Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CLS Fantasy Guide Part 5: Questions to ask yourself, the universe

I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves. But you have treated me like an intruder. Maybe it is not me who is the intruder but you.

Now that most of the "heavy lifting" is done, let's finish the main posts (I'll probably put together an all-in-one post to make it easier to navigate the information) with a more philosophical, open-ended piece. The Things You Should Ask Yourself

1. Which positions are emphasized and deemphasized in this draft?

The answer to this question is not always the same.

But there are some general rules.

For instance, Centers are the "Joe Montanas" of hockey. They're the blond haired, blue eyed poster children whom everyone wishes they could be. As such, the pivot spot is pretty much constantly overloaded with top-notch talent.

In leagues where all forwards are classified as simply "F" (instead of positions like C, LW, RW) that won't matter. But in the Yahoo! leagues and many others, it pays off to draft equally talented wingers early in drafts because those ranks tend to dry up mighty quickly.

It gets really interesting when you throw in D and goalies, however...

2. Goalies: overrated or a precious resource?

Ideally, you can end up with an elite goalie without having to expend a highly valuable top 2-3 round pick.

But if you're not so lucky, you have to ask yourself: "Settle for rapidly declining goaltenders just to get someone or live dangerously?" My general rule with biting the bullet on goalies: if there isn't a great forward or D around and there's a goalie you really want is available then go ahead.*

3. How important are defensemen?

When you consider that a hockey team dresses 6 defensemen to two goalies, it's surprising that there might be even less elite defensive players from a fantays perspective.

Mike Green? The Drew Brees of fantasy hockey in that he could, conceivably, be a first round pick. Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Gonchar, Andrei Markov, Zdeno Chara, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf and a handful of others can make a difference.

So it's all about how many D spots there are in your league. **

Ultimately, though, it's more important to make strong forward and goalie decisions.

4. Was that guy a fluke? Wasn't that guy a star just last year?

Obviously a full season cannot necessarily be a complete mirage, but when you're making crucial picks it's better to stick with guys who can keep producing big numbers. Am I saying that Steve Mason, Pekka Rinne and a host of other splashy young players will be busts next season? Not necessarily.

But it's probably wise to go with stable, un-sexy picks instead. Evgeni Nabokov is more likely to be worth a high pick, even if he's not going to blow you away or make you look brilliant for choosing him.

It's also important to remember how injuries can affect numbers. Brenden Morrow and Paul Stastny should have much better seasons, but you probably already knew that. However, what you might forget is that with their renewed playing time, another player has to suffer.

So don't be surprised if Loui Ericcson and James Neal fail to break through further than last season. It's because their captain is back.

5. Injuries matter

Marian Hossa could miss up to 30 games. Marian Gaborik is made of paper mache. Kari Lehtonen is affectionately known as "Splodey-Groin" (or took up the torch from Peter Forsberg).

In general, it doesn't pay to make big injury risks.

6. Finally, go with your gut

This is still your team and don't forget that even the best experts (and idiots like me) are human beings and have our own prejudices. If a ranking doesn't add up or you think Guy #30 could have a much bigger year than Guy #10, then so be it.

All this hogwash is just for fun. Might as well put your own stamp on it.

* Really though, keep in mind the fact that there really are only so many special goalies. As a general rule, always go for a guy who has a track record of success, a good team in front of him and - if possible -a crummy backup.

** For instance, I felt pressured to draft more D in the ESPN league because there were 5 D spots (to 9 forward and 2 goalies) and PPG, PIM and Average Time on Ice were categories that made a good offensive D more valuable.

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