Ramblings: Is Jones Average, Autopicking Your Draft

by Ian Gooding on September 23, 2018


When discussing the recent Erik Karlsson trade and whether it makes the Sharks a Stanley Cup contender, the host of a local radio talk show described Martin Jones as an average goalie. For the record, I don’t think this host was describing Jones from a fantasy perspective. So just how average is Jones in fantasy leagues? And is he average enough where Aaron Dell would pose a serious threat to steal from starts?

Just to get this out of the way, I don’t believe that Dell would steal starts from Jones outright. Jones has played in at least 60 games for three consecutive seasons. Only two goalies (Cam Talbot, Devan Dubnyk) have played more games and only three goalies (Braden Holtby, Pekka Rinne, Devan Dubnyk) have won more games over that three-year span. That’s the definition of a goalie that you can leave in your lineup and don’t have to constantly check Goalie Post to find out whether he’s starting.

But here’s where Jones becomes average. Over that same three-year span for the 42 goalies that have played at least 100 games, Jones is 24th with a .915 SV%. He is, however, 9th with a 2.40 GAA. So if save percentage is more of a function of the goalie’s ability and goals-against average is more of a function of the team’s ability, Jones is an average goalie who plays for an above-average team. So if Jones is traded to a team below the Sharks in the standings, his fantasy value takes a hit.

Simply put, Jones gets the job done for the Sharks. Plus he has led his team to a Stanley Cup Final, and he has the much bigger more long-term contract compared to Dell. That won’t stop Dell from being one of the league’s better backups. It’s possible that Dell could start more games down the stretch if the Sharks lock up a playoff spot early in a Pacific Division that has a lot of question marks throughout. Even with the Karlsson trade, I believe the Pacific will turn into a two-horse race between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. Take that for what it’s worth.

The Karlsson trade probably helps the fantasy value of each goalie compared to where it was before the trade, and it shouldn’t affect the number of starts each goalie receives. I don’t think it raises each goalie a tier unless your fantasy league only counts wins, which the addition of Karlsson should be good for. Karlsson is a solid defensive defenseman, but remember that he was a minus-25 last season and is coming off an injury. So I don’t honestly believe his addition will improve the ratios of each goalie much, if at all.  

Speaking of the Sharks, here's Karlsson sporting some new threads, not just for him, but also his new teammates. This jersey gets my thumbs up. 
 

 

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The Devils have re-signed winger Miles Wood to a four-year contract extension worth $11 million total. Wood was an RFA without a contract and will now report to the Devils. Wood probably isn’t on your draft list in standard-sized fantasy leagues, but he finished fourth on the Devils with 19 goals and also led the Devils with 84 penalty minutes. If his numbers are similar this season then there’s a chance that those in leagues that count goals and penalty minutes could take a flier on him, though.

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If your draft hasn’t happened already, it is no doubt fast approaching. So if you haven’t bought the Fantasy Guide, then what are you waiting for? As I said before, don’t just buy it the day of the draft out of desperation. You’ll want to take the time to read the articles and check out all the projections that all of the Dobber crew had worked hard through the summer to put together. Then come to your draft with a plan.

Plus when you purchase the guide, there is a coupon code inside where you can receive a discount on both the Fantasy Hockey Geek Draft Kit and Season Toolkit. If you play in multicategory leagues like I do, the Geek products are a must. These go well beyond the default rankings in your league or generic rankings that don’t take into account your specific league nuances. Not just league categories, but number of teams and positions required.

The Geek is helping me specifically with one situation that I currently face with one of my leagues. As you probably know, life sometimes gets in the way of fantasy drafts. Because of “life”, I will likely miss one of my live drafts next week. A co-worker on my day job (no, I don’t just work for Dobber) who has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and support for the past few years is leaving, so his going-away party is on at the same time as the draft. So I will have to autopick my draft. Yes, autopick. I know that's a dirty word for many of you, but that's what I'm going to do. I may be able to check up on the draft, but I’m not going to completely check out while I’m at this event either.

So if you have to autopick, does that mean you should bail on your league? Goodness no! But you’ll need to do some homework beforehand. I always recommend live drafting over autopicking if possible so that you’re not drafting a pile of third-string goalies and you’re able to adapt to the specific trends and nuances of your draft. This is a keep four players league, so I do have the advantage of picking my first four players ahead of time. So should you need to autopick, here are my suggestions:

  1. Set your rankings beforehand. Use the Geek tool for a list of customized rankings, then enter them accordingly. At the same time, use your own judgment on where a player should be ranked. If something looks weird then tweak it.
  2. Push players up if positions are scarce. You know those goalie runs that happen early in drafts? You may want to cover your butt and rank those goalies a little higher than normal. Because you don’t want to be stuck with Curtis McElhinney and Anders Nilsson as your goaltending tandem. I do get to retain one goalie, so I’m not under quite as much pressure here.
  3. Remove injured/retired players and players with little value. For example, you’ll probably want to move Henrik Zetterberg onto your Do Not Draft list because he may not have been moved off the league system rankings. For more players you may wish to either slide down your rankings or move to the Do Not Draft list, check out our Injury Report. Also look for players that have rankings or ADPs that are too high. For example, in Yahoo you’ll want to move Martin Marincin off your draft rankings, because he somehow has an ADP of 115 and is expected to play in the AHL. 
  4. Rank your players even if you will live draft. It doesn’t hurt to have a list of preranked players, plus it helps you plan ahead for your live draft.
  5. Be active on the waiver wire and trades after your draft. Did you draft too much of a certain position? Look for another owner who has a surplus in an area that you need. Maybe you can help each other out. Likewise, it’s not always terrible to have one or two crummy players at the end of your draft. It will at least force you to stay active on your league’s waiver wire for at least the first few weeks and get to those surprise players before other owners who are happy with their teams do.  
  6. Find another league next year. If the draft time always conflicts with your life, perhaps seek out another league with a more favorable draft time. There are the League Classifieds on the Dobber Forums for leagues looking for new owners, so there are plenty of choices out there. 

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

 

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