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Midseason Top 50 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman Rankings

Look, defensemen get a bad wrap in fantasy hockey.  Just like they do on the ice for their NHL teams, many of the best defensemen toil quietly in obscurity.  For your fantasy hockey team, they tend to be complementary players.  Defensemen are excellent sources for multi-cat leagues.  When you get one who puts up a high point total, though, he can make the difference between making your team an also-ran or a champion. With that in mind, now is a good time to take a fresh look at our Top 50 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman Rankings.

Be on the lookout for our waiver wire column and all the rest of our Fantasy Hockey content.

Fantasy Hockey Risers:

Shea Weber has been a pleasant surprise this year.  Ranked #21 among D in the preseason ranks, he jumps to #6 in this update.  In the preseason, there were legitimate questions of whether all the years of 25+ATOI were finally catching up to Weber, who missed significant time in two straight seasons.  Instead, we have been treated to a season of prime Weber.  Weber is top 10 in D in scoring and on pace for a season of 54 points, 240 shots, 140 hits, and 140 blocks.  Among all the higher point-scorers, not one has more hits OR more blocks than Shea.

A question everyone had in the preseason was who would be the lead D on Edmonton’s power play.  When it became clear early on that Oscar Klefbom would be on the ice with Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, his stock went through the roof.  Barring a change to his role, there is no reason to think he will slip back down.  From #50 to #5, Klefbom will be owned on a lot of fantasy hockey champion teams this year.

24-year-old Neal Pionk was combined with a prime first-round draft pick last summer so the Rangers could get back Jacob Trouba.  While Trouba has been fine, Pionk has thrived as the PPQB in Winnipeg.  In the preseason, much speculation surrounded whether Dustin Byfuglien would step in to take back his accustomed role.  Instead, Byfuglien remains at home and Pionk has 32 points, 18 on the power-play unit.  With little competition in Winnipeg’s thin D corps, there does not look to be a challenger to the role.  Pionk goes from #50 in the preseason to #10 D now.

Fantasy Hockey Fallers:

PK Subban’s fall has been sudden and dramatic.  With his recent history of injuries and move out of high-powered Nashville to bottom-barrel New Jersey, we gave him a modest #12 ranking preseason.  Now he comes in at #50.  He is still on roughly a 200-shot pace, but 11 points in 48 games while having only an irregular spot on the top power-play does not indicate a bounceback coming soon.  PK’s critics are often unfair to him, but there is little to defend this year’s performance.

John Klingberg’s declining rank is partly due to injuries this year, but regardless he has the lowest scoring rate, shot rate, and shooting percentage of his career.  Miro Heiskanen recently suffered a concussion, giving the returning Klingberg a bit more time to dig back into the top defensive role on the team.  Still, when Klingberg’s scoring drops he has fewer peripheral stats than his peers, which lowers his floor.  A slip from #13 to #30 results.

Sad Stories:

The lead story among defensemen ought to be Dougie Hamilton.  I thought the #15 rank we gave him in the preseason was aggressive given coaches’ history of underusing him his whole career.  Instead, Justin Faulk got traded and freed up a spot on the power play.  Hamilton’s ATOI jumped by 4 minutes.  In 47 games, his 40 points already eclipsed the 39 he scored in 82 games for Carolina last year.  Had he not broke his fibula, he would probably be #3 on this list.

Top 50 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman Rankings

14John CarlsonWSH
25Roman JosiNSH
318Alex PietrangeloSTL
43Victor HedmanTB
538Oscar KlefbomEDM
621Shea WeberMON
71Brent BurnsSJ
810Kris LetangPIT
919Keith YandleFLA
1050Neal PionkWPG
1131Cale MakarCOL
12NRTony DeAngeloNYR
132Erik KarlssonSJ
1424Drew DoughtyLA
1514Torey KrugBOS
168Seth JonesCBJ
1732Jeff PetryMON
1844Shea TheodoreVGK
1920Rasmus RistolainenBUF
2023Tyson BarrieTOR
2126Quinn HughesVAN
2239Ivan ProvorovPHI
2311Thomas ChabotOTT
2429Zach WerenskiCBJ
257Mark GiordanoCGY
2645Ryan SuterMIN
27NRFilip HronekDET
2848Jaccob SlavinCAR
2922Jacob TroubaNYR
3013John KlingbergDAL
3130Ryan PulockNYI
3217Oliver Ekman-LarssonARI
339Rasmus DahlinBUF
3452Miro HeiskanenDAL
3551Mikhail SergachevTB
3637Charlie McAvoyBOS
37NRMark BorowieckiOTT
3843Matt DumbaMIN
39NRAdam FoxNYR
40NRAlex GoligoskiARI
4128Aaron EkbladFLA
4234Erik GustafssonCHI
43NRAlexander EdlerVAN
44NRSami VatanenNJ
45NRCam FowlerANA
46NRHampus LindholmANA
47NREthan BearEDM
48NRJake GardinerCAR
49NRHenri JokiharjuBUF
5012P.K. SubbanNJ

Got a beef with Jesse’s defenseman rankings? Let him hear it in the comments below.

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