Whether it’s fantasy puck, football, baseball, basketball, water polo, horse racing (okay, maybe a stretch), anything. There is one thing that holds true for all fantasy sports.
You win your league with your later round picks. Not the early ones.
Sure, the top picks like Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby are obviously more exciting than your picks in the rounds that follow. However, there are a ton of players being overlooked on draft day that can play major roles on your fantasy rosters this season. So, with the season just five days away, here are a few overlooked players that warrant your attention.
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers: Homer pick? Perhaps, but I think what Simmonds brings to the fantasy table needs to be highlighted a bit more. Versatility is key in category leagues, and Simmonds provides tons of value in that regard. Throughout his career, Simmonds has averaged a strong 92 penalty minutes per season, and has posted at least 110 shots in every season he’s played. There’s two categories. Simmonds has also showcased his scoring ability with the Flyers, scoring 28 goals in his last full 82-game season, and still lit the lamp a respectable 15 times during last year’s shortened season. And over the last three seasons, Simmonds quietly ranks 14th in power-play goals (17), ahead of guys like Evgeni Malkin and John Tavares. He’ll most likely see time on the Flyers’ first power-play unit, where he often screens the goalie and drills home loose pucks. He’s a vital piece of the Flyers roster, and will be one for fantasy teams as well.
Ray Whitney, Dallas Stars: Wait. He’s 41-years old? Sure hasn’t looked like it, as Whitney continues to churn in fantasy production year after year. Prior to last year’s 48-game season, Whitney has posted at least 50 points in his last seven seasons. He’ll have a strong chance to continue that streak this year, as long as he can land on the Stars first line with young guns Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. If that is the case, a 70-plus point total is very much in the realm of possibility for the veteran winger. A large portion of his fantasy value does hinge on whether or not he lands on the first line, but if he does, he’ll produce strongly. Fantasy owners shouldn’t forget about the aging veteran come draft day.
Brad Richards, New York Rangers: Richards hasn’t had the most ideal start to his tenure with the Rangers through the first two season. During his first 82-game season with the club, he only posted 66 points, and last year, he scored 34 points. He simply hasn’t looked like the dominant playmaker we have seen out of him in year’s past, and as a result, fantasy owners aren’t clicking on his name when it’s their turn to draft. With the Stars, Richards was better than a point-per-game guy, but he is looking to bounceback this season. There is still talent around him, and with more offensive-minded head coach Alain Vigneault calling the shots, Richards could have his best statistical season with the Rangers. Vigneault got the best out of the Sedin twins a few years back, and I think he can do the same with Richards. With talented goal scorers like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan in the mix, don’t be surprised if Richards returns to his 60-assist numbers this season.
Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets: Laad quietly produced a strong season last year. He was nearly a PPG guy, scoring 46 points in 48 games. I drafted him myself last season and he was the perfect depth center for my team. The Jets continue to get better offensively, and have even added guys like Devin Setoguchi to the mix. If you extrapolate the Jets’ captain’s numbers from last year to a full 82-game season, it would have easily been a career season. At 27-years old and entering his prime, Ladd could take another step forward this year, as young talent like Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler are only going to get better. He may not have the upside of some of these other high profile centers, but Ladd will be more than serviceable for fantasy owners who add him to their rosters. I could easily see a 30/30 season in store for him this year.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.