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 Philadelphia Flyers haven't gotten off to the start that they hoped for this season. They've gone 4-5-1 in their first 10 games and are fifth in the Metropolitan Division. The same cannot be said for their blue line, at least from a fantasy hockey perspective, because they were the most productive group of defensemen in the league through the end of October with 33 combined points.
All of that production isn't coming from Shayne Gostisbehere (99 percent owned) either. Sure, the second year player has chipped in two goals and five assists, but he's carrying an unattractive minus-5 rating and has three power-play points so far. He does have 28 shots on goal, which could translate into greater production if he can find the back of the net with more than seven percent of his shots. That isn't to say that he isn't still a must-own player, because he's sitting just three points off the NHL lead in defensive scoring and is a threat to score nightly.
Philadelphia's defense has five players in the top 25 in defensive scoring, with Gostisbehere and Brandon Manning (23 percent owned) ranking in the top 12. Manning has probably been the biggest fantasy surprise of the season. He has matched Gostisbehere's seven points, has two goals and 13 shots on goal. He's been a great source of hits (27) and blocks (13) and is plus-6. Manning may not be able to maintain this level of production, but it's getting hard to ignore the fact that he's already set a career high in goals and matched his career high in points in just 10 games.
Mark Streit (21 percent owned), who was drafted in just 4 percent of Yahoo standard leagues this season, has seen his ownership increase based on his strong October. He has two goals, six points, and four power-play points. He has 16 shots on goal and is averaging 20:58 per game, with 2:42 coming on the power play. Streit is minus-5, but so far his points have offset that concern.
Rookie Ivan Provorov (17 percent owned) also looks like a viable fantasy contributor and is showing the skills that made him a 2015 first-round draft pick. He has five assists and 12 shots on goal, as well as added 14 hits and 15 blocked shots. He's been paired with Streit and is averaging 1:59 of power-play time per game. Like Streit, his minus-8 is a bit concerning for potential owners, but he is the kind of player you should consider buying in on early because his ceiling is high.
Even Radko Gudas (17 percent owned) has seen his fantasy stock rise. He doesn't get a lot of time on the power play, but he made a spectacular keep at the blue line to set up Claude Giroux's first goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday with one second left in a man-advantage. He has one goal, three points and a plus-2 rating, as well as 14 hits and five blocked shots.
Ryan Suter slipped into the 10th round in Yahoo standard league drafts this season, but he's looking a lot like the guy who used to ride shotgun with Shea Weber in Nashville. Suter picked up five points in his past four games and now leads the Minnesota Wild with three goals and 10 points in 10 games. He is plus-5, has 20 shots on goal and three power-play points. Suter leads the Wild in average ice time per game (26:42), average power-play time (3:23) and ranks second in average shorthanded time (2:52). He's seen his ownership jump to 93 percent and could make a run at the career highs in goals (eight), assists (43) and points (51) that he set last season.
Video: MIN@BUF: Suter beats Nilsson through traffic
Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins set career highs in assists (40), points (44), shots on goal (244), power-play points (19), PIMs (33) and blocks (94) last season. That production had him being selected within the top 100 players in Yahoo standard league drafts this season. Unfortunately for those who used a seventh-round pick on the 25-year-old, he's not been able to match that production as of yet. He doesn't have a point through nine games, is minus-5 and has 27 shots on goal. The Bruins haven't wavered on his ice time; he ranks third on the team with an average of 21:08 per game. Krug also ranks third in power play time per game (3:28). It is worth noting that he played a season low 17:44 during Boston's 2-1 road win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. History says he'll eventually break through, but these early-season woes are concerning.
- It looks like defenseman Kris Letang will return to the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. Letang was cleared for full contact on Sunday and was a full participant in practices Sunday and Tuesday. He was paired with usual partner Brian Dumoulin and will likely skate in that spot during the game. His return will likely bolster an already dynamic Penguins' power play that ranks fourth in the NHL (26.5 percent). His return likely impacts the value of Justin Schultz (3 percent owned), who had been filling in for Letang on the top power-play unit.
- Damon Severson of the New Jersey Devils (7 percent owned) had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. That pushed his season totals one goal and six points in eight games. He is skating on the top defensive pair with Andy Greene and getting 2:34 per game on the power play.
Video: TBL@NJD: Severson taps in rebound in front
- Brady Skjei (not owned) of the New York Rangers put together one of his best games of the season on Sunday, picking up an assist in a 6-1 victory against Tampa Bay. He followed it with another strong showing Tuesday in New York's 5-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues. Skjei had an assist against the Blues and has points in back-to-back games and three points in his past five. He is plus-2, has 20 hits, eight blocks and 11 shots on goal.
- New York's Ryan McDonagh (85 percent owned) is heating up as well. He was held without a point through his first two games this season but has points in eight straight. For the season he has nine assists, a plus-8 rating and 22 shots on goal.
- Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks ended a contract stalemate and signed a six-year contract reportedly worth $31.5 million. He has yet to play because of work visa issues. Look for him to jump into our rankings once he rejoins the lineup.
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME)
3. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (+1)
4. Shea Weber, MTL (+5)
5. P.K. Subban, NSH (-2)
6. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (+1)
7. Roman Josi, NSH (-2)
8. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-2)
9. Kris Letang, PIT (+2)
10. Drew Doughty, LAK (-2)
11. Duncan Keith, CHI (+1)
12. Victor Hedman, TBL (+2)
13. Justin Faulk, CAR (+2)
14. Mark Giordano, CGY (-4)
15. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (+2)
16. Ryan Suter, MIN (+7)
17. John Carlson, WSH (-4)
18. John Klingberg, DAL (-2)
19. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+2)
20. Keith Yandle, FLA (-2)
21. Tyson Barrie, COL (-2)
22. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+4)
23. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-2)
24. Sami Vatanen, ANA (+1)
25. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+7)
26. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-2)
27. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (+1)
28. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-6)
29. Colton Parayko, STL (+1)
30. Alec Martinez, LAK (+6)
31. Mike Green, DET (SAME)
32. Torey Krug, BOS (-5)
33. TJ Brodie, CGY (-1)
34. Seth Jones, CBJ (-5)
35. Anton Stralman, TBL (SAME)
36. Jake Muzzin, LAK (-2)
37. Brian Campbell, CHI (SAME)
38. Cam Fowler, ANA (+2)
39. Michael Stone, ARI (injured) (-1)
40. Trevor Daley, PIT (-1)
41. Nick Leddy, NYI (SAME)
42. Morgan Rielly, TOR (SAME)
43. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+2)
44. Matt Niskanen, WSH (+3)
45. Zdeno Chara, BOS (-2)
46. Erik Johnson, COL (-2)
47. Matt Dumba, MIN (+1)
48. Patrick Wiercioch, COL (+1)
49. Mattias Ekholm, NSH (-3)
50. Brandon Manning, PHI (NEW)
Dropped out: Andrej Sekera, EDM
Just missed: Damon Severson (NJD), Mark Streit (PHI), Jeff Petry (MTL), Noah Hanifin (CAR), Jake Gardiner (TOR), Ivan Provorov (PHI)
Key Injuries: Niklas Kronwall (DET), Michael Del Zotto (PHI), Trevor van Riemsdyk (CHI),Derrick Pouliot (PIT), Brayden McNabb (LAK), Marco Scandella (MIN)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings