Fantasy Hockey Rankings 2018: NHL sleepers, breakouts, and biggest busts from advanced computer model

The 2018-19 NHL season is just around the corner with the defending champion Capitals among the teams set to drop the pick on Oct. 3. That means it's Fantasy hockey time, and leagues everywhere are holding drafts as the season approaches. Accurate 2018-19 Fantasy hockey rankings can make all the difference, so before trying to figure out the value of a player on a new team like Maple Leafs center John Tavares or Blues center Ryan O'Reilly, check out the 2018 Fantasy hockey rankings from SportsLine's Mike McClure. He's a predictive data engineer and professional DFS player with almost $2 million in career winnings. And he's used his NHL prediction model to simulate the entire 2018-19 NHL schedule 10,000 times to identify the top Fantasy hockey sleepers, breakouts and busts.

McClure's model takes factors such as player history, schedule, injuries and matchups into account to create the most unbiased 2018 Fantasy Hockey rankings possible. Now the model has zeroed in on the 2018-19 season and simulated every single game 10,000 times.

One surprise it's calling for in 2018-19: The Sharks have a pair of defensemen in the top 25, with Brent Burns checking in at No. 20 and offseason acquisition Erik Karlsson right behind him at No. 22 overall. 

Burns finished second among all defensemen in the NHL last season with 67 points, while Karlsson was close behind with 62. Now stacked together, these two should have even more scoring opportunities for a San Jose squad that will likely contend in the Western Conference. Don't be afraid to take either player early in Fantasy Hockey drafts because both are primed to repeat their huge performances. 

One player McClure's model is fading as one of the biggest 2018 Fantasy hockey busts: Islanders center Mathew Barzal. He has a consensus ADP of around 40, but McClure's rankings say he's barely inside the top 70. 

The Islanders are banking on Barzal to be a top offensive threat with Tavares now in Toronto, but even though Barzal scored 22 goals and notched 63 assists last season, the model says he's not worth a top-40 pick. That's because he doesn't have much help on a roster that Vegas has set an Over-Under of just 82.5 points for. 

William Karlsson of the Golden Knights, Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks and Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers are all ranked higher than Barzal, so be sure you don't get burned by picking him too high this season. 

The model has also made the call on where Tavares ranks after signing with the Maples Leafs this offseason and features a stunner at No. 1 overall that you need to see. 

So what's the exact value of every NHL player in the 2018-19 Fantasy hockey rankings? And what surprising player is at the very top? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy hockey rankings from a DFS pro who has won almost $2 million in his career and has simulated the entire season 10,000 times, and find out.

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