The Shark Blog
30. September 2014 05:01
As a follow up to my
previous article on CBS Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy, I wanted to come back
with a breakdown of how you should approach drafting in a standard head-to-head Yahoo
league. Unfortunately, Yahoo has
discontinued the Pro Leagues (probably due to their stubborn refusal to move
off the rotisserie format).
Many of the
principals are the same as CBS (and any league for that matter), so if you
missed it, check it out here:
For now, I'll focus
on the specific things you need to know for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues in
order to draft a winning team.
Get to know that
phrase, as it is key. The first thing to
note about the standard Yahoo settings is that they choose to break down
forwards by specific position (C, LW, RW), as opposed to grouping wingers, or
all forwards together. This has a
noticeable impact on your strategy. It
used to be on Yahoo, that Left Wingers came at a premium; however, recently
they dramatically opened up the number of players that qualify at multiple
positions. (say it with me - "Dual
Eligibility". That designation is
gold here. The flexibility gives you far
more options when it comes to setting your day to day lineup. So, while I would otherwise favor Stamkos and
Crosby over Malkin, Seguin, or Giroux, they both have (arbitrarily) been given
dual eligibility. I can't
over-emphasize the edge that this gives you to have that flexibility.
Yahoo has a unique
option that lets you carry one player on the IR that won't count against your
other roster spots. Take advantage of
this throughout the season, and even during the draft. I recommend drafting a player you know will
start the season injured (e.g. Drouin).
At the start of the season, you can put him into the IR spot and you'll
have a free pick to backfill it. Always
look to pick up hurt stars and keep the spot filled.
As opposed to CBS,
which awards fantasy points based on stats, the standard head-to-head Yahoo
leagues are scored on an old-school rotisserie fashion. (Note: this is one major reason I no longer
play Yahoo. In fact, please join me in my effort to
permanently ban rotisserie format forever.)
This setup affects your strategy in several major ways.
1. Pay attention to all categories.
In a points based
system, +/- can largely be ignored. In a
Yahoo league, having the best +/- is
just as important as goals. This makes
no logical sense, but that's the way it is, so plan your draft
accordingly. If a guy is notoriously bad
in +/- or refuses to take a penalty to save his life, downgrade that
2. Goons are welcome.
minutes are valued equal to goals, why not draft a goon to round out your
wingers? One player could
single-handedly win that category for you, so even if Tom Sestito only nets you 2 goals again next season, his
15 Pims a week may be worth it. Note:
Antoine Roussel is definitely a name to target late in your draft.
3. Bring on the backup goalies.
Total goals allowed
and saves matter not here. It's all
about the averages (GAA / save %). What
that means is that a workhorse who may lead the league in saves won't
necessarily be as valuable as a guy who plays every other game and puts up a
low GAA in the process. So don't
necessarily shy away from backups or goalies in a split-crease scenario. You have to meet a minimum games played each
week, so the best strategy here it to grab a top-notch, # 1 goalie early in the
draft, then wait it out for your 2nd goalie.
There will be plenty of solid backups out there into the 10th round and
beyond. Options like the split crease
in St. Louis or Anaheim become viable, as they'll both see a game or two a week
and should register decent numbers behind that solid Blues defense. In a points-based league, these two would
slide to late in the draft. This
approach may hold you back in wins and shutouts, but you'll benefit in the
4. Sadly, Defense is irrelevant
It breaks my heart
to say this, but in this format, you can and should treat defense as an
afterthought. If you can grab one of the
top 5 defensemen early, go for it, because the talent level drops off
significantly after that. Karlsson and
Weber will score like a forward and so they are worthy of early selection. However, since defense and offense are
grouped together in Yahoo leagues for scoring, they have relatively little
value. Best plan is to grab 1 elite
defenseman if you can early, get your second D around round 8-10, then fill up
your other starting spots before rounding out this position.
Draft Room Rules
Unlike CBS, Yahoo
leaves you the keys and lets you drive your car how you please. There is no restriction on the number of
players you can draft at any position.
If you want to fill your bench with 4 goalies, you're free to do
so. I only point this out, as it's a
dramatic difference from the approach in CBS.
Here, you're free to take the best player available at all times.
Finally, take a
close look at those Yahoo player rankings and play off of them
accordingly. The average GM will tend to
follow Yahoo's picks rather blindly. Be
informed and watch for these situations.
29. September 2014 06:02
With just over a
week before the first puck drops, we're entering prime time for fantasy hockey
drafts. If you're like me and play on
various sites, it's easy to forget the rules and nuances of each league. Blindly drafting without regard to the rules
can be fatal. Even if you're Biff
Tannen and you know exactly how many points each player will score next season,
it's no guarantee for fantasy victory if you don't fashion your draft strategy
to the league you're in. In this post,
I'll give you some tips and guidance on how to draft (and win) in a standard
CBS fantasy hockey league.
The first step for
any league is to study the point system so you know the relative value of each
position. CBS does a good job of
weighting the value of offense, defense, and goaltending, to ensure that each
position has somewhat equal weight.
Quick recap of points in key categories:
Offense: Goals = 3, Assists = 2
Defense: Goals = 5,
Assists = 3
Goalies: Win = 5,
Saves=.2 , GA=-1
So what does this
mean? First off, the tendency for the
inexperienced GM is to blow off drafting defensemen until the later rounds,
since the big names and leading scorers obviously come from the forwards. Huge mistake here. Because of the weighting of points, a 20 goal
scorer on offense will earn 60 points for his efforts, while a 20-goal
performance by a defenseman will net 100 points. Another critical factor to realize is the
relative gap between the elite players on defense versus on offense. When it comes to defensemen, there's a fairly
small number of predictable, elite performing players. After that group of 10 or so, it drops off
considerably to the point where it doesn't matter much who you pick. The story is different for forwards. (Aside from a few obvious exceptions like
Crosby and Stamkos), you won't see a huge point difference between the top 10
forwards and the next 20 or so on the list.
Bottom line here:
don't be shy about drafting one or two defensemen in the first 4 rounds, even
if it means enduring a laugh or two from your unschooled competition.
And what about the
other stats categories?
- Penalty Minutes - At .25 a
piece, it's worth considering, but not worth planning your draft around
it. There are few players in the
league that bring a steady diet of points and PIMs. Those that do should be bumped up your
list a few notches (Perry is the most notable); however, don't go crazy
- +/- - Perhaps the most
arbitrary stat in fantasy sports.
Don't waste your time trying to predict this one. Generally speaking, favor players on
good teams over those with poor goal ratios. Often times a decent +/- will line up
nicely with points, and when it doesn't, it's not worth worrying about.
- SHG/PPG - For as often as a
short handed goal is scored, pay no attention. Power Play time (and goals) on the other
hand are more predictable and should factor into your rankings. CBS offers a bonus point for each goal
on the power play, so give a slight boost to guys like Simmonds and Vrbata
that might otherwise not be worth a look.
CBS strikes a decent
balance when valuing goaltenders between wins, saves, and goals against. A player who sees a ton of shots (Varlamov,
Bernier) has an edge out of the gate over a guy who only has to wake up every
few minutes to turn aside a casual kick save (Rask). So don't completely shy away from a good
goalie on a poor defensive team.
Shutouts are hard to predict, but there are certain goalie who
historically will give you that added bonus on a regular basis (Rask,
Quick). The obvious category (and the
one that may be easiest to predict) is wins.
At 5 points a piece, this is where you'll want to weight a good bit of
your ranking for this league.
Bottom line: focus
on Wins and Saves.
Points Per Game Rule
One last point worth
noting in CBS scoring rules is how they award points. It's not the total points earned that matter
in a head-to-head matchup. It's fantasy
points per game played. While this won't affect most of your
decisions at draft time for forwards and defense, it's something to think about
for goaltenders. This makes a
split-crease situation somewhat more palatable. This makes the goalies in St. Louis or
Anaheim a prime target in CBS, whereas they may be overlooked in other
formats. It's still risky to go with a
part-time goalie in net, but in this format, you can pull it off.
Then 2nd thing to
consider for any league is the number of players per position, and how the
league breaks down offense. The standard
CBS rules call for:
- 2 goalies
- 4 defense
- 6 forwards
- 4 bench spots
One of the nuances
with the CBS draft rules merits serious consideration. While you can mix and match centers and
wingers once the season begins, CBS
limits you to selecting just 3 total centers at draft time. I don't understand why they do it, but if you
don't play to this rule, you could seriously hurt yourself late in the
draft. First off, high-scoring fantasy
centers are abundant. It's tempting to
jump all over guys like Stamkos, Malkin, and Giroux in the early rounds, but
step back and look further down the list.
Guys like Duchene, Couture, and Pavelski will be around much later in
the draft, and is that really so bad? If
you spend 3 early picks on centers, you'll be regretting it in round 14 when
you see that Drouin and Carter are still available, but CBS won't let you pick
them. Budget your center selection for
value and save one of the 3 for the final couple of rounds. Give yourself room to cash in on a sleeper.
Note: Perhaps the most frustrating part about
this rule is that it's different in the mock drafts. In a mock draft, CBS will let you pick up to
6 centers. I had to learn this the hard
way two years back in my Premium League when I went to take Anze Kopitar in
round 9, only to have the unfriendly red text tell me somebody else would be
benefiting from his production. Consider
Also note, some CBS
leagues draw distinction between left wing and right wing (as opposed to
grouping them all together). If this is
the case, you must mock draft this way to learn a thing or two. You'll quickly find the talent pool drops off
considerably by position in these drafts.
Centers are a dime a dozen, relatively speaking here, and shouldn't be
drafted until round 5 or later.
In a 12 team league
starting 2 goalies, it's critical to get at least one elite player at this
position. Having two is even
better. If you don't pick a goalie in
either round 1 or 2, you may lose interest quickly, because you'll be losing on
a regular basis. There's only so much
talent to go around, and you'll only find a handful of useful options on the
waiver wire over the course of the year.
Contrast that with the forward position.
You're guaranteed to always have a serviceable forward available
throughout the season when the need arises, purely based on quantity.
Note: The 3 player
limit also applies to goalies during the draft, so if you're the type that
likes to stash 2 backups on your bench, you'll have to wait until after the
draft to add #4. The approach here
should be different than for centers, however.
There are only 25 or so goalies worth drafting, and you need a good
player in your 3rd slot, so do not wait past round 11 or 12 to grab your
CBS grants you 4
bench spots, one for each position.
Again, once the draft is done, you can fill those 4 spots with any mix
of position. At draft time, you'll
obviously want to place 1 center and 1 goalie in there. Beyond that, feel free to grab 2 defense, 2
wingers or 1 of each. You'll probably
end up dropping one of those within a few weeks anyway (possibly for 4th center
or goalie), so don't sweat it much.
The third major
factor to consider is the default player rankings in CBS. Each site features their own set of player
rankings, and it's worth studying them in order to guess the tendencies of your
opposition. Most GMs will tend to lean
on the default rankings, particularly late in the draft. With this in mind, you can learn a lot by
searching for both underrated and overrated players in their listings.
If you run through a
mock draft or two, and look through the rankings, you should find some players
significantly undervalued in their rankings.
While you may have ranked these players quite high on your list, they may
just go a few rounds later than you would have picked them. Take advantage of this information and spend
that early pick on a another position and get the value in the next round. This is a risky strategy, but if you're in it
to win, you've got to take some chances to cash in big. Here are some players that I find to be
noticeably undervalued by CBS's rankings:
Goalies: Quick, Gibson, Kuemper
NOTE: if you're in a
more serious league with established managers, take this advice with a grain of
salt. If you know what you're doing,
you'll have done your own homework and have your own custom draft list.
On the opposite end,
it's worth looking for players that CBS has rated artificially high against
your personal draft list. In this case,
you have a decision to make. If you want
the player badly enough, know that you'll have to grab him earlier than you
would like. A better bet may be to
resign yourself to finding value someplace else. Here are a handful of players that probably
won't make it on to my squad, as somebody is bound to grab them way too early
for my liking:
26. September 2014 05:41
Part 2 of our look
at where you can go wrong by drafting purely off a magazine draft list
continues with our underrated players.
(Part 1 called out those over-rated players).
Nathan MacKinnon (Yahoo:25 / landsharkhockey:9)
If you trust Yahoo,
you're missing the boat. MacKinnon will
dominate for the next decade.
Anze Kopitar (THN:29 / landsharkhockey:12)
Kopitar could carry
your team for long stretches. He will be
gone by round 3.
Jordan Eberle (NHL:58 / landsharkhockey:13)
I don't get being
down on Eberle. The Oilers will score
goals in bunches, and he'll be right there in the middle of it.
Kyle Okposo (Yahoo:59 / landsharkhockey:24)
Last I checked, he's
still riding shotgun to J.T.
Patric Hornqvist (Yahoo:60 /
Neal. Whether it's Crosby or Malkin
dishing him the puck, he will finish.
Jonathan Druin (THN:72 / landsharkhockey:34)
Maybe THN foresaw
the injury - or maybe they're missing the boat on this dynamic rookie on a
fantasy heavy Tampa roster.
Marian Gaborik (THN:71 / landsharkhockey:37)
but a goal scoring machine who quietly reemerged in the playoffs.
Nail Yakupov (NHL:153 / landsharkhockey:53)
Again with the Oiler
hate. Nail will be much better this time
Ondrej Palat (Yahoo:102 / landsharkhockey:58)
No love for the
Calder nominee. Even if he doesn't
improve in year 2, he's surely a top 100 pick, Yahoo.
Beau Bennett (THN:243 / landsharkhockey:68)
hasn't seen the Penguins play with Bennett in the lineup. A healthy stretch on Sid's wing will do
wonders towards changing their minds.
Joffrey Lupul (THN:142 / landsharkhockey:74)
Lupul will get
action with some pure goalscorers in Toronto.
Ignoring him at 142? Your loss.
Dustin Byfuglien (Yahoo:27 / landsharkhockey:4)
Perplexing. Even if he really does stay anchored to the
blue line, he'll pot 10+ goals.
Drew Doughty (THN:38 / landsharkhockey:6)
Doughty is top 3 in
pure talent and certainly top 10 in fantasy impact on defense. This must have been a misprint, THN.
Brent Burns (Yahoo:31 / landsharkhockey:12)
"officially" moved back to defense, but even the off chance that he
shifts back occasionally bumps his value way above 31.
Seth Jones (NHL:51 / landsharkhockey:18)
The youngster will
break out this year, despite what the experts at NHL tell you. Peter Laviolette will see to that.
Jacob Trouba (NHL:41 / landsharkhockey:12)
No way to sugarcoat
this one. NHL is wrong.
Tyson Barrie (NHL:29 / Yahoo:24 /
Not a horrible miss,
but Barrie is running the powerplay on the team who will score the most goals
this season. Do the math and get back to
Corey Crawford (NHL:9 / Yahoo:9 /
Chicago. Chicago = Wins. Find me 8 goalies better than Crawford,
Marc-Andre Fleury (Yahoo:11 /
This isn't the
playoffs. Fleury is a top notch regular
Antti Niemi (NHL:11 / landsharkhockey:5)
No goalie gets less
respect than Cup winning Niemi. He piles
up wins and nobody notices.
Jake Allen (Yahoo:34 / NHL:32 /
I guess this comes
down to whether you believe in Allen or Elliot as the #1 in St. Louis. I believe in Allen.
John Gibson (Yahoo:30 / landsharkhockey:22)
Somebody at Yahoo
missed the playoffs last season. I
thought I had him ranked too low 22.
25. September 2014 06:42
For the average
fantasy hockey player, draft preparation consists of purchasing a magazine,
turning to the last page and cracking open a beer 10 minutes before draft
time. They may pull up an injury report
while they're waiting for that last guy to drop off his kids and show up 10
minutes late for the draft. For those
who put their fate entirely in the hands of the experts, you will undoubtedly
miss on a few of your picks. To provide
some context for your cheat sheet, I've taken the liberty of rating their
ratings. After finalizing my own draft
rankings (free at landsharkhockey.com), I took the liberty of pulling up the
lists for some of the major go-to sources: The Hockey News, NHL.com, and
Yahoo. Here's what they got wrong. Today, I'll deal with the over-rated players. I'll follow up tomorrow with the under-rated
Corey Perry (NHL:3 / Yahoo:3 /
Ryan Getzlaf (Yahoo:6 / THN:8 /
These two go
together. Either you believe last season
was a bit of an anomaly (I do), or you overdraft them both.
Nicklas Backstrom (THN:11 / landsharkhockey:19)
Unless your league
is based purely on assists, this is overreaching in the early rounds.
Jonathan Toews (NHL:12 / landsharkhockey:33)
As a Captain,
sure. As a fantasy Round 2 pick? No way.
Patrick Sharp (NHL: 18 / Yahoo:18 / THN:26 /
Injury prone and
getting older. I see a major decline for
Sharp. They don't.
Patrice Bergeron (Yahoo:20 /
I assume Yahoo was
looking at the faceoff stats. Otherwise,
are you serious?
David Backes (Yahoo:27 / landsharkhockey:76)
Again, Yahoo loves
their captains. This is fantasy hockey,
not the real thing. Don't reach nearly
that far for Backes.
Martin St. Louis (THN:28 / landsharkhockey:62)
He's 39 years old,
Jason Pominville (THN:38 / landsharkhockey:60)
Not a horrible reach
at 38, but you can wait a few more rounds here.
Jaromir Jagr (THN:54 / landsharkhockey:88)
He'll be sitting
there in the last round. Be patient.
Mike Green (THN:4 / landsharkhockey:19)
That would be great for the Caps and the NHL to see this revival. Won't happen.
Ryan McDonagh (Yahoo:12 / NHL:13 /
Once again - real
NHL he's a stud. Fantasy? Average.
Mark Streit (THN:13 / landsharkhockey:45)
Best days are behind
him. Way behind him. 13th is silly.
Mark Giordano (THN:14 / landsharkhockey:44)
I can't see him
repeating last year's magic.
Matt Niskanen (Yahoo:14 / landsharkhockey:39)
Plus-minus fluke has
Yahoo reaching crazy early for an average fantasy option you'll drop in week 3.
Jason Garrison (THN:17 / landsharkhockey:48)
I just don't
understand this one.
Brian Campbell (THN:19 / Yahoo:25 /
He's still in
Ben Bishop (THN:2 / landsharkhockey:8)
I see a big season
for big Bishop. Just not that big.
Semyon Varlamov (THN:3 / landsharkhockey:9)
He won't come close
to last season's breakout numbers again.
Corey Schneider (NHL:10 / landsharkhockey:21)
The Devils will be
bottom feeders this season, meaning Schneider won't compile enough wins, no
matter how well he plays.
Cam Ward (THN:21 / landsharkhockey:35)
I love the Canes,
but can't understand why Ward continues to get fantasy attention like this.
28. August 2014 06:19
Ready to shake off the summer slumber and get to work on your
draft prep yet? First step: Figure out
which teams to target and which teams to avoid.
Let's get to it then.
Teams to Target in 2014:
The Avalanche surprised most last season, charging down the
mountain from the first puck drop to be a dominant force in the West and a
fantasy gold rush. Nobody should be
surprised to see that continue in year 2 of the Roy Regime. From MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog and Iginla
up front, to Barrie and Johnson on the back end, and throw in a rising
O'Reilly, the goals will flow freely in Denver this year. Get a piece of this action early and often in
It seems redundant to list the Penguins as a team to target in
fantasy circles. It has been that way
since about 1984. The new front office
may be reforming the image of this squad for better Spring results, but you
still can't go wrong with Crosby, Malkin and a host of adequate complimentary
wingers to finish those passes. The addition
of Ehrhoff more than offsets the loss of Niskanen on defense, and a full season
from Letang could land him back in the Norris party.
The Flyers took their time getting started last season, but
finished among the best in the NHL. I'll
avoid grabbing for the obligatory Giroux jokes and say that he remains a top 3
fantasy option, making Voracek and anyone else that finds their way to his line
worth drafting. The fantasy-worthy
options stretch into the third line in Philadelphia.
Who cares about the playoffs, right? Just keep picking Sharks for their regular
season success and you'll be a happy drafter.
The evil-opposite of the Sharks don't care a lick about the
regular season. Nonetheless, with 3
lines of top end offensive talent, including a slew of first and second year
speedsters, you should keep the Kings on your radar. Look for potentially monster seasons from the
likes of Kopitar, Carter and Gaborik.
Doughty is due for a big fantasy campaign as well.
Like LA - The Hawks like to spread it around and get the
wins. Some of their top names will be
overrated and overdrafted as they approach the back end of their career. Don't overreach for anyone on this squad, but
if the value is there come draft time, there should be about 10 Chicago players
going off the board in your draft.
My surprise pick for fantasy explosion this season is coming out
of Texas. The top line may be the best
in hockey this season. The Stars have
quickly transformed to a to a resurgent powerhouse over the last several
seasons. Don't expect much from the
With two Calder runners-up last season, and strong Calder favorite
in Drouin this season, the Bolts are building a fantasy power from youth. And then there's potential MVP Stamkos. Hedman continues his slow ascent to the elite
This has to be the year Edmonton finally breaks through,
right? They could have 3 forwards in the
top 10 by the end of the year. And 2
more in the top 50.
In any other division, Minnesota would be a clear favorite to
finish first. It won't come easy, but
they will give the big 3 a run for their money.
Along the way, look for some very solid fantasy options to emerge,
including the obvious (Parise, Suter, Pominville, Vanek), and the not so
obvious (Grandlund, Niederreiter, Coyle).
If they could ever get a full year's work out of a goalie, one of them
may emerge as a top 5 option in net. All
around, this is a solid, rising Wild squad.
Teams to Avoid:
The only coach they've ever known has moved on, leaving the team
seeking a new identity. Perhaps that is
reason to hope that this team could finally turn a history of sweet defensive
prospects into fantasy meaning. The
roster up front gives little hope for 2014 relevancy.
When your only viable fantasy option is 42, you have no viable
fantasy options. Even Schneider will
struggle to find wins.
Phoenix (I mean, Arizona)
Defense first. If he has a
C or W next to his name, look elsewhere.
Nothing to see here. Move
The Panthers seem content to throw silly money at average players,
just to meet the salary floor. Many of
these guys could do well if paired with elite talent; however, given their
location, they will see their totals dive down.
A handful of promising youngsters give a slight glimmer of hope on the
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