I win a lot in fantasy hockey. I often win the league and am almost always a top threat. There is one common thread I have followed in my success in head-to-head leagues. I don’t overpay for defensemen. It just isn’t necessary. There are several factors against it.
(Note: For an opposing viewpoint, see Russ Miller's article HERE )
If you play with daily roster changes, you really can roll with little to no defense. Many players have thrived in leagues with a hole or two in their lineup, and it is always on the backend. This is just because the value of a defenseman pales in comparison to that of rotating a higher scoring forward in and out of the lineup. Now in some leagues you are required to carry defensemen due to position game limitations or weekly roster moves only, but many others lend themselves to the disregard of the blueline. Still, in whatever league you are in, and whatever style it is, you can discount anyone but the most elite of defenders, and come out ahead. Here are some of the reasons why.
The Spread is Small- When you think of an average, easy to obtain point producer from a forward position, many people would think 40 points is realistic. In contrast, defensemen producing at a 25-point level pop up on the free agent list every year in abundance. Now consider the top point producer in the game for each. Last season, Lidstrom had 70 points and the previous season was Niedermayer with 69. In total there are five or so players each year that reach the 60-point plateau in this NHL and then down from there. So, if one player of those players (both getting old by the way) reaches 70 points or so, that is a 45-point improvement between an average waiver-wire addition and the best in the game.
If you look at just goals, the difference would be around 25 for the leader (only 19 last year) to eight or so for the run-of-the-mill defenseman. That is a 17-goal swing and that is being optimistic. So 45-point spread and 17-goal spread on defense. If you look at offense, any given year a player can have 110 points or even significantly more. With an easy to obtain player producing 40, that is an astronomical 70-point swing. Ovechkin will continue to push the ceiling for goals in the NHL each season, but in general, you can usu