Cage Match Tourney – The Biggest Risers/Fallers Week 3

by Rick Roos



Projecting the two biggest risers and two biggest fallers in this year's Yahoo! draft rankings...


We’re heading into the home stretch of the summer 2015 Cage Match Tournament, with your votes this week determining the final two NHLers who’ll battle in next week’s championship! Let’s start with a quick rundown of the rules, before moving onto observations on week two results, and then finally laying out the four combatants in this week’s semi-finals.


What You’re Voting on, and Quick Rehash of Key Things to Know/Remember


As a reminder, you’re deciding which NHLer’s Yahoo fantasy draft position will increase the most in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15, as well as that player’s counterpart, namely who’ll see his Yahoo draft position drop the most. In the end, we’ll match against each other the players you voted as biggest riser and biggest faller, to see who’ll have the biggest Yahoo draft position change among all NHLers.

Full “rules” were included in the week one column, but the most important things to remember are that you’re voting based on a hypothetical one year Yahoo league where G, A, +/-, Hits, PPP, and SOG are the only six categories and are all equally weighted. And because we’re talking about Yahoo leagues, be sure to factor in the overall mindset of the Yahoo fantasy universe when making your choices.

Like week two, risers and fallers still have their own bracket; but now it’s just the two top vote getters from the second round in each bracket. All voting will once again take place in the Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey area of DobberHockey Forums. I’ll put a direct link to vote for each bracket after the list of players in that particular bracket.



Overall Thoughts on Week Two and Its Results


One of the things I was most curious about was how Tyler Johnson would fare, after having received only five fewer votes than Vladimir Tarasenko in round one. And although Johnson advanced to round three, the gap separating him and Tarasenko was much wider, likely in part due to Johnson having emerged from a weaker round one bracket. Is it a foregone conclusion that Tarasenko will advance to the finals next week? Maybe, but I’ll try my best below to give you food for thought that might at least make you think twice about reflexively voting for Tarasenko yet again here in week three.

Beyond that on the risers side, no d-man got a single round two vote. But that was somewhat expected considering only five rearguards were picked – on average – within the top 50 in 2014-15 Yahoo fantasy drafts, so there’s only so much higher that Carlson, Josi, and Ekblad can rise as compared to forwards. Pop quiz – which five d-men were selected, on average, in the top 50 of Yahoo drafts last season, and in what order were they selected? Use the comments to make your guesses.

As for the fallers, although I thought Alexander Semin had a decent chance to advance, especially since he’s still unsigned as I write this, I definitely didn’t see him winning the bracket, as he’d only garnered 29% of the votes in his round one match against some less capable competition. And Chris Kunitz, who almost didn’t even make it to round two (Jeff Skinner had just one fewer vote in the first round), easily took second place by branching away from what initially had been a crowded pack. Meanwhile, folks must think that Patrick Sharp’s trade to Dallas will boost his Yahoo draft position, since he finished last in the fallers bracket after easily coasting into round two.

Without further ado, let’s get to the all-important brackets for week three voting.


Bracket #1 – Risers


Vladimir Tarasenko - 159.6 average draft position – 77 games, 37G, 36A, +27, 18 PPP, 32 Hits, 264 SOG

I can’t fault anyone who voted for Tarasenko, as his numbers (stats and draft position) from last season amply justified selecting him to advance. But I feel like I have to continue to play devil’s advocate somewhat, as his 2014-15 production was front-loaded to a degree (39 points, +18 in first 37 games; 34 points, +9 in final 40 games). And the fantasy landscape is littered with highly touted players who caught fire for half a season, yet never managed to sustain point per game pace for an entire campaign.

And in keeping with what I said when covering Tarasenko in an individual cage match back in January, it’s hard to picture how he can put together more than 70-75 points in a season given the team he plays for and how hard it would be for him to improve upon his SOG per game. Given this, and in view of Tarasenko likely still being eligible only as a RW in Yahoo leagues, should it be a foregone conclusion that he’ll be a top 20 overall pick, as was opined by many in their comments to the forum polls over the past two weeks? Again – I’m just playing devil’s advocate, but maybe the answer is no?


Tyler Johnson - 177.5 average draft position – 77 games, 29G, 43A, +33, 17 PPP, 64 Hits, 203 SOG

Before voting, take a moment to do a side-by-side comparison between his stats and Tarasenko’s. We can see Johnson more than held his own, even doubling Tarasenko’s Hits output. Beyond that, Johnson is likely to retain dual position eligibility, as both a C and RW, which is highly coveted in many Yahoo leagues. And don’t forget that Johnson was picked – on average - 18 spots below Tarasenko in last season’s Yahoo drafts, so he wouldn’t need to climb as far as Tarasenko in order be a bigger riser.

However, although we know from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin that a team can have two centers who get drafted early, right now the mindset of the Yahoo poolie probably hasn’t embraced Johnson as truly comparable to Steven Stamkos; and it might take another season of top production before that could happen.

Click here to vote for bracket #1



Bracket #2 –Fallers


Chris Kunitz – 25.7 average draft position – 74 games, 17G, 23A, +2, 16 PPP, 211 Hits, 170 SOG

After barely squeaking into round two, Kunitz gained momentum and nearly captured first place in the fallers bracket. On the one hand, it’s hard to see how he’d slip too far in Yahoo drafts for 2015-16, since he does have a great deal of name recognition. Plus, when push comes to shove, poolies will likely be reluctant to keep passing over a guy in their drafts who still might end up playing with Sidney Crosby. But we also can’t forget that his fall from grace last season was well publicized and probably cost more than a fair share of fantasy teams their titles. As such, and with Kunitz turning 36 before the puck drops on the 2015-16 regular season, there could be concern that he’ll do even worse than 2014-15.


Alexander Semin - 119.9 average draft position -57 games, 6G, 13A, -10, 4 PPP, 30 Hits, 93 SOG

At this point, I’m wondering whether Semin remaining unsigned is causing him to surge in the polls. But voters should remember that not being signed as yet could actually be a benefit to him, as it means he still could land on a very good team, in which case Yahoo poolies probably would be inclined to take a flyer on him not too far below where he was selected in 2014-15 drafts.

All that having been said, there’s no disguising that Semin played terribly last year, and that’s when he did manage to play. And the difference between now and 2012-13, when Semin entered the season on a one year deal having to prove himself, is the $25M deal he pocketed in summer 2013. With that payday in the rear view mirror, it’s justified to wonder if he’ll be able to get motivated to succeed, in which case why should poolies use a top 200 selection on him?

Click here to vote for bracket #2


Voting for both brackets will close on Sunday July 26th, so make sure to cast your ballots in time. Next week it’s time for the final - see you then!



Cage Match Tourney Week 2 - The Biggest Risers/Fallers      
Cage Match Tourney - The Biggest Risers/Fallers      
Sidney Crosby vs. Connor McDavid (Part 2)      
Sidney Crosby vs. Connor McDavid (Part 1)      




Comments are closed.