November 11, 2008

Fantasy Frenzy: The Specifics Of Being Vague

First off, my apologies to those of you who were looking forward to me breaking down the current crop of rookies in the NHL. Unfortunately you are going to have to wait one more week as a different topic has stolen my attention... injuries. Injuries are always the worst thing about fantasy sports (just ask someone who drafted Sergei Gonchar this year... like me), but things have been taken to a whole new level with fantasy hockey this year. Thanks to a new NHL policy teams have to disclose almost no information about injuries to their players. While I can sort of see the argument for this policy from a strictly hockey perspective, it is a nightmare for fantasy hockey owners.

To illustrate my point let us take a look at two recent high profile injuries; Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov. On the one hand you have Brodeur, a goalie who was most likely a first-round pick. We know exactly what his injury was: torn bicep tendon in his left elbow), and we know the timetable for his return: three to four months. On the other hand there is Nabokov, again likely either a first or second-round pick in all drafts, we know he has a knee injury and that is about it.

So who would you rather own right now? Most likely Nabokov will be back before Brodeur, but there is no way of knowing right now because the Sharks are not saying anything about his injury. At least if you are a Brodeur owner you can find a replacement and try to make the best of it until he gets back. What do you do if you own Nabokov? Do you go ahead and drop a player to pick up another goalie, or do you try to wait it out? If you do choose to wait, how long do you wait before you finally are forced to give in and make a move? Welcome to fantasy hockey in the new NHL.

Problems like this are only going to continue for fantasy owners for as long as this non-disclosure policy is in place. Just think of all the guys who are missing time with "lower body injuries" right now. Not knowing exactly how a player is hurt is tough on fantasy owners because it makes it harder to gauge when a player will be back in the lineup and also what the long term impact on their performance could be. Take Sidney Crosby for instance. Everyone knows he has some kind of nagging upper body injury right now, but you do not know what it is or how long until he is fully recovered. Again I can see why coaches and GMs are in favor of this, but it sure sucks for the rest of us.

Pick-Up of the Week:
  • Brent Johnson (G - WSH) - It appears as though Johnson has wrestled the starting gig in Washington away from Jose Theodore. Johnson has been very good in goal lately and should be a solid contributor for as long as his play keeps him in the Capitals crease. Johnson is arguably the best option for someone looking for an upgrade in net, say a Brodeur or Nabokov owner...
Fantasy 3 Stars of the Week:
  1. Roberto Luongo - Three starts, three wins, three shutouts. As Stan Lee would say, 'nuff said!
  2. Ryan Clowe - The red hot Clowe managed four goals and a pair of assists in the last week. He also chipped in in other areas with a +4 rating, 12 PIM, and a pair of points with the man advantage. The best part is that me might still be available in some leagues. If you are really lucky.
  3. Mikhail Grabovski - Grabovski's line was almost identical to Clowe's last week except that he was only hit for a single minor penalty. Grabovski has started to click with linemate Nikolai Kulemin and his seven goals on the season are tops on the Leafs. he is definitely someone worth keeping an eye on going forward.
Chris Yarbrough is the GFH Fantasy Guru for the 2008-09 season. You can read more from Chris on his own blogs, Taking One for the Team and The Flower Shop.

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