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Finding Value at the D Position

September 22, 2021   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). As has been the case for at least eight consecutive seasons, there are no defensemen with an ADP that falls within the first round (Cale Makar of Colorado currently has an ADP of 13.3). Brent Burns, during the 2019-2020 drafts, nearly crossed the threshold with an ADP of 12.9. After Makar comes off the board early in the second round, you'll see a steady 3-4 defensemen get drafted each round for the next four rounds. They'll be a dip in Rounds 7-8 (remember, these are the two rounds where 12 centers come off the board) followed by a surge of defensemen in Rounds 9-11 (16 of the 36 players drafted in these rounds will be defensemen).

Finding Value at the Defenseman 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 win the first-ever Zero Transaction Fantasy Championship. The draft kit 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 defensemen 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 whom our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.

Below, you'll find a table of seven players who are eligible at defense and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts. For the Yahoo default scoring system, there just aren't many bargains at the defense position this season (some of the players who made the list below just barely qualified as having a LWLRANK higher than their ADP). There are, however, many defensemen who are overvalued by managers so far this year. You can find that list in our draft kit. Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.

Finding Value at the Defenseman Position

Dougie Hamilton NJD D 40 41.8
Kris Letang PIT D 65 78.4
Jeff Petry MTL D 100 106.9
Zach Werenski CBJ D 111 113.3
Thomas Chabot OTT D 114 121.2
Rasmus Dahlin BUF D 141 151.5
Erik Karlsson SJS D 151 156.2

Kris Letang - Perhaps unfairly maligned as "injury prone," Kris Letang is one of the top value defensemen in Yahoo default leagues this season. His ADP of 78.4 (which has been steady since the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system opened in mid-August) makes him a mid-seventh round pick, while we have him valued as a mid-sixth round pick. It's a slim edge, but one worth jumping on with your sixth round pick. Letang should generate 70 points and well over 100 hits and is the only defenseman who meets these requirements. He'll spend all season on the top power play unit with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Thomas Chabot - There is no eye-popping value for Thomas Chabot in these Yahoo default drafts, but he is expected to land in the Top-10 defensemen for shots on goal. And among those Top-10 shooters, Chabot will generate the second most hits. Chabot is steady across all categories in this scoring system. Keep a close eye on him as your league approaches that run on defensemen in Rounds 9-11 (especially now that we know Devon Toews is going to be out due to injury to start the season).

Erik Karlsson - There is still hope out there for Erik Karlsson's production to help your fantasy roster in 2021-2022. Karlsson's individual point percentage (IPP) was just 31% last season which is quite low when compared to his career average of 53%. IPP is a measure that tracks when a player is awarded a point (goal or assist) while his team scores an even-strength goal. A career IPP value of 53% indicates that Karlsson is awarded a point for every other even-strength goal scored by his team while he is on the ice. We anticipate that Karlsson's IPP value will rebound in the coming season and lead to higher point production. This hypothesis is further backed by the insight that Karlsson's secondary assist rate from last season was just 0.19 per 60 minutes. What is Karlsson's typical rate of secondary assists, you ask? Nearly three times last season's value at 0.53. It's worth pointing out that Karlsson's ADP has fallen about half a round later than his initial ADP at the Yahoo launch. Where can you find IPP data for last season alongside career averages for a quick comparison? In the spreadsheets of the Left Wing Lock draft kit, of course.

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 15 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 2021-2022 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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