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Midseason Fantasy Hockey Breakdown: Roto Beasts and Hot Rookies

We’re halfway through the season and last time we picked out some of the most surprising and disappointing fantasy hockey players of the season so far. Today, Jason Chen looks at valuable players in roto leagues and a very strong class of rookies.
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We’re halfway through the season and last time we picked out some of the most surprising and disappointing fantasy hockey players of the season so far.

Here’s Part 3 featuring valuable players in roto leagues and a very strong class of rookies who are making a significant impact.

Roto Beasts

What’s a Roto Beast? In short, they’re (usually) multi-position eligible players in rotisserie-style leagues who provide excess fantasy value compared to standard leagues. In other words, they’re not your usual top scorers, but the depth players and bangers who accumulate hits and blocked shots like Connor McDavid does points. Fantasy hockey has expanded and most leagues now include categories such as faceoff wins, hits and blocked shots, forcing managers to think more outside the box and dig deeper to find the players who will help them win.

Tanner Jeannot, LW/RW, Predators (Pre-season Rank: 514)

Jeannot has emerged a certified Roto Beast, a dual-eligibility winger who leads all rookies in goals and has racked up the PIM and hits. Such players are extremely difficult to find and only three other players have scored at least 10 goals and amassed over 50 PIM and 100 hits this season: Brady Tkachuk, Tom Wilson and Marcus Foligno. Lawson Crouse (16 percent rostered) will join this exclusive club with 24 more PIM.

Marcus Foligno, LW/RW, Wild (Pre-season: 370)

Foligno has developed into one of the league’s most feared power forwards who has now scored double-digit goal totals in five of his past seven seasons. Last season, Foligno scored 11 goals on 27.5 S% in just 39 games, a truly unsustainable pace considering that the league’s best shooters don’t even come close to cracking 20 S%. This season, Foligno has defied expectations with another hyper-efficient shooting percentage, scoring 15 goals in 36 games on a 28.3 S%. It’s a number boosted because so many goals are of the garbage variety that come from in close, and while it’s about time Foligno came back down to earth, it bears mentioning that Tomas Holmström was another forward who scored the vast majority of goals parking himself in front of the net and remained effective well into his late-30’s and finished with a 16.3 S%. Foligno isn’t playing on a stacked team like Holmström, but he’s certainly on a very similar track.

Chandler Stephenson, C/LW, Golden Knights (Pre-season: 371)

Stephenson has definitely leapfrogged William Karlsson on the depth chart, and even with Jack Eichel’s impending return, the Knights should probably keep Stephenson between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. He’s a low-maintenance center who showed off speed and versatility with the Caps, but no one saw this explosion in offense coming. It shows that playing with scoring wingers really can elevate a center’s offensive game, with strong shades of former Ducks center Steve Rucchin, who had five 50-plus point seasons playing with Hall of Famers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. Nicolas Roy (C/RW) has also punched well above his own weight, though to a lesser extent with 254 faceoff wins and 21 points heading into Monday’s games.

Ryan Hartman, C/RW, Wild (Pre-season: 369)

In two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program and the Plymouth Whalers, Hartman was never the top scorer or even considered the consensus best player. Though he was a first-round pick, he entered the league as an agitating right winger who did more with his speed, forecheck and physicality than his hands. This season, with 32 points in 36 games, he’s emerged as an ideal fit for Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, and went from not being on anyone’s fantasy hockey radar to being a valuable commodity in most standard leagues.

Ivan Barbashev, C/LW/RW, Blues (Pre-season: 379)

Add Vladimir Tarasenko (RW), who brushed off multiple shoulder injuries and trade speculation to score at a point-per-game pace, and Jordan Kyrou (C/LW/RW, Pre-season: 356)) and Robert Thomas (C/RW, Pre-season: 594) to the mix, because there’s a ton of players on the Blues who have really surprised and helped them become what looks like to be a pretty strong contender. However, Barbashev, has made the biggest, unexpected leap, going from a bottom-six utility player with a career-high of 26 points to averaging over 17 minutes per night and nearly a point per game. He was physical player who provided a most amount of hits, but with an added scoring touch and three-position eligibility, he’s become a very valuable fantasy asset.

Jacob Trouba, D, Rangers (Pre-season: 345)

Trouba has always been a defenseman with Roto Beast potential; the only thing lacking was points, and in his ninth NHL season has scored more than 30 points just twice in his career. That hasn’t been the problem this season with eight goals and 21 points in 42 games, and Trouba is just two goals shy of tying his career high, which was set during his rookie season. With eight more blocks, he’ll also post his fifth 100-100-100 season, reaching triple digits in shots, hits and blocked shots.

Rookies

Moritz Seider, D, Red Wings (Pre-season: 337)

For my money, Seider should be the rookie of the year because he’s played arguably the toughest position and averaging over 22 minutes per game while scoring 26 points and plays in all situations. His all-round ability, which also includes 11 power-play points and averaging more than a block and hit per game, renders Seider one of the best around in roto leagues.

Lucas Raymond, LW/RW, Red Wings (Pre-season: 324)

Raymond leads all rookies in scoring with 33 points, which is one point away from being in the top 50. Maybe things would be different if Filip Zadina hadn’t been so disappointing and Anthony Mantha was healthy, but Raymond really has looked very much like a first-line winger. Even though roto leagues offer up many different ways to win, points are arguably the hardest stat to come by and Raymond has been the best source for that among rookies.

Anton Lundell, C, Panthers (Pre-season: 335)

Seider, Raymond and Lundell should at least end up being three of the top four finalist for the Calder. Though Lundell’s scoring hasn’t been as prolific, he’s been playing a vital role for the Panthers on the third line, and as a rookie is trusted with a ton of high-leverage situations and defensive zone draws. He’s responded with 24 points, plus-14 rating and 233 faceoff wins, which ranks second only to Aleksander Barkov’s 330 on the Panthers.

Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Hurricanes (Pre-season: 730)

Jarvis is a little-known name and rostered in four percent of Yahoo leagues, but playing on the high-octane Canes offense has provided ample offensive opportunities. In most standard, 10-team leagues, Jarvis won’t even register on most managers’ radars, but in deep leagues, especially those with keepers, Jarvis is a name to remember. He’s a very talented scorer who has plenty of good players to play with and ranks sixth in P/GP among rookies with at least 20 games played.

Matt Boldy, LW, Wild (Pre-season: 970)

Boldy should be highly sought-after going forward, a dynamic scoring winger who can take a ton of pressure off Kirill Kaprizov’s line. Dean Evason has not been shy about playing Boldy either, who has played at least 17 minutes in each of his past three games after playing just 13 in his NHL debut. He’s played only 24 games in the AHL, but his impressive performances so far means he might never be demoted ever again.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Sabres (Pre-season: 523)

Based on Yahoo’s average draft pick values, no Sabres goalies was taken in any fantasy draft, but Luukkonen is slowly popping up on the radar and currently rostered in seven percent of Yahoo leagues. The talented Finn has thrust into the starting role after the Sabres had exhausted virtually all of their options, but he’s been up for the job with a 2.74 GAA and .917 Sv% – respectable numbers despite playing behind a lottery-bound team. The wins are obviously hard to come by, but that Luukkonen is already making an impression in fantasy leagues is a good sign. He’s a name to tuck in the back of your head for next season. 

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