One of the more interesting aspects of fantasy hockey is the prevalence of team bias for your squad and the players that comprise it.
By this I mean that you will more often than not view your players more highly than the guys on your opposing manager’s team, largely because you drafted them. It’s not your fault; we’re all guilty of this to a degree. You spend a lot of time reading up on your team and as a result tend to develop an affinity for players that play for "you".
I received an interesting question on twitter this week from someone who is suffering a bit from team bias; as a result he hasn't been able to complete many deals in his league. If you are repeatedly overvaluing your personnel it’s unlikely you’ll find a trade partner who shares your views.
Ryan Kesler is a perfect case study for this phenomena and shows the dichotomy that can exist in your league, making transactions difficult.
A manager that drafted Kesler may point to his strong start as an indication that he has fully recovered from his injury woes and is poised to once again be a top 50 fantasy option. 9 goals in 18 games has Kesler on pace to break 40 (something he has accomplished before, in 2011) and re-establish himself as a top scoring option. Additionally, he is shooting 3.8 times per game, projected over 82 games that is 310 shots. At 29 years old a positivist could even make the case that he has another two or three seasons of strong production ahead before players typically decline.
Conversely, an opposition poolie will note that Kesler’s production dipped massively in 2011-12, ending with only 49 points and 222 shots. During last year’s truncated season he managed to play in only 17 games as a result of shoulder and foot injuries. Through 18 games this season he has played the majority of his time on the wing alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin, a cushy spot for fantasy numbers. Should his position in the lineup change, perhaps to a shutdown second line center role (like he has played in the past) his numbers could nose dive.
Both arguments above have some statistical merit and a reasonable person could likely take either side. In trade talks however, it’s imperative that you find the middle ground, somewhere between the spectrum of Ryan Kesler the 40 goal scorer and the second line, 45 point centermen.
So how do you do it?
My strategy to combat bias isn't overly complicated. Basically I take the two players, for the sake of argument let’s use Johan Franzen and Patric Hornqvist. I will look at both their career numbers, point totals, injuries, linemates...etc. After accumulating enough data I’ll write down projections across all the categories in my pool. In a keeper league I would write out projections for the next three seasons as well, taking into account the age of a player and expected decline or increase of numbers. For example:
Franzen - 33 year old
70GP, 27G, 25A, 45PIMs, 215SOG
Hornqvist - 26 year old
75GP, 28G, 24A, 41PIMs, 260SOG
The next thing I do to help mitigate the amount of bias is remove the names and refer to each player simply as Player A (Franzen) or Player B (Hornqvist). Then take the two players and compare them across each category.
-5GP, -1G, +1A, +4PIMs, -35SOG
+5GP, +1G, -1A, -4PIMs, +35SOG
Looking at the results we notice that both players’ projections are remarkably similar across the majority of categories. The one outlier is shots on goal, where Player B has an edge of 35 over the course of a single season. Using this you can infer that Player B is more valuable and proceed with the trade.
In larger trades where there are 3 or more pieces involved you can use the same format by separating the trade into parts. For example if a deal is Getzlaf and Yandle for Zetterberg and Duncan Keith. Compare the output of both forwards and then of the two defencemen. If you are still unsure after that you can aggregate all of the numbers together and see which side has more production overall.
Does this completely remove bias? No. There will always be part of you that wants your players to perform better. However, this should help you focus more on the numbers and statistical output of players. As much as we do get attached to players (I am just as guilty of this as anyone) during trades you need to be as cold and calculated as possible – who provides the most production in as many categories as possible.
I’m also happy to try and lend an objective eye the next time you’re working through a trade proposal. You can follow me @FantasyHockeyDk
Onto today’s daily dosage...
7 Things You Should Know
1. Galchenyuk provides a glimpse of the future with 3 points and 6 shots on goal
I tend to shy away from teenagers in one year pools because the production is so rarely there. Galchenyuk may end up as a special case – with 3 points last night he is now up to 14 on the season. The only negative thus far has been his shot totals, which are hovering around 2.0 a game. If he can slowly inch that number closer to 3 (240 over 82 games) we should see his goals and overall fantasy value rise.
2. Is it time that the BIG 4 expanded its membership to include Tavares?
In keeper leagues the general consensus (and I know there are some that would debate this) is that Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin and Stamkos are part of the top tier of players. There is then a group of players in the second grouping. Tavares picked up another 2 assists last night and now has 20 points in 18 games. At 23 years old he is yet to prove he can produce 90 or 100 point seasons, but I have to think that is on the horizon. The rate limiting factor for him in recent years has been linemates – now with Thomas Vanek on his wing (fingers crossed that it is long term) it might be time JT is mentioned with the top assets in the game.
3. Martin Brodeur now has back-to-back shutouts
He only faced 15 shots against Nashville last night but two shutouts is still two shutouts. At 41 years old we can't rely on him as a viable starter anymore. However, because of the style that New Jersey plays he likely won't face many shots each game. This means his goals against average should be around the league average even if his save percentage is between .900 and .910. He still can provide value as a #4 starter in some formats - just don't think of him as a top 25 goaltender anymore.
4. Brian Campbell scores twice in a loss to the Rangers
I can't think of a player that sees as much of a value fluctuation between formats as Brian Campbell. In points only leagues he is one of only a handful of defencemen capable of breaking 45 or 50 points. In multi-cat formats his penalty minutes (around 15) and shots on goal (115, if you are lucky) keep him from being an elite blueliner. He'll continue to get a lot of opportunities in Florida as their best offensive defencemen.
5. Nail Yakupov nets his second goal of the season
Most of us didn't think it would take 17 games to get there, especially given the way he finished last year, but here we are. I probably receive more tweets regarding Yakupov than any other player. I don't have a good answer on how to properly assess his value moving forward. In one year pools, he likely isn't worth the trouble, since we have no real way of telling when this funk will end. While in dynasty leagues most managers will simply have to wait it out, even if it takes this year and more. The fantasy potential of a former first overall pick is too great to quit on.
6. Andrew Ladd is proving that last year wasn't a fluke
Even though he posted 46 points and 121 shots in 48 games last season Ladd still slipped down a number of draft boards. This was understandable, since he had never approached a point per game pace over a full 82 game schedule. After adding a goal and an assist last night he is now up to 16 points - supplemented by nice peripheral totals in both penalty minutes (12) and plus minus (+6). The buy low window is close to shut.
7. Frederik Anderson continues to impress for Anahiem
The 24 year old goaltender has started 6 games this season - impressively all have been wins. The Ducks' crease was already crowded heading into this year with Hiller and Fasth, now Anderson has further confused the situation. His goals against average (1.41 and save percentage (.952) are some of the best in the league. I wouldn't recommend paying a steep price via trade, given the uncertainly over how many starts he'll received. That said, if you can add him from the waiver wire he could be a nice option over the next few weeks.