Average draft position is perhaps the most telling aspect of fantasy drafting, especially in best ball formats. It can be a strong indication of consensus value, however it can also simply be a false pretense of where you have be at to find correlation.
In this article, I'm going to take you through a handful of players the best puck community is reaching too much for this season, and suggest a couple players going in the same vicinity you should be taking instead.
Let's start at defense - a tricky position to draft with a strong tier break.
Evan Bouchard, D
Current ADP: 54.9
PuckLuck Rank: 67
The argument for selecting Bouchard is of course his powerplay correlation with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, which of course can lead to big weeks. The truth is that Edmonton converted on the powerplay at a historic rate last season, and expecting the same output this season is just not statistically sensible.
Now, will the Oilers' potent attack still lift Bouchard's numbers? Of course it will. We're not looking to draft players at their peak, however, and he does not dominate the even-strength minutes like other top fantasy defensemen to be taken as the 6th d-man off the board.
If you're looking for pure correlation purposes, perhaps you can justify the draft position. I'd rather be looking at a minutes eater at both even-strength and the powerplay to take instead such as Miro Heiskanen, who is ranked 58th in our rankings but going a full two picks later than Bouchard.
To be honest, the 50s may be your chance to stock up the ever-important wing position before a major drop off, so that's where I'm really looking.
Tyler Bertuzzi, W
Current ADP: 99.5
PuckLuck Rank: 112
Much like Bouchard, if you're selecting Bertuzzi at his current ADP you're over-drafting for correlation. The expectation is that he begins the season on the wing with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but as we saw with Michael Bunting riding their coattails could be tricky.
Bunting rarely received time on the top powerplay unit, and, while you may think Bertuzzi is a better player, correlation in fantasy hockey is really dependent upon the powerplay. John Tavares, William Nylander, and either Morgan Reilly or John Klingberg will round out the top unit, meaning a key injury is really Bertuzzi's only path to finding the necessary correlation.
Yes, he can produce at even-strength as well, but line combinations are certainly never guaranteed - especially with a new player to the roster and a hot rookie prospect in Matthew Knies fighting for the same role.
Claude Giroux is going in the same area and ranks higher in our books based on Underdog's criteria. If you're really trying for some correlation on the wing, Rickard Rakell ate up the majority of top powerplay time over Bryan Rust last season for the Penguins and is the leader in the clubhouse over Kris Letang and Reilly Smith as well this season for the spot. Rakell is basically guaranteed a top-six spot next to Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin night in and night out.
I personally much prefer goaltender in this range, with Darcy Kuemper, Joonas Korpisalo, and Frederick Andersen all going later.
Lucas Raymond, W
Current ADP: 136
PuckLuck Rank: 160
Let's preface this by saying we have Lucas Raymond projected to have the best role possible for Detroit - top line with Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat, and top powerplay. The reality is that he's the clear passenger on that line.
Aside from a strong first half to his rookie season, Raymond has not shown signs of being an offensive driving force that his NHL Draft pedigree might suggest. His fantasy draft pedigree is much lower, but there's so many other wingers in his range that have shown they can put the puck in the net consistently - or at least shoot it. This includes Bryan Rust, Anders Lee, Artturi Lehkonen, Reilly Smith, and Brock Boeser.
Elvis Merzlikins, G
Current ADP: 149.3
PuckLuck Rank: 620
Goalies are so volatile year-to-year that it's tough to say you are failing at the position, unless you really look at the Underdog Fantasy scoring criteria for best puck. Wins are very crucial, and of course you're docked for high goals-against. These are two areas the Columbus Blue Jackets as a whole project to struggle, regardless of who's in net.
On top of that, Merzlikins has quantifiably been the worst goalie in the NHL over the last two seasons, which suggests that if he starts to falter again he may quickly find himself on the bench in favor of the more intriguing Daniil Tarasov.
This is not the goalie to be taking a late-round flier on, especially when there's intriguing young talent like Karel Vejmelka, Logan Thompson, and Akira Schmid going later than him as well as veterans that can possibly garner the majority of starts on much better teams such as Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury.
What about the centers?
Impressively enough, center ADP is not too shabby. The best puck community has clearly smartened up about the position, in the sense that these pivots are not going too high. This does not give you the green light to keep selecting them if you find they're sitting there for you round after round.
Keep in mind that only one center score counts for you each week, and potentially one more in the flex spot if no one else outscores the next best center. With the ADP of the position considered on-point or even of value, it's smart to wait until the later rounds should you secure a center early in the draft.
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