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.
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). At the defensemen position, it's fairly normal to see just a few taken in the early rounds with activity really picking up around Round 8. One major difference from that trend this year is that, for the first time in five years, we have a defenseman being selected in the first round. Additionally, there are four defensemen coming off the board in the first two rounds this season (in last year's draft, just a single defenseman was taken, in total, in the first two rounds). This early drafting of defensemen is almost certainly a result of the career-years posted by several defensemen during the 2021-2022 season. Are managers overreacting? 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 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 who our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.
Below, you'll find a table of five players who are eligible at defense 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.
Aaron Ekblad - For years, the Florida blueliner was known as one of the top real-life defensemen who sucked in fantasy hockey. With Keith Yandle having moved on from the Panthers (he played in Philadelphia last season and then retired this Summer), Ekblad has taken over the duties on the Panthers' top power play unit. He's a strong perfomer in this scoring system and managers should be ready to take him with their 3rd round pick. Be aware that Ekblad's secondary assist rate was abormally high last season due to a combination of a high tEVSH% and a high IPP. You should not expect the same level of point production from Ekblad in the coming season.
Brent Burns - There are two key factors you should consider when drafting Burns in your upcoming drafts. (1) Burns' offensive zone start percentage is likely to increase dramatically in Carolina. For the past two years, he's been used in a heavily defensive role with zone starts of approximatley 42%. (2) Burns recently shared top unit power play duties with Erik Karlsson in San Jose. The Sharks were using a two-defensemen deployment for their top unit. This is likely to change with Carolina and Burns is expected to ride solo on top unit for the upcoming season. Burns' ADP had been moving earlier and earlier up until about a week ago. It has since stabilized early in the 9th round. There is value to be had here and you should be able to steal Burns in the 7th or 8th round this season.
Charlie McAvoy - If you're willing to take on the risk of drafting a player recovering from shoulder surgery, McAvoy can be stolen in drafts this year. His current ADP (which has moved later and later as the Summer progressed), sits early in the 12th round. That seems like a heavy penalty for a guy who will be healthy by December. Why not consider drafting McAvoy in advance of the 12th round and following that up with a selection of Hampus Lindholm (ADP: 145.7) who will likely sit on the top power play unit in McAvoy's absence?
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 16 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 2022-2023 season. Order your kit today!
PLAYER: an NHL player involved in this analysis. Click player name to visit player profile page.
TEAM: the current NHL team for this player.
YPOS: the official position designation for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
LWLRANK: the rank assigned by Left Wing Lock for this player in this specific scoring system only.
ADP: the average draft position for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
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