SAME)
18. Colton Parayko, STL (SAME)
19. John Klingberg, DAL (+3)
20. Seth Jones, CBJ (SAME)
21. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (-2)
22. Dion Phaneuf, OTT (+3)
23. Matt Niskanen, WSH (SAME)
24. Mark Giordano, CGY (+3)
25. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (+3)
26. Jake Gardiner, TOR (SAME)
27. Keith Yandle, FLA (-6)
28. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-4)
29. Cam Fowler, ANA (+1)
30. Nick Leddy, NYI (+2)
31. Brent Seabrook, CHI (+3)
32. Andrei Markov, MTL (+1)
33. Mark Streit, PIT (+8)
34. Jared Spurgeon, MIN (+1)
35. Oscar Klefbom, EDM (+1)
36. Justin Faulk, CAR (-7)
37. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-6)
38. Tyson Barrie, COL (SAME)
39. Brady Skjei, NYR (SAME)
40. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (+2)
41. Matt Dumba, MIN (DTD)
42. Nikita Zaitsev, TOR (+4)
43. Jacob Trouba, WPG (+4)
44. Dmitry Orlov, WSH (NEW)
45. Ryan Ellis, NSH (NEW)
46. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (-6)
47. Sami Vatanen, ANA (NEW)
48. Mike Green, DET (-3)
49. Alec Martinez, LAK (NEW)
50. David Savard, CBJ (SAME)
Dropped out: Ivan Provorov (PHI), Morgan Rielly (TOR), Jeff Petry (MTL), Zdeno Chara (BOS)
Key injuries: Kris Letang (PIT), Trevor Daley (PIT), Tyler Myers (WPG)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings