This week, we’re talking about the overvalued players in the NHL Fantasy Hockey drafts so far. These players are entirely draftable and should be on any team whatsoever, but only if gotten at the right time and in the right league. Success in fantasy hockey depends on a lot of factors. Know your league’s settings and draft accordingly. This article will list a few players, in no particular order, who should not be reached for on the draft day.
NHL Fantasy Hockey Reaches
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators, D
2018-19 stats: 82 GP, 15 G, 41 A, 12 PPP, 274 SOG, 53 H, 144 BLK
With all the turnover that happened this offseason, fantasy owners are banking on an even bigger season from Nashville Predators defenceman Roman Josi. Star P.K. Subban departed for the New Jersey Devils, paving the way for Josi to be the clear number one defender in all aspects. On paper, it makes sense but in reality, expectations should be somewhat tempered.
Josi has been a great fantasy option for years. He has six straight years of double-digit goals and at least 40 points. His shots are among the highest at the position year in and year out. In fact, since 2014-15, only Brent Burns has more. Managing 15 goals and 41 assists when playing second fiddle to Subban is no small feat, so naturally one would think that since he’s out of the way things will get even better. Especially the uptick in power-play production. That’s all well and good; however, the problem lies with where he’s currently being drafted in Yahoo leagues.
As things stand right now, Josi is going about 40th overall in Yahoo leagues. That’s ahead of any defenceman not named Burns, John Carlson, Erik Karlsson, or Victor Hedman. Josi will probably get similar if not better numbers than last year, but to expect the fifth-best defenceman numbers is another issue. Health is always a factor, but Subban, John Klingberg, and Kris Letang are names you could wait on and get nearly the same value. Nashville added star centre Matt Duchene to hopefully bolster their man-advantage, but the Predators were still at the very bottom of the league in that regard. Expecting a massive boost to Josi’s PPP is wishful thinking at this point, even if a new coach is in town to try to fix it.
Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars, G
2018-19 stats: 46 GP, 27-15-2, 1.98 GAA, .934 SV%, 7 SHO
Vezina finalist Ben Bishop had a career year last year for the Dallas Stars. The 32-year-old set personal best in every major category except wins. In the postseason he looked unbeatable, and if not for a favourable bounce in overtime of Game 7 for the St. Louis Blues, we could be talking about a Stanley Cup champion.
The Stars have gotten even better on paper over the summer. Adding two quality veterans in Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry coupled with the growth of young standouts like Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz has Stars fans very excited. And for good reason. Bishop should be in for a good year. But he should not be the second goalie off the board, and he certainly shouldn’t be going in the first round. In Yahoo leagues right now, that’s exactly the case.
Bishop has been drafted around 14th overall in Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues. Mostly in the latter first or early second round. Yet, he started only 45 games last year. The 2015-16 season was the last time Bishop started more than 51 games. He simply doesn’t have the track record lately to be relied upon as a first-round pick. Of course, things could all work out and he’ll have the dream season Stars fans and fantasy owners want to see.
Bishop should be a good asset in the right league. But if you happen to be in one that favours wins and saves instead of the ratio stats, avoid Bishop. Wait and draft the workhorse types who will get totals based on sheer volume. Another thing working against Bishop’s value is the fact that Dallas will play the third-most back-to-back sets this year.
Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights, RW
2018-19 stats: 77 GP, 33 G, 40 A, 20 PPP, 199 SOG, 72 H, 71 BLK
Veteran winger Mark Stone joined the Vegas Golden Knights at the tail end of last season. In his 18 games with the team, he scored five goals and added six assists. Over the past five seasons, Stone has scored at least 60 points in four of them. Last year was career year in terms of goals, points, and power-play points.
Stone is one of the most effective players in the NHL. Truly, his impact on the ice and on his teammates cannot be overstated. His career Corsi For is 56.3% but was up to 60.3% in his time with Vegas. Unfortunately, advanced metrics like this don’t mean a thing in the world of fantasy hockey. Only the totals count. Stone has impressive numbers in that regard, but he’s currently going about 60th overall in Yahoo. That’s ahead of offensive juggernauts like Phil Kessel, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Mika Zibanejad, all of whom had more points, shots, and PPP than Stone.
Daily Faceoff has Stone projected to play on the second power-play unit for the Golden Knights, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him work his way to the top. He does contribute solid hits and blocks for a forward, averaging right around one per game of each. However, his totals in other areas don’t do enough to make him a near top-50 pick. Stone doesn’t shoot a ton – last year’s 199 shots were well above his career average. He has no PIMs to speak of, either. And even if he manages to crack the top power-play line, Vegas was 25th in the league last year, scoring at a 16.8% pace. He’s a special player in the real world, but in fantasy hockey, you could get more bang for your buck elsewhere. Banger leagues that count both hits and blocks are where he holds the most value.
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs, D
2018-19 stats: 82 GP, 20 G, 52 A, 21 PPP, 223 SOG, 61 H, 114 BLK
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly had himself a huge season in 2018-19. Rielly led the position in goals scored, was third in points, and fourth in shots. He even chipped in nicely in the banger categories considering how proficient his offence was.
There’s no questioning the firepower in front of Rielly on the Toronto roster. Their top-six is as formidable as anyone’s, and there’s great depth on the bottom-six as well. Newly resigned phenom Mitch Marner, a full season from William Nylander, and talented rookie Ilya Mikheyev should make the leagues fourth-best scoring team even deadlier. Despite all that, there’s reason to consider passing or waiting on Rielly in fantasy hockey drafts. The 25-year-old defender is going around 56th overall in Yahoo leagues.
Firstly, Rielly’s 20 goals were the product of an inflated shooting percentage. He shot over 9% last season, but his career average entering the season was 4.1%. Never before had he scored more than nine goals in a season. Secondly, the overall 5-on-5 shooting percentage of his linemates was over 11%, which is well above league average. Thirdly, his PDO was an unsustainable 104.0, which means he got lucky. On top of all that, stud offensive defenceman Tyson Barrie is now in the mix. Even though he’s not expected to chip away at Rielly’s top power-play spot, it will undoubtedly factor into the overall opportunities Rielly would see. In short, it would be rather foolish to expect a repeat of last season. The calibre of players you could get after where Rielly is currently being drafted is just as good.
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks, C
2018-19 stats: 71 GP, 28 G, 38 A, 22 PPP, 144 SOG, 42 H, 51 BLK
For all intents and purposes, Vancouver Canucks centre Elias Pettersson had a fantastic rookie season. Who knows what could have been if he hadn’t missed due to injury, but he still finished with 66 points in only 71 games. This translates to a 76-point pace throughout a full season. The fifth overall pick from the 2017 draft rejuvenated the Vancouver offence, and capped off a great season with the Calder Memorial Trophy.
The Canucks organization has improved the pieces around Pettersson, adding forwards J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland. Factoring in the experience of young players like Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes, the Canucks have a lot to be excited about. For fantasy hockey purposes, though, Pettersson is one-dimensional. His point-per-game ratio is excellent, and you can expect it to be as good or better this season. But that’s about the extent of his value. The power-play points are decent. He barely shoots, and he only had 12 PIMs last season. Pettersson is going around 49th overall in Yahoo.
The centre position is incredibly deep this season. There’s almost no reason to justify Pettersson as a top-50 pick. He’s going ahead of players who provide the same kind of point value but also contribute in other categories. Zibanejad again comes to mind, as well as Sean Monahan and Sean Couturier. Pettersson shot at a 19.4% clip last year, which is bound to drop. In points-only leagues, Pettersson is a fine pick. In most leagues, though, look elsewhere and let someone else buy into the Calder-winning hype.