Puck Daddy - NHL

(Ed. Note: In celebration of Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey's return, Puck Daddy presents a short series of guest posts this week that look at how some prominent fantasy experts go about building their own teams. First up, Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs of the incredible fantasy site DobberHockey.com.)

By Darryl Dobbs, a.k.a. "Dobber"

I don't overanalyze my draft list. Do you remember back in school those A-plus students who kept to themselves and worked so hard during class that you felt like giving their head the Semin-bongo treatment? And their nights were filled with textbooky goodness?

Sure, they're successful managers now in some giant corporation. But the CEOs of that corporation are the B students. The ones who are smart enough to put up grades that gain respect, but at the same time have the social skills and that outside-the-box thinking that put them over the top.

You can analyze the hell out of your draft list, but if you don't know how to react to unexpected selections from your competitors then you've already lost.

In a roto-style draft, I think on my feet. Generally I don't know where I draft beforehand and as such I don't know what position my top pick will be playing. Since I don't know that, then I cannot possibly predict what my needs will be in even the second round. With an online draft, my preparation includes rooting through the pre-set draft list for all the sleeper picks - the players who are too low on the automated list. Then I move them up. I move them up too far, just so I can keep my eye on them. Not just the offense guys, but the plus/minus and PIM guys.

Then I'll go through the goaltenders and separate them into three groups. Tier 1 consists of six to eight goalies who are slam dunks for 35 wins and solid stats. Tier 2 consists of eight to 10 goalies who are slam dunks for 30 wins and solid stats. Tier 3 will have a dozen goaltenders who have a shot at Craig Andersoning their way up to the top of the class. And there you have it - my pre-draft prep.

I already know my fantasy hockey, and I'll wager that anyone who bothers to read a fantasy drafting tips article has a decent grasp of it as well. So as the draft progresses I can scan through each position for available players based on the automated list and my upgraded sleepers and make a decision. Since you know the players and have an idea of what to expect, it's the thought process that decides which position/stat to focus on that is important.

Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is the first overall pick in a rotisserie draft. He's a left wing, which is a very difficult position to fill via the waiver wire and he brings a goals and points guarantee that is virtually unmatched.

His assists are nothing to sneeze at and his shot total is off the charts. In fact, in the shots category it's like having three pretty good players taking up one roster spot. And he's no softy in the PIM stat either.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby(notes) and Evgeni Malkin(notes) come next. They are both centermen which is the easiest position to fill via the waiver wire; and although they have been solid in all categories, their past statistics may leave room for argument in terms of taking them over a goaltender.

However, one of these seasons their production will pop by 20 percent. It's that upside that should settle the argument.

If you pick fourth overall or later, you take a goaltender. In most roto leagues, goalie stats take up 40 percent of the categories (I try to make it closer to 30 percent if I'm running the league, but I digress), so if you don't take care of that position you'll quit the pool by December out of frustration.

Roberto Luongo(notes) is usually a safe choice, but as long as you guarantee yourself a Tier 1 goalie you'll be okay. However, and this where "thinking on your feet" comes into play, if you are picking 10th and the obvious goalies are gone - Luongo, Martin Brodeur(notes), Henrik Lundqvist(notes), Ryan Miller(notes), Jimmy Howard(notes) say - you need to make a decision. You pick again in seven picks (assuming 13 teams, snake draft). Will Jaroslav Halak(notes), Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) or Pekka Rinne(notes) get to you? If not, would Craig Anderson(notes) suffice?

If you are satisfied with what you will get next round, then pick another position. If Mike Green(notes) is available (and he could be, if five goaltenders were just nabbed) then take him. He's far and away the best fantasy player in his position and arguably even a Top 3 pick according to many experts. Otherwise look to Corey Perry(notes), who is the best multi-cat right wing to own.

If I have the last pick of the round, I absolutely have to take a goaltender. After these two picks, it won't come back to me until 24 or 26 picks later, so if I don't want to be stuck with Vesa Toskala(notes) and Robert Esche as my 1-2, I'd better take care of it right now. If there are plenty of Tier 1 goalies left, then I will only take one. However, if the Tier 1 bones are picked clean (which happened to me once), then I have no choice but to take two of my goalies in my Tier 2 section.

During the Draft - Basic Philosophy

After the first round, I fill my needs accordingly. I never fill a position three times if I have zero in another position, nor will I pick a fourth left winger if I only have one defenseman. I'll take a player with slightly fewer predicted points if he is stronger in the other categories. At the midpoint of the draft I take stock of my roster and determine which category is weakest. At this point I start looking at my sleepers and my needs.

Regarding the bench  

I never draft a center for the bench. The wire is filled with pivots so I won't waste a bench spot. I'll have one of each of the other positions on the bench. If my goaltending is weak, I'll take a flyer on a fourth goalie. I can always drop him early if the gamble doesn't pay off.

• • •

That's it. No hardcore analysis. No draft list set in stone. It's the fluidity of your decision making at the draft - along with a bit of luck - that will mold your roster into a winner.

Darryl Dobbs is the founder of DobberHockey.com, one of our favorite fantasy sites. Check it out

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