Over Owned Fantasy Hockey Players: Time to Drop/Trade
I just posted an article discussing under owned players that have been having strong seasons so far in 2016-2017 and are expected to continue to produce [https://4fandfurther.com/2016/12/29/under-owned-fantasy-hockey-players-christmas-2016-update]. However, fantasy teams need space on the roster for any additions. Therefore, some players will need to be cut (unless injuries open up availability). The following list indicates players who I believe are overvalued and thus over-owned across fantasy hockey leagues.
Anze Kopitar – LA – C (pre-season rank #24, current rank #242, 92% owned)
Kopitar has scored just one goal in his last 25 games and has a meager total of 3 so far this season. In 30 games played he has only added 13 assists to his point totals despite seeing just over 21 minutes of ice time in an average game. Don’t get me wrong, Kopitar is a great player and extremely valuable to the LA Kings. He just isn’t a top 25 fantasy hockey player. He is very solid, no doubt, and should therefore be owned in all deep leagues, but he does not have the offensive focus that so many other available players have. Especially given the depth of talent at center in the NHL right now where fantasy hockey managers can pick and choose between a long list of relevant centers, Kopitar’s value just isn’t that high. He is also getting older during a period where youth is taking over on the offensive side. You can’t wait around all season for Kopitar to maybe turn things around – only continue being patient if you are at the top of your league’s standings and you can afford to persevere in the hopes that Kopitar has a blazing finish to the season when the Kings will be taking a shot at a playoff spot.
Aaron Ekblad – FLA – D (pre-season rank #83, current rank #228, 88% owned)
Again, Ekblad is a top defender in the NHL and deserves to be owned in all deep leagues BUT he does not have the fantasy production this season to warrant such high ownership (#22 among all defensemen). After 37 games, the young American has only 7 goals and 3 assists. The -18 is really dragging the young defenseman down as well, despite the fact that Florida’s goal differential is only -13 (and -14 at even strength). Sure, he might turn things around but the Panthers are a defensive team and therefore the potential reward for patience is much lower. Better fantasy defensemen with lower ownership include Zach Werenski, Justin Schultz, and Andrei Markov – all of which play on better teams. Ultimately the best reason to drop Ekblad is the fact that the Panthers’ season has been a disappointment, especially after finishing 1st in the Atlantic last season (which resulted in over optimism being built into Ekblad’s pre-season ranking).
Alexander Steen – STL – LW/RW (pre-season rank #74, current rank #229, 78% owned)
After a surprise emergence as a top fantasy asset in 2013 (62 points in 68 games buoyed by a 15.6% shooting percentage), Steen has been declining every season since. This year, in 31 games played, Steen has only managed 44 shots on goal (and 3 goals scored) which puts him on pace for an embarrassing 110 SOG and 8 goals this season. The -12 rating is also a cause for concern given it is the worst rating on the Blues (2nd worst is -7 which is a five way tie between Berglund, Shattenkirk, Fabbri, Upshall, and Pietrangelo). His 15 assists are good but all other indicators point to a disappointing season. I’d argue for a turn-around if he had more shots on goal and a better plus-minus or if St. Louis was playing uncharacteristically bad, but Steen just doesn’t appear to be playing good hockey. Perhaps the 32-year old is checking out – exchange him for a newer model.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – SJ – D (pre-season rank #139, current rank #218, 66% owned)
Vlasic is the perennially dependable Sharks defensive defenseman. His career-high 39 points last season caused the fantasy hockey world to conjure a false hope that the 29 year old suddenly became an offensive threat. Brent Burns will always be San Jose’s offensive quarterback on the blueline and 2015 was merely a blip in Vlasic’s point production. He’ll generally be dependable for PIMs, blocked shots, and plus-minus (despite being +0 to date in 2016-2017), but point production is more of a long shot for Vlasic. He sees minimal powerplay time and oversees defensive assignments for the Sharks. Aim to exchange Vlasic for someone with a higher ceiling.
Jake Muzzin – LA – D (pre-season rank #106, current rank #343, 63% owned)
Plain and simple, Muzzin is having a poor season for fantasy hockey managers with only 3 goals, 4 assists, and a -7 rating in 36 games. My advice is to part ways quickly. Doughty isn’t doing much better but at least he quarterbacks the first powerplay unit and sees almost 30 minutes of ice-time some nights. There are too many defensemen in the league who have been more dependable so far who are available in many leagues. Muzzin will not see another 40 point season (career high 41 points in 2014 and also 40 points in 2015) this year. Guys like Markov, Rielly, and Severson have a much better chance of reaching 30 and over.
Patrick Sharp – DAL – LW/RW (pre-season rank #84, current rank #642, 58% owned)
Sharp has had injury issues again this year. He has only played in 11 games and has generated only 1 goal and 1 assist in that time. Only keep Sharp on your roster if you have an available place on your IR for him. Most other injured players deserve a contested IR spot over Sharp because of Sharp’s bad health history. 35 year old players just can’t battle concussions and other nagging injuries like youngsters can. He just isn’t dependable when you need him active and producing for your fantasy team. Patiently devoting an active roster spot to Sharp yields too much risk and provides too little reward.
Bobby Ryan – OTT – RW (pre-season rank #126, current rank #327, 48% owned)
I made the mistake of drafting Ryan while Stone and Hoffman were still available. I’ve regretted it ever since but I also dropped Bobby several weeks back and have not regretted that decision, even when he scored in four straight games between December 14th and 20th. 7 goals and 7 assists in 31 games just doesn’t get me excited – and I don’t think this is set to improve when the Senators are focusing on developing their younger talent. Ottawa is also 21st in goals for per game played. Therefore, there isn’t an abundance of upside potential here, especially for a player averaging ~1.5 SOG/game. Ryan’s ownership has already fallen over the course of the season; I expect it to drop into the 30% range because there are more exciting players who are still available across many leagues.
Andrew Ladd – NYI – LW (pre-season rank #79, current rank #369, 46% owned)
Before the season I projected that Ladd would do okay with the Islanders, but not great. So far though he has been absolutely miserable. He has only 4 assists in 35 games played and 7 goals on 57 shots which is also very disappointing. I stuck behind Ladd a few months ago, discussing the possibility that his slow start was merely due to an adjustment period while playing new systems on a new team. The “adjustment” excuse can’t be used for much longer (if at all). This appears to be a fit issue– the Islanders have been cutting his ice-time to around 14 minutes per game. Another 25% of managers should be cutting ties with Ladd, and quickly (yes, despite his current 3 game point streak).
Hampus Lindholm – ANH – D (pre-season rank #167, current rank #445, 39% owned)
Ownership is already somewhat low on Lindholm, but I believe it should be lower still. Why he was ranked top-170 in the first place slightly boggles my mind – he generated 28 points in 80 games played last season which is acceptable but not fantasy relevant unless you are in deeper leagues. His career-high 34 points isn’t much better and it was widely known that there were contract negotiation roadblocks prior to the first puck drop of 2016-2017. Any additional value Lindholm might have obtained competing to be Anaheim’s #2 offensive defensemen evaporated when Fowler had a strong start to the year (before Lindholm even saw his first game). In 25 games played the 22 year old has registered only 1 goal and 4 assists. Replace the young Swede with a category-coverage star like Gudas or another emerging young defenseman like Severson or Provorov (all three have lower ownership).
Jussi Jokinen – FLA – LW (pre-season rank #103, current rank #478, 33% owned)
Jokinen had a huge season last year, benefiting from Florida’s 1st place Atlantic finish. He generated 60 points in 81 games played. This year however, Florida has not experienced a repeat of their prior success. The Panthers are 15-14-8 so far and Jokinen has registered only 2 goals, 5 assists, and 51 shots on goal in 27 games played. These totals are extremely lacking and do not warrant patience for a potential turnaround. If you’re convinced that the Panthers will improve in the second half of the year, take a shot at Trocheck who has been averaging over 21 minutes in ice-time per game and is only slightly more owned. Ultimately, Jokinen’s performance so far warrants a single digit ownership percentage – drop him and keep an eye on him if you can’t completely drop the idea of having him on your fantasy team.
image source: mayorsmanor.com