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Draft Strategy - Fantasy Hockey
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Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy 102

Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy 102

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?

Last time, we looked at ranking players across all positions in terms of fantasy points. It appeared that, using the default yahoo stats, Patrick Kane was the MVP of last season, and Brent Burns looked to be the fifth-most valuable player. Is that really true? In this edition, we’ll take a look at your next step: determining what the baseline is in our effort to make sure you’re ranking players effectively.

The Baseline

If your 10-team league needs each team to roll four centers (plus one on the bench so five total), that means the 51st best center is the baseline for all centers. At the very least, each of your four centers needs to be better than that guy. Otherwise, you’re holding on to a player when a better player might just be sitting in Free Agency! You have to find out who guy this is at each position.

Before you do anything, go back to that spreadsheet and throw in an extra column, Fantasy Points Per Game. After all, having Erik Karlsson get 40 points in 40 games and give you those extra 42 games is better than having T.J. Brodie get 45 points in 82.

My 10-team league runs nine forwards, four defencemen, and one goalie. That means that 100 forwards will be taken, so the 101st best forward, Brandon Dubinsky, is our baseline at the forward position. He put up 2.74 fantasy points per game, while the 51st best defenceman, Matt Niskanen, scored 2.12 fantasy points per game and the 21st best goalie, Martin Jones, scored 5.16 fantasy points per game. Those are my baselines!

Positional Comparison

You can’t say that Jamie Benn is better than Brent Burns just because Benn scored 4.72 FPts/Gm and Burns scored 4.51, because defencemen are naturally lower scorers than forwards. But if you compare them to their baselines, now you’re talking! Burns will put up 2.39 MORE points than Matt Niskanen (our baseline) will, while Benn “only” puts up 1.98 over Brandon Dubinsky.

Holtby, the best goalie, is ranked over both Benn and Burns for overall fantasy points. He’s even 1st overall for fantasy points per game (for players with more than 40 games played)! However, when compared to Jones, he’s only producing a scant 0.74 more fantasy points in a game. He’s not even in the same ballpark as Benn and Burns!

Again, these will be INSANELY different based on your league settings. Maybe in your league, Holtby would dominate! However, in a 10-team league that runs 9 forwards, 4 defencemen, and 1 goalie with standard Yahoo scoring, he pales in comparison to top-flight skaters like Benn and Burns.


You can totally extend this to compare every player according to Fantasy Points Per Game Above Replacement (or FPPGAR, an acronym that I swear you won’t need to remember for long), just add another column! Or don’t, and just use this OTHER google sheet yours truly has already set up for you! Just copy over your projections, fill in your league settings on the right, sort by FPPGAR, and the formulas will do the rest of the work.


Whoops! If you did exactly what I said, you’ll end up with a weird-looking rankings list where a guy like Pavel Zacha could be found at the top. This was Draft Strategy 102, and there’s a long way to go. FPPGAR is great when comparing superstars, but what happens in a player only plays one game for 9.2 fantasy points, like Zacha? Is he the MVP? Definitely not. Draft Strategy 103 will deal with how the amount of games a player will play can factor into the stat we’re aiming to reach, Points Above Replacement (which, as acronyms go, is lightyears better than FPPGAR).


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.

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