Finally, fantasy hockey is back! And there’s no time to waste! Here are the biggest turds — the most overrated, overranked, and overpriced players for 2014-15. Others will be suckered in by their siren songs of seduction. But not you. No. You are going to plug your ears and tie yourself to the mast of your fantasy ship. And then you will watch and laugh as others crash upon the rocky shores.
Or, you know, I’m wrong, and you’ll be mad at me. Either way.
The rankings below are based on an auction draft in Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey. Why Yahoo!? Because I like it. What’s an auction draft? It gives you $200 to spend on 16 players, and the opportunity to bid on every player that is nominated (the participants take turns nominating players). The average price you will spend on each player is $12.50. Does this help me in my non-auction draft with some other website? Of course. Just make sure you rank these guys a lot lower than otherwise.
Now here you go:
12. Dany Heatley, LW/RW, Anaheim Ducks
Yahoo! Value: $5
Average Value So Far: $2.50
My Value: Negative $200
Projected Stats: Who cares
I am including Heatley on this list out of sheer spite. This man was once an elite fantasy player. He did it all: goals, assists, shots, penalties, power-play points, you name it. And now look at him. He has gotten substantially worse every single year since his last point-per-game season, with San Jose in 2009-10. Just a heartbreaking descent into mediocrity. Can anyone explain this to me? It’s not like he got old all of a sudden. He just stopped being good. And yet I have fooled myself into drafting him in recent years, thinking he might revert back to form. I will subject myself to such abuse no longer. Good riddance, Mr. Heatley.
11. Henrik Sedin, C, Vancouver Canucks
Yahoo! Value: $23
Average Value So Far: $5.50
My Value: $9
Projected Stats: 82 GP, 14 G, 57 A, 71 P, 44 PIM, 25 PPP, 120 SOG
Strengths: A, PPP
Weaknesses: G, SOG, age, in a steady decline
He is just about the worst shot-taker in the game. In last year’s 50 point disaster, he took just 97 shots on goal in 70 games. 97! Sidney Crosby had more points than this man had shots! He is also a pretty terrible goal scorer; lucky if he cracks 15. The only reason he’s not higher on this list is that people have started to figure him out.
10. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh Penguins
Yahoo! Value: $30
Average Value So Far: $33.8
My Value: $25
Projected Stats: 35 W, 2.42 GAA, .913 SV%, 4 SO
Strengths: W, choking
Weaknesses: SV%, the postseason, not choking
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Fleury had a solid but not spectacular regular season, followed by a blunder-filled postseason that makes you both question his mental fortitude and want to give him a hug, the poor guy. But the most freakishly amazing part is that, despite the postseason hell he consistently conjures up, his regular season success has been like clockwork. But the guy could still crumble at any moment and lose his starting job or be traded. He’s just too risky for the big bucks.
9. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings
Yahoo! Value: $39
Average Value So Far: $44.6
My Value: $30
Projected Stats: 36 W, 2.12 GAA, .915 SV%, 6 SO
Strengths: W, GAA, SO, the postseason
Outside of the season he was nominated for (and should have won) the Vezina, Quick’s save percentage has typically been average or worse. And the last time he won the cup, he followed it up with a real stinker of a regular season. So let’s exercise a modicum of caution and not spend nearly a quarter of our budgets on the guy.
8. Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks
Yahoo! Value: $31
Average Value So Far: $34.5
My Value: $22
Projected Stats: 75 GP, 30 G, 34 A, 64 P, 14 PIM, 13 PPP, 245 SOG
Strengths: G, SOG
Weaknesses: PIM, PPP, playing on the Sharks during a really awkward transition phase
Maybe if Operation Ostracize the Old Guard reaches its zenith this season, Couture can eat up some of that valuable first-line powerplay time currently consumed by dinosaurs Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. If so, his value would rise. But who knows what will transpire in San Jose. Certainly not the coaches or the management!
7. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars
Yahoo! Value: 39
Average Value So Far: $44.2
My Value: $27
Projected Stats: 76 GP, 29 G, 40 A, 69 P, 58 PIM, 16 PPP, 240 SOG
Strengths: G, PIM, SOG, playing with Tyler Seguin and possibly Jason Spezza
Weaknesses: Can he do it again?
Is Benn really a burgeoning point-per-game player who has yet to hit his potential? Or is he just a really good player who rode the coattails of an even better player and isn’t likely to sustain the production? To me, it’s a toss-up, and that uncertainty is very off-putting. In a questionable case such as this, my rule is to let him do it at least two years in a row before you spend the really big bucks on him.
6. Matt Duchene, C, Colorado Avalance
Yahoo! Value: $29
Average Value So Far: $30.8
My Value: $16
Projected Stats: 73 GP, 25 G, 48 A, 73 P, 14 PIM, 12 PPP, 210 SOG
Strengths: G, A
Weaknesses: PIM, PPP
Duchene will be lucky to give you a baker’s dozen in both penalty minutes and powerplay points. That is terrible. You will have to consciously make an effort to compensate for his shortcomings. At season’s end, for Duchence to have been worth around $30, he’d have to put up 90+ points, and he’s most likely not touching that. Stay away.
5. Mike Smith, G, Arizona Coyotes
Yahoo! Value: $28
Average Value So Far: $21.50
My Value: $9
Projected Stats: 30 W, 2.60 GAA, .912 SV%, 4 SO
Strengths: Had one really good season
Weaknesses: Every other season
Outside of his Vezina-worthy 2011-12 season, Mike Smith has been a pretty mediocre goalie his entire career. Seriously, just look at his stats. You should not expect Vezina-worthy numbers from him ever again. If that’s the case, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.
4. Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
Yahoo! Value: $36
Average Value So Far: $47
My Value: $24
Projected Stats: 82 GP, 28 G, 46 A, 74 P, 20 PIM, 23 PPP, 225 SOG
Strengths: Consistency, plays for the Kings
Kopitar is significantly overrated every year. He is not elite in any particular fantasy category; he’s just across the board adequate, save for penalties, which are pathetically low. His middling goodness is not worth $36, let alone $47 (yikes!). Save that money for someone better.
3. Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings
Yahoo! Value: $27
Average Value So Far: $26.9
My Value: $14
Projected Stats: 79 GP, 11 G, 29 A, 40 P, 60 PIM, 15 PPP, 170 SOG
Strengths: PIM, SOG, being Drew Doughty
Weaknesses: The regular season
How could someone so good contribute so little to a fantasy team? It’s frustrating. The guy hasn’t done anything special fantasy-wise since the 2009-10 season. That’s four long years. And he has been remarkably consistent during that time. So while he’s clearly got potential to do better, there’s no reason to expect it. You should be buying much more of a sure-thing for 27 bucks.
2. Pavel Datsyuk, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings
Yahoo! Value: $28
Average Value So Far: $27.9
My Value: $9
Projected Stats: 65 GP, 19 G, 40 A, 59 P, 14 PIM, 16 PPP, 160 SOG
Weaknesses: G, PIM, PPP, SOG, age, health
He has a whole lot of liabilities and offers very little in terms of value at this point. He is definitely not an elite fantasy player. Someone will overpay significantly for him; they always do. Don’t let it be you.
1. Ryan Miller, G, Vancouver Canucks
Yahoo! Value: $29
Average Value So Far: $28.1
My Value: $9
Projected Stats: 29 W, 2.61 GAA, .915 SV%, 2 SO
Strengths: Tends to play well on bad teams, being Ryan Miller in Vancouver
Weaknesses: W, GAA, SV%, SO, being a goaltender in Vancouver
Miller’s career is on a downswing. He has one (!) shutout the last two seasons, and he could not even muster up average goaltending for the Blues after he was acquired at the trade deadline last year. Will he rebound? Maybe. But think of it this way: he moves on to a team that was terrible last year, is on its second new head coach in as many years, is relying on a pair of declining Sedin twins to do the scoring, traded away its best all-around forward (Ryan Kesler) and one of its best defensemen (Jason Garrison) this offseason, and has a recent history of being a place where goaltenders go to have their careers stalled, their starting jobs taken away, and their sanity destroyed. That’s quite the quagmire for Miller to be righting the ship in! Much too risky.
So, there you go, folks. I may update this information (especially the values) as we get closer to the real season, and after I’ve conducted some drafts. The biggest bargains are coming next. Happy drafting!
Jeff Herman is a Blues fan, hockey nut, fantasy guru, family man, and attorney. He lives and works in St. Louis.