As a follow up to my previous article on CBS Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy, I wanted to come back with a breakdown of how you should approach drafting in a standard head-to-head Yahoo league. Many of the principals are the same as CBS (and any league for that matter).
For now, Ill focus on the specific things you need to know for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues in order to draft a winning team.
The first thing to note about the standard Yahoo settings is that they choose to break down forwards by specific position (C, LW, RW), as opposed to grouping wingers, or all forwards together. This has a noticeable impact on your strategy. It used to be on Yahoo, that Left Wingers came at a premium; however, this year they dramatically opened up the number of players that qualify at multiple positions. That designation is gold here. The flexibility gives you far more options when it comes to setting your day to day lineup. So, while I would otherwise favor Stamkos and Crosby over Malkin, hes the only one of the three to (arbitrarily) be granted C/LW status. That makes the reigning MVP the best option on offense this year. I cant over-emphasize the edge that this gives you to have that flexibility.
Yahoo has a unique option that lets you carry one player on the IR that wont count against your other roster spots. Take advantage of this throughout the season, and even during the draft. I recommend drafting a player you know will start the season injured (e.g. Kesler). At the start of the season, you can put him into the IR spot and youll have a free pick to backfill it. Always look to pick up hurt stars and keep the spot filled.
As opposed to CBS, which awards fantasy points based on stats, the standard head-to-head Yahoo leagues are scored on an old-school rotisserie fashion. (Note: this is one major reason I rarely play on Yahoo.) This setup affects your strategy in several major ways.
1. Pay attention to all categories.
In a points based system, +/- can largely be ignored. In a Yahoo league, having the best +/- is just as important as goals. This makes no logical sense, but thats the way it is, so plan your draft accordingly. If a guy is notoriously bad in +/- or refuses to take a penalty to save his life, downgrade that player.
2. Goons are welcome.
Because penalty minutes are valued equal to goals, why not draft a goon to round out your wingers? One player could single-handedly win that category for you, so even if Zenon Konopka only nets you 2 goals again next season, his 15 Pims a week may be worth it.
3. Bring on the backup goalies.
Total goals allowed and saves matter not here. Its all about the averages (GAA / save %). What that means is that a workhorse who may lead the league in saves wont necessarily be as valuable as a guy who plays every other game and puts up a low GAA in the process. So dont necessarily shy away from backups or goalies in a split-crease scenario. You have to meet a minimum games played each week, so the best strategy here it to grab a top-notch, # 1 goalie early in the draft, then wait it out for your 2nd goalie. There will be plenty of solid backups out there into the 10th round and beyond. Options like the split crease in St. Louis become viable, as theyll both see a game or two a week and should register decent numbers behind that solid Blues defense. In a points-based league, these two would slide to late in the draft. This approach may hold you back in wins and shutouts, but youll benefit in the other categories.
4. Sadly, Defense is irrelevant
It breaks my heart to say this, but in this format, you can and should treat defense as an afterthought. If you can grab one of the top 5 defensemen early, go for it, because the talent level drops off significantly after that. Karlsson and Weber will score like a forward and so they are worthy of early selection. However, since defense and offense are grouped together in Yahoo leagues for scoring, they have relatively little value. Best plan is to grab 1 elite defenseman if you can early, get your second D around round 8-10, then fill up your other starting spots before rounding out this position.
Draft Room Rules
Unlike CBS, Yahoo leaves you the keys and lets you drive your car how you please. There is no restriction on the number of players you can draft at any position. If you want to fill your bench with 4 goalies, youre free to do so. I only point this out, as its a dramatic difference from the approach in CBS. Here, youre free to take the best player available at all times.
Finally, take a close look at those Yahoo player rankings and play off of them accordingly. The average GM will tend to follow Yahoos picks rather blindly. Be informed and watch for these situations.
Here are some undervalued players that you can wait on and grab as a steal later than you would in other draft rooms:
Goalies: Halak!, Fleury, Lindback
Defense: Kronwall, Ekman-Larsson, Carlson
Centers: Nugent-Hopkins, Benn (despite the contract issues), Skinner
Left Wing: Lupul, Pacioretty, Clowe
Right Wing: Gaborik, Vrbata, Michalek
Here are some names that will fly off the board before their time, based on Yahoo overrating them:
Goalies: Lehtonen, Price, Howard
Defense: Timmonen, Seabrook, Bieksa
Centers: Datsyuk, Zetterberg (demise in Detroit is upon us), Backes
Left Wing: Heatley
Right Wing: Pominville, Alfredsson, Jagr
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