Ramblings: Thoughts on dynasty drafting, Backes, Kreider, and ADPs (July 22)

by Michael Clifford on July 21, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Thoughts on dynasty drafting, Backes, Kreider, and ADPs (July 22)

Thoughts on dynasty drafting, and guys whose ADPs to follow throughout the summer.

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I frequently find myself listening to SiriusXM radio, specifically the fantasy sports channel. It’s a good way to pass the time, and a very easy way to consume information without having to really work for it.

Listening in a couple of days ago, there was a discussion on one of their shows – I can’t, for the life of me, remember which – about how to draft in dynasty. I think that’s a worthy discussion.

To be completely honest here, I have never done a dynasty fantasy hockey league. I am currently in three keeper leagues, the longest having gone on for five seasons now. Also a few baseball and football keepers. In that sense, I can’t really speak to being in a true dynasty league; one where after the initial draft, the only drafts that occur in subsequent seasons are rookie drafts. Not sure why I haven’t, I just have not.

In my experience – and experiences may vary – the initial draft of keeper leagues see a lot of rookies, or very young players, go earlier than they would in re-draft (one-year) leagues. This makes sense, obviously, in terms of long-term roster value. What it also does is undervalue more veteran players in the short-term. I like to typically “go for it” in the initial draft of a keeper league i.e. draft more like it’s a one-year league than a keeper.

This method of drafting doesn’t always work, but I’ve found success. There is an inevitable early rebuild that comes after a year or two, but that goes with the draft strategy. This strategy also only works with deeper keepers like 8-10 players, not ones where owners keep two or three.

So let me know in the comments. Which do you think is the better approach for an initial dynasty draft: going for it early to take advantage of undervalued veterans, or drafting rookies/sophomores early and taking a long view for success?

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Almost three months ago now, one of my Ramblings discussed the early rankings over at ESPN. Well, there was an update recently, and I wanted to go over some more players here.

A reminder: this isn’t a post disparaging or dissecting another person’s rankings (Sean Allen did these). The intention here is to start gauging public opinion before we get solid average draft position data. People have their own processes, but I typically like to get a feel for early ADPs, generate my own rankings (sometime in late August), and track ADPs through September. This gives an idea as to who is starting to get overvalued – the steam on Tyler Toffoli’s ADP last year was bonkers by the end of draft season – and who is starting to get undervalued by tracking ADP movement over a couple of months.

Zach Parise (Now: 72; Was: 67)

In a 12-team league, an ADP of 72 puts Parise at the end of the sixth round. That is about three rounds later than he was going last year, and follows a season where he posted his lowest goals (25) and points (53) totals in any season he’s played at least 50 games since 2005-2006. The thing is, there were only 16 players to hit 25 goals, 25 assists, and at least three shots per game last year (from Hockey Reference):

A couple of problems here are there that Parise is a year older now, and has gone through three straight seasons without playing 75 games. With that said, I think Parise’s season last year is about his floor. This isn’t a player, barring injury, that will see further drop off just yet. He won’t score 17 goals and manage 44 points if he plays 74 games next year. That is what makes his ADP a bit more palatable; the floor is still reasonably high.

Depending on roster composition, I don’t see much problem with Parise at the end of the sixth round per se. I would, however, probably just wait a round or two and grab Jaden Schwartz or Gabriel Landeskog.

David Backes (Now: 87; Was: 81)

Quite simply, from 2008-2009 through 2014-2015, Backes was one of the best rotisserie performers in the league. Over that span, from Hockey Reference, he was one of three players to manage 150 goals, 150 assists, 500 penalty minutes, and 1200 shots on goal (the others were Scott Hartnell and Corey Perry). However, like Nelly Furtado said, “flames to dust… all good things come to an end.”

The thing with Backes is that at five-on-five, he was very reliant on Alex Steen over his career. Over that span mentioned earlier, the difference for Backes playing with Steen (over 2200 minutes), and playing without Steen (nearly 5000 minutes), was over 0.5 points per 60 minutes, via Hockey Analysis. While his mark without Steen of 1.72 points per 60 minutes isn’t poor, it’s a far cry from what he did alongside one of the most underrated left wingers of the past decade. In that sense, Backes will need a top-end winger in order to not see his point totals drop further from the 45 he posted last year.

Does Backes actually play centre? We’ll see. He said he expects to. If he does, that’ll kill any real fantasy value. Boston is not very deep at the wing, and assuming Brad Marchand is back on the top line (he will be), that leaves what, Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak? There isn’t a lot of wing depth to go around on that team. If Backes does play centre, he’s undraftable inside the top-100.

Now, if Backes ends up on David Krejci’s right wing, now we’re cooking with gas. It would give him a sheltered top-six role, a playmaking centre, and likely around 19 minutes a game. That is assuming Krejci is ready to go for the start of the season, which he should be

Whether or not Backes is a viable top-100 pick will depend on where the Bruins slot him. If he’s lined up at centre, scratch him off your draft list.

Tyler Johnson (Now:148; Was: 140)

Where was Johnson being drafted last year? Second round? Maybe third?

There is no way around it, last year was a bad year for Johnson owners (no snickering!) He was about half as productive as he was the year before, and missed 13 games to boot.

Johnson was going to regress – Tampa Bay shot over 11-percent with him on the ice at five-on-five in 2014-2015. That’s absurd. Last year that fell to about 8.6-percent, which is more normal. But the degree he fell off was astounding. 

The problem was that Johnson only managed a point on 56.4-percent of the goals scored at five-on-five with him on the ice (Individual Points Percentage, or IPP). That was 231st out of 260 forwards with at least 750 minutes played last year. Either he’s an awful playmaker, or he was a bit unlucky. I wonder which is more likely…

Had Johnson played 80 games, and managed a point on goals closer to his rate in 2014-2015 (about 75-percent), he’s roughly a 50-point player. Not great, but it would look a lot better than what he did.

We do know that Tampa Bay should have a healthy Stamkos, Drouin, Palat, Kucherov, and Johnson in their top-six. We also know that he was unlucky in the rate that he accumulated points at five-on-five last year. Finally, we know that after shooting nearly 14-percent in his first two seasons, he probably won’t repeat his sub-9-percent performance from last year.

I see a significant rebound for Johnson this season. He probably won’t get back to the 70 point plateau, but it’s not unreasonable to think he gets close to, or surpasses, 60. If his ADP is anywhere outside the top-100, he’ll be on every single one of my rosters. This is a guy to really keep an eye on.

Chris Kreider (Now: 172; Was: 163)

So, uh, Kreider had as many goals last year (21), as the year before, and only three fewer points. It was an abysmal start to the season with just six goals in 38 games, but he finished very strong. I think people will really just remember his terrible start, and no production progression from the 2014-2015 season, and that’ll depress his ADP. This is very good news for those that want to draft him.

I went to Hockey Reference’s Play Index and wanted to look something up: how many players in the last two seasons had 20 or more goals, 20 or more assists, at least 50 penalty minutes, and a plus-10 rating in each of those two years. The answer:

In either of those seasons, only 11 players have reached all of those marks. Only Ovechkin and Kreider have done so in both years. Those aren’t eye-popping totals; they’re reasonably modest as far as fantasy targets go. Now, I shouldn’t have to say this, but he is not in Ovechkin’s league. But obviously he has rotisserie value, and there’s reason to think he can be better next year. Also, plus/minus is wonky, and the Rangers defence is bad, but having Lundqvist in net helps immensely. 

Remember the IPP I talked about with Johnson, and how bad his was? Kreider’s was worse at 54.7-percent. The nature of his game means he probably won’t be a guy that’s perennially in the 70-percent or higher range like Johnson could be, but he certainly won’t repeat 54.7-percent. He will be over 60-percent next year, and that will add a handful of five-on-five points alone.

But this is it, right? This is the year that Kreider is given prime minutes? Not toiling between the second and third line all year? Not 15-16 minutes a game, but more in the 17-18 range? I know Alain Vigneault likes to spread the ice time around, but Kreider's time has come (hopefully).

I don’t have a ton of faith in the Rangers as a whole, particularly their defence, but their top-six looks solid again. Kreider’s point totals should increase through regression alone, and with some more ice time, 50 points is in the mix. With his production in peripheral stats, he’ll be a steal anytime after the 10th round.

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Just a few more quick hits on ADPs I will follow closely starting with these rankings from Mr. Allen:

Alex Steen (Now: 59) – I love Steen as a player, but I think he’s entering the phase of his career where he’ll be much more useful as a real-life player than a fantasy player. He also may not be ready to start the season depending on how he recovers from his surgery. Like Parise, if he’s one of the left wing options on the board at this draft slot, I’ll just wait and draft guys like Schwartz or Landskog. 

Jordan Eberle (Now: 120) – Eberle had one more goal last year than the year before, and did so in 11 fewer games played. The assists fell off, but if he’s on Connor McDavid’s wing as he was last year, I am not letting him fall outside the top-100. In fact, I would probably draft him closer to 75th. His ADP, and his line mates in training camp, will tell the tale here.

Brendan Gallagher (Now: 122) – I’m all in. If he doesn’t get hurt last year, he pushes 30 goals and 60 points. With the peripheral stats, and a healthy Carey Price, Gallagher will be the across-the-board roto performer that David Backes has traditionally been.

Cam Atkinson (Now: 170) – After the breakout finally happened, I don’t suspect there will be a slowdown here. There won’t be any significant steps forward, but 25 goals and 50 points seems reasonable again.

 *Stats from Hockey Reference and Hockey Analysis