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Week 5: Fantasy top 50 defensemen rankings for '16-17

NHL.com lists most valuable standard-league assets during regular season

by Brian Metzer / NHL.com Correspondent

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.

We are already over a month into the NHL season, and each team has already played at least 14 games. Over that span, some players have validated their preseason rank, and others have stumbled a bit and are still trying to find their groove.

MORE FANTASY RANKINGS: FORWARDS | GOALIES

Some didn't get much fantasy consideration at all heading into the season, but have used the past couple weeks to try to change that. Here are three defensemen who have emerged production-wise in the past week and whether they can be trusted on a long-term basis in fantasy.

 

Andrei Markov, MTL
Current Yahoo rank: 99 
55 percent owned

Markov will turn 38 on Dec. 20, but you wouldn't know that by watching him play lately. He has a six-game point streak that has seen him total two goals and six assists. That outburst has pushed his season totals to 12 points and 24 shots on goal in 17 games. He's added five power-play points and has six penalty minutes. His performance has flown under the radar because of the way Shea Weber has started his first season in Montreal, combined with the fact that he started the season slow with four assists in his first 11 games. In trying to determine if this is sustainable, one should look at how Markov has fared over the past four seasons. He hasn't scored less than .53 points per game over that span and twice eclipsed .61. He's averaging .71 this season and has jumped into our rankings this week. There may be some drop-off in the coming months, but Markov is worth owning in most formats.

 

Morgan Rielly, TOR
Current Yahoo rank: 209
51 percent owned

Rielly set career-best marks in goals (9), assists (27) and SOG (167) last season. Those numbers pushed owners to draft him in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues this fall. He picked up four assists in his first nine games, but saw his ownership dip. It could soon be on the rise again; he's in the middle of a seven-game span that has seen him total six points, 13 SOG, 2 PPP and 15 blocks. Four of those points came in a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 11. Rielly has 10 points in 16 games this season, but remove that one game and he has six points in 15 games. That said, even though his team is young, they are flush in offensive talent. That talent has translated into the fifth-highest goals-per-game average (3.13) in the League. Though his power-play ice time per game has been lower than expected (0:49), he still leads the Maple Leafs in total ice time per game (22:46) and offers exposure to their thriving offense.

Video: PHI@TOR: Rielly snipes a PPG into the top shelf

 

Tobias Enstrom, WPG 
Current Yahoo rank: 231 
3 percent owned 

Enstrom's best fantasy seasons came in 2009-10 and 2010-11 when he totaled 16 goals and 101 points over 154 games for the Atlanta Thrashers. Injuries and age have slowed him down these days, and he's only played a full season once since. He has two 30-point seasons in that span, with the last coming in 2013-14. He is coming alive with three points in his past four games, pushing his season total to six in 18 games. He is carrying a plus-2 rating, has three PPP and 20 SOG, but that isn't enough to make him a standard-league play just yet. He's definitely a player to watch, especially if the Jets sustain an injury on their blue line, but for now use only if in dire need of roster support.

 

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Trending Up

Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes returned to the lineup Tuesday and had two SOG in 22:49 of ice time. He didn't score a point, but his comeback was great news for the Hurricanes and fantasy owners alike. The 24-year-old was drafted among the top 100 players on average in Yahoo leagues this fall and ranks among the best goal-scoring defensemen in the League. His 16 goals last season tied him for seventh among defensemen, and he achieved that despite being limited to 64 games because of injuries. He has six points (three goals, three assists) with strong peripherals (28 SOG, three PPP) through 12 games and should be back in all lineups.

 

Trending Down

Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres was among the leading scorers at the position heading into November, but has seen his production dry up significantly. He is scoreless in five straight games and has one assist in his past nine. The Sabres have lost five straight and six of seven, and Ristolainen's production has suffered. He's still helping owners in the PPP (six), hits (36) and blocks (27) categories on the season, but is not contributing much else right now. He does play in all situations and leads the Sabres in ice time (25:35) by a wide margin, so as their overall play improves, so should his. But, for now, it's tough to keep him in fantasy lineups on a nightly basis.

 

Worth Noting

- Rookie Josh Morrissey (1 percent owned) of the Winnipeg Jets scored his first NHL goal Tuesday. He one-timed a pass from Mark Scheifele past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to give the Jets a 1-0 lead. The goal stood as the game-winner, and the young defenseman now has one goal, three points, and 22 SOG in 18 games. He's spent most of the season on the Jets' top pair with Dustin Byfuglien and is looking more comfortable by the day. 

- Damon Severson (43 percent owned) of the New Jersey Devils scored his third goal of the season Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. With 10 points in his past 10 games, he continues to make a push towards the must-own fantasy realm. 

- Any fears about Cam Fowler's fantasy value taking a hit after Hampus Lindholm's return have been unfounded. Lindholm hasn't hit the scoresheet yet through four games (plus-3, six SOG), but Fowler has one goal and two assists for the Anaheim Ducks in that span. 

- Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lightning is dealing with an upper-body injury that has held him out of the first two games of their road trip. He could return as early as Nov. 19 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Video: EDM@ANA: Fowler lights the lamp with wicked wrister

 

Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen 

These rankings were last updated Nov. 16 
  
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME) 
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT (SAME) 
3. Shea Weber, MTL (+1) 
4. Kris Letang, PIT (+2) 
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (SAME) 
6. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (-3) 
7. P.K. Subban, NSH (SAME)   
8. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (SAME) 
9. Duncan Keith, CHI (SAME) 
10. Victor Hedman, TBL (SAME) 
11. Ryan Suter, MIN (+2) 
12. Roman Josi, NSH (-1) 
13. Drew Doughty, LAK (-1) 
14. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+1) 
15. Justin Faulk, CAR (NR - INJ.
16. John Klingberg, DAL (SAME) 
17. Keith Yandle, FLA (SAME) 
18. John Carlson, WSH (-4) 
19. Brent Seabrook, CHI (+1) 
20. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+2) 
21. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+2) 
22. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-4) 
23. Mark Giordano, CGY (-4) 
24. Sami Vatanen, ANA (-3) 
25. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (-1) 
26. Alec Martinez, LAK (-1) 
27. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (+2) 
28. Mike Green, DET (-2) 
29. Colton Parayko, STL (+2) 
30. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (-2) 
31. Cam Fowler, ANA (+5) 
32. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (-2) 
33. Torey Krug, BOS (+1) 
34. Hampus Lindholm, ANA (-2) 
35. Tyson Barrie, COL (-8) 
36. Damon Severson, NJD (+6) 
37. Jake Muzzin, LAK (-2) 
38. Morgan Rielly, TOR (+2) 
39. Brian Campbell, CHI (-2) 
40. Anton Stralman, TBL (DTD) 
41. Mark Streit, PHI (+2) 
42. Nick Leddy, NYI (-4) 
43. TJ Brodie, CGY (-4) 
44. Matt Niskanen, WSH (SAME) 
45. Zdeno Chara, BOS (SAME) 
46. Trevor Daley, PIT (-5) 
47. Erik Johnson, COL (SAME) 
48. Andrei Markov, MTL (NEW
49. Noah Hanifin, CAR (-3) 
50. Jacob Trouba, WPG (-2) 

Dropped out: Matt Dumba (MIN), Brandon Manning (PHI) 

Key Injuries: Seth Jones (CBJ), Tyler Myers (WPG), Dennis Seidenberg (NYI), Derrick Pouliot (PIT), Trevor van Riemsdyk (CHI), Brayden McNabb, (LAK), Marco Scandella (MIN)

 

READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings

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