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. Unfortunately, Yahoo has discontinued the Pro Leagues (probably due to their refusal to move off the rotisserie format).
Many of the principals are the same as CBS (and any league for that matter), so if you missed it, check it out here:
For now, I'll focus on the specific things you need to know for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues in order to draft a winning team.
Get to know that phrase, as it is key. 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, recently they dramatically opened up the number of players that qualify at multiple positions. (say it with me - "Dual Eligibility". 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, Seguin, or Giroux, they both have (arbitrarily) been given dual eligibility. I can't 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 won't 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. Drouin). At the start of the season, you can put him into the IR spot and you'll 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 no longer play Yahoo. In fact, please join me in my effort to permanently ban rotisserie format forever.) 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 that's 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 Tom Sestito only nets you 2 goals again next season, his 15 Pims a week may be worth it. Note: Antoine Roussel is definitely a name to target late in your draft.
3. Bring on the backup goalies.
Total goals allowed and saves matter not here. It's all about the averages (GAA / save %). What that means is that a workhorse who may lead the league in saves won't necessarily be as valuable as a guy who plays every other game and puts up a low GAA in the process. So don't 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 or Anaheim become viable, as they'll 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 you'll 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, you're free to do so. I only point this out, as it's a dramatic difference from the approach in CBS. Here, you're 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 Yahoo's picks rather blindly. Be informed and watch for these situations.
To get more free fantasy hockey tips and tools, visit http://www.landsharkhockey.com