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Winning Fantasy Hockey Strategy on Yahoo

by chewy 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:

 

http://www.landsharkhockey.com/post/2014/09/29/Winning-Fantasy-Hockey-Strategy-on-CBS.aspx

 

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.

 

Dual Eligibility

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.

 

I/R Spot

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.

 

 

Point System

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 player. 

 

2. Goons are welcome. 

Because penalty 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 other categories.

 

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.

 

 

Player Rankings

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.

 

 

 

Winning Fantasy Hockey Strategy on CBS

by chewy 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.

 

Point System

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

 

Offense/Defense

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 drafting goons.
  • +/- - 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.

 

 

Goalies

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.

 

Roster Limits

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 yourself warned.

 

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.

 

Goalies

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 backup.

 

Bench

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.

 

 

Player Rankings

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. 

 

Undervalued Players

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

Defense: Letang, Barrie, Trouba

Centers: Drouin, Steen, Statsny

Wingers: Nichuskin, Tlusty, Gaborik

 

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.

 

Overvalued Players

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:

 

Goalies: Bishop, Holtby

Defense: McDonagh, Giordano

Centers: Bergeron, Johansen

Wingers: Vanek, Nash, Sharp

.

What the Fantasy Experts Got Wrong: Over-Rated Players

by chewy 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 misses.

 

 

OFFENSE

 

Corey Perry (NHL:3 / Yahoo:3 / landsharkhockey:11)

Ryan Getzlaf (Yahoo:6 / THN:8 / landsharkhockey:18 )

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 / landsharkhockey:64)

Injury prone and getting older.  I see a major decline for Sharp.  They don't.

 

Patrice Bergeron (Yahoo:20 / landsharkhockey:81)

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, guys.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

DEFENSE

 

Mike Green (THN:4 / landsharkhockey:19)

Wow.  Fourth?  That would be great for the Caps and the NHL to see this revival.  Won't happen.

 

Ryan McDonagh (Yahoo:12 / NHL:13 / landsharkhockey:45)

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 / landsharkhockey:52)

He's still in Florida, right?

 

 

 

GOALIE

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Fantasy Teams to Target (and Teams to Avoid)

by chewy 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:

 

1.       Colorado

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 your draft.

 

2.       Pittsburgh

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.

 

3.       Philadelphia

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.

 

4.       San Jose

Who cares about the playoffs, right?  Just keep picking Sharks for their regular season success and you'll be a happy drafter.

 

5.       Los Angeles

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.

 

6.       Chicago

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.

 

7.       Dallas

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 defense crew.

 

8.       Tampa Bay

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 on D.

 

9.       Edmonton

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.

 

10.   Minnesota

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:

 

1.       Nashville

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.

 

2.       New Jersey

When your only viable fantasy option is 42, you have no viable fantasy options.  Even Schneider will struggle to find wins.

 

3.       Phoenix (I mean, Arizona)

Defense first.  If he has a C or W next to his name, look elsewhere.

 

4.       Buffalo

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

 

5.       Florida

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 horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On Jack -- Fantasy Preseason is Almost Upon Us

by chewy 21. August 2014 08:07

We're just a couple weeks out from Labor Day, which marks the unofficial start to fantasy hockey pre-season.  We've been hard at work making our preperations for delivering all the fantasy info you need to dominate your draft.  Here's a rough idea of what you should expect over the coming weeks:

Offseason Recap

Quick hit through the fantasy hockey-relevant headlines you missed while vacuuming your pool this summer.

Power Rankings

To get yourself grounded, it helps to get your mind around which teams will do well this season, and which teams have entererd (or lingered in) the dreaded "rebuild mode".  This is particularly critical when it comes to choosing goalies.

Goalie Rankings

Speaking of goalies, our official goalie rankings will available in about a week.

Defense Rankings

We traditionally follow that up rather quickly with our Defense picks.

Offense Rankings

Do I need an explanation?

Fantasy Breakdown

Armed with our final draftlist, you'll be prepared to configure your own (for free) right here.  We'll follow that up with focused articles on: Breakout Players, Rebound candidates, Sleepers, Gambles, Busts and other clever ways of putting a label on someone who makes more money than you. 

 

To quote the immortal Phil Bourque -- "Buckle up, Baby!"

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