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Draft Strategy for Fantasy Hockey Leagues
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Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy 101

Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy 101

Drafting can be a tricky beast. It’s easy to pull up a top-300 rankings list and just go for the best available, but will that actually win you your league? If you think so, just hit that Auto-Draft button and then try to win a league from there. Spoiler alert: You’ll find out that you just drafted the fantasy equivalent of the Oilers. You might have a few good players here and there, but overall? Your team stinks. This series will hopefully give you some insight into how to strategically plan your draft (one-year leagues only) so that you maximize the talent on your team. It can be a little tedious, and it involves taking some risks, but without risks, how fun would fantasy sports really be?

WAR in the time of fantasy sports

Baseball has a lovely stat called WAR. I’m not a huge fan of America’s favourite pastime, but WAR is a great for comparing players. It stands for Wins Above Replacement and assumes that a player’s value is only worth so

mething when compared to his replacement. The same idea can be applied to help you compare players across positions. Should you go for that wide receiver or a QB? Is Erik Karlsson a better own than Jamie Benn? Points Above Replacement can help you decide that without losing your mind.

Projections!

Before you begin that process, make sure you’re at a computer with Excel or Google Sheets to make your life easier and go get projections for the 2017-18 season. Make it into a nice organized table and at the end, throw in a formula that adds up the players’ projected fantasy points. That will be unique to your league, but it’ll look something like this for standard Yahoo leagues:

=SUM(  3.00*[@[goals]]  ,  2.00*[@[assists]]  ,  1.00*[@[plus/minus]]  ,  …   ,  0.40*[@[SOG]])

Basically, the sum of a player’s stats multiplied by how much each stat is worth in your league. This is the most volatile part of the process, because you’re relying on the most guesswork. You have Ovechkin projected for 50 goals and 30 assists? Better hope he gets that, or you’re screwed from the start. If you’d like to cut out a lot of your work, I’ve got a sample Google Sheet up for you. Just copy it over for your own use. Leave the red cells alone, but fill out the rest with your own projections and league settings and voila! The last column will tell you how many fantasy points each player is putting out. For the sample, I used last season’s stats. It basically means that, in terms of raw total output, Brent Burns was slightly better than Sidney Crosby, but worse than Jamie Benn or Patrick Kane.

That’s quite the workload I’ve laid out for you, so here’s a good spot to call a time-out. We’ll pick this back up in Draft Strategy 102, where we’ll see that Brent Burns may have been BETTER than Benn or Kane. In fact, he may have been the fantasy MVP of the 2015-16 season.

Til then, keep on keepin’ on, sports fans! Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more numbers and hockey-related tomfoolery! @AjayDaCosta, in case that address bar is too far away.

For Draft Strategy 103, click here.

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