Finding Value at the Left Wing Position
As the beginning of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on left 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.
Before we jump into the details of which left wings 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 left wings are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). At the left wing position, there are only seven players taken in the first three rounds combined, followed by a spike of four left wings in the 4th round. Drafting of left wings will be flat from rounds five through eight, followed by a spike of five left wings drafted in round nine. We can use this information to better understand who and when to take when our name is called during the draft.
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 defeat the fantasy experts at NHL.com and includes sortable spreadsheets filled with projections in 25+ 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 compared these player rankings to the player's ADP (average draft position) 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 15 players who are eligible at left wing 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 Left Wing Position
Timo Meier - The San Jose forward enters the season after signing a $6M contract extension. He is currently being drafted late in the 6th round and holds position eligibility at both wing slots in both the Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey systems. With the departure of Joe Pavelski in the off-season, we anticipate Meier receiving a greater share of ice time and a bump to the first power play unit (Meier was used as the replacement on the top unit when Pavelski missed time last season). Meier generates over three shots per game and should be a lock for at least 30 goals. Combine that with about 100 hits and you're looking at an excellent addition to your fantasy hockey roster.
Rickard Rakell - After a down year in 2018-2019, Rickard Rakell's average draft position has fallen from 70.8 in the Summer of 2018 to 117.6 in the Summer of 2019. Rakell is an absolute steal with an ADP that has him being drafted late in the 9th round. Worried about his 2018-2019 production? Don't be; Rakell had multiple instances of bad luck weighing his numbers down - let's have a look. His personal shooting percentage was just 9.3% last year, down from a career average of 12.7%. His individual points percentage (IPP) was just 66%, down from a career average of 75% (IPP measures the fraction of goals scored by Anaheim that Rakell is awarded a point for when he is on the ice). Finally, the team even-strength shooting percentage (EVSH% - while Rakell was on the ice) was just 7.2% last season (a more reasonable value would be 8.3%). What does this all mean? It means that Rakell scored goals at a lower rate last year than his career average. It means that Rakell's teammates scored goals at a lower-than-average rate while he was on the ice last year leading to fewer opportunities for assists. We expect a rebound season from Rakell and we're confident he can be yours if you grab him before the middle of round nine. Wondering where to find these IPP and EVSH% numbers? They'll be at your fingertips while you draft using the Left Wing Lock spreadsheets!
Brady Tkachuk - Take a few minutes to write down a list of 1st line players who get 1st unit power play time and generate 175+ hits. And now narrow down that list to players being ignored until the 12th round of the draft. The list will have one name on it and that name is Brady Tkachuk. Drafting this player in a league that counts hits (as the Yahoo Default leagues do) is a no-brainer. Do not think about letting him slip by you in the draft.
Nikita Gusev - In the Summer of 2015, we heavily promoted a mostly-unknown Russian player named Artemi Panarin as a draft day steal in our annual draft kit. Many draft kit users took notice and won their leagues by drafting Panarin in the later rounds. While Nikita Gusev is not Artemi Panarin, there is tremendous upside value to taking a chance on Gusev later in your draft. At the moment, Gusev is being drafted in the 14th round on average and he's owned in just 16% of Yahoo leagues and 44% of ESPN leagues. Gusev is expected to land in the top-six in New Jersey this Fall and see power play time. Gusev's ADP is 172.4 and 60-70 points is not an unreasonable expectation for his production. For reference, Panarin's ADP was 170.2 and his Yahoo ownership was just 2% on opening night in 2015. Don't make the mistake of ignoring the ages of Gusev and Panarin when they entered the NHL. Gusev enters this season at 27, while Panarin was just 23 when he arrived for the 2015-2016 season.
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. You'll find plenty of draft day steals.
For over 13 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 2019-2020 season. Order your kit today!
- 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.