The Value of Bench Players in Rotisserie Hockey

Updated: August 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm by Alexander Monaghan

Just to warn you, this story will be almost entirely based off my past experience. While this fable comes from the heart, kindly realize that my mistakes are the exception, not the rule. There will be a moral to this story; that much I can promise.

Last season was a trying one for a few reasons. New apartment, new job and a deeper focus here gave me a bit less time to take on extra curricular activities. Getting pulled in every which direction created a need to prioritize. Unfortunately, one thing that took a hit was one of my many fantasy hockey leagues, a Yahoo! Public League — Yahoo Public 4400 to be exact.

This league represents a tradition I make every fantasy season. I always play in a public league, far removed from any competitive angst in order to get a grip on how the average fantasy hockey GM acts, their compete level and what players are hot commodities. Following what I felt was a slam-dunk draft, this team went on my back burner mainly because I did not have the time but also because my selections gave me so much confidence that I thought I could set it and forget it.

In a way I was right, but mostly wrong. Probably all wrong.

Injuries piled up. Changes were needed. This slumlord of a GM was nowhere to be found when the I-beam collapsed. The infrastructure caved in as we finished in 6th place — pretty poor considering six managers never even made a roster move! My team made 10 total moves — swapping Sergei Bobrovsky, Michal Neuvirth, Milan Lucic, Ryan Suter and John Carlson for Mikael Samuelsson, Jason Demers, Matt Carle, Victor Hedman and Michael Leighton. The moves were fine. In theory, they would have worked. My patience, or devotion rather, let my team down for a number of reasons.

Patrick Marleau inched into my center spot following the Sidney Crosby injury. His production on the left side was replaced by Scott Hartnell and later Martin Havlat. Despite having excellent scorers, the team fell short. Why? Because I failed to make everyday roster changes following news breaking. Yes, me, the person who reports every tiny tidbit from Ryan Kesler to Patrick O’Sullivan, did not have the time to fill in spots when I needed to do so.

In the end, I played 82-games less than the first-place manager. Exactly one full hockey season short. The league actually allowed for my players to wear my sweater 984 times over the entire season yet I decided to only have them suit up 700 times. Five of my players — Travis Zajac, Brent Seabrook, Scott Hartnell, Carlson and Marleau — all played 82 games. The rest of my injury-plagued lineup could have used some plugs to fill in. Needless to say, using only 71 percent of my allotted games hurt. Nobody wins giving it only 71 percent!

It makes you take into account just how important those bench players can be when using a roto league. In the past, these skaters would simply toil on my bench but now I have learned my lesson. Instead of having my players suit up only 700 times and finish only 10 goals short of a category lead with 82 less games played, I will accordingly set my lineups as I already recommend to the thousands of readers who grace our website everyday.

However, having that above-replacement level bench player helps on so many levels. If 10 goals is to make-or-break your season, then wouldn’t it make more sense to draft a player like Hartnell knowing that he could score 20+ goals should your third-round stud LW (see Alexander Semin) find himself on IR for three months.

Just some boring, mid-summer advice to take to the bank. Keep it simple. Setting your roster and using up your entire roster limit are the fundamentals of rotisserie fantasy hockey. Next season, when you toss and turn about the difference between Bobrovsky or Tuukka Rask, try to keep my scatterbrained fantasy lesson in mind. I can tell you, sixth place is a place no one wants to be…

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