There’s no worse feeling than drafting a superstar player only to have him let you down for most of the season (looking at you Jamie Benn). Fantasy hockey busts are never fun, and we constantly try to avoid drafting players who may not return value. Some busts come out of nowhere, but others, you can see coming a mile away. Let’s take a look at five players you need to be downgrading at the draft table.
Erik Karlsson, SJ D - There are some experts who believe Erik Karlsson should go off the board as the top defence, and I just can’t get behind that. There’s no question that the former Norris Trophy winner is great, but is he *really* the best fantasy hockey defenceman? The 29-year-old defenceman has total 12-goals in the last two seasons. To put that into context-- he had 17-goals in his last season in Ottawa. He did battle injuries last season, but that doesn’t explain his decline in goals in 2017-18. NHL.com has him ranked as the 12th skater off the board, which means, in your 12-team league, you’re starting you draft with a defenceman who totaled three goals last season. I’m just not comfortable investing in Karlsson when his teammate Brent Burns is still available, and there’s even an argument that Victor Hedman should go before him. There’s very little chance that Karlsson returns top defenceman value by the end of the season.
Leon Draisaitl , EDM W/C - Now before everyone starts sending me angry tweets, just hear me out. Drasaitl is going to be a great NHL player and he’s going to have a great season, but he is not going to return value at his current draft position. According to Yahoo!, his pre-season ranking is currently 8th, which is way too high for him. He finished last season with a 21% shooting percentage-- 5% higher than his career average and almost double his percentage from the previous year. He finished last season with 231 shots on goal, also a career-high. There’s a good chance that regression hits the the 23-year-old hard this season, and if his shooting percentage goes back down to his career average, that puts him on pace for 37-goals. That’s not a terrible total by any means, but it’s not worthy of him being drafted as the eighth-best player in fantasy hockey. We also don’t know if McDavid will be 100% to start the season, and his health will dictate a part of Drasaitl’s success. There are a lot of great picks available at the eighth spot, but unfortunately, the German forward isn’t one of them.
Ben Bishop, DAL G - Don’t look now, but some people have Ben Bishop as the top goalie in fantasy hockey. As crazy as his 1.98 GAA and .934 SV% were, the veteran goalie managed to play in only 46 games due to injury. Yet for whatever reason, the 32-year-old is being drafted as the 11th-best player in fantasy hockey. His numbers will regress back to his career average, and that’s not taking into consideration how many games he plays. Assuming he does play more than 46 games, expect the regression to hit even harder. The Colorado native can still be a very good option in fantasy hockey, but there’s no way I’m building my team around him in deeper formats. There are a ton of better options to consider with the 11th-overall pick than Bishop.
Martin Jones , SJS G - There’s no such thing as an “undraftable” player in fantasy hockey, exect for Martin Jones. The veteran goalie won 36-games last season despite a 2.94 GAA and a .896 SV%. Those are some pretty terrible numbers for a goalie with an average draft position (ADP) of 86. At this point, Jones has proven that he isn’t even an average goalie in the league, and there are many other better goalies (looking at you Antti Raanta) that are available after him. The 29-year-old might be able to bounce back, but is that enough? Can he hold onto his starting job all season? Too many questions and not enough answers for anyone to be considering drafting a goalie that early that couldn’t keep his save percentage close to league average.
Quinn Hughes, VAN D - This kid is going to become an excellent hockey player in the NHL, but there is no reason to be drafting the second best Hughes available in fantasy hockey at his current 125 ADP. To put it into context just how early people are drafting Hughes, here are just a couple of players being drafted after him:
His brother (Jack Hughes if you weren’t sure)
Again, nothing against the 19-year-old, but there’s no way anyone should be taking him before any of those players mentioned above. Hughes has played a total of five NHL games so far in his career, and there are going to be growing pains with a young player trying to play defence in the NHL. Maybe he proves me wrong and finishes with a crazy rookie season, but can he return value at his current ADP? Let alone outperform any of those five players being drafted after him? Drafts are about finding the best value, and the Florida native isn’t a good value pick right now.