Sunday, September 30, 2018

NHL 2018 Week 0 Fantasy Hockey Report

The NHL regular season starts next week and for my “Week Zero” Fantasy Hockey Report I’m going to take a look at sleepers and busts based on current ownership percentages, add/drop lists, and even some preseason scoring. This focuses specifically on Yahoo head to head categories format, where 12 team standard leagues are by far the most common.

Click here to see my top 200 rankings for Yahoo Standard Leagues. I did post that list prior to finding out that Yahoo had swapped PIMs for Hits in that format. I decided to leave the list as it was, since there is already some correlation between Hits and Penalties.


1) Ty Rattie, Edmonton: Leading the NHL in preseason scoring playing with Connor McDavid, Rattie has been the hottest add in September. He has the potential to have a monster season, so long as he continues to play with the best player in the world. In 4 preseason GP he has scored 7 Goals and 11 PTS. He won’t score at that pace in the regular season, but there is still potential to hit a high number on the PTS total. Rattie is currently sitting at 48% ownership.

2) Ryan Donato, Boston: Donato turned pro after the NCAA season, and scored 9 PTS in 12 GP for the Bruins. He has intriguing upside on a good team and is just 12% owned heading into the season. Boston has mostly been playing their bubble players in preseason, with their regulars not getting much ice. It is hard to determine exactly where Donato is at this stage, except that he finished last season strong. The fact that Boston hasn’t been playing him much in preseason signals that he’s already won his roster spot, probably as a top 6 forward.

3) Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton: Outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers have a serious goal scoring problem. Yamamoto isn’t even a lock to play the full season for this team, but if he does, he’s going to be on one of the top two lines. He has the potential to put up a pile of PTS for a guy who is just 8% owned, with 9 PTS in 6 preseason GP. His talent and speed are electric. The Oilers have a deficiency in offensively talented support players. If he makes the team, keep an eye on this kid.

4) Tomas Hertl, San Jose: The addition of Erik Karlsson to this roster is going to make every player better. Of all the Sharks forwards you can get later in your draft, Hertl might have the most room for growth. He’s still young enough that his prime years should still be ahead of him. His previous career best is 46 PTS, which he should easily beat this season while also providing you good value in hits and shots.

5) Elias Lindholm, Calgary: Lindholm is currently just 17% owned and is a strong candidate to play on the first line with Monahan and Gaudreau. If that’s the case, Lindholm becomes a very compelling fantasy commodity. He has never played with an offensive talent line John Hockey, so we could see his production reach a new level. His value takes a hit if he gets placed on the 2nd or 3rd lines.

6) Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton: The kid only scored 20 PTS in 65 GP last season in Edmonton, but he’s been looking good in preseason with 4 Goals in 5 GP, putting him high on the Yahoo most added list. You should not be considering him quite yet in standard leagues. In deeper formats, he’s worth a gamble. There is always the chance that he could end up on a line with Draisaitl or McDavid, which would significantly boost his value.

7) Alex Tuch, Las Vegas: Last season Tuch scored 37 PTS in 78 GP as a rookie, also contributing 99 Hits and 177 Shots while seeing time on the power play. He’ll help you in more categories than just PTS and is young enough to show a significant increase in scoring. At 18% owned he’s right on the border of ownable in standard leagues, certainly someone to keep an eye on.

8) Cam Fowler, Anaheim: If you’re looking for a defenseman with the potential to put up 40-points in the later rounds of your draft, Fowler has been falling, going 175 in average draft position (ranking him between Tyler Myers and Mike Matheson in ADP). There’s no question that he should be in a tier above those guys. He’s a good value pick late in drafts.

9) Josh Manson, Anaheim: The case for picking up Josh Manson is he should get around 35 PTS and 180 Hits, which can be very helpful in a standard league. Over the last 3 season Manson has also delivered a strong +/- at +59, so he should quietly help you in several categories even if he’s not getting any time on the Power Play. Granted that +/- might take a hit if the Ducks start to suck, which is not impossible.

10) Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit: The speedy Greek may not yet be standard league relevant at 8% owned, but he’s been on fire in the preseason, scoring 6 PTS in 4 GP. He does need to be added in deeper leagues. Last season he was on my championship roster in an 18-team super league, making a solid contribution to Goals and Shots.


1) Ty Rattie, Edmonton: It’s strange for a player to be both my #1 sleeper and #1 bust. Those two categories should be mutually exclusive. The conundrum is, he’s either the #1 sleeper OR the #1 bust, and whichever category he ultimately falls into will be entirely dependent on how long he can stay on McDavid’s line. If the coach simply decides to move him to another line, he’s going to lose most of his value in standard leagues. That’s the catch. Just be careful how high a price you pay to acquire this guy, because you are playing a risk-reward game.

2) Martin Marincin, Toronto: If you compete in a Yahoo league, you may be confused how Marincin is sitting at over 50% ownership. The Yahoo rankings algorithm shit out Marincin as the 136th best player in the league which is one of the worst rankings blunders I have ever seen. He might not even make the team. That ranking meant that he got scooped by the autodraft in a whole bunch of leagues where he absolutely should NOT be owned. If you ended up with this guy in any sized league, you can safely drop him. And if you see someone in your league drop him, please refrain from making a claim. He should be in the bottom 1%, not the top 50% on the ownership scale.

3) Semyon Varlamov, Colorado: The season will start in a few days and Varlamov is currently sitting at 76% ownership. He was good last season; the problem is he’s in the last year of his contract at age 30 and his heir apparent Philipp Grubauer (58% owned) has been signed to a 3-year contract. Both guys are going to get starts, which will hurt both their fantasy values. Grubauer will have every opportunity to capture and keep the #1 job since the team is invested in him long term. The new guy will need to falter for Varlamov to get a majority of the starts. I would not want to own either Varlamov or Grubauer unless I owned them both.

4) Dustin Brown, LA: Brown might be the worst kept secret on the bust list. His average draft position shows that few people believe he’s going to repeat his surprise jump in PTS last season. Don’t be the one who does. That being said, Yahoo Standard leagues switching categories from Penalties to Hits does raise Brown’s value in that format. If you get him at the end of your draft or off the waiver wire, it’s not a terrible pick. It’s only bad if you draft him for last year’s production.

5) Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo: There is every reason to believe that the 1st overall pick in last summer’s entry draft will be a very good NHL player, but if you are expecting it to happen this season, you may be disappointed. He has more value in a keeper league than a 1-year re-draft format. There have not been many 18-year-old defensemen come into this league and score 40-points as a rookie (Ekblad had 39, Doughty 27, Hedman 20). Dahlin is being drafted in average between Ryan Ellis and Oliver Ekmanlarsen, to show you what kind of production people are expecting of him.

6) Claude Giroux, Philadelphia: Giroux’s point totals the last 5 seasons (in chronological order) were 86, 73, 67, 58, 102. He was trending in the wrong direction before exploding up to 102 PTS last season, good for 2nd in NHL scoring. Despite being the runner-up for the Art Ross, his average draft position this month has been 19th among forwards. Obviously, people aren’t buying that he will repeat his stunning success from 2017/18 and neither should you.

7) Anze Kopitar, LA: The Kopitar story is very similar to Claude Giroux. Last season he finished 8th in league scoring, but is only going 24th among forwards in Yahoo average draft position. His last 5 season point totals in chronological order were 70, 64, 74, 52, 92. Both Giroux and Kopitar had these offensive explosions around age 30, when players are generally in decline. He should have a good season, but just don’t make the mistake of drafting him for last season’s production.

8) The Islanders: Last season Josh Bailey and Anders Lee produced monster seasons on a line with John Tavares, who has since skipped town. It’s entirely possible that Matt Barzal could slide into that first line and produce at last year’s pace. Problem is, Barzal did what he did last season on the second line, with other teams focusing their line matches on the Tavares line. Those Isles second line forwards will decline from losing Barzal, as the depth chart adjusts to fill the void at the top. This whole team should be worse. Barzal has 8 PTS in 6 preseason GP, so there is some reason to be optimistic. Defenseman Ryan Pulock with the heavy slapshot has 5 Goals in 5 preseason games and could be an interesting name.

9) Alex Ovechkin, Washington: Since winning the Stanley Cup last June, Ovie spent his summer partying harder than anything we have seen in the modern era. I’ve got a bad feeling that it might catch up with him this season. The fact that he played over 100 games last year won’t help. He is a phenomenal athletic specimen, so it’s entirely possible that partying like it’s 1999 all summer won’t slow him down. His point totals the last 3 seasons were 71, 69, and 87. If I had to wager, I’d bet this season he is closer to 70 PTS than 90 PTS.

10) Brandon Saad, Chicago: Saad’s returned to Chicago last season with a thud and finished as one of the bigger fantasy busts in the NHL, falling from 53 PTS to 35. Despite that disappointment, he’s still owned in 27% of fantasy leagues heading into the season. That number is too high. He could be interesting if he were to end up on a line with Patrick Kane but so far that’s looking like an unlikely combination. He may be worth holding on to in deeper leagues but is not ownable in standard leagues.

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