The forward position is the deepest in Fantasy hockey, and with so many options on the table, getting a handle on how to go about valuing and ranking such a massive pool of players can often feel like a daunting task. Grouping players with similar value into tiers is a fantastic way to simplify things, so without further ado ...
Here are your 2020-21 Fantasy forwards ranked by tiers:
Tier 1 – The cornerstones
This list is comprised of the "can't-miss" guys you can build a Fantasy team around. They all have 100-point upside over the course of a full campaign, and with a few minor exceptions, come with next to no concerns. Every skater in this tier has already been playing at an extremely high level for years, and although a few of them have entered their thirties (E.g. Ovechkin, Crosby, Kane and Stamkos), none of them have shown any signs of slowing down. Some may argue Stamkos would be better suited as a Tier 2 option due to his injury concerns, but when he's healthy, he's still one of the best in the business, and he's expected to be back to 100 percent for the first time in quite some time when the 2020-21 season gets underway.
Tier 2 – The sidekicks
Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Evgeni Malkin, Blake Wheeler, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Scheifele, Johnny Gaudreau, Andrei Svechnikov, Max Pacioretty, Matthew Tkachuk, Patrik Laine, Jonathan Huberdeau, Brayden Point, Jake Guentzel, Kyle Connor, Elias Pettersson
If Pastrnak hadn't undergone offseason hip surgery, he easily would have taken Stamkos' spot in Tier 1, but at this point he's expected to miss the start of the upcoming season, which downgrades him slightly to a high-end Tier 2 option. The rest of this group is comprised of skaters that either don't quite have Tier 1 upside (Marchand, Tavares, Marner, Rantanen, Wheeler, etc.), have Tier 1 upside with major injury concerns (Malkin), or simply haven't shown enough consistency to break into the Tier 1 threshold (Zibanejad, Gaudreau, Point, etc.). Still, combining any player in this list with a skater from Tier 1 would form a lethal one-two punch for your Fantasy squad. These guys are all worth an early-round pick.
Tier 3 – The steady Freddies
Ryan O'Reilly, Aleksander Barkov, J.T. Miller, Teuvo Teravainen, Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Brendan Gallagher, Taylor Hall, Mike Hoffman, Gabriel Landeskog, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dylan Larkin, Mark Stone, William Nylander, Viktor Arvidsson, Evander Kane, Jonathan Marchessault, Travis Konecny, Elias Lindholm
With a few exceptions, this list is comprised of guys you can count on year in and year out for around 60-75 points, but beyond that, don't offer a ton of upside from a purely scoring standpoint. Nearly every player in this grouping has a lengthy track record of that sort of production, which is invaluable when looking for an option in the early-to-mid-rounds of Fantasy drafts that you can set and forget for the length of the season. These are the types of players that will allow you to be a bit more risky when looking for upside in the later rounds.
Tier 4 – A mix of invaluable reliability and upside
Mathew Barzal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Reilly Smith, Alexander Radulov, Jonathan Toews, Brayden Schenn, Alex DeBrincat, Max Domi, David Perron, Sean Monahan, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brady Tkachuk, Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Strome, Filip Forsberg, Tomas Tatar, Evgenii Dadonov, Pierre-Luc Dubois
This tier primarily consists of two distinctive types of player. Those with similar dependability as the skaters appearing in Tier 3 but with slightly less upside, and those with less dependability but in some cases equal or higher overall upside than the players appearing in Tier 3. Barzal and Nugent-Hopkins are perfect examples of the first type of player. Both are firmly entrenched in their roles with their respective teams, and both have been highly consistent over the past few seasons, but they also haven't shown anything to suggest they're going to take a major step forward in 2020-21. On the flip side, DeBrincat and Domi are strong examples of the second type of player. Both had strong 2018-19 campaigns before having a down year in 2019-20, and there's reason to believe both will rebound in a big way during the upcoming campaign. What type of player virtual managers decide to select from this grouping will ultimately depend on whether they're looking for a safe or high-upside pick at this point in their drafts.
Tier 5 – Not without issues
Logan Couture, Anze Kopitar, Cam Atkinson, Kevin Fiala, Jeff Skinner, Jakub Vrana, Timo Meier, Nazem Kadri, Brock Nelson, Victor Olofsson, Vladimir Tarasenko, Bo Horvat, Jaden Schwartz, Jakub Voracek, Jamie Benn, Zach Parise, Chris Kreider, Tomas Hertl, Matt Duchene, Kyle Palmieri, Tyler Toffoli, Brock Boeser, Patric Hornqvist, William Karlsson, Alexis Lafreniere, Sam Reinhart, Tom Wilson, Kevin Hayes
With a few exceptions, this tier consists of forwards that have performed at a high level in the past, but who will enter the 2020-21 campaign with significant question marks, whether that be declining production due to age (Kopitar, Benn, Parise, Kadri, Hornqvist, Voracek, etc.), injury concerns (Atkinson, Tarasenko, Schwartz, Boeser), inconsistency (Fiala, Skinner, Duchene, Karlsson), or a lack of a strong track record of success (Vrana, Olofsson, Lafreniere, Reinhart). Virtual managers will have to pick their poison in terms of which type of question mark they're willing to live with when selecting players from this tier during drafts, but all of these skaters should nonetheless make for strong additions for Fantasy players putting the final touches on their lineup of starting forwards.
Tier 6 – Unexciting depth
T.J. Oshie, Ryan Johansen, Mikael Backlund, Anders Lee, Jason Zucker, Zach Hyman, Rickard Rakell, Anthony Cirelli, James van Riemsdyk, Anthony Mantha, Dominik Kubalik, Oliver Bjorkstrand , Blake Coleman, Mikael Granlund, Tyler Bertuzzi, Eric Staal, Craig Smith, Conor Garland, Andre Burakovsky, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Phil Kessel, Dustin Brown, Pavel Buchnevich, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Gusev, Clayton Keller
There's a few upside plays in this group, namely Mantha and Kubalik, but otherwise this tier is almost entirely comprised of bread and butter guys that will get you somewhere between 40 and 50 points over the course of a full campaign, but who shouldn't be counted on for much more. These mid-to-late-round options won't win you your league, but they certainly won't lose it for you, either.
Tier 7 – Late-round upside
Kevin Labanc, Nico Hischier, Kirby Dach, Alex Killorn, Brandon Saad, Yanni Gourde, Bryan Rust, Joe Pavelski, David Krejci, Anthony Duclair, Jakob Silfverberg, Tanner Pearson, Josh Bailey, Vincent Trocheck, Adam Henrique, Ilya Mikheyev, Tyler Johnson, Jake DeBrusk, Connor Brown, Nino Niederreiter, Roope Hintz
The final tier in this list is made up of a mixture of youngsters and vets that could pay dividends in the later rounds of this year's drafts. Taking a youngster like Dach, who could improve dramatically in his second full NHL campaign, or a seasoned vet like Pavelski, who looked like his old self during the playoffs after an underwhelming regular season, could end up being what separates you from the more risk-averse Fantasy managers when all is said and done. There are a few safe plays in this group as well, including Saad and Henrique, but I'd generally rather target a vet with bounce-back potential or a youngster with breakout potential at this stage in the game.