fleischmann

Don't overlook valuable players on bad teams. 

In the world of fantasy sports, things are seldom as bad as they are perceived. Far too often I see managers (myself included) completely ignore valuable players because of the fact that they play for a bad team. “I like him, but his team can’t score so he won’t get any points” is the type of thing I hear all the time, but this isn’t always accurate.

 

In our constant search for value, some of the best finds can come from the worst teams. Every team plays the same number of games and someone has to fill over 4,920 minutes of ice time. Every team needs a first unit power-play, a top line, a #1 goalie etc. This is where we find our value as most managers will do everything possible to avoid a player on a bottom feeder (FLA, BUF, COL, CGY) or constant low scoring (NSH, PHO) team. The team a guy plays for matters, but what can matter even more are the opportunities he is getting on that team. Most of the time, a guy playing 20 minutes a night with top power-play time on a BAD team will produce more than he would if he were getting 14 minutes a night and no power-play time on a GOOD team. Hey, even Matt Stajan scored 55 points on a terrible Leaf’s team once upon a time when he was the third leading forward in terms of TOI. Or look at Dustin Byfuglien’s production once he left Chicago and was given regular time on the top unit. It’s all about opportunity.

 

When I am in a draft and the competition is reaching and gambling on who they think will be CHI #2 pivot (Andrew Shaw’s average draft position is #152 this year), I’m snapping up Mike Fisher (ADP is over 180th), knowing that he is one of the go-to guys in Nashville. When Paul Martin (ADP 156) goes high in the draft simply because he’s a Penguin, I’m all over Justin Faulk (ADP 166), Dimitry Kulikov (ADP 160) or even Marek Zidlicky (ADP 176) who I know will spend a good amount of time manning the top power-play. The point is, don’t get sucked into the “good team” mirage on draft day. You’re not drafting an NHL team, you’re drafting individual players. Top lines are deemed that for a reason: because they get the most TOI and are counted on for scoring. The guys getting good minutes on bad teams can make for very good “diamonds in the rough” and provide your fantasy squad with some good, low-priced value.

 

So let’s look at a couple potential diamonds in the rough to consider for the upcoming season:

 

Tomas Fleischmann


Teams at the bottom of the standings are there for a reason and they aren’t likely to have much scoring depth. Teams usually retain a few “stars” (I use the term “stars” loosely for the teams in question) but can’t put together 2-3 lines of quality players. What does this mean for us? Look at a guy like Tomas Fleischmann who hasn’t had much competition for top minutes in Florida. Florida is a cesspool of talented but unproven players at the moment and Flash has scored at a tidy 0.74 and 0.73 PPG since moving to the sunshine state, placing him amongst names such as Brad Richards, Patrick Sharp, Jeff Carter and David Krejci in 2013. Flash isn’t exactly going to win you your pool, but he can make for a suitable replacement for someone such as Loui Eriksson who is being drafted on average 100 spots prior to Fleischmann. Take a look at a comparison when I put these two players’ numbers through FHG:

 

(Based on Dobber projections in a 12 team Yahoo! Standard H2H league measuring G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)

Projected FHG Rank

Player

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

148

Tomas Fleischmann

26

33

-10

30

199

19

151

Loui Eriksson

26

34

20

18

184

16

 

The only major difference between Fleischmann and Eriksson is their average draft position. Their projected output is almost identical, but Fleischmann is being drafted 8-10 rounds later.

 

Christian Ehrhoff


Another great example of a diamond in the rough is Christian Ehrhoff, who currently has an ADP of 132. He was a highly sought after fantasy commodity during his days as a Canuck, but has dropped off the fantasy radar since going to a terrible Buffalo team. The thing is despite Buffalo’s woes, Ehrhoff is still producing. Last season Ehrhoff came in at a 0.49PPG clip and FHG ranks him as having been the 50th most valuable player in the entire league last season, with only 13 defensemen being ranked higher. Despite this, he is currently being drafted on average as the 40th defenseman in Yahoo! Leagues. Running the numbers through FHG, look at how he compares with some other guys who are more top of mind because of their team situation:

 

(Based on Dobber projections in a 12 team Yahoo! Standard H2H league measuring G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)

Projected FHG Rank

Player

ADP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

72

Christian Ehrhoff

131.8

9

28

0

60

175

18

134

John Carlson

119.9

11

31

10

30

152

8

96

Slava Voynov

127.9

13

33

10

40

125

15

 

Ehrhoff is the more proven player, he has the better projections and he is the undisputed power-play QB in Buffalo. Despite all of this, he is being drafted after guys like Carlson and Voynov who are on better teams but may not have better opportunities. With an ADP in the 11th round, Ehrhoff is a great candidate to draft as a D3 or D4 who will contribute solid value to your fantasy team.

 

 Mikko Koivu


A guy I’ve always liked who never gets any respect is former Geek of the Week, Mikko Koivu. Minnesota has always been associated with low goal scoring and Koivu’s perceived value has suffered because of it. This year, he is being drafted 166th overall on average, behind a number of inferior centers. Take a look at the FHG projected values for the upcoming season compared to where each player is being drafted:

 

(Based on Dobber projections in a 12 team Yahoo! Standard H2H league measuring G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)

Projected FHG Rank

Player

ADP

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

88

Mikko Koivu

165.8

17

45

10

50

185

22

160

David Krejci

73.9

23

40

20

36

150

12

315

Andrew Shaw

152.7

17

20

20

73

123

6

104

Mike Richards

141.1

21

34

10

68

164

19

 

Koivu’s projected value is almost 80 spots better than where he is being drafted. Look at the second/third line players on Boston, Chicago and LA and see how they are being drafted well ahead of Koivu – despite their lower projections. Koivu has averaged 0.84 PPG over the past four seasons while Krejci (0.75) and Richards (0.72) have been a fair amount lower. Shaw isn’t even in the ballpark. I say: avoid the depth players on the elite teams and draft the front line players on the teams that struggle.

 

The rest is up to you. Instead of focussing on the great teams, shift your focus to the great player situations that the rest of your leagues managers will be ignoring. Being at the top of the depth chart will almost certainly trump team affiliation. To help with the process, run your projections through Fantasy Hockey Geek to see which players will provide good fantasy value. When you find a valuable guy who happens to play for a bad team, chances are you can get him on the cheap!

 

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