An intro into Fantasy Hockey
The most important part of any fantasy hockey season is the draft. You can work a waiver wire to improve your team, but starting off with a flawed roster will carry forward throughout the year. There is a lot of content out there already on how to build a winning team, but I can add a few more important tips that could pay huge dividends on draft day. As a fantasy hockey addict for the past 5 years or so, I’ve been perfecting my drafting craft and have a winning fantasy record over that time period.
- Most Important Rule: Familiarize yourself with the league settings.
This is something that a surprising amount of people don’t actually do and it is so simple. Take a quick look to see if your commissioner has edited any of the league settings from their default. How can you win if you don’t know the way the game is scored? The value of players, positions, and categories can change significantly from small adaptations to the original league settings.
Example: You are playing in a league that has three goalie categories (W, GAA, and SVP) instead of the default four (W, GAA, SVP, and SO). In doing this, the value of goaltending drops significantly. For players in standard Yahoo leagues, goalies makeup 40 percent of the scoring, but only account for about 20 percent of your roster. If your league drops a category, the gap in scoring percentage and percentage of roster room used will drop, limiting the value of quality netminders.
Quick Yahoo Tip: During the draft, two sets of rankings will appear. The default rankings will give you Yahoo’s opinions on player value based on their standard setting and the other set of rankings are based on the current league customization. If you are in a league that has been heavily edited, hold more weight to the rankings that take that into consideration.
- Look at a Variety of Different Expert Rankings
There are always going to be differing opinions on player value, but you should expect to see similar trends across outside rankings. Read a few different rankings and you should be able to pick out a few players that look to be ranked too low on your own draft hosting website. The rankings that show up during your draft will have a huge influence on when players are taken by your opponents. Do some quick research to find the guys who you need to scroll down the page and take early.
Example: Your league rankings have Ryan Getzlaf ranked as the 67th best player available but other expert rankings actually have Getzlaf ranked in the 40 to 50 range. This makes him a huge steal if you managed to take him at 60 for example. Your draft opponents are now surprised you grabbed him so far before his O-Rank, but you can smile knowing you made a good bet on an underrated player.
Quick Yahoo Tip: Create a consensus ranking list and import it to your pre-draft rankings. During the draft, you will be able to see your own customized ranking list and choose the right time to reach on Yahoo underrated guys.
- Have Some Kind of Position Filling Strategy
This can be tricky to nail down without having been exposed to a couple practice drafts. The layout of position is scattered pretty evenly throughout, but there is a difference in the drop off of player quality for each position. These are trends that you need to identify before you end up with a team with little positional depth. Having a predetermined plan of taking at least one of each position (C, LW, RW, D, G), before a certain round can keep you from ending up with too much of one position.
Example: You are half way through the draft and haven’t picked a single left winger. This can be fine if you have a few late round left wings in mind, but if you just ended up in that position because you couldn’t pass on certain right wingers, then you may have just really hurt your draft.
Quick Yahoo Tip: Yahoo rankings always seem to inflate rank for position scarcity. This is a good thing to know because you might see defense ranked above forwards even though their expected value is comparatively lower. This ranking is fair because you can’t find quality defencemen as easily later on in the draft. Follow the rankings when they have appropriately accounted for position scarcity and you should be in good shape.
- Go With Your Gut: Assume You Know Something Others Don’t
This tip may actually be the most important if you really want to dominate your league. If you believe in a player and you need to reach a few spots, neglecting the consensus rankings, take him. This is fantasy sports, it’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be about bragging to your friends that you know more than them. Make some bold predictions and grab some high upside players. You can finish well in a league by following the rankings, but you can’t finish first in a league without taking some chances.
Do your homework and you will see the results carry all season long.