One of the beautiful things about playing in custom scoring leagues is that if you do your planning correctly, you can engineer a team on draft day that is built to score gobs of points from week to week during the season. When the draft is done via auction, the chance to succeed is even better since you can target valuable fantasy players who might have little star power in real life hockey.
Although the season has already started, I wanted to revisit my auction draft for an 8-team keeper league that was conducted a couple of weeks ago on Yahoo. Rosters in the league are large, with the following positions (not including IR/NA spots):
3 x C
3 x LW
3 x RW
1 x W
1 x F
4 x D
2 x Util
2 x G
7 x BN
Where this league gets interesting is in the custom scoring system. In doing my research before the draft, I realized that one stat value stood out more than others. Here are the scoring settings:
|Forwards/Defensemen Stat Category||Value|
|Penalty Minutes (PIM)||0.5|
|Powerplay Goals (PPG)||2|
|Powerplay Assists (PPA)||.5|
|Shorthanded Goals (SHG)||1|
|Shorthanded Assists (SHA)||.5|
|Game-Winning Goals (GWG)||1|
|Shots on Goal (SOG)||.5|
|Faceoffs Won (FW)||1|
|Faceoffs Lost (FL)||-.5|
|Goaltenders Stat Category||Value|
|Goals Against (GA)||-1|
So which of these stats stood out to me? The valuation of faceoffs won at 1 point. When I filtered through 2014-15 fantasy stats for my league, I noticed that the highest scoring player was Patrice Bergeron, followed by Claude Giroux, Ryan Kesler, and Jonathan Toews. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin was the 12th highest scoring skater.
In real life, there would be dozens of skaters more valuable than Bergeron, and in most fantasy leagues this would hold true as well. In my league, however, Bergeron produced the most points primarily because of his 1175 faceoffs won, which was easily tops in the league. Other stat categories, such as goals, did matter, but not nearly as much as faceoffs. The stat values for goalies was more in keeping with their real-life relative value, but even the highest-scoring goalie in my league according to last year’s stats was only the 8th highest scorer overall. Skaters were therefore more valuable than goalies.
Armed with this knowledge, my draft strategy was simply to target the best players at winning faceoffs in the NHL. I also targeted the top two goalies in my league according to their fantasy production last year. Starting with a budget of $800, here’s whom I picked up:
|1.||(1)||Claude Giroux (Phi – C,RW)||$201|
|2.||(8)||Carey Price (Mon – G)||$120|
|3.||(24)||Braden Holtby (Was – G)||$160|
|4.||(40)||John Tavares (NYI – C)||$150|
|5.||(70)||Jonathan Toews (Chi – C)||$66|
|6.||(76)||Patrice Bergeron (Bos – C)||$52|
|7.||(92)||Tomas Plekanec (Mon – C)||$11|
|8.||(129)||Jason Spezza (Dal – C)||$10|
|9.||(136)||Kyle Turris (Ott – C)||$10|
|10.||(152)||Mark Streit (Phi – D)||$4|
|11.||(161)||Mike Smith (Ari – G)||$1|
|12.||(168)||Troy Brouwer (StL – RW)||$1|
|13.||(175)||Travis Hamonic (NYI – D)||$1|
|14.||(180)||Johnny Boychuk (NYI – D)||$1|
|15.||(184)||Antoine Vermette (Ari – C,LW)||$1|
|16.||(187)||Petr Mrazek (Det – G)||$1|
|17.||(190)||Mikko Koivu (Min – C)||$1|
|18.||(193)||Jack Johnson (Cls – D)||$1|
|19.||(195)||Ryan Callahan (TB – RW)||$1|
|20.||(197)||Carl Soderberg (Col – C,LW)||$1|
|21.||(199)||Paul Stastny (StL – C)||$1|
|22.||(201)||Mike Fisher (Nsh – C)||$1|
|23.||(203)||Luke Glendening (Det – C,LW,RW)||$1|
|24.||(205)||Andrew Shaw (Chi – RW)||$1|
|25.||(207)||Justin Williams (Was – RW)||$1|
|26.||(208)||David Savard (Cls – D)||$1|
As you can see, I got the top scorer in the league last years – Bergeron – for $52, or about 6.5% of my budget. Giroux was expensive at $201, but I was competing against an autobid bot which would not stop bidding until we got to the $200 mark. Had a real-life manager showed up to the draft, I probably could have drafted Giroux for $50-$100 less.
By the end of the draft, I had secured the top four skaters in terms of faceoff win production, and three of the top four skaters in terms of overall fantasy scoring from last year. Mikko Koivu, whom I drafted for $1, was the 11th highest producing skater from last year (right behind Sidney Crosby and right in front of Ovechkin). Because I was targeting players with high faceoff win numbers, I ended up drafting a plethora of centers early. This did not go unnoticed during the draft, as I had a fellow manager comment on this at the time. Nevertheless, I seem to have been the only manager to take advantage of the special scoring setup, and I suspect that I was the only manager to recognize its potential effect on my team’s prospects for winning this year.
What does this say about custom scoring leagues?
If you’re thinking to yourself that whoever set up the scoring values in my league was to blame for such a skewed system in which players like Koivu or Ryan Kesler can outproduce players like Ovechkin, then I will agree with you. Commissioners should really know the ramifications of their scoring systems before they initiate their league drafts in order to maintain competitive play. But the reality is that this kind of thing happens all the time, and it’s important to know how to respond to take advantage of it.
The test now is to see how well I do in my league this season. As the league is about to wrap up Week 1, my team has produced the most points in the league. In fact, my team has produced 20% more than the next closest team. While I can’t guarantee that my team will win the league, I think I have set myself with a good chance to succeed.