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Finding Value at the Defense Position

September 12, 2019   Left Wing Lock Staff   0 Comments


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 discussed right wings; and Part III 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). For the second year in a row, there are no defensemen being selected in the first round (on average). You'll see five defensemen come off the board in rounds two and three, but the action doesn't start to pickup until round five (when defensemen make up half of all 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 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 three 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

Jacob Trouba NYR D 75 116.5
Drew Doughty LAK D 93 100.3
Shayne Gostisbehere PHI D 105 138.2

Jacob Trouba - Fresh off a trade to the New York Rangers, Trouba is surviving until the 10th round in this year's fantasy hockey drafts. The annual list of defensemen that can generate at least 100 hits and 175 shots is usually only about 10-15 deep; that list shrinks a bit more when you ask for double-digit power play points. To see Trouba ranked as the 28th best defensemen in this scoring system should have managers excited. You should be able to steal Trouba with a middle round pick this year. Judging by when defensemen are coming off the board, the 8th round looks like a nice spot to pull the trigger. Be aware that Trouba's assist totals last season were inflated a bit due to an abnormally high rate of secondary assists. Find out why secondary assists are a red flag - explained in detail in the 2019-2020 fantasy hockey draft kit.

Drew Doughty - Like several other Kings' players, Drew Doughty is currently being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts. This is typical for players on teams coming off of bad seasons. There are signs of life in Los Angeles and we want to share a few with you now: (1) the team EVSH% (with Doughty on the ice) was just 6.7% last season; (2) Doughty's secondary assist rate dropped by 10% last season; (3) Doughty generated 28% fewer shots on the power play as compared to his normal production. What is really interesting is how high Doughty's ADP was just one Summer ago: he was being selected, on average, in the 5th round. Managers were certainly overreacting to his 60 point season. The pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction. Like Trouba, Doughty makes the short list of defensemen capable of 100+ hits, 175+ shots, and double-digit power play production.

Shayne Gostisbehere - Gostisbehere's situation is a bit like Doughty's. Both players posted dominant seasons in 2017-2018 and both players were targeted early by managers in the 2018 fantasy drafts. Both Doughty and Gostisbehere had poor production last season and were on teams with weak power plays. Both players are now being drafted quite late as managers succumb to recency bias. The risk is slightly higher for Gostisbehere since his fantasy production in this scoring system is limited by his modest hit totals. The good news for managers willing to take a chance on Gostisbehere is that Philadelphia has a new power play coach and Claude Giroux's shooting percentage on the power play is highly unlikely to be 3.6% against this season (almost certainaly guaranteeing that Gostisbehere will earn more power play assists). Finally, we anticipate a double-digit increase in Gostisbehere's +/- value for the coming season.

Cale Makar - Rookie Cale Makar did not make the list above, but we thought it interesting to include him based on how managers are behaving so far this Summer. We project Makar to be on the top power play unit for Colorado this season - a unit that should also include Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen. Oddly, we're finding that fantasy hockey managers are drafting Makar later and later as we get closer to the start of the season. His ADP has fallen from 87.8 at the opening to 112.7, giving him the largest ADP drop of any player in the Yahoo system. Makar is now a 10th round pick in most drafts. We refer to these swings in ADP as average draft position momentum (ADPM) and this data is available exclusively in the Left Wing Lock Fantasy Hockey Draft Kit.

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.

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