Ramblings: Interesting players with low ownership in Fantrax; How I prepped for my limited keeper draft;  (Sep 30)


The Fantasy Guide was updated eight times in the last three days. It’s going to get updated until Wednesday – or as late as Friday if something massive happens, but otherwise I will stop Wednesday afternoon. Just re-download the Guide when you want the latest one. I’m on top of the latest camp cuts, adjusting projections, making injury notes, and I’ve even moved the depth charts around as the news rolls in. I got your back!

Also, new this year: I launched this Guide in French. Please tell your French-speaking brethren that they can now pick up Le Guide des Poolers 2019-20 DobberHockey right here.


I had my first draft on Saturday. It’s a 14-team, 12-player keeper league that I’ve been in for about a decade (won three times, second twice) and it’s up against the gang at Forecaster magazine. It tracks points, but also gives a small percentage for PPPts, SOG, Hits and plus/minus. And any time you have a league with somewhat unique settings like that, with limited and not full keepers, the draft is all over the place. You want to take the young studs that play this year, but you also don’t want to overvalue young studs who aren’t playing this year since you can’t (or shouldn’t) keep them. People still do though. It was a 13-round draft and as always I had traded my picks 9th through 13th. This year was different in that I had also traded my 1st, 2nd and 8th rounders in a (failed) effort to make a charge to win last year.

My keepers: G – Ben Bishop, Connor Hellebuyck, David Rittich… C – Nathan MacKinnon, Nicklas Backstrom… W – Elias Lindholm, Jonathan Marchessault, Andreas Johnsson … D – John Carlson, Tyson Barrie, Victor Hedman, Josh Morrissey

Key decisions: Keeping Johnsson over William Karlsson, Cam Atkinson and Markus Granlund. I just really like Johnsson’s upside and I think ‘heart’ had a bit to do with this decision. But if ‘heart’ was in full control, wouldn’t I have kept my Dobber Darling Atkinson? So far, out of all my players, Johnsson is the only player to get offers though, so there’s that. Other decision: Keeping Rittich over another goalie I owned – Cam Talbot. I did this because I have Talbot in another keeper league and I want to hedge my bets. I’m 51%-49% in Talbot’s favor as you know, so this was strictly 100% hedging…Had to keep three goalies and four great defensemen, as these are the hardest positions to fill. Always easier to get a forward, especially off the wire.

Strategy: I tried hard to trade Backstrom for a mere sixth-round pick before the keepers had to be locked in. This way I could keep Granlund and use that badly-needed pick. No takers! Absolutely shocked at this, especially seeing the crap some people kept…I only had enough draft picks to fill my active roster. Zero picks for my bench! So I needed two defensemen, two centers and five wingers. Zero goalies. So the waiver wire is important.

The Draft: As usual, I used Fantasy Hockey Geek to rank my players in this league. It is a must for leagues that aren’t straight-up points and limited keepers (or not a keeper league at all). I went into the draft late since I didn’t pick until the third round. And what do you know? I got Granlund anyway. I have faith in his ability to bounce back, as his head was a bit of a mess after the deadline with so much going on in his life. He’s back and ready. I grabbed Granlund and Yanni Gourde in the third round. I grabbed two defensemen in the fourth round – Jeff Petry was a Top 10 player on my list, and he was still there around 50th. Like I said, with limited keepers and different stats, everyone’s strategy is different and you will often find that your highly-ranked players fall to you anyway. So no need to reach for them. After Petry I filled out my roster with Chris Kreider, Dustin Brown, Tyler Bertuzzi, Boone Jenner, Christian Dvorak and Filip Hronek.

After the Draft/Waivers: I looked at the results, pulled the from Fantrax and compared them to my list. The players I had ranked 59th, 63rd, 83rd, 88th and 109th were all still there. Makes me wonder why I don’t just trade a bunch of mid-range draft picks every year anyway. I bid on them on the waiver wire, looking to add one C, two W and one D to my bench. Ideally one of the forwards would be both C/W.

I ended up getting Nick Foligno (ranked 59th and is C/W), Dennis Cholowski (ranked 88 on my Geek list) and Danton Heinen (ranked 109) off the wire. And through some weird waiver thing that the commish is investigating – I got Cody Ceci instead of Drake Batherson. While I had Ceci on there as a backup bid in case I didn’t get Cholowski (Ceci is partnered with Morgan Rielly and also adds good value for Hits), he should not have been given to me since I won Cholowski. That caused my roster to fill, which I think cost me Batherson? Nobody ended up getting Batherson. Anyway, I hope that gets sorted out. The point is that the lowest ranked player I got on my list was 109th – which is like an 8th round pick!


While preparing for my drafts, I notice a lot of good young players still not cut from training camp with only 1% drafted status in Fantrax! Fantrax, of course, being the place where all three of my leagues are tracked. In many deeper leagues, these players should be considered, especially in keepers, because they may be able help sooner than you think…

Christian Dvorak, Arizona, 2% – As you’ll see from the next two names, Arizona is underrated. They won’t lead the NHL in scoring by any stretch, but last year they weren’t as terrible as they seemed. Looking at the last 75 games, they were still in the bottom third of NHL scoring, but they weren’t as bad as 27th. Dvorak leads the charge in terms of rebounding. His Breakthrough Threshold is now, and putting my money where my mouth is I drafted him in the above Forecaster League. My lowest pick was in the seventh round and I wanted him, even though he probably would have been taken in the 11th or 12th rounds. I have him for 41 points this year but he is one of the top Sleepers in my entire Fantasy Guide at 20% confidence.

Vinnie Hinostroza, Arizona, 3% – Not the greatest upside for the coming season (long-term, there is definite potential), but he’s still safe for 40 points and I have him for 48 (21 goals).

Conor Garland 1% – I originally had the young Garland for the high-20s this year but his impressive offseason and preseason had me adjust his projection. He is the only player in my Guide that I adjusted without an injury or training camp roster cut influencing it. I did this purely on his play and have him for 34 points now, with upside.

Rasmus Andersson 1% – Andersson had a strong second half and very good postseason for Calgary and I have him in the Guide for 28 points. While that’s ho-hum for defenseman, he does have upside and I have him as a pretty strong sleeper pick for 40 points. I would have thought that worthy of 5% ownership, with all the deeper leagues out there.

Taro Hirose, Detroit, 3% – He joined the Red Wings out of college (after a prolific Big10 career), promptly posted seven points in 10 games including assists in his first four NHL games, and now in the preseason he has four points in six games. But nobody wants to take the chance?

Jesper Bratt, New Jersey, 9% – Owners in 91% of the leagues out there are going to regret this one. Bratt had 17 points in his final 24 games last year. And now he’s either playing with Jack Hughes and Nikita Gusev, or he’s playing with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. He can’t lose! That is, unless he gets hurt. But I think he’s money in the bank and would love to own him in all of my leagues.

Dominik Kahun, Pittsburgh, 2% – He hasn’t been productive at all in training camp, but he is being kept on Evgeni Malkin’s line as they try to force it to work. To me, that should be good enough for more than 2% of leagues to have one owner taking a chance on him.

Joe Thornton, San Jose, 2% – Sure, he’s not going to get 60 points anymore, but he’s a safe bet for 50. That’s about 110th in scoring. Just 2% of leagues? Obviously this is due to his not helping so much in other categories, but there are a lot of points-only leagues that are included in this percentage, making it surprising. Jumbo Joe!

Cody Glass, Vegas, 4% – Right from the start I had Glass making the Knights and getting on the third line. I think he eventually gets some good PP time as well. And at the rate Paul Stastny gets hurt are you kidding me? Glass is worth sticking on your bench just for that moment alone. I have him for 31 points but you can make that 45 if Stastny gets injured earlier instead of later.


Interesting prospects at 1% owned in Fantrax Leagues…

Max Jones, Anders Bjork (strong camp), Andrew Mangiapane, Dominik Kubalik, Emil Bemstrom, Ethan Bear (awesome camp!), Tomas Jurco (if you believed in rolling the dice on Ty Rattie last year, same odds for this year – I’m always looking for the next Rob Brown or PA Parenteau), Josh Ho-Sang, Oliver Wahlstrom, Filip Chlapik, Joel Farabee, Jordan Kyrou, Alexander Volkov, Rasmus Sandin, Sami Niku, Nikolai Goldobin.

All of these players are still in camp and have good upside, other than the injured Kyrou who will perhaps see the most playing time of anyone on this list once he returns and gets in a few AHL games.


Other interesting observations:

Los Angeles has zero players at 100% or 99% drafted. Drew Doughty is tops at 98% and Anze Kopitar is at 96%.

Ryan Pulock is the second-top drafted Islander at 89% behind only Mathew Barzal.

Looks like 2% of people mistook some players. Islanders’ Sebastian Aho and Arizona’s Kevin Ekman-Larsson were each drafted in 2% of leagues! Whoops.

Justin Faulk is drafted in 96% of leagues on Fantrax. People obviously didn’t get the memo that he’s overrated and has no business being owned half that much.

William Karlsson is drafted in 93% of Fantrax leagues while Andreas Johnsson is drafted in 32% of leagues. And I kept Johnsson. Shit, I sure went out on a limb there. Anyone else seriously reach based on a hunch this year?


Some injury notes…

Jake Gardiner is said to be questionable for the season opener for the Hurricanes. They won’t say why, and all of us are thinking “uh-oh – his back!” I have him for 70 games this year, but if this back thing is not resolved then this number would obviously get cut down significantly.

Sidney Crosby missed practice yesterday. He blocked a shot in the final preseason game and was seen after the game limping – but without walking boot or anything like that. Could just be a bruise, but again the team won’t say.


You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

A reader wrote in yesterday with some questions about Dobbernomics. He just couldn’t believe that only 240 people or so had signed up to this amazingly-fun game that is not only free but has great prizes (20 of them, actually). I have no explanation. I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on TV ads for Dobbernomics, but if I did I’d spend it. The game is awesome and should have 50,000 players signed up. The thrill of adding a player at $2.5M after hearing he’s playing with Crosby or McDavid, and then collecting big points from him for a week, and then selling him for $3.1M and using that extra $0.6M on upgrading another position is real! Tremendous satisfaction when you get things like that correct. So put in your team, create a league with a few friends and not only beat them in total points, but beat them in maximizing your roster value. This is custom-made for you!

Next year this will be on a modern platform with an app. You’ll want to get used to the concept this year, give me feedback on what you’d like to see, and have a say in the next big thing.



By the way, I’ll be doing the draw for the Google Home on Thursday. So if you bought the Fantasy Guide and haven’t entered (still fewer than 100 have entered?), you better get on it!


One final plug. I've partnered up with NFC – the National Fantasy Championships. Not for any money, I didn't want any. I just wanted to be a part of it. NFC has massive high-stakes fantasy sports games. Up until now, they have had baseball and football going, with all the glitz and glamor of a hosted Vegas draft, high costs to join, with huge prizes in the tens of thousands. This year they are starting on hockey. They're starting small (well, still big but relatively speaking compared to football it's small – $150 games, give or take). Once they spread the word, they'll host something bigger in either Toronto or Buffalo. I want DobberHockey's name all over this. The game itself is not unlike the higher stakes Yahoo games, but from what I'm told it's much better run. Mike, Ian and Cam have put in teams and will write about their drafting and overall experience. You can check out the NFHC here. These are only for confident fantasy hockey players with lots of money to burn. So be smart!


See you next Monday


Still haven’t bought the Guide and you’re not convinced? I put together a little preview for you…