goaltending rankings continue to vary wildly from season to season, defense is
one position that remains relatively stable.
It's far easier to predict from year to year who the top fantasy
prospects will be. Today, we reveal our
top 75 fantasy hockey defensemen rankings for 2012-13. Let's start at the top:
Tier 1 features the
usual candidates, along with the long overdue arrival of Kris Letang (assuming
he can stay healthy for a full season).
Try and nab one of the guys in this tier and your defense will be in
1. Shea Weber (NAS)
In the five full,
healthy seasons logged to date, Weber has fired home 16 or more goals each
time. Since contract issues will not be distracting him for the next 14 years,
he's free to focus on remaining one of the top fantasy hockey defensemen in the
world. The loss of Suter shouldn't affect him much, as the Preds have a stable
of young puck-movers to complement Weber. He'll get his 28-30 minutes a game
and should crack the 20 goal level in 2012-13. Pencil him in for a Norris this
2. Erik Karlsson (OTT)
continues to improve at the pace he's gone for his first three seasons, he'll
be looking at somewhere around 25 goals and 100 points. While that's not likely
to happen, there is no reason to think he can't continue to be the most
prolific defensive weapon in the league.
3. Dustin Byfuglien (WPG)
Despite sitting out
16 games with a knee injury in 2011-12, he still settled into 5th place in
total fantasy points on defense last year. The big man has entered into
double-digits in goals for five straight seasons. He's the showcase event in
Winnepeg and is allowed more freedom than most at his position to roam as the
4th attacker. Another solid fantasy season should be a given.
4. Kris Letang (PIT)
Letang is on the
verge of superstardom. His progress was hampered last season by concussion
issues. Despite fighting the head problems, he still piled up 10 goals and 32
assists in just 51 games. He's also a consistent contributor in the PIMs
column, making him an all-around must have fantasy prospect in 2012-13. Look
for a career high of 60+ points.
5. Zdeno Chara (BOS)
Few hockey players
have been as consistent in fantasy production as Big Z. Goals. Assists. +/-.
Penalties. All Star slap shot records. He does it all. Through 11 NHL seasons,
the most games he's missed in a year is 11. Can't go wrong here.
While there is a
noticeable dropoff going from level 1 to level 2 in terms of reliability, any
one of the guys in this group has the potential to rise into the top Tier. All five are young and still getting better.
6. P.K. Subban (MON)
Subban took a slight
step backwards in his sophomore season, but not enough to label it a slump. As
he rolls into his 3rd NHL season, expectations ought to be high. He is far and
away the most dynamic and offensively gifted player on the team, at any position.
He could easily creep into the 15 goal / 50 point territory to complement his
annual 100+ PIMs.
7. Drew Doughty (LA)
Doughty was a
colossal disappointment through the first half of last season. By the end of
the season, and certainly after lifting the Cup, memories of the big-contract
hangover were long gone. Through January 2011, he had managed just 2 goals. He
closed the season with 10 goals and 36 points. With a Cup ring on his finger,
he is poised to challenge for some personal hardware this time around.
8. Alex Pietrangelo (STL)
Alex Pietrangelo has
met all expectations that come with being the 4th overall draft pick. In his
2nd full campaign, he ranked 4th in total fantasy points among defensemen. As
the Blues continue to progress as a franchise, Pietrangelo will get more recognition,
particularly in fantasy circles. For now, you can probably snatch him up a
round or two later than he should go.
9. Keith Yandle (PHO)
Playing in the
desert has kept Yandle one of the best fantasy secrets going. His production,
at least in terms of assists, dipped slightly last season, but he remains a
model fantasy defenseman. Three straight seasons of 82 games and 11 or more
goals to his credit. There remain rumors of Yandle on the trade market. For
now, he's the man in Phoenix and will fit in nicely as your #1 defenseman.
10. John Carlson (WAS)
It seems that the
hand-off from Mike Green to Carlson is complete. Caps fans will be anxious to
see what new Coach Oates brings to the table, but from a fantasy perspective,
it has to get better than 2011-12. Carlson's production was limited last year
by the system. Assuming he gets the green light to fly, this should be a big
breakout year. Think 50 point season.
Take a few minutes
and dissect the full 75-man list on our Draft Guru page. Stop by Friday when we complete the job and
unveil the top 150 forwards for the 2012-13 fantasy hockey season.