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Thread: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

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    I'm working on a series of articles that focus around how you can extract value in different areas of fantasy hockey. I feel like a lot of fantasy hockey articles focus on the practical side of the game, but the theoretical side isn't touched as much. The goal of my articles is to provide a more theoretical approach to the game we all love. The purpose of any practical/historical stats in future articles is to enable people to see recurring patterns and apply it in their personal analyses and projections of players. Any feedback you have would be much appreciated.


    Welcome to the first installment of Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey. Each article will break down the traditional roles of NHL players and explain how to extract value from them. However, before we can talk about extracting value from specific players and transactions, we must first define and identify what value really is. The purpose of the “Overview” segment of articles is to outline the basic principles of finding value and articulate the different kinds of value you can extract in fantasy hockey. Once we have covered this, the next articles will dive into historic examples of finding value so that when new opportunities arise next season, you will be well-prepared to exploit them.

    If you are an experienced fantasy hockey GM, you probably have a keen eye for valuing players. Even if you aren't familiar with a player who has suddenly caught your eye in the middle of a season, you are probably 90 seconds and a Google search away from obtaining a ballpark valuation of what you would be willing to give up to get him on your team. However, there’s one glaring problem with the information you have: your opponents have it too. And here’s the kicker, they are just as smart as you (if they aren’t, you’re in the wrong league) so they will come to a similar conclusion as you.

    Fantasy hockey is not just about making the right decisions about your players. It’s about making those decisions faster than your opponent and acting on them in the small, discrete windows of opportunity you are given to maximize the value of your acquisitions. These articles are going to give you the tools you need to make quicker decisions than your opponent.

    Now, when it comes to acting quickly in life, there are two old sayings that come to mind:

    1. The early bird gets the worm.
    2. The second mouse gets the cheese.

    As contradicting as it sounds, the message is simple. Act quickly, with your head up. Don’t take unnecessary risks; take calculated risks. Understand both the upsides and consequences of your actions. There’s a name for people who don’t do their homework, but I don’t remember what it is because people only remember champions. You surely won’t become a champion without doing your homework. But enough jargon, let’s make you a better fantasy hockey GM.

    When it comes to identifying a player’s value, there are three key principles to keep in mind:

    1. You will never perfectly identify a player’s true value
    2. Player valuations change as soon as new information arrives
    3. The same player must be valued differently in different leagues

    Let’s talk about the first principle. You will never perfectly identify a player’s value. To emphasize this, consider for a moment the way in which you value a player. How exactly do you do it? For what time period are you valuing them? Are they playing a specific role on your team? What if you have a few players who put up similar stats to this player; are you able to start them all on any given night? If you cannot, does this diminish the value of the player who has to ride your bench? The answers to all of these questions are highly subjective. It completely depends on your team, your league, and your own personal game plan. All this being said, the biggest reason you will never identify a player’s true value is that success in fantasy sports is completely based on speculation. So unless you can perfectly predict each and every statistic that a player puts up (at the correct time, too), then your valuation will always be off to some degree. Naturally, this principle applies to your opponents’ valuations as well.

    Next, keep in mind that any time a new piece of information arrives, your valuations must change for any player affected by it. Therefore, because of how fast news comes out these days, player valuations are constantly changing and never idle. This means that if you are looking to add, drop, or trade for any player, your information needs to be as up-to-date as possible so you are properly assessing their value. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some items you may want to stay updated on. Some are obvious, others are a little more obscure.

    • Scoring stats required for your league
    • Injury updates (for both your player and his linemates)
    • Change in ice time / powerplay time
    • Change in shooting percentage (is it sustainable?)
    • Player’s contract status
    • Possession metrics (especially for playmakers)
    • PDO (puck luck)
    • Change in coaching staff
    • Change in depth charts
    • Various other changes, depending on your league

    The goaltending position is one of the most affected roster positions regarding this principle because of the plethora of goaltenders itching to bust into the NHL and the limited playing time allotted for goalies on each team. For example, let’s say you have handcuffed a “1A” and “1B” goaltending tandem on your team. If the “1A” goaltender gets hurt or traded, your “1B” goaltender might not have what it takes to carry the bulk of the starts on his real team for the remainder of the season. Consequently, the real NHL team that uses your goaltending tandem starts searching the market for a bona fide #1 goaltender. This kind of information is vital to you as it could completely wipe out your goaltending solution for the year. By staying on top of the news, you can prepare for contingencies and hopefully salvage your goalie situation before any real damage is done.

    The second principle should serve as a reminder to all of us to stay on top of player news, even during the offseason. This doesn’t mean you need push notifications from fifteen different news outlets that cover every player in the NHL and minor leagues. However, you should absolutely ensure you stay updated regarding the players on your team. It would also be a good idea to follow the trending NHL headlines to get a pulse of what’s going on around the league, even in the offseason.

    Finally, the third principle is one of the most important concepts you must understand if you are to become successful in fantasy hockey. The same player must be valued differently in a different league. Just because it was a good idea for you to trade Player A and Player B for Player X and Player Y in one of your leagues, it doesn’t mean you should make the same trade in one of your other leagues. Player valuations depend highly on the size of your league, depth of your roster, quantity and quality of stats you must acquire, and a slew of other factors that make each league unique. Player valuations do not transfer seamlessly from league to league. Make sure that you know your league details inside and out before you start tinkering with your team.

    These three principles should be used to guide you as you make valuations of players both on your team and in your league. Understanding the benefits and shortcomings of player valuations will enable you with the proper tools to assess different players to the best of your ability. You will never perfectly value a player, your valuations must constantly adjust as new information arrives, and you cannot place the same value on the same player across different leagues. Keep these three principles in mind and you are well on your way to increased success in fantasy sports.

    Next Article (Coming Soon): Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 2)
    This article will offer a practical look at some key areas in fantasy hockey where you can extract value

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  2. #2
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

    Slow Clap.....

    I look forward to this series.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

    Ditto. Very well done.

    Especially enjoy the blend of humour and practical (yet non-traditional) information.

    Really intrigued to read on.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

    Very interesting article. Unfortunately, like you said in the article, my opponents are probably going to read it too. Great work nonetheless.

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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

    Great read, brings up a thought about other pools and how proactive the GM's are. In my main league I would say about 25% of the guys are really active, know their stuff and may possibly read this and other articles like it. Another probably 25%-50% are relatively active but wouldn't search out articles such as this with the remaining GM's in it because they've always been in it and are friends with most of the guys.
    Back to the OP, good article with some interesting facts. Look forward to the next one.

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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Extracting Value in Fantasy Hockey: Overview (Part 1)

    Good write up! Well written and some solid points. +1
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