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Finding Value at the Center Position

September 6, 2018   Left Wing Lock Staff   0 Comments


In part three of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on centers. Part I in this series discussed left wings while Part II discussed right wings. 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 centers 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 centers are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). Unlike the draft patterns for left wings and right wings, centers are coming off the board quickly in this year's drafts. There are more centers (11) being selected in the first two rounds than left wings (5) and right wings (5) combined.

Finding Value at the Center Position
Finding Value at the Center Position

Player Rankings and ADP

At leftwinglock.com, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits which marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. This exact type of draft kit was used by our team to crush the fantasy experts at NHL.com and includes sortable spreadsheets filled with projections in 20+ categories for over 600 NHL players. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as left wings in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compare these player rankings to the player's ADP to determine which players are undervalued (it's never wise to draft on rank number alone). That is, we're looking for players who our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.

Below, you'll find a table of 14 players that are eligible at center 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.

Finding Value at the Center Position

Jack Eichel BUF C 9 42.4
Mathew Barzal NYI C 18 48.3
Sean Monahan CGY C 34 92.8
Ryan O'Reilly STL C 37 154.9
Vincent Trocheck FLA C 38 84.0
Ryan Getzlaf ANA C 46 83.2
Sebastian Aho CAR C,LW 49 64.0
Casey Mittelstadt BUF C 68 157.5
Mika Zibanejad NYR C 74 168.9
Brayden Point TBL C 79 129.2
Pierre-Luc Dubois CBJ C,LW 84 148.2
Jeff Carter LAK C 86 141.4
Nico Hischier NJD C 94 159.4
Elias Pettersson VAN C 98 169.8

Jack Eichel - There are a lot of great centers to draft early (11 are coming off the board in the first two rounds alone), but Jack Eichel sitting on your draft board in Round 4 seems like a huge steal in a draft. Goal scoring can be oversimplified into two components: shots on goal and shooting percentage. Wild swings in the latter can lead to wild swings in goal production (see William Karlsson and Ryan Callahan in 2017-2018). In both of these cases, the players don't shoot the puck much and so their goal totals are heavily influenced by swings in shooting percentage. Eichel, on the other hand, should lead almost all centers in shot production in the coming season. This high shot volume serves as a buffer to wild swings in shooting percentage. The bottom line here is that a player with lots of shots on goal is a safe bet for lots of goals.

Ryan O'Reilly - His ADP of 154.9 is so comically late that we had to double check our data. O'Reilly is being ignored, on average, until late in the 13th round. He's certainly no superstar in this format (he'll contribute very little in Hits), but this is a guy who managed to put up 61 points despite his team shooting with just 6.0% success while he was on the ice. Now factor in the possibility that he centers Vladimir Tarasenko (his offensive zone stats would jump from 40% to 60% overnight) and you're looking at a guy that is being drafted way too late.

Vincent Trocheck - Trocheck will start the season with Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman on his wings. He brings strong coverage across the Yahoo standard categories including 130+ hits per season. Keep an early eye on Trocheck's use on the power play. 36% of his points last season came while Florida was on the man advantage.

Pierre-Luc Dubois - We like Dubois in standard leagues this year because of Yahoo's change from emphasizing PIM to emphasizing Hits. Dubois should see an uptick in ice time this year which will lead to greater production in all of the standard Yahoo categories. Coach Tortorella is a feast or famine style guy when it comes to offensize zone starts for his players. Fortunately for managers drafting Dubois, he lands on the feast end of the spectrum. In fact, Dubois led all Blue Jackets in offensize zone starts last season at 65%.

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 12 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 the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2018-2019 season. Order your kit today!

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An NHL player involved in this analysis. Click player name to visit player profile page.
The current NHL team for this player.
The official position designation for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
The rank assigned by Left Wing Lock for this player in this specific scoring system only.
The average draft position for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.

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