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.
Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on Oct. 10 and those of us in the United States will do the same on Thursday. Although appreciating what we have is at the heart of the day, we also see gatherings in which everyone brings something to the table.
In keeping with that spirit, it is time for the defensemen of the NHL to gather for our fourth annual defensive fantasy feast.
MORE FANTASY RANKINGS: FORWARDS | GOALIES
The main course in this feast is goals and Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens is providing them for a fourth straight year and at a pace of .40 per game. He has always had one of the best recipes and it's all in the shot from what we hear. Weber scored his eighth goal of the season on Tuesday and leads defensemen in goals heading into play Wednesday. Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks has seven and Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks has six. Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators, Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets each have five.
Weber is tied among defensemen in points with 17, along with teammate Andrei Markov (15 assists). Two New York Rangers are lending a hand in this part of our kitchen. Ryan McDonagh is a regular (13 assists), but Brady Skjei is a surprise on the guest list (11 assists). Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning has 11 assists.
We wouldn't be able to enjoy either main dish without first adding a heaping helping of shots on goal and Burns provides us with 81, which leads the League. Ekblad's five goals were the product of 58 shots on goal (second among defensemen) and Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins is third (57). He only has one goal but you have to think he'll soon be rewarded for that kind of production. It's worth noting that Dougie Hamilton of the Calgary Flames, Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets and Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues (64 percent owned) each had 55 SOG.
Plus-minus is sometimes overlooked, but is an important part in fantasy. Weber leads defensemen with a robust plus-16. A trio of Rangers -McDonagh (plus-14), Dan Girardi (17 percent owned; plus-14), and Nick Holden (21 percent owned; plus-13) - followed by Zdeno Chara of the Bruins (plus-12) round out the top five. Girardi and Weber are tied among defensemen with three game-winning goals each.
The next course is penalty minutes. Josh Manson (4 percent owned) of the Anaheim Ducks leads defensemen with 38. Jonathan Ericsson (4 percent owned) of the Detroit Red Wings has 35 and Derek Forbort (5 percent owned) of the Los Angeles Kings has 32.
No fantasy feast is complete without power-play points and they are plentiful in this group. Weber leads with 10. Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues is next with nine, and Werenski, Fowler, Markov, Subban and Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres have seven each.
Video: OTT@MTL: Weber blisters in one-timer for PPG
Hits and blocks aren't counted in every league but for those that are, they can be thankful for Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche) and Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) who each have 53 blocks. In terms of hits, Alexei Emelin of the Canadiens has 67, Mark Borowiecki (2 percent owned) of the Senators has 64 and Adam Larsson (11 percent owned) of the Edmonton Oilers has 62.
Ryan Ellis (22 percent owned) of the Predators might be behind Subban and Roman Josi on the depth chart, but he's providing similar value over the past two weeks. After having three assists in a 3-1 win over the Lightning on Monday he has three goals and six points in his last seven games. Subban has seven points over that span. Ellis has three goals, nine points, 19 PIMs and 27 SOG in 18 games. He also has 25 hits, 36 blocks and a plus-4 rating. This isn't out of the ordinary for Ellis, who posted career highs in goals (10), assists (22), points (32), power play points (7) and shots on goal (152) last season and is a great secondary option.
Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers has notched a respectable 10 points in 19 games this season. That's not bad, but it's not what owners expected when they drafted him in the fifth round on average in Yahoo standard leagues this fall. Most of his production came in the first 10 games of the season, when he had two goals and seven points. Since then, he's hit the score sheet in two of nine games and even was a healthy scratch recently. Gostisbehere is without a shot on goal in two of his past three games and has three power-play points in his past 11 games. The last number is probably the biggest reason for his drop off; Gostisbehere had 47.8 percent of his 46 points come on the power play last season. He could break out at any point, which makes him an intriguing buy low option.
- Former Lightning draft pick Anthony DeAngelo (19th overall, 2014) is kicking off his NHL career with a bang in Arizona. He's played six games since being recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League and already has up two goals, four points and nine shots on goal. Three of those points have come on the power play. He's also blocked seven shots and is only owned in 4 percent of leagues.
Video: ARI@VAN: DeAngelo finds a loose puck, nets PPG
- Keep an eye on Taylor Fedun (less than 1 percent owned) of the Buffalo Sabres. He has four assists in four games since being recalled and logged 3:15 on the power play during a 4-2 win over the Flames on Monday. He has three shots on goal, but has three of his points with the extra man.
- Johnson (32 percent owned) was mentioned earlier for his shot blocking prowess, but he's picking up points lately. The former first overall draft pick has one goal and three points in his last two games and six points in his last seven for the Avalanche
- If you're looking for a daily streaming option to pad the plus-minus category, Matthew Benning (less than 1 percent owned) of the Oilers could be your guy. He is a plus-6 in his past three games. Jake Gardiner (15 percent owned) of the Toronto Maple Leafs is a plus-5 in his last three games and David Savard (2 percent owned) of the Blue Jackets has a plus-4 in his last three.
- Seth Jones (62 percent owned) returned to the Blue Jackets lineup on Monday during a 3-2 loss to the Avalanche. He had four shots on goal and was a minus-1.
- Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone (30 percent owned) has been in the lineup for the past four games, but doesn't have a point. He has four shots on goal and minus-2 rating over that span.
- Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman (48 percent owned) is practicing with the team, but has missed five straight games with an upper-body injury.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins have reassigned Derrick Pouliot (1 percent owned) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a conditioning assignment. He is still listed on injured reserve.
Top 50 Fantasy Defensemen
These rankings were last updated Nov. 23
1. Brent Burns, SJS (SAME)
2. Shea Weber, MTL (+1)
3. Erik Karlsson, OTT (-1)
4. Kris Letang, PIT (SAME)
5. P.K. Subban, NSH (+2)
6. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG (SAME)
7. Duncan Keith, CHI (+2)
8. Victor Hedman, TBL (+2)
9. Zach Werenski, CBJ (+12)
10. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL (+4)
11. Ryan Suter, MIN (SAME)
12. Roman Josi, NSH (SAME)
13. Drew Doughty, LAK (SAME)
14. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (-9)
15. Ryan McDonagh, NYR (+5)
16. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI (-8)
17. Justin Faulk, CAR (-2)
18. John Klingberg, DAL (-2)
19. Keith Yandle, FLA (-2)
20. John Carlson, WSH (-2)
21. Brent Seabrook, CHI (-2)
22. Mark Giordano, CGY (+1)
23. Alec Martinez, LAK (+3)
24. Sami Vatanen, ANA (DTD)
25. Alex Pietrangelo, STL (SAME)
26. Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF (-4)
27. Dougie Hamilton, CGY (+3)
28. Colton Parayko, STL (+1)
29. Aaron Ekblad, FLA (+3)
30. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (-3)
31. Cam Fowler, ANA (SAME)
32. Hampus Lindholm, ANA (+2)
33. Mike Green, DET (-5)
34. Seth Jones, CBJ (NR - INJ.)
35. Andrei Markov, MTL (+13)
36. Damon Severson, NJD (SAME)
37. Tyson Barrie, COL (-2)
38. Torey Krug, BOS (-5)
39. Jake Muzzin, LAK (-2)
40. Mark Streit, PHI (+1)
41. Morgan Rielly, TOR (-3)
42. Matt Niskanen, WSH (+2)
43. Erik Johnson, COL (+4)
44. Brian Campbell, CHI (-5)
45. Anton Stralman, TBL (DTD)
46. Trevor Daley, PIT (SAME)
47. TJ Brodie, CGY (-4)
48. Nick Leddy, NYI (-6)
49. Zdeno Chara, BOS (DTD)
50. Noah Hanifin, CAR (-1)
Dropped out: Jacob Trouba (WPG)
Key Injuries: Dennis Seidenberg (NYI), Tyler Myers (WPG), Trevor van Riemsdyk (CHI), Alex Petrovic (FLA), Derrick Pouliot (PIT), Brayden McNabb (LAK), Marco Scandella (MIN)
READ: Last week's Top 50 defenseman rankings