In these Ramblings a couple of days ago, I discussed the aggregate rankings over at FantasyPros, focusing on players that I was higher on than the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). For those that missed it, just take a spin over there.
On the flipside, not all is rosy, and there are certainly players I’m lower on than others. Some by a bit; some by a lot. Here are some of the players with the largest disparity between where I have them ranked, and where the consensus sits on them to date.
Just note that things are subject to change. As camp wears on, we will receive new information and that will change some rankings. Most won’t change too much, but a few rankings will.
Expert Consensus Ranking: 53, Goalie 13
My ranking: 90, Goalie 17
What am I missing about a goalie that, by overall save percentage, has been about league average (not among starters only, that includes backups) since joining San Jose? What am I missing about a goalie who has had a league average expected goals saved above average (xGSAA/48) over the last three years (from Dispelling Voodoo)?
League average performance can be very good in fantasy hockey, but the team in front of that league average performance needs to be an elite one, and I’m not sure San Jose is elite. The team’s adjusted CF% last year was fifth in the league at 51.9 percent, which seems really good! Until you see it was 51.89 percent the year before when they were eighth in the league, and 51.44 percent two years ago when they were 15th. In that sense, the team hasn’t really changed much for a few years. So can we expect Jones to suddenly break out of nowhere? Even in his really good year in 2015-16, he finished up the year (40th) nearly within a round of where his ECR is right now (53). Unless you think he’ll repeat his 2015-16 campaign, this seems like a waste of a pick.
I’m just not as high on the Sharks as some others may be. It’s also a function of the position; if I don’t have one of the elite goalies like Carey Price or Braden Holtby on my fantasy roster, I don’t see the sense in using fourth, fifth, and sixth round picks on guys like Jones, Jake Allen, Pekka Rinne, or Andrei Vasilevskiy. I’d rather just wait and hope to hit on guys like Brian Elliott or Scott Darling.
Expert Consensus Ranking: 127, Defenceman 26
My Ranking: 155, Defenceman 31
With 12 goals and 42 points, it was a very good year for the young blue liner. However, it’s another young blue liner that will prevent Jones from reaching his fantasy potential, and will make the impending regression even worse.
At five-on-five last year, Jones shot 6.9 percent. The year before, it was 1.56. Going back to the start of his career, he managed 1.64, 5.68, and 4.09. That means he shot 1.31 percent higher last year than his previous career-high, a relative uptick of about 19 percent. That’s a lot. In fact, he scored eight five-on-five goals last year after having 10 (!) to his name for his first four years. It’s not like he will probably start shooting more, either, which could help mitigate a percentage drop, as his shot rate per minute last year was in line with his previous three seasons.
More than that, though, is the power-play issue. If the team keeps using a four-forward top unit with Zach Werenski on the blue line, he won’t be able to pile on the power-play points. With the impending goals drop, very little in the way of strong peripherals, and a lack of power-play production, it could be hard for him to live up to being a borderline top-25 defenceman in roto leagues. More than that, though, is the lack of upside; there are other d-men in the same range like John Carlson and Aaron Ekblad who could legitimately be top-15 roto defencemen if things break right. I don’t see that for Jones so long as Werenski controls a significant portion of PP time.
Expert Consensus Ranking: 111, Left Wing 26
My Ranking: 170, Left Wing 39
I do wonder if the ECR were completely up-to-date today where Parise would rank. Some of the analysts haven’t been update for a couple weeks, and the news that the left winger is battling a back injury should alter his rankings significantly.
The last time Parise played at least 75 games, let alone close to a full year, was 2011-12. Over the last four seasons he has played 67, 74, 70, and 69 for an average of 12 games missed per season. Beyond that, a back injury for a 33-year old player is incredibly hard to stomach. Maybe he’s fine by the time Opening Night rolls around, or maybe it’s something that lingers with him for the rest of his career.
Beyond that, as he’s aged and the injuries have piled up, he’s earning a lot less ice time. In the lockout-shortened season – his first in Minnesota – he was given 20:40 per game. That has declined every year since, bottoming out at 17:26 last year, his lowest since his rookie campaign in 2005-06. With the team as deep as it is on the wing, there is no real need to play him 19 or 20 minutes a game, let alone risk further injury. So even though his shot rate has been pretty consistent for four years, his shots per game continue to decline, and that’s bad for fantasy.
Even if he were healthy, a 25-goal, 60-point season would be his upside at the moment. That is in a full year with everything going right for him. At this point, he’s pretty much undraftable at his ECR, and even if the team says he’s healthy, I’m avoiding any 30-plus-year old player with back issues.
Expert Consensus Ranking: 103, Centre 33
My Ranking: 177, Centre 60
I truly do not understand Thornton’s ranking. He finished outside the top-125 players in roto leagues, and this year he’s coming off knee surgery as a 38-year old. His ice time continues to decline, as does his shot rate.
All this isn’t to say he doesn’t have value. In a full year, Thornton can push for 50 assists, and in roto setups, that can be very valuable as it gives such a huge leg up in one category. I just don’t want to select him in the first 10 rounds of a 12-team league when there are so many options at the centre position. There are other players who can provide as many assists but are younger without the injury history that can be drafted later like Alexander Wennberg.
Expert Consensus Ranking: 172, Right Wing 41
My Ranking: 194, Right Wing 43
Uncertainty of his role is a big reason that Backes comes in low for me, and is avoidable in drafts altogether. He won’t slot on the top line which is where the prime minutes are. He won’t slot on the top power-play unit, which is given the lion’s share of the deployment. He might slot next to David Krejci on the second line, which would be okay for fantasy, but he could also slot in the third line, which is a death knell.
I get wanting to draft him; he was a favourite of mine in roto leagues when he was slotting on the top line for the Blues. His across-the-board production was coveted. But a massive decline in ice time, an uncertain role at five-on-five with no role on the power play makes me nervous. I think last year’s production was about the high-water mark for him given his slotting on this roster, which means he’s being drafted at about where we can expect him to finish. Without the upside, I’ll pass on where he’s going.
If Patrick Marleau is indeed on Nazem Kadri’s line this year – remember that lines didn’t change much last year for Toronto throughout the year – that really limits his upside. He will still slot on the power play, but on a team with split units getting nearly equal share, that’s not a huge boon for him:
Kadri is back today, centring Komarov and Marleau, as was to be the plan for his absence on Day 1. Will it last through camp?— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) September 16, 2017
Not long ago, I mused that Kyle Connor might slot on the second line with Mathieu Perreault moving to the third line in more of a checking role. For now, anyway, that doesn’ seem to be the case:
#NHLJets lines this am: Laine-Scheifele-Wheeler, Perreault-Little-Ehlers, Connor-Lowry-Armia, Copp-Hendricks-Tanev, Matthias-Petan-Roslovic— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) September 16, 2017
I still think Connor deserves at least a chance to start on the second line. He’s not draftable in most leagues for now, but do keep an eye on him as exhibition season wears on. This guy is a talented scorer, and just needs an opportunity (much like Nikolaj Ehlers needed last year).
One interesting development from Chicago Blackhawks camp (aside from Richard Panik taking the spot I had hoped against hope Ryan Hartman might take) is the centre for Chicago’s second line:
Q on Schmaltz possibly getting a shot at second-line center: "could happen." Liked him with Sharp and Kane today. #Blackhawks— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) September 16, 2017
Schmaltz with Kane makes sense. Giving that line easier starts could help the offensive-minded players flourish, and strengthen the third line by moving Artem Anisimov down. We’ll see if it sticks, Coach Q is notorious for his line blenders.
- Dobber Hockey Ramblings: Cause vs Effect; Kucherov in Elite Company, EK Returns and More
- Ramblings: Lineup and Injury Updates, Kucherov Keeps Rolling - October 17
- Ramblings: Schwartz Pops Three; Carter Injured; Lineup Movement - October 19
- Eastern Edge: Getting Defensive
- Lining Up - The Bolts are Flashing, Some Kings are Rising from the Dead and More
- Injury Ward - October 18, 2017
- Capped: Evander Kane Belongs On Championship Rosters
- Cage Match: Cam Fowler vs Morgan Rielly