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Before you begin, be sure to review your league categories ahead of your fantasy hockey draft. Some players’ fantasy values will change drastically when certain stats are factored into the equation. With that being said, let’s move on to some other draft general strategies to consider.
Make as many fake drafts as possible
It is practice makes perfect. Fictional drafts can give you a good idea of what other fantasy managers are thinking at the start of the year. Who are they underestimating? Who are they overestimating? You can catch some really good players in favorable locations by getting a feel for the draft landscape before draft day while avoiding potential landmines along the way. It’s a great way to get an idea of which players are going where based on average draft position before you get into the chaos of making picks against the clock amid tweets from your draft buddies. Plus, there’s a lot to learn from the mistakes you make before you participate in important drafts.
Look for potential stack games
You don’t need to stack entire line combinations, and taking too many players from a team isn’t usually a good move, but getting a few strong producers playing together is a great way to rack up points . Don’t go overboard because you could put yourself in a tough spot if a team you’ve relied heavily on has a light schedule in a certain week or performs below expectations.
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Another successful stacking method is to target players who will be deployed with man advantage. It could be another forward or a defenseman who will quarterback the unit on the power play. This type of stack is usually easier to achieve after selecting a top attacker in a first turn.
Find value whenever you can, especially in the later rounds
Many players will slip through the cracks on draft day. Identifying potential sleepers, breakout artists, and rookies who will play important roles can make a huge difference when building your team in later rounds. However, you shouldn’t ignore veteran stars with established track records either, as they can also be great value additions.
Fantasy managers often prefer hunting for the next big thing rather than picking up reliable producers, and you can take advantage of that boost to build your depth. They may also be uncomfortable straying from a league’s draft standings or average draft positions, which is a trap experienced managers won’t fall into.
Focus on positions in need, especially when it comes to shortage
Finding high-quality centers is not a difficult task on draft day. The central position is deep and several centers are also eligible on the wing, which greatly facilitates the filling of the position and the flexibility of the list. Obviously, picking near the top of the draft or having the first overall pick can change your approach, but generally you can afford to wait on crosses.
Most defenders are picked during runs when fantasy managers realize they need to fill the position. High-level defenders almost always start early due to their high-end offensive performance, especially if they are able to generate points at the same level as a top-scoring forward. To simplify further, if you or the projections you use have two players ending with similar totals, then going for the position that isn’t as loaded with high-end talent is usually the best course of action.
Another good position to prioritize in earlier rounds is the right wing, as this group can dwindle quickly in terms of leading options.
Approach your goalkeeper as soon as possible
I realize that fantasy managers hate getting burnt goaltenders, especially when using a first pick to tackle the position. Still, I don’t subscribe to the belief that taking a netminder early is a bad decision. There’s a lot of chance involved in player selection, and getting a quality goalie is crucial to the success of your fantasy team. It’s better to pick a workaholic with high winning potential from a strong team than to try to search for a suitable option in later rounds.
Of course, I think finding value in later rounds with a save or two is a justifiable strategy. You just don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to rely on the waiver wire to stream goaltenders throughout the season. If someone you’ve tried your luck with isn’t successful, it’s prudent to have the option to address your goalie depth once the season begins. However, I always prefer to have stability in the position from the start, so pursuing someone like Andrei Vasilevsky Where Igor Shesterkin in the early rounds is always on my mind.
Ignore your penchant for hockey
There are fantastic managers who prefer to take players from the teams they encourage, which is perfectly fine. However, if you just want to win, you shouldn’t hesitate to pick players from teams you don’t normally cheer for or even ones you don’t like at all. Ultimately, you want to have the best list possible. Don’t approach fantasy hockey the way some fans do by overestimating players who fit your hometown team or underestimating a star player from your team’s rival. If you know any fantastic managers in your league who gravitate to players from their favorite teams, you can take advantage of that, especially in salary cap drafts.
It’s important to remember that fantasy hockey is all about fun – and I think most fantasy managers have more fun when they win.
Be current on injuries
Injuries can completely sink a fantastic season. I have never seen so much red on the rosters, which means discarded players, than there have been in the past two seasons. Most of that can obviously be attributed to the NHL’s list of COVID-19 protocols. It added an extra wrinkle, especially when some players ended up on injured reserve while others maintained day-to-day status for what felt like an eternity. Most training camp ailments are minor, but fantastic managers need to stay on top of them because there will be players who pick up an injury that will keep them sidelined for the first few weeks or months of the regular season.
If you don’t mind waiting for them to come back, knowing when to take pissed off skaters is something you can experiment with in mock drafts. Once you find a comfortable place to select an ill player, you can put them on your injured reserve list and look for a replacement on waivers. It’s a good rule of thumb to check the waiver thread once your draft is complete so you can see what options are available among players who weren’t drafted.