Collins takes a look at the Top 10 ESPN too low/high rankings
In my column last week about the top 10 Yahoo positions that were off, there were a couple of posters that said they would like to see a list about ESPN rankings.
I've never used ESPN for fantasy before, but I decided it would be an interesting top 10 list, and spent the past week looking at their rankings and getting used to their categories.
Something to keep in mind is that a standard ESPN league uses different categories from a standard Yahoo league. ESPN leagues have goals, assists, plus-minus, PIM, power play points, average time on ice and shots on goals as standards. The average time on ice is most key, as a guy like Ryan Suter would be more valuable in a standard ESPN league than a standard Yahoo league.
On top of that, goalies only count for three categories (wins, goals against average and save percentage) while forwards and defensemen count for seven categories, so goalies have less impact in ESPN leagues. After all, you can lose all the goalie cats and a skating cat, and still win your matchup in head-to-head leagues.
So due to popular demand, here are the top 10 rankings that are off too much in ESPN leagues.
10. Thomas Vanek, 84th overall, too high
Vanek isn't the player he was five years ago. Heck, he isn't the player he has two seasons ago, when he had 27 goals and 68 points spread among three teams. Despite being paid $6.5 million in each of the next two season, Vanek isn't a golden boy in Minnesota, and may be surpassed on the depth chart by younger players such as Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. His ice time dipped last March when Minnesota was fighting for a playoff spot, so that may become the norm this season.
9. Max Domi, 164th overall, too high
Similar to last week in the Yahoo rankings, Domi is ranked too high for what he can contribute in fantasy hockey this season. Even if he makes the Arizona Coyotes —not a guarantee at this stage — he is still a centre on a pretty bad team. He'll have no help offensively, his plus-minus will be a minus, and his time on ice should be low, since he'll be behind Antoine Vermette and maybe Martin Hanzal on the depth chart. He'll be a great player at some point, but he's in a bad situation for this season.
8. Johnny Gaudreau, 24th overall, too high
ESPN is expecting huge things from Johnny Hockey, but I think they may be overestimating him just a little. They are counting on Gaudreau to hit 75 points, be a plus-nine, take 204 shots and average 18:34 minutes per game. Those are some lofty numbers for a sophomore. All you need to do is look at last season, when sophomores Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, Olli Maatta, Tomas Hertl, Ryan Murray and many others suffered with injuries and on the ice. With many expecting a decline from linemate Jiri Hudler specifically and the Calgary Flames in general, signs could be pointing to a downturn for Gaudreau.
7. Alex Galchenyuk, 103rd overall, too high
As a Habs fan, I want Galchenyuk to be ranked higher. I want him to score 30 goals and be a 60-point threat. I want him to play on the top line with Max Pacioretty. I want him to be trusted as top power play threat. But as a Habs fan, I know none of these will happen. Despite the Habs needing scoring, Galchenyuk plays just 16:25 a night, and that doesn't seem to change any time soon judging by comments from Habs officials this past summer. Until the Habs make a commitment to Galchenyuk, a ranking of 103rd is much too high, especially since he doesn't get enough penalties or shots or average time on ice to be much relevant in these type of leagues.
6. Kris Letang, 91st overall, too low
When healthy, there may not be a better defenseman in fantasy hockey than Letang. Sure, he may not be as offensively-gifted as Erik Karlsson, but Letang contributes in all categories. His plus-minus is generally high, he's good for a penalty minute a game, he's dynamite for power play points, he plays a ton and he takes plenty of shots. The problem is he is never healthy enough, so fantasy owners are wary. In ESPN leagues, Letang is ranked 91st overall. That's too low. Bump him up for your drafts, and pray that he doesn't get injured.
5. Bobby Ryan, 69th overall, too high
I don't like Bobby Ryan's situation in Ottawa at all this season, at least not from a fantasy standpoint. He's going to be playing on the second line, second power play unit, and is coming off three subpar seasons. He hasn't cracked 30 goals in four years, and hasn't been at 70 points in five years. Now, with the extra pressure of a huge contract, and less ice time, it doesn't look like Ryan can be a top-70 fantasy producer.
4. Brandon Dubinsky, 186th overall, too low
Dubinsky is undervalued in fantasy hockey because of injuries, but he's actually an excellent fantasy option as he contributes to many categories. Last season, Dubinsky had 13 goals and 36 points in 47 games, and averaged 18:03 minutes per game. I can't see that changing too much this season. Dubinsky will still see plenty of ice time, and take plenty of penalties. He's ranked too low for this type of setup.
3. T.J. Oshie, 33rd overall, too high
Oshie should never be ranked as the 33rd overall player in any fantasy league. The 28-year-old has had plenty of chances in St. Louis, and he's only scored 20-plus goals once or 60-plus points once. There may be plenty of fuss about him being a Capital now, but there's no guarantee that he'll play with Alexander Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom, or that he will have chemistry with them.
2. Patric Hornqvist, 101st overall, too low
Hornqvist finds himself in an enviable position in Pittsburgh. Besides Phil Kessel, he's the only player guaranteed to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin this season. And last year, Hornqvist had his best points-per-game season ever, and would have hit career highs in goals and points if he didn't miss 18 games because of injury. If healthy, he'll be good for at least 30 goals, 60 points and 250 shots, and should be a top-75 fantasy asset.
1. Andrei Markov, 116th overall, too low
Because of P.K. Subban, Markov has played the role of second fiddle to a tee, and has become one of the most under-appreciated defensemen in fantasy hockey. But in standard ESPN leagues, Markov is as reliable as they come. To start, he's only missed two games in the last three seasons combined, so his injury history seems to be just that: history. In the last three years, he's tied for 13th in the league for goals, ninth for assists, 17th for plus-minus, seventh in minutes played, and 38th in shots. And that doesn't include the power play, where he's netted 69 points in three years. There's always talk of reducing his minutes, and it never happens. So as long as he keeps getting plenty of ice time, he should be ranked much higher than as the 19th-best defenseman.
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