The top-10 seasons that shocked fantasy owners for their top-tier production.
There are always a few players that leave us with our mouths agape at the end of the season.
These are players that not only outperformed expectations, but thoroughly smashed them. Maybe some were late round picks that turned into first-round value, others might be players that were on the waiver wire at the start of the season that were quickly scooped up during a hot streak and then never dropped. Whatever the reason, the 10 players below all had their reasons for shocking us this season.
10. Matthew Tkachuk
While much of the rookie talk has revolved around Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Mitchell Marner, Tkachuk has actually has had the highest-ranked rookie season on Yahoo. He’s the 28th-ranked skater in leagues that count goals, assists, plus-minus, power play points, PIM and shots. The next-highest rated rookie is Laine at 51st. Tkachuk looks primed to be the next great roto option but we certainly didn’t expect him to hit this level this quickly.
9. Eric Staal
Staal is not the washed-up player that many of us thought as he has rejuvenated his fantasy career in Minnesota, and has shown great chemistry with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. His 26 goals are his highest in five years and his 59 points are much better than so many of us anticipated. It just goes to show that we should never count out the veterans in fantasy.
This was the breakout year that many have been anticipating from Granlund ever since his draft year. He’s almost doubled his career high in goals at 25, and has set new highs in assists (42) and points (67). Throw in career highs in power-play goals, power-play assists, shots, plus-minus, and shorthanded points, and Granlund has pretty much contributed in every fantasy category there is.
You can count me among the group of people who thought Draisaitl was going to have a setback season. Most of his success in 2015-16 came from playing with Taylor Hall. Once Hall was shipped to New Jersey, it seemed as if Draitsaitl’s production would plummet. He has had even better chemistry with Connor McDavid, however. Draisaitl has 74 points, and is one of the hottest players in the league with 18 points in his last 10 games.
6. Conor Sheary
To appreciate Sheary’s season, you can’t just look at the overall numbers. Fifty-one points don’t sound that great, but then you realize he did it in just 58 games. He has been accomplishing everything without little power play success as he has just four points with the man advantage. For the future, he looks to be firmly entrenched as Sidney Crosby’s linemate. He won’t be shocking anyone next season.
Schultz was pretty much considered a bust last summer. Despite all that talent in Edmonton, he was never able to live up to expectations. However, he won a cup in Pittsburgh last year, and re-signed with the Pens for a small cap hit. Then the Penguins defensemen started getting injured, and that gave Schultz a chance to shine. He’s only two points away from hitting 50 points, and is ninth overall for points by a defenseman. And he’s the seventh-best defenseman in Yahoo roto and head-to-head leagues.
4. Zach Werenski
Sure, he was a highly-touted rookie. But this season was something else for the 19-year-old as Werenski has 46 points already. That’s a mark only 26 other rookie defensemen have hit in the history of the league. With four games left, Werenski has a chance of getting to 50 points, which is a mark that only 16 rookie dmen have made. He leads all defensemen in plus-minus, is tied for second in power play points, and is fifth in shots. A truly outstanding year from Werenski.
He wasn’t that far off the radar, but there weren’t many who predicted that Pastrnak’s breakout season would be so soon, especially when it came to goal-scoring. Many thought Pastrnak would be lucky to get 20 goals. But Pastrnak found great chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and now has 32 goals. He’s also just two points away from 70.
2. Peter Budaj
You won’t find many surprises looking at the top goalies in Yahoo roto and head-to-head leagues. It’s littered with elite players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, Devan Dubnyk, Carey Price and Tuukka Rask. Even Cam Talbot isn’t that surprising considering the Oilers were due for a breakout season at some point. But sixth on the list is Budaj. It’s amazing that he’s still ranked so high considering he’s barely played in the last month once he was dealt to Tampa Bay.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a column where I was so certain who the number one choice would be before I started writing. A year ago, Marchand put up a then-career high with 60 points and very few thought he would hit that mark. Marchand has been absolutely unbelievable this season. He’s second in goals with 39 and third in points at 85. He’s the top ranked player in Yahoo roto and head-to-head leagues, and is easily the fantasy hockey MVP.
There were a lot of players that shocked us this year. Here are an extra 10:
Frederik Andersen: Pretty much stayed healthy for the whole season and the Leafs were better than expected.
Viktor Arvidsson: One goal away from 30, three points away from 60.
Patrick Eaves: Hit 30 goals for the first time in his career and proved he can keep up with elite linemates.
Nikolaj Ehlers: The quietest 60-point performance of the season.
Sam Gagner: Became a power-play specialist while playing fourth-line minutes.
Nazem Kadri: Not as much hype because of his rookie teammates, but has already hit 30 goals and stands at 58 points.
Cam Talbot: Leads the league in games started, and is second in wins and shutouts.
Radim Vrbata: Proved that getting away from the Sedin twins was actually best for his career.
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