Fantasy Hockey Geek

Fantasy Fundamentals - Pitfalls

In this article, continuing our Fantasy Fundamentals series, we go over some of the common pitfalls that fantasy hockey newbies fall into, and why they should be avoided.

Overrating Rookies and Prospects
 
Lots of GMs are still upset because they expected big things from Steven Stamkos in the 2008/2009 season. Why did they expect so much? Because it’s a rookie mistake! Don’t bank on rookies and prospects making a huge impact. So just how unlikely is it that a young player will have a big impact over the course of a season?
 
Since the 2000/2001 season, only 68 players have put up more than 60 points in any of the first three seasons of their career. The table below shows just how often it’s happened:
 
Points
Number of Players
Approx Number per Season
60+
68
9
70+
33
4
80+
17
2
90+
10
1
 
For rookies, it’s even less likely. Going all the way back to 1988, and keep in mind scoring was quite a bit higher back then, this is how it shakes down:
 
Points
Number of Players
Approx Number per Season
60+
31
2
70+
16
<1
80+
6
<1
90+
3
<1
 
Counting on a rookie like Stamkos to produce more than 80 points is a tall order, something that has only happened 6 times in the last 20 complete hockey seasons. Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin are generational players and have skewed the perception of many in the fantasy hockey world. Don’t be one of them!
 
Injury Prone Players
 
The thought races through all our heads: but what if he finally stays healthy! I’d win my league for sure! Then, at the end of the year, you’re left with what if I had won the league? It happens to us all. We’re not trying to say that you should avoid injury prone players entirely – but don’t count on them to be healthy. 
 
Say there’s a player named M. Havlat… no, that’s too obvious. Let’s call him Martin H. Now pretend Martin H hasn’t played more than 60 games since the lockout, but he consistently puts up close to a point per game in the games when he’s healthy. 
 
A rookie fantasy hockey GM thinks, Ahah! He’s a point-per-game player, if he’s healthy this season, he’ll put up around 80 points!
 
A veteran fantasy hockey GM thinks, Martin H tends to play around 40 games a season and get around 40 points in those games. I should draft him when 50-point players are going, and if he’s healthy I get some nice bonus production!
 
Against all odds, in the 2008/2009, Martin H played 81 games and put up 77 points. The rookie GM got exactly what he was expecting, and the veteran GM got a nice bonus. Now that the rookie’s expectation that Martin H can put up close to 80 points has been confirmed, he’ll draft him again with the 75-80 point forwards. But if (when?) Martin H goes down with an injury, it will torpedo the rookie GM’s chances at taking down his league crown. 
 
Think like a veteran. Don’t take the risk on injury prone players.
 
Ignoring Position
 
We’ve discussed it in detail in the Position article, so we won’t get into it too deeply right here. Suffice it to say that some positions are harder to fill than others, and that you simply must consider a player’s position when you’re making a pick.
 
Points Rankings in Multi-Category Leagues
 
The most popular fantasy hockey site on the web and official partner of the NHL, Yahoo, has a standard category totals 12-team league setup:
 
Rosters: 2 centres, 2 left wing, 2 right wing, 4 defense, 2 goalies, 2 bench
Scoring Categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SOG, W, SV%, GAA, SO
 
Since it’s so common, we’ll use that setup as a basis for this analysis. 
You need a common point of comparison in order to make sense of real player value. We’ll use averages for each position, based on the stats for last year’s NHL season:
 
Position
G
A
+/-
PIM
PPP
SOG
C
28
51
11
51
29
225
LW
33
39
7
48
25
244
RW
28
38
4
44
23
224
D
11
33
3
56
21
154
 
In that scenario, the top 5 real-value forwards from the 2008/2009 season are shown in the table below. The RS columns shows the player’s real statistics, and CA shows that statistic compared to the average at their position. Adding up all the CAs gives you a raw player value.
 
The very astute among you might be thinking “Now wait just a second! Not all stats are created equal… any NHL plug can put a shot on net, but it’s way harder to put in a goal!” – and you’re right. The final column below takes the sum of all the stats and normalizes them so they are on even footing.
 
 

Rank
Player
Pos
RS
CA
RS
CA
RS
CA
RS
CA
RS
CA
RS
CA
Value
G
A
+/-
PIM
PPP
SOG
1
Alexander Ovechkin
LW
56
23
54
15
8
1
72
24
41
16
528
284
111
2
Evgeni Malkin
C
25
-3
78
27
17
6
80
29
46
17
290
65
69
3
Zach Parise
LW
45
12
49
10
30
23
24
-24
30
5
364
120
52
4
Corey Perry
RW
32
4
40
2

Published Wed, Sep 09th, 2009