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Taking Advantage of Short-Term Memories

One thing I always like to take advantage of in Fantasy Hockey drafts is the short term memory of most other GMs out there.  Far too often GMs draft players solely based on their output from the previous season and Yahoo! rankings (o-ranks) are also derived primarily from players’ output in the prior season.  The result of this is that if a player had abnormally strong value in the previous season, he will tend to be overrated by most GMs whereas if he had an abnormally weak campaign he will be underrated by most GMs.  I call this phenomenon over-steering and I liken it to driving in the snow.  In slippery conditions if your car starts to slide a little bit to the left, the last thing you want to do is over-steer to the right as you will be sure to spin out.  Good drivers will correct their direction to the middle of the road where it should be, excellent drivers know to steer slightly into the skid.  Likewise, in fantasy hockey: if a player had a better 2011-12 than everybody expected, the last thing you want to do is over-steer (overrate) that player in 2013 and overpay for that player.

In order to help me identify potential opportunities where the general public are over-steering on players and subsequently over/undervaluing them, I use the tools at Fantasy Hockey Geek  to identify players whose value showed a significant change from the 10-11 season to the 11-12 season.   After finding the players whose value went significantly up or down from season to season, I drill down to see what drove the change to determine whether or not there may be some value there.  Today I will give four such examples (two whose value went significantly UP and two whose value went significantly DOWN) and a recommendation on how to proceed with these players:

(All of the below rankings are based on a Yahoo! standard 12 team league counting G,A, +/-, PPP, PIM, SOG)
Value went significantly DOWN last season:
Fantasy Hockey Geek allows you to run the player rankings for seasons all the way back to 2007-2008.  I ran the numbers for the 2010-11 season as well as the 2011-12 season.  Above, I have shown two examples of players whose value decreased drastically last season and their 2013 Average Draft Position (ADP) is reflecting a potential over-steer.  Jeff Carter, once one of the more exciting young players in the game saw his value drop 291 positions last season.  Alex Semin, an electrifying top end talent saw his value drop 90 spots last season.
Value went significantly UP last season: 
On the flip side of the coin, I also looked at players whose value increased significantly last season to see if there is a potential over-steer happening in the other direction.  Jamie Benn (+81) and Ilya Kovalhuk (+115) are two examples of players whose value increased greatly in the 2011-12 season.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these four players to identify potential over-steers and hopefully some value for the 2013 season:

Jeff Carter

Carter’s value (as calculated by FHG) dropped from the 28th highest in 10-11, to 319th in 11-12 which has shot him down draft boards going into this season.  Injuries were a major contributor to the drop, but he was also hurt by a major hit to +/- and a decrease in his shots per game.  The move to Columbus did not agree with him and his 2011-12 was a complete disaster.  I imagine he cost some GMs dearly in pools  and I count myself among them.
Looking at the 2010-11 numbers though, you can see that in the right situation Carter has some considerable value.  His high shot, PPP, G and +/- totals made him the 28th most valuable player just two short seasons ago.   I don’t think that he will match his 2010-11 value with LA this year , but he is clearly more happy in his new situation and I do think that he will improve greatly on his value from last season.  His 82 game pace with LA had him as a 30+ goal, 270+ SOG player and my view is that he was just starting to get his groove back.  Playing with the Stanley Cup champs as opposed to the Blue Jackets will also certainly help his +/- going forward.  If he can maintain PP1 time, there is no reason he couldn’t become at least a 60 point, 275 SOG guy who chips in with PPPs and helps with +/-.  Given his current average draft position (151 overall), Carter might be somebody worth taking a flyer on in a later round.   If he gets motivated in a shortened season, he could be a huge contributor at a low price.  I don’t see him being the 28th most valuable player again this season, but he could easily fall in the 50-75 range.
Recommendation:  High Risk, High Reward (Low draft pick cost)

Alex Semin

In 2011-12 Semin tied a career high: playing in 77 games which was 12 more than his 2010-11 number.  Despite playing pretty much the whole season, his production went down in every single category measured in this league.  Consequently, his value dropped from 50th overall to 140th.  This year, Semin is being drafted 125th overall on average.  Semin is being considerably undervalued because of a horrific season marred by coaching drama, a bad locker room situation and possible issues with motivation.  
In 2011-12 Semin
  • Had his lowest +/- since 07-08
  • Had his lowest shot total since his rookie season
  • Had his lowest shooting % since his rookie season
  • Had the lowest PPP total of his entire career
  • Had the lowest PIM per game that he has had since his rookie season
These are some pretty damning numbers and I just don’t see him repeating this abysmal output.  Right now is probably the lowest you will be able to buy on Semin for quite some time.
I see a lot of upside with Semin.  In 2010-11 when he was the 50th most valuable guy, it wasn’t exactly a banner year for him either.  He played only 65 games and was under a point per game for the first time since 2008.  Despite this, his true value of 50 was still 75 spots higher than his current draft position.
He is only 28 years old and presumably motivated, playing on a new team with no shortage of offensive firepower.  Semin should easily get back to at least the 2010-11 output which had him as the 50th most valuable player and I think that he will in fact do even better than that.  At an ADP of 140, there is a ton of value here.  If you can get him around 100 overall, Semin is almost a lock to return considerable value on your pick.  If he happens to decide to get back to his point per game days, then Semin will likely be a key contributor on your team’s way to a championship.
Recommendation:  Buy LOW

Jamie Benn

Jamie Benn is a complete anomaly to me in this type of analysis.  Typically if you see a player who has his value go up considerably from year to year, you will see him overvalued in fantasy hockey and not worth the draft pick it will take to get him.  With Benn though his improvements were moderate, but across the board allowing him to continue to fly under the radar as a solid fantasy hockey contributor.  Looking at his 2013 ADP of 77, you can see that GMs have not over-steered on this guy yet and in fact may still be under valuing him.
There were two key components to the improvement of Benn’s value: his increased shots and his improved +/-.  The +/- does scare me as it is easily the least reliable stat measured in a league of this format and last season was the first time that Benn had a double-digit + rating.  The shots are just the tip of the ice berg for Benn though: post all-star break last season, Benn was shooting at pace to hit 230 over 82 games.  
Benn’s current ADP is 77 overall and if he were to just match his last season’s output then his value will surpass that by 10.  I do think that the + will likely come down for him slightly, but Benn is a budding superstar who will more than make up for this in other categories.  The Stars’ powerplay was dead last in the league last season, coming in at 13.5%.  They have since added Whitney and Jagr to their attack and Goligoski is also poised for a bounce back season.  I think that Benn is a lock to improve on his 10PPP from last season (82 game pace).
One side note on Benn: if your league happens to count hits then Benn’s value increases dramatically.  As a C with LW eligibility, Benn is a stud in leagues which count FOW.  For my money, Jamie Benn is one of the most underrated fantasy assets out there.
Recommendation:  Low Risk.  High Reward

Ilya Kovalchuk

As a Kovalchuk owner, it pains me to put this one in here.  Kovalchuk had a very stellar bounce back year in 2011-12 and he helped my team greatly.  His SOG, PPP, Goals and Assists all contributed to a very impressive value of 22nd overall.  He was a very solid own last season and you probably could have got him at a good cost last season.
My concern with Kovalchuk is that he is only 2 years removed from a season where he played 81 games but was only the 137th most valuable player in the league.  His SOG were down, his PPP were good but not elite and his +/- was atrocious.  The bounce-back last season was fantastic and if I were writing this article a year ago, Kovy would have been a strong buy, but now that he has a great year under his belt he has an ADP of 15 which is just way too high for this guy.  His ADP is actually HIGHER than his true value from a season ago and I don’t know of any poolie out there who would predict that Kovalchuk’s numbers will improve over that monster season in light of the loss of Zach Parise.  
The absolute best case on Kovalchuk if you draft him at 15 is that you get slightly less than fair value for your pick.  The worst case scenario is that he reverts back to 2010-11 form and you end up with a big albatross fdor a 1st or 2nd round pick.  My prediction is that he will be in the somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios and likely about the 50th most valuable player in the league next season.  In any one of those scenarios though, I don’t want to be using the 15th overall pick on him so I will be staying away from him in one year leagues.
Recommendation: Buyer Beware, Sell HIGH
Identifying over-steers in fantasy hockey can be a great way to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy hockey league.  Not only can you identify players who are being significantly under-valued, but you can identify players that you want to avoid because they are being considerably over valued coming off of a strong season.  Fantasy Hockey Geek is a great tool that can help you to identify players with big swings in value so that you can capitalize on the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls.  Sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today and enter in the settings for your league.  Run the numbers for 2010-11 and 2011-12 to identify some potential over-steers of your own.  With a few shrewd picks based on your knowledge of these over-steers, you will be well on your way to a championship in 2013!


Published Sun, Jan 06th, 2013