2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: 7 overrated players to be wary of in drafts

Identifying the players being overvalued the most by fantasy hockey managers this season.

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Is Sidney Crosby worth paying up for this fantasy draft season? (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images) (Jason Mowry via Getty Images)

Every fantasy hockey draft season there are a number of players whom the community seems to just accept will be terrific for fantasy without taking much time to examine the reasoning behind that belief.

For some, it’s a history of performance that has managers looking past limiting factors. For others, it’s a pure hype-train — looking for that "sure thing" breakout everyone agrees is bound to happen. Regardless of the reasoning (or lack thereof), it’s worth identifying some players who are simply being overrated by fantasy managers this year and should probably be avoided at current cost.

1. Sidney Crosby (ADP 19.1)

It’s a dangerous business disbelieving in Sidney Crosby, who has matured gracefully into his old-man era while still putting up 90+ point paces.

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My biggest issue with Crosby is that you will always pay a little extra for the name brand with him, as he’s been the poster boy for the NHL for much of his career and one of those players even a non-fan could probably recognize if asked.

Consider that similar players like Mika Zibanejad and Elias Pettersson go about 10 picks later on average, and ask yourself if the name brand is worth paying up for in your drafts this season.

2. William Nylander (ADP 25.5)

With Crosby, it’s the name brand tax, and with Nylander, it’s the Toronto tax. Love it or hate it, Toronto commands a huge fan base and that spills over into fantasy, where Toronto players are often chased up to unreasonable ADP levels. In Nylander’s case, there’s once again a large contingent of players I don’t consider to be too dissimilar who can be had much later in the draft.

I’ll take the value on Kyle Connor or J.T. Miller nearly 20 picks later over Nylander and feel pretty comfortable with that. It certainly doesn’t help that Nylander is getting a look as the third-line center in camp, keeping him away from longtime linemate John Tavares.

3. Connor Hellebuyck (ADP 31.9)

As you already know if you’ve read any of my goalie-related articles in the past, I’m a notorious goalie-fader. But Hellebuyck has a few more warts than the rest of the consensus top goaltenders in my opinion. I’m concerned with the massive workload Hellebuyck has assumed for seven straight seasons and how many more of those he can handle as he begins his age-30 campaign.

I’m even more concerned with Winnipeg losing top forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler and replacing them with good-not-great players like Gabriel Vilardi and Alex Iafallo. There are a few too many warning signs for me to feel comfortable with Hellebuyck this high.

4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (ADP 32.5)

I know RNH is coming off a 104-point season, but I find it extremely hard to buy in on a player whose previous high-water mark was a 77-point pace back in 2019-20. If he doesn’t once again have a historic-level power play performance, Nuge will likely be closer to that pace than what he posted last season.

If you want to get technical about it, Nugent-Hopkins posted a league-high 15.9% on-ice shooting percentage that even eclipsed teammates Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It’s a good bet he won’t get quite that lucky again next season despite his admittedly ideal surroundings.

5. Connor Bedard (ADP 35.4)

I would love to get on board with the Bedard hype this draft season, but who is going to be passing him the puck? The Blackhawks are leagues worse than the teams elite No. 1 picks like McDavid or Auston Matthews joined in their standout rookie campaigns.

Even if Bedard is individually just as impressive as those two, this is still a team sport and Bedard’s surroundings will almost certainly hamper his output for fantasy. This early in the draft there are still absolute stars available at all positions, making the Bedard proposition all the more riskier. I simply can’t see the ceiling case for Bedard where he truly pays off this ADP.

6. Jamie Benn (ADP 76.2)

I think we should probably just accept that Jamie Benn had a wacky season-long bender last year and it’s extremely unlikely to be repeated. Benn’s production increased thanks to sky-high individual and on-ice shooting percentages despite a decrease in average time on ice.

Given the same deployment in 2023-24, Benn is probably not much more than a replacement-level player in most leagues. Benn is about as clear a regression candidate as we have this offseason, and I for one will be completely uninterested in acquiring him in the seventh round of my drafts.

7. Tyler Toffoli (ADP 83.3)

Toffoli has been skating next to Jack Hughes in camp thus far, which will undoubtedly lead to some extra hype. But Toffoli is 31 years old coming off just the second 30-goal campaign of his career, and it’s hard to see how he becomes as integral a piece of the offense in New Jersey as he was in Calgary last season.

In fact, Toffoli appears to be unlikely to crack the top power-play unit for the Devils, which will make it extremely difficult for him to replicate the 25 power-play points he managed for the Flames.

In the end, I’d be surprised to see Toffoli approach the 34 goals and 73 points of last year despite the relative upgrade in linemates as he simply won’t be leaned on for his offense as much as he was in Calgary.

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Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter/X @applesginos.