24 Aug Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy 103
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?
In Draft Strategy 102, we created an ugly-as-hell acronym to compare players, FPPGAR (Fantasy Points Per Game Above Replacement). This time around, we’ll get away from that as we investigate how Games Played will affect your ranking of players!
The Letang Effect
Kris Letang is one of the most frustrating players in all of fantasy. He’s put up gaudy numbers in recent years. He’s the only defenceman I would compare to Erik Karlsson in terms of raw offense.
When he’s playing, that is.
Letang’s had concussion issues, broken bones, and a stroke on his résumé, among many, many more maladies. He’s missed an average of 30% of his team’s regular-season games over the last 5 seasons, and anyone who thinks this season will be any different is… optimistic, to put it politely.
So where do you draft a guy like that? #2, after Karlsson? #50, after… whoever you draft at #49? Where, dammit?
Baseline to the Rescue
Here’s where the work we put in earlier comes in to help. Imagine that you get 60 games out of Letang this season. Who’s going to play those extra 22? Our baseline, of course! And keep in mind, this is a worst-case scenario, unless you screwed up your draft). Just take your baseline’s FPts/game and multiply it by 22, the number of games in hand Letang will give you in this example, and voila! You’ve got a rough estimate for the points you’ll get out of the games Letang will miss! To add this to your spreadsheet (or, again, you can use version 3 of mine found here), just add another column with the formula below!
= ( 82 – [@[Games Played]] ) * [@[Baseline PPG]]
Your next step is to just add these points from your replacement to Letang’s point total and you’ve got how many points Letang plus his replacement will actually give you, which you can use to compare to other players much more accurately. A rule of thumb here is: The deeper your league is, the less valuable a player who will miss games will be.
The chart on the left illustrates this idea. I picked three top forwards from last year and three top defencemen (including our guinea pig, Letang. Under my league settings (9F, 4D, 1G, 10 teams, Standard yahoo scoring), Patrick Kane is the most valuable of these players. The entirety of the bar (green, yellow, and red) is his points, but once we take away the points that a baseline forward can get, we’re left with about 217. Kane played all 82 games, so there’s no room for a replacement there. That’s obviously ideal.
Now take a look at Karlsson. If we just looked at HIS points, sure, I submit that his 328 fantasy points beats Letang’s 306. However, Letang left us with 11 games in hand, which I can fill with my bench defenceman (which we decided in Draft Strategy 102 was Matt Niskanen at the very worst) who will give me an average of 2.12 points per game. That’s about 23 points, which now beats Karlsson narrowly. Compared to their baseline, Letang’s 156 and Karlsson’s 154 still don’t beat Kane’s 217, but both are actually above Sidney Crosby, who “only” produced 150 points above the baseline forward!
Brent Burns, of course, knocks them both out of the park, thanks to his gaudy shot totals. If you notice, his bar is smaller than Benn’s, but because we’re using a baseline, his PAR is much higher. This translates to Benn getting more points, but if you passed on Benn for Burns, you’d get an OK replacement forward. If you passed on Burns for Benn, your replacement defenceman wouldn’t help as much.
Once you’ve added another column that sums up the players’ points plus their replacement points, and subtracts from that a full season from their replacement (82 x the baseline PPG), you’ll find that you’ve got the stat we’ve been trying to reach, PAR. That’s the total points a player is worth, factoring in injuries, targeted to your league, above the baseline at his position. This works across sports too, as long as you have the patience to edit the formulas for the different positions and scoring categories. Sort the entire table by PAR and you’ve got the most accurate rankings for your players that you can get!
So, we’re good, right?
Not yet! Even though we’ve sorted by PAR and got a great list to work off of, rankings aren’t everything. In the next edition of Draft Strategy, we’ll take a peek at the mind games involved in a fantasy draft.
As always, thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more hockey-related tomfoolery! @AjayDaCosta, in case that address bar is too far away.