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Draft season has begun! Mock drafts are in full swing, but most leagues probably won’t hold their drafts until closer to the start of the 2021-22 campaign. Still, this is as good as a time as any to look at the average draft position (ADP) on Yahoo! of players and determine if fantasy managers are getting all the value they can out of their selections.
Just about all of these players will be selected in redraft formats and they will more than likely be valuable fantasy contributors, but they may have some trouble meeting expectations if they are chosen at or above their current positions. This is often a difficult list to compile, but weighing the risks and the rewards of very good players is an important part of building the strongest fantasy squad possible going into the year.
Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa) - LW - Average pick 24.2
Tkachuk has been an excellent source of shots on goal and hits since he entered the league in 2018-19. He ranks second on the league with 725 hits and fifth with 693 shots during that span, which certainly helps to justify him going this high if your league values those statistics. Tkachuk has also been a steady source of penalty minutes. Unfortunately, he has not reached another gear offensively and has hasn’t reached the 50-point plateau yet in a single season. Tkachuk has operated at just above that pace during each of his first three campaigns in the NHL, so there is hope that it could come soon, but pushing past that remains a question mark. Tkachuk offers a great deal of category coverage to fantasy managers, but there is a good chance that you will be leaving a healthy amount of point production on the table if you take him this high in fantasy pools. Whether or not that is worth it to your team will be the question that fantasy managers will have to ask themselves. Ottawa hopes to get Tkachuk, who is a restricted free agent, signed before training camp. A contract hasn’t been worked out yet, though, and the longer that stretches the more worrisome the situation could become. However, that point can be erased quickly if negotiations continue to go in the right direction.
Frederik Andersen (Carolina) - G - Average pick 44.4
Andersen is a risky fantasy netminder going into 2021-22 despite joining the Carolina Hurricanes. He didn’t perform particularly well in his final two seasons as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Andersen posted a mark of 42-21-10 during that period along with a 2.89 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. His play has been trending in the wrong direction even tough he has had a winning record. Andersen posted career-worsts in 2020-21 with a 2.96 GAA and .895 SV%, while dealing with an issue around his knee and ultimately he lost the No. 1 goalie job on the Leafs to Jack Campbell. His struggles were particularly concerning because they came even though Toronto was among the top defensive teams last year. Andersen also had the second-worst power play save percentage (.791) among all netminders with at least 20 appearances in 2020-21. Carolina’s superb penalty kill should help and he could bounce back with a change of scenery, but there are some red flags associated with taking him too high in your leagues.
Carey Price (Montreal) - G - Average pick 61.5
Price was outstanding in the playoffs, while backstopping Montreal to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. In fact, he has been great in each of his past five trips to the postseason, including last year’s extended run. However, Price hasn’t been nearly as reliable in the regular season in recent years. He bounced back in 2018-19 after posting the worst goals-against average (3.11) and save percentage (.900) of his career the year before. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to carry that momentum into the last two seasons. He has gone 39-32-11 during that span, while registering a 2.74 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. Injuries have been a problem as well for him, as he sat out 13 games last season due to a concussion and had offseason knee surgery. Price also dealt with a hip injury during the playoffs, but he didn’t need a procedure for that ailment. Losing shutdown Shea Weber, who isn’t expected to play this year due to what could be career-threatening injuries, won’t help Price either.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington) - C - Average pick 69.2
Kuznetsov accounted for a mere nine goals and 29 points in 41 games last season. He also credited with just 78 shots, marking the first time in six years that he averaged under two shots per contest. Kuznetsov was the subject of trade speculation during the offseason. In addition to struggling offensively, he was unavailable to play for two extended stretches because he was placed on the COVID protocol list because of two separate positive test results. Kuznetsov hasn’t been traded yet and it looks like he will start the year as a member of the Capitals. Playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and skating on the top power-play unit presents him with the opportunity to bounce back, but fantasy managers appear to be reaching for him a bit and leaving some talented center alternatives on the table.
Miro Heiskanen (Dallas) - D - Average pick 81.8
Heiskanen notched eight goals, 27 points, 121 shots, 52 blocks and 47 hits in 55 games last campaign. The 22-year-old blueliner didn’t live up to expectations after he exploded offensively during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In fairness to Heiskanen, he did set the bar very high after he amassed six goals and 20 assists in 27 postseason matches during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. The Stars locked him up to a lucrative eight-year contract worth $67.6 million in the summer. Heiskanen has plenty of upside, but fantasy managers may be jumping the gun a bit by selecting him ahead of other more established number one defenders. While this strategy could certainly pay off in keeper formats, it may not be the way to go in redraft leagues.
Jack Eichel (Buffalo) - C - Average pick 82.1
Eichel only skated in 21 games last season and his availability for 2021-22 is currently cloudy at best. He collected two goals and 18 points prior to missing the final 33 games of the 2020-21 campaign because of a herniated disc in his neck. It was expected that a trade would occur this offseason, but his health and Buffalo’s asking price have slowed the process. If he isn’t traded prior to the start of training camp and it carries over into the start of the year then Eichel could begin the 2021-22 campaign on injured reserve. His status remains a question mark and his selection in fantasy pools is risky. Still, it has the potential to yield a very big reward because of his offensive talent. If Eichel is moved to another team and he is healthy then his selection could pay off in a big way for fantasy managers and that could make him worth stashing away if you have the IR space.
Sam Reinhart (Florida) - C, RW - Average pick 83.9
Reinhart amassed a team-leading 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games for Buffalo last season. He stepped up after the Sabres lost Eichel for the year and was red hot down the stretch with 14 markers and 20 points in 24 outings. Reinhart was traded to Florida in the offseason after expressing his frustration. He didn’t want to go through another rebuild and now he’s on a Panthers squad that is a budding contender. Reinhart would be a strong fit as a top-six winger with Florida, but his success at center could result in some experimentation during training camp. He would lose some fantasy appeal if he ended up playing on the third line or if he didn’t receive first-team power-play minutes, which are both possibilities. Reinhart had 10 goals and 16 points on the man advantage last year. His roles with his new team will be worth monitoring during training camp.
Jakob Chychrun (Arizona) - D - Average pick 90.7
Chychrun broke out offensively last season with 18 goals and 41 points in 56 games. He was one of just 11 rearguards to reach the 40-point plateau during the shortened 2020-21 campaign. Chychrun’s fantasy value received a significant boost and his average draft position reflects that. However, poolies should tread cautiously. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he took a step back this campaign. Arizona’s offense hasn’t been strong for a while now and it took some hits during the offseason with the departures of some key contributors. Additionally, Shayne Gostisbehere could take some power-play time from Chychrun in 2021-22.
Kevin Lankinen (Chicago) - G - Average pick 102.3
Lankinen emerged as Chicago’s top option in the crease last season. He got off to a great start with a mark of 9-3-3 and a .924 save percentage, but went 8-11-2 the rest of the way with a save percentage of .898. Lankinen appeared to run out of steam as the season progressed. The Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason to take over as the team’s new No. 1 netminder. Lankinen should be a solid depth goalie for fantasy managers this year, but he is currently being chosen ahead of some starters who are more reliable than they are being given credit for and that will likely change.
Robby Fabbri (Detroit) - C, LW - Average pick 141.1
Fabbri has been a solid addition for the Red Wings since he was acquired from St. Louis in 2019-20. He has 24 goals and 49 points in 82 games over the past two seasons. It comes as a surprise to see him ranked so highly even though he isn’t being selected in the majority of leagues. At one point, Fabbri’s average draft position was higher than Kevin Fiala and Teuvo Teravainen, but that has changed. Still, he is higher than others who have far more fantasy upside. Thankfully, most managers aren’t being fooled, but this is a reminder to stay mindful of the dreaded selection clock. Set your pre-draft rankings and/or have some players in your queue, so that the autodraft doesn’t sabotage your team.