Finding Value at the Defensemen Position: 2017-2018

September 21, 2017


In part four of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on defensemen. Part I in this series discussed left wings; Part II in this series discussed right wings; Part III in this series discussed centers. Specifically, we're interested in using the Yahoo average draft position (ADP) to not only determine the best players to target in your fantasy hockey draft, but also when to target them. The assumptions made in this article include the following: (1) you're in a Yahoo standard league, (2) your league has 12 managers, and (3) your league is not a keeper league.

Manager Behavior

Before we jump into the details of which defensemen are undervalued, it's important to get a handle on how managers are behaving in their fantasy hockey drafts so far. In the image below, you'll see exactly how many defensemen are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). Unlike the draft patterns for left wings, right wings, and centers, defensemen are grabbed sparingly early on. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Victor Hedman are gone by the middle of the second round. This is followed by a steady stream of blueliners being drafted in rounds four through seven. The main takeaway from this graph is that if you want an elite defenseman (Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson, for example), you have to be willing to pay the price.

Player Rankings and ADP

At, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits in which we marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as defensemen in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compare these player rankings to the player's ADP to determine which players are undervalued. That is, we're looking for players that our draft system has ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.

Below, you'll find a table of 7 players that are eligible defensemen and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts (there are many more listed in our draft kit). Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.

Kris LetangPITD2638.9
Kevin ShattenkirkNYRD3663.4
Alex PietrangeloSTLD5869.4
Oliver Ekman-LarssonARID7277.8
Shayne GostisbeherePHID43118.2
Keith YandleFLAD113124.9
Sami VatanenANAD141172.5
  • Kris Letang - There is, perhaps, no other current NHL player so aggressively labeled as injury prone. If you beleive that past games played data is a reliable indicator of future games played data, then you should not draft Kris Letang. But, there is definitely value here to grab Letang late in the third round or early in the fourth round.
  • Alex Pietrangelo - In this year's draft kit, we have a section completely devoted to analyzing the performance of Pietrangelo in the Pre-Yeo era vs. the Yeo era. Included in the analysis is what happens to Pietrangelo's production after Kevin Shattenkirk is traded at the 2017 trade deadline. While the sample size is not large, the results are promising. Pietrangelo's shot production increased significantly as did his power play production. For the first time in six years, Pietrangelo may lead the team in power play time-on-ice. You can probably steal him about one round before he's normally taken in standard drafts.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere - After undergoing hip and abdomen surgeries in the Summer of 2016, Gostisbehere had a rough outing in 2016-2017 that included some questionable benchings by Coach Dave Hakstol. Gostisbehere has several things going for him as a potential member of your fantasy hockey roster: (1) he runs the potent top PP unit in Philadelphia; (2) he's likely to rebound from a low shooting percentage of 3.53% last season; (3) he's likely to produce 200+ shots on goal; and (4) he's made our list of players expected to see a double-digit gain in the +/- category.

Customized Player Rankings

If you're looking for a chance to draft players with great projections that are being ignored by the other fantasy hockey websites, then consider downloading one of our fantasy hockey draft kits this season. You won't be disappointed. While this article focused on the Yahoo standard scoring system, our customized draft kits can handle just about any scoring system you throw our way.

For 10 years, you've trusted Left Wing Lock as a reliable source to bring you accurate starting goalie information, line combinations, and player news alerts. That same passion and dedication fuels us as we create what we believe are the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2016-2017 season. Order your kit today!