After spending Part One highlighting the mistakes I made, it’s time to give myself some credit! Today, I’m going to look at the players who I was highest on among experts on Fantasy Pros that outperformed their ranking and then the players I was lowest on that failed to meet expectations. Like Part One, I will break down each of the players discussing why my ranking was successful and what we can learn from it going forward. Let’s get to it!
PLAYERS I RANKED HIGHEST WHO PANNED OUT
Connor McDavid (3rd, ADP 6) – Obviously three spots isn’t much of a difference in most instances but it is in the first round. Being able to get McDavid in leagues picking in the third spot to sometimes as late as number eight was a huge edge. Ranking him this high was simply believing in his upside. This was the last year for the foreseeable future that McJesus won’t be #1 in my rankings.
Mark Scheifele (32nd, ADP 54) – I was all in on the Jets this season. While it didn’t pay off with Hellboy in net (although getting him as a #3 wasn’t the end of the world), you’ll notice three Jets on this list that I owned in the majority of leagues I participated in. Scheifele’s second half in 2015-16 was terrific and with the progression of a second year player and the arrival of a rookie (more on them later), his quality of linemate was going to improve. Scheifele exceeded my lofty expectations finishing over a point per game. I’m assuming his shot rate goes back up which is why I have him as a second round pick in my Way Too Early Top 50.
Brad Marchand (38th, ADP 47) – Being one round early on guys in the first five rounds or so makes a drastic difference. That’s why Grey ended up with Odor on the majority of his baseball teams. He probably tried in Tout Wars despite being NL only! Anyways, Marchand finished as a top 10 forward in 2015-16 and while I wasn’t sure he would repeat that season, the floor was extremely high due to the penalty minutes. Well, I’ll admit to some luck on this one with Marchand not only scoring two more goals but posting 46 assists when his previous career high was 28. At this point, he’s worthy of a first round pick.
Devan Dubnyk (41st, ADP 76) – Yes, Dubnyk had a rough finish to the season which if you played in head to head leagues, you almost certainly flamed out of the playoffs because of it. That said, Dubnyk was the #1 goalie until the last month of the season and still finished #3 overall. Since I generally wait on goalies, he was my #1 goalie on the vast majority of my teams and that propelled me to a bunch of high finishes. My love for Dubnyk was simple. One, he was already a borderline #1 for a couple seasons. Two, Bruce Boudreau was hired and he drastically improves all of his teams, at least in the regular season.
Mike Hoffman (67th, ADP 93) – Don’t hassle the Hoff, Man! I admittedly has some luck with Hoffman finishing as a top 10 forward in the ESPN Player Rater. The plus-minus jumped back up to +17 and the PIM went to 51 from 18. However, he did miss 8 games and still finished there because of one main factor: opportunity. In Hoffman’s rookie and sophomore seasons, his power play time was minimal. He had 13 PPP in 15-16 despite having low power play minutes so under the assumption Guy Boucher would use him on the first unit, that number would increase. Hoffman’s PPP jumped to 26 and that’s all she wrote. Targeting players who are getting a clear role boost is always a good thing.
Patrik Laine (99th, ADP 119) – Obviously I should have had Laine even higher than this. I don’t think there’s much to say here besides that I believed in Laine’s goal scoring ability and the quality of his teammates.
Nikolaj Ehlers (90th, ADP 156) – This one I’m arguably most proud of since I owned him in virtually every league. It took a big leap of faith to rank Ehlers in my top 100 after finishing with 38 points in his rookie season. So why did I do it? Besides the fact that he’s another Jet, this was one where scouting a player over the years paid dividends. I’m not someone who watches a ton of non-NHL games but every time I watched Halifax, Ehlers stood out. His offensive ability is through the roof and a boost in the top 6 was all he needed. 25+39 isn’t setting the world on fire but it was good enough everywhere to be more than worth this spot. With only 12 PPP, there’s plenty of upside for more here as well. I’ll want him everywhere again next year.
Leon Draisaitl (109th, ADP 162) – The shots didn’t jump like I expected them to but it doesn’t matter when you score 78 points. He briefly spent time as the third line center in the early going, which as I said in my rankings was the only thing keeping him that low, but thankfully that ended fairly quickly. The opportunity to play with McJesus was too much to ignore and it went even better than expected. The problem going forward is that there is no margin for error taking Draisaitl with a high pick next year. As I’ll talk about with Gaudreau, when your PIM and shots aren’t good, you need to have a massive point total (70+) to justify a pick in the first few rounds. Call me skeptical that Draisaitl will do it on a consistent basis.
Jeff Skinner (110th, ADP 145) – Here’s what I said about Skinner in the preseason: “Skinner bounced back in a big way with 28 goals and 23 assists with over 3 shots per game last season. Improvement of the team around him and only 7 PPP last season give Skinner the opportunity for the best season of his career.” And that’s me quoting me copying what Grey does! Basically, this all came true and Skinner took even more shots. With a shot rate that high, Skinner can definitely replicate this season going forward.
Nazem Kadri (118th, ADP 177) – In 2015-16, Kadri scored 17 goals on 280 shots. That’s a shooting percentage of 6.5%. Every other season in his career, Kadri shot at least 10%. In other words, if his shooting percentage was as good as any other season in his career, Kadri would have scored 28+ goals. Add in the 73 penalty minutes and Toronto’s improvement and Kadri was primed for a bounceback. His shot rate dropped a little and Kadri had a bit of luck this year shooting 13.6% but 32 goals wasn’t a complete shock given those previous trends. The assists remained and the penalty minutes went up to 95 making Kadri an incredible value. I’ll have to dig deeper in the offseason for players who suffered from bad luck in terms of goal rate but it’s a great indicator of a player who should bounce back.
Cam Atkinson (142nd, ADP 168) – I was pleasantly surprised to see I was the highest on Atkinson on Fantasy Pros. While he struggled in the last month, he clearly paid off his mid-round value. Atkinson gradually increased his goal totals his first five seasons while having an elite shot rate. You guys know me, I’m all about the shot rate. The main reason why I liked Atkinson to improve on his 27+26 season was his lack of power play points (10). Like Hoffman, an increased role there was likely giving him built in upside. Despite his even strength point total dropping, Atkinson totaled 21 PPP this season leading to an excellent season.
David Pastrnak (148th, ADP 196) – I wish I ranked Pastrnak more aggressively like I did with Ehlers but this was still good enough in most leagues. We saw flashes from Pastrnak in year two but this was another case of watching him in the minors and an expected increase in role. All indications were that Pastrnak was going to be in the top six which was what we needed at even strength (ideally he’d play with Marchand and Bergeron which held for a large chunk of the season). In terms of the power play, I wrote in my rankings that “If he can carve out a role there, then he’s a good bet to push 30 goals.” That happened and the rest is history. I am ranking Pastrnak extremely aggressive this season because I think it can still get better.
J.T. Miller (204th, ADP 233) – It wasn’t spectacular but Miller was probably worth owning for the whole season. At this point in drafts, that’s great value. Unfortunately, the shot rate didn’t increase but the boost in assists took Miller from elite streamer to a hold. He had only 7 PPP this year so there’s still upside for more.
Charlie Coyle (146th, ADP 237) – He slowed down in the second half but again, Coyle was a hold for the majority of the season. Honestly, his first half provided enough value to pay off draft value. This was a simple case of loving Bruce Boudreau and Coyle’s probability to play in the top six. That happened to start the season and Coyle was great. He eventually lost that role to the next guy but regardless, Coyle took a nice step forward totaling 56 points. I like him again as a late round pick next year.
Nino Niederreiter (218th, ADP 238) – 20+ goals in the previous two seasons, former top five pick getting closer to his prime, Bruce Boudreau became his coach. Need I say more? Okay, I love him for next season. El Nino increased everything across the board this season and considering he was in the bottom six for a large portion of the season (he averaged 15:04 TOI on the year), there’s plenty of built-in upside here.
PLAYERS I WAS LOWEST ON WHO DISAPPOINTED
Johnny Gaudreau (42nd, ADP 17) – He was a big point of dispute between myself and other experts; five of the other experts on Fantasy Pros had Gaudreau in the top 15 while the sixth had him 26th. Gaudreau was coming off a point per game season so why was I so low on him? I didn’t see any upside with the pick, only downside. Gaudreau is a low PIM player who has an average to slightly above-average shot rate. In the early rounds, I generally want players who are great in one or the other, especially shot rate. Sure, Gaudreau could have repeated his 2015-16, but he had to in order to be worth a second round pick. Gaudreau already shot 14% so that was unlikely to be better creating additional risk. Alas, the shot rate dropped marginally but the shooting percentage fell to 9.9% resulting in Johnny Hockey scoring only 18 goals in 72 games. The assists were solid but remember, assists ain’t got no face! Artemi Panarin was in the same boat but ended up being worth the pick so it’s not impossible but I want a higher floor this early.
Anze Kopitar (34th, ADP 28) – This is more just me being thankful that I didn’t end up with Kopitar anywhere. I wasn’t really down on him but apparently it was enough. I said the following: “This admittedly feels a bit low for Kopitar but as good of a player he is, there is some concern from a fantasy perspective. He was the #12 forward last season but a lot of that value came from being +34 on the season. Could that repeat itself? Sure, he did it three seasons ago too. However, in the middle year, he was -2. Kopitar doesn’t take penalties and his shot rate has gone from elite to slightly below average now. He has a history of staying healthy and 70 points are well within reason; the problem with drafting him earlier is you are counting on him posting a great plus-minus.” Well, his shot rate dropped even more and his shooting percentage was the lowest of his career. Not a good combo. His quality of linemate was horrific so unless that gets fixed in the offseason, I’m not expecting much of a bounce back.
Drew Doughty (112th, ADP 55) – While I was a little bit low on Doughty, everyone else was far too high. For almost his entire career, Doughty has been a #2 fantasy defenseman. That’s who he is, plain and simple. He ended up coming in at #12 on the rater this year in a year that was generally horrific for blueliners. My main point of contention was that Doughty had a career season on the PP and I didn’t expect a repeat. He dropped 5 points there and with a slight drop in even strength production, he had only 44 points. Doughty had a season this year like he usually does; solid across the board but not great anywhere. It’s incredibly safe but his ADP being 55th overall is insane.
Joe Thornton (53rd, ADP 35) – If you read my preseason comments on Thornton, you’ll see I purposefully priced myself out on Thornton. I should have had him even lower because he goes against everything I want in a fantasy player. Shots, shots, shots, everybody! Thornton’s shot rate was already poor and it dropped even more. He didn’t shooting 15.7% again so he scored only 7 goals. The penalty minutes were decent enough and 43 assists are nice but he came nowhere paying off value. At this point, he’s a pure AAGNOF.
Tyler Toffoli (97th, ADP 59) – Basically the JV version of Gaudreau for fantasy, Toffoli was coming off a 30 goal season as well. Like his teammate Kopitar, Toffoli’s value was boosted by an unsustainable plus-minus. Toffoli also was a secondary power play piece giving him little margin for error. Well, the shooting percentage dropped, the plus-minus plummeted and he missed 19 games. Hell, it was barely ownable when he was healthy. I still would like to take a chance on him in drafts next season but he’s not more than a pick in the middle to late rounds.
Andrew Ladd (163rd, ADP 118) – All of my worries for Ladd came true. He looked shot in Winnipeg and while he did score some goals for Chicago, his shot rate really fell off in 2015-16. It happened again this season and it took Ladd shooting 16.2% to score 23 goals. The problem is he totaled 8 assists. Eight. He’s not worth drafting outside of the deepest of leagues next season.
Bobby Ryan (162nd, ADP 131) – This is one where his name value boosted his value. Ryan was trending downward, especially in terms of shot rate, and he reached rock bottom this season with 13+12 in 62 games with under two shots per. He’s the biggest example of this season of a player overdrafted because he was once great without people noticing the steady decline.
Aaron Ekblad (141st, ADP 117) – I saw what Keith Yandle did to Ryan McDonagh‘s value in his time in New York and that’s cap his fantasy value. That said, I certainly didn’t expect the year from hell for Ekblad. 10+11 in 68 games was bad enough but he suffered another concussion, returned too early, and had a neck problem that caused his season to end. The shot rate and PIM were excellent so he was quite unlucky to have this poor of a season (luckily for me!) but there’s plenty of risk in taking him next season due to the neck issues.
Justin Abdelkader (unranked, ADP 159) – He didn’t crack my top 250 because, well, he’s not good at hockey. I have no idea what people saw in him outside of a strangely high PIM season in 2015-16. No surprise that he had 7+14 in 64 games.
That’s all for now guys. Be sure to ask any questions, leave any comments or podcast suggestions below. Reid will join me again on Tuesday for a podcast so look for that to drop at some point Tuesday afternoon. You can also make Three Point Challenge picks for Tuesday’s games in this post if you’d like. Thanks for reading, take care!