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Finding Value at the Defenseman Position

September 10, 2018   Left Wing Lock Staff   0 Comments


In part two of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on defensemen (read Part I on left wings here; read Part II on right wings here; read Part III on centers here;). 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). For the first time in several years, there are no defensemen being selected in the first round (on average). You'll see two defensemen come off the board in round two, but the action doesn't start to pickup until round five (when defensemen make up 33% of the picks in that round).

Finding Value at Defensemen Position
Finding Value at the Defenseman 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 10 players who are eligible at defenseman 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 Defenseman Position

Shayne Gostisbehere PHI D 33 69.5
Kris Letang PIT D 56 78.5
Tyson Barrie COL D 62 91.9
Rasmus Ristolainen BUF D 63 109.1
John Carlson WSH D 66 82.4
Kevin Shattenkirk NYR D 75 137.2
Oliver Ekman-Larsson ARI D 96 106.3
Will Butcher NJD D 106 136.6
Sami Vatanen NJD D 147 180.8
Jeff Petry MTL D 157 171.2

Shayne Gostisbehere - Gostisbehere ticks all the right boxes when looking at a defenseman to draft in fantasy hockey: he's on the top pairing; he's the lone defenseman on the first power play unit; and he gets generous offensive zone starts.

Kris Letang - Fantasy hockey managers are waiting until the middle of the 7th round to draft Letang this season and that's a mistake. The Pittsburgh blueliner does it all: 50 points, 200 shots, 100 hits, and 25 power play points. Add in the expectation that Letang's +/- value will increase by double digits this season (find out how we know this) and you have the complete fantasy hockey defenseman. Sure, there is some talk of keeping Letang's minutes at 24 or less this season. But the addition of Jack Johnson suggests that Letang's reduction might occur on the penalty kill (and that would be smart).

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Ekman-Larsson was typically drafted in the middle of the 7th round in the Summer of 2017. After a season in which he increased his shot production and point production, fantasy hockey managers have demoted Ekman-Larsson to a late 9th round pick. Ekman-Larsson's value in a standard league increases now that Yahoo has changed from counting PIM to counting Hits. Draft him with confidence and you'll have a steal on your hands in the 7th or 8th round.

Jeff Petry - Petry should make a great, late-round pickup in your draft. With Shea Weber out for approximately half of the season due to injury, Petry is expected to pick up extra time on the first power play unit. With the recent trade of Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights (combined with the injury to Weber), the Canadiens have lost two of their top puck possession players from last season. This should lead to more shots against for Montreal; in turn, this provides an added opportunity for a jump in peripheral stats (think Hits and Blocked Shots) for their defensemen.

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 11 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 2017-2018 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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