If you’re not participating in the fantasy hockey league, feel free to ignore this…
Hey folks,

So the regular season begins on October 7th. I will flip the switch on the autodraft at 12:01AM (or shortly after) on Tuesday, October 5th.

Between then and now, you may want to consider setting up your pre-draft rankings. Before you get to the rest of this wall of text and decide its not worth reading, I’ll link some useful documentation:

Yahoo’s help page on the Draft system

That page also links the rest of Yahoo’s help system for Fantasy Hockey stuff. There’s plenty of good information in there. If you’re new to this, its worth spending a bit of time reading up! Finally, feel free to email me (zhinjio@gmail.com) and ask questions, or hit me up in IM or whatever. I won’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ll at least know where to point you to find them, if I don’t.

For those of you who haven’t done this before, I’ll make a quick effort to describe how this works. Like with most “real” sports leagues, there is a draft that occurs of new players into the league, and the various teams make their “picks” at the new players. These picks occur in a round robin fashion, giving each team a roughly equal chance of getting the people they want. In a fantasy
league, ALL the players are considered “new”, and everyone gets a shot at getting the star players (that in the real leagues are already under contract with specific teams). In our case, the draft is something that happens automatically.

So how do you get to take your shot at getting the star players? Set your pre-draft rankings. The pre-draft rankings is essentially your list of who you *really* want to be on your team, in order of priority. No, you’re not going to get everyone on your list. In fact, even if you make your list really long, its unlikely that you’re going to get more than … well, about 1/10th of them. So far, we have 11 teams signed up, meaning your list only get “looked at” every 11th pick. By the time your second round pick comes around, many of the top 10 of your list may already have been picked by other managers.

Yeah, that all sounds really complicated and time consuming. I want to point out one thing first and foremost:

  • If you do *nothing*, your pre-draft ranking list will default to the listing of all players, in “ranking” order from the end of last season. While this isn’t necessarily a bad list to work from, it does have some disadvantages. On the other hand, it saves you time and effort of making a list yourself. Your call there…

I’ll try to simplify it with a few recommendations:

  1. The number of players on your list should be fairly long. If the roster size stays the same (there may be some tweaking done still), you’ll end up with 10 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies and 2 players on the bench. 20 total. Now consider that there are 11 teams. That means that 220 players are going to be selected. I’m not suggesting you make a list 220 people deep. While very thorough, thats probably overkill. I would settle for some happy medium including at least 2-4 people for each slot you need to fill. Thats anywhere from 40 to 80 people in your list.
  2. Be sure to spread out the priority of the list to include all positions. If you put all your forwards in the beginning of the list, you’re likely to end up with all 3rd string goalies. Balance it out in your priorities.
  3. Try to take a look at what some magazines or websites are saying about some of the rookie prospects. While it certainly doesn’t happen every year, sometimes its not the tried-and-true long time veterans that make the biggest differences in your stats. Sometimes its the new guy fresh from college who posts some record scoring streaks or a new fresh goalie who just won’t let the puck past him.
  4. Remember, there are LOTS of things that score points for you. Take a look at the full list, and remember that its not just goals that get you points. Specifically, PIM (penalties in minutes), +/- (Plus/Minus), Saves (for goalies), and shutouts (for goalies) are all significant. Defensemen with great plus/minus, or a bruiser with lots of penalty minutes can make just as much a difference as a high goal scorer.

Some advice for “during the season”:

  • Your team should *not* require intervention every day. Part of the reason for running a “points” based league, and not head-to-head or rotisserie is that it requires less daily maintenance. We all lead busy lives, and I know that I, for one, don’t have that kind of time.
  • That having been said, keep an eye on it. Make sure you do something about players that get injured during the season. Players that have been placed on IR (Injured Reserve) on their teams CANNOT EARN YOU POINTS. Either drop them if you think their injury is too severe, or place them in your own IR slots (each team gets two), and replace them with active players. Even if its only temporary, you want someone in the position who’s actually playing.
  • Keep an eye out for under-performing players. You’ll be able to see pretty easily in the stats when someone isn’t scoring any points for you. Consider replacing them with players who *are* earning points.

Finally, remember that this league is all about having fun. None of us are hockey experts, at best, I’d like to think some of us qualify as “enthusiasts”. Being in a fantasy league keeps you looking at the whole league, watching more than just your home team, and maybe learning a thing or two along the way. If it stops being fun, it stops being worth it.