Geek of the Week: Joffrey Lupul
I am not usually a huge proponent of drafting injury plagued players (Dobber glossed Band-Aid Boys) in Fantasy Hockey. I would much rather stock my team with proven, reliable commodities that I know I can bank on – particularly in the early rounds of a draft. I have spoken before how it is my belief that (much like a PGA tour event) you can’t win a fantasy hockey league in the first two rounds, but you can lose your league in the first two rounds. Sometimes though, a Band-Aid Boy can give you some great mid-late round value and with enough background work you can identify certain Band-Aid Boys that are actually relatively low risk. Today I will show you an example of one of those guys and how I identified him: Joffrey Lupul
Background on my strategy with Band-Aid Boys
Drafting Band-Aid Boys is very similar to playing the stock market: you never want to buy high, you always want to buy low. As an example, if you had drafted Kevin Bieksa in 2011, you probably didn’t have to pay too much for him. He was coming off back-to-back 22 point seasons playing 55 and 66 games respectively so he was probably drafted as a 25pt, 60gp guy. When he came through with 44 points in 78 games he would have been an absolute steal for you. Conversely, if you had drafted fellow Band-Aid Boy Lubomir Visnovsky, you probably paid through the nose to get him. He was coming off an epic 68pt, 81gp season, manning a prolific Anaheim powerplay. When he went on to produce 27 points in an injury plagued season it would have severely hurt your team.
The point I am getting at here with Band-Aid Boys is that you can’t draft them at their healthy upside value. Drafting a Band-Aid Boy coming off of a healthy, productive season is almost always a losing proposition, but drafting a Band-Aid Boy coming off of a year where he experience injury could provide some value in mid-late rounds. Using the tools provided at Fantasy Hockey Geek, you can find the Band-Aid Boys that do have some value and very little risk. Let’s run the numbers on Lupul and I will show you how:
(2011-12 stats for a Yahoo! standard 12 team H2H league measuring G, A, +/-, PIM, SOG, PPP)
You can see that in the Yahoo! standard league above, Lupul was the 81st most valuable player in the league and he achieved this value while only playing 66 games! Looking at his 2012 average draft position (ADP), you can see that he is being selected 115th overall, so even if he misses games at a similar rate to last season there is some decent value with Lupul in 2012 drafts. It seems that GMs out there are so scared of Lupul’s history that they are actually leaving a fair amount of value on the table and I haven’t even begun to talk about upside yet.
It would be crazy of me to tell you to draft Lupul as if he were going to play a full season and I am certainly not doing that. What I would say is that you should draft Lupul, assuming that he plays about 80% of the games again this season and anything more that he plays is total upside. It certainly is a possibility that Lupul plays more than 80% of the games next season though, so let’s prorate his numbers from last season and plug that output into the What-If Analysis tool, available at FHG as part of the Season Toolkit. This will show us what his value would have been if he played all 82 games and put up numbers at the same rate:
Looking above, you can see that if Lupul were able to maintain his pace over 82 games, his FHG value would have jumped from 49.1 to 83.7 last season. This value would have been the 22nd highest value in a league of this format, just ahead of another multi-cat stud David Backes. That is some huge upside for a guy who is being drafted in the 11th round on a daily basis.
The purpose of this article is not to tell you that Lupul will play 82 games, score 83 points and be the 22nd most valuable guy in the league next year. What I am trying to do is identify some value for you. I (along with everybody reading this article) doubt that Lupul will keep up that scoring pace AND miss no time next season but what I have done is use the tools at FHG to demonstrate what Lupul’s upside in an absolute best case scenario is. Taking the what-if analysis I just did and combining that information with the actual 2011 rankings that I showed above, you can come up with a very powerful conclusion:
If Lupul plays 80 - 100% of the Leaf’s games this season, his value in this league will in all likelihood fall between 22nd and 81st overall. Given that his ADP is 115, you can probably draft him sometime in the 90s at relatively low risk, because even if he misses 20% of the games you will be getting fair value for your pick. If he happens to play more than that, your fantasy team will reap the benefits of the upside. I recognize that the possibility of Lupul playing less than 80% of the next season does exist, but there is a certain amount of injury risk with all players. The fact that you can draft Lupul with enough value to maintain a 20% “injury buffer” allows you to mitigate most of the risk.
Lupul is a great example of how you can use FHG to “take a risk” in your draft and find some potential upside without actually taking much risk at all. Using the tools at FHG, I was able to find a guy who would provide fair to good value at his low-end projections but could provide excellent to elite value at his high-end projections. Band-Aid Boys aren’t always risks for your team, sometimes they provide legitimate opportunities to expose other more conservative GMs.
Let’s look at some other considerations that potentially add to Lupul’s value.
There is no question that Lupul is a certified Band-Aid Boy and a definite risk to miss some games in the coming season, but it should definitely be noted that the games he missed last season were not related to the previous issues he had with his back and consequent infections. Lupul had a separated shoulder last year and is fully healed from that. I would be far more concerned about a player with a chronic issue (groin, back etc) than I would about a guy who happened to separate his shoulder. Lupul seems to be past his back issues, so it isn’t out of the question to think that he will suit up most days for the Blue and White this coming year.
Lupul is in a contract year and if he can maintain close to a point per game pace while not missing much time he will be in for a BIG payday. He knows this, so his motivation to stay healthy and produce will be at an all-time high.
A new Center
The JvR experiment at center will have an impact on Lupul as well but no matter how it turns out, I can’t see it hurting Lupul’s value. If JvR is a great fit with Kessel and Lupul, then the line will only become more prolific and increase Lupul’s value. If JvR at C is somehow worse than Bozak, well then Bozak is still there this year to step in. The only way the addition of JvR will negatively impact Lupul is if Lupul gets moved off of the top line but with the chemistry Lupul and Kessel have shown, I can’t see that happening.
Lupul is not only good in the Yahoo! standard categories above, but he also contributes greatly to the Hits category which is being included in more and more leagues. Lupul had 110 hits last season in 66 games (a 137 hit pace). Of the 58 players who amassed over 60 points last year, only 9 had as many hits as Lupul did. Scorers who can hit are a rare and valuable thing.
What all of this adds up to for Lupul is a low-risk high-reward proposition. Snag him in the 9th or 10th round and even if he continues to miss about 20% of the games, he will provide you with the same (or better) value as other players taken at that point in the draft. If he can happen to stay healthy for you, then you will have one of those late round steals that win GMs pools. To find more of your own low-risk high-reward players be sure to sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek.