New to fantasy hockey? Rest assured. We've got you covered. This article will cover some of the basics that you'll need to know heading into your first fantasy hockey league.
We're well aware there might not be a season in 2012-13 but this list should still be applicable whenever the owners and players finally reach a deal.
The premise is simple. Compete against other managers by drafting the best group of hockey players you can from around the NHL. Their stats are your stats. With a bit of skill and a bit of luck, your roster will outscore your opposition, carrying you to fantasy gold. That's pretty much all there is to it. Below you'll find a few tips and tricks to help make your first fantasy experience a positive one.
Put Team Loyalty Aside
Love the Nashville Predators? Loathe the Detroit Red Wings? Put these feelings squarely in the back of your mind on draft day. The key to assembling the best fantasy roster is to evaluate players accurately and without bias. Even if you despise Player A from Team X you need to recognize that his skills could be the difference between a winning season and a losing season.
By the same token you need to be cautious in evaluating players from your favorite team. You might feel inclined to draft your favorite player from your favorite squad early in the proceedings to ensure he's on your team. There's nothing wrong with this strategy but be cautioned not to let your feelings for your local team cloud your judgment.
On draft day all teams are equal. Pick the player that will lift the Cup for you, regardless of what uniform he wears.
Adjust Your Strategy
Too often new fantasy managers stock up on talent in one area while ignoring gaping holes in their lineup. Drafts move pretty quickly and you need to adapt and adjust your strategy as the draft unfolds. Have the last nine picks been quality defenseman? Avoid the temptation of taking the 10th best option and consider selecting the 3rd best center or the 5th best winger. This is a crude example but it illustrates how an owner needs to be constantly thinking on their feet as the draft progresses.
Avoid continuing a run for a certain position. Try to be the manager that starts the run.
Know Your Scoring
Every league is different. There's the basic rotisserie style but plenty of leagues employ a head-to-head format where there could be 20+ statistical categories. Know what your league scores before draft day. This may sound obvious but too often there have been managers that draft plenty of big offensive talent only to slip in the standings because they forgot their league used Hits and Penalty Minutes as statistics.
It's always better to be over prepared than under prepared. Know which stats you need to cover on draft day.
Balance is Key
The goal of draft day is to throw together a squad that can compete in each category. There are strategies that encourage an owner to completely toss out a statistic but that approach seems to backfire more times than not in fantasy hockey. Instead, try to find those fantasy gems – multi-category producers. Consider a player such as Scott Hartnell. He didn't lead the league in scoring. He trailed Steven Stamkos by 23 goals. However, in the fantasy game Hartnell carries a huge value due to the fact he contributes not only offensively but also physically. Hartnell's 136 penalty minutes to go along with his 37 goals make him a fantasy stud.
Target players that contribute across your league's categories. Make sure to have all of the angles covered whether it's through guys that can do it all like Hartnell or through guys that specialize in one area, like enforcers. Don't punt any statistics.
Some of your players will start out slow. Some will make you want to rip you hair out. Avoid clicking that little button that says "Drop Player" next to the struggling athlete's name. The old saying is, "You drafted him for a reason". Don't let an early slump deter you from why you drafted said player in the first place. One of the worst feelings in fantasy sports is cutting ties with a player too soon only to see him excel on an opponent's roster.
Recognize slumps/streaks but don't act on them too quickly. Give the season time to evolve before adding/dropping players.
Fantasy sports require a level of dedication. It's exceptionally rare that you'll see a fantasy team perform well for a manager that hasn't checked his squad since draft day. This doesn't mean you have to pour over your virtual lineup for hours at a time or even daily but it does mean you should put aside some time to spend with your squad, particularly in leagues that allow daily changes and daily transactions.
Make time for your team. Don't scrutinize but be sure to make a point of setting your lineup and making changes as needed. A team on autopilot won't win many (if any) championships.
This might be the most important point on the list. Have fun with the fantasy hockey experience. Avoid getting overly competitive and enjoy yourself. Trash talk your friends or the random strangers you're in a league with. Cheer your successes but don't dwell on the poor performances. Be active and engage on the message board. Dull leagues are just that – dull.
Have some fun with the whole experience. Watch games you normally wouldn't and cheer on your fantasy players. Fantasy hockey enhances the overall experience that is being a hockey fan. Make the most of it.