Randy Carlyle returning to the Anaheim bench was a blessing for Fowler's fantasy value last season, as the defenseman skyrocketed up to 39 points while logging a career-high 24:51 of ice time (3:06 with the man advantage) per game. Fowler is the prototypical modern-day defenseman. He owns elite skating ability, coveted size and is capable of playing in all situations. His role offers a high fantasy floor, and Fowler is just entering his prime and age-25 campaign, so he projects to remain a rock-solid asset for a number of years. It's probably wise not to bank on another climb in offensive production, though.
The 12th overall pick from 2010, it’s probably safe to say that Fowler is Anaheim’s best all-around defenseman. However, that doesn’t translate as well in terms of fantasy value, since the American blueliner has failed to eclipse his 40-point rookie season from 2010-11. He’s also never scored more than seven goals in a single campaign, is a career minus-46 thanks to a ghastly minus-53 rating over his first two seasons, and hardly shoots the puck enough to make an impact (596 SOG in 414 NHL contests). All that aside, Fowler is still just 24 and is part of a quality Ducks defensive core that features fellow talented youngsters Simon Despres, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, so there’s still a lot of upside here as they continue to develop. The aforementioned Vatanen, who had 38 points last year in 71 games, is the current undisputed top fantasy option in Orange County, but Fowler’s 28 points in 69 games – and a painfully low shooting percentage of 4.40 that’s bound to improve – make him a fine consolation prize, especially if your league doesn’t count shots on goal. It’s also worth noting that he averaged over three minutes of power-play time last season, so he should be in line for continued opportunities to produce on the man advantage when the puck drops in October.
Fowler is just 23 years old, but he already has four NHL campaigns of at least 29 points under his belt after recording seven goals and 27 assists in 2014-15. The 2010 first-rounder has established himself as an above-average offensive defenseman, and his plus-19 rating over the past two seasons suggests Fowler has begun to round out his game as he gains more NHL experience. Fowler accrued nine points with the man advantage as part of Anaheim’s star-studded power-play unit last season, and he’s just too good to see a reduction in role, even with the team’s offseason acquisition of Kevin Bieksa. A healthy Fowler is always a threat to break the 40-point threshold from the back end, but the risk of having to swallow an abhorrent plus/minus rating with that production is long gone due to his defensive improvements over the past couple years.
Last season was a long time coming for this talented puck mover. Sure, Fowler could produce offense, but he was as lost as a man with amnesia in his own bedroom when it came to his own zone. He delivered six goals and 30 assists last year, along with his first-career plus season (plus-15). Yes, he still sports a minus-42 rating over four seasons, but that number should decline as his game finally starts to grow. He should be a 40-point defender in 2014-15 and continue on the positive side of the ledger. That could make him a top-40 offensive fantasy defender who’s no longer a liability to carry on your roster.
Despite a slow start, Fowler picked up his play in both ends of the ice and had a solid finish to the regular season. Yes, he was rushed to the NHL and we hope that hasn't stripped him of his future potential. The tools are all there and we hope that the signs we saw at the end of last season are finally showing us he actually knows what to do with them. Fantasy owners will be leery of him at the draft and that means you could score big by grabbing him late. His plus-minus improvement was the biggest sign of his impending breakout and you could be snagging a guy who nets you 40 points and registers his first plus season.
Check Wikipedia for sophomore slump and you'll find a pic of poor Fowler. Yes, he's a talent -- he's poised with the puck, a great skater and brilliant in transition. And he can put up the points. But 2011-12 was largely forgettable for the kid, as he finished with 11 fewer points than in his rookie season and his horrific plus-minus actually got worse (minus-25 to minus-28). That plus-minus saw him dropped in a lot of standard leagues last season since you just can't carry that kind of anchor on your squad. So what does our crystal ball say for 2012-13? His game, no matter how good its potential looks, desperately needs work. Otherwise, he'll be as one dimensional as Flat Stanley and there's only so much value in a purely offensive defender. Don't give up, though; he doesn't turn 21 until December and there's plenty of time for him to grow his own-zone game. If he does, he'll soon be top-20 on the list of keeper defensemen. But draft with caution -- or leave him to someone else -- in single-year formats, particularly if you count plus-minus. He could sink your ship ... and your season.
The 19-year-old Fowler had a productive rookie campaign with the Ducks, scoring 10 goals and adding 30 assists in 76 games played this past season. The undersized defenseman has the ability to rack up points at an alarming rate, however, Fowler's defense leaves a lot to be desired. For leagues that count plus/minus, Fowler's value takes a hit as a result of his team-low minus-25 rating in 2010-11. Regardless, Fowler is an up-and-coming fantasy star and should be targeted early in drafts. With some of the better scorers playing in front of him, Fowler should find it easy to post a high assist rate while building upon a successful rookie season.
Fowler appeared in 55 games for Windsor in 2009-10. During that time he scored eight goals (six on the power play), 57 assists and had a plus-38 rating. He helped the United States win the world junior title and played a leading role helping Windsor capture its second consecutive Memorial Cup. What does this mean for him in 2010-11? The 18-year-old has vision and puck-moving abilities that are beyond his years. Provided that he is not overwhelmed with the NHL pace, he might have a chance at making the Ducks' team. If he does, the game he played at Windsor might not translate as well due to learning the NHL game on the job, but he has a tremendous potential to be a fast study.