Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: December 31, 2015
Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for Thursday’s nine-game slate of DraftKings contests. At the bottom of the post I’ve embedded my research chart for the day. Here is just a snippet of and old chart I’ll use to explain what you’re looking at.
First the colors. Purple/blue is amazeballs, green is great, yellow is good, orange is bad, red is awful and deep red is no effing way.
The first column that isn’t self-explanatory is the sixth one, the one that is titled ‘z’ to the right of salary. That is how far above or below average the player’s salary is compared to all other players in action today. ‘Proj.’ is a projection from my own Marcel-like projections. The ‘z’ next to the projection is how far above or below average the projection is compared to all other players in action today. And then ‘Value’ is the projection z-score minus the player’s salary z-score.
All shot attempt numbers discussed are at even strength and score-adjusted unless otherwise noted.
And as always, make sure to check Twitter for any injury news, and check LeftWingLock for starting goalies and line combos.
Teams to Target
Los Angeles on the road in Calgary
When picking skaters against the Flames, you want to pick those that will avoid Calgary’s second line (centered by Mikael Backlund) and their top defensive pair. That line and that D pair tend to play together, and, at home, they almost always match up with the opposition’s top line.
That means you want to steer clear of Anze Kopitar and whoever ends up on his wings. Tyler Toffoli has been playing alongside Kopitar recently with Jeff Carter out of the lineup. But Carter is day-to-day and could return tonight. If he does, I expect the 70’s line of Carter, Toffoli and Tanner Pearson to reunite. If that’s the case, I like them quite a bit. But if Carter does not return, look at Pearson and Marian Gaborik as a mini-stack option on the second line.
Anaheim on the road in Edmonton
When picking skaters against Edmonton, you want to avoid their top line centered by Leon Draisaitl. At home Draisiatl’s line primarily sees the opposition’s top line, so shy away from Ryan Getzlaf‘s line. Instead, go with Anaheim’s second line centered by Ryan Kesler with Jakob Silfvergberg and Carl Hagelin on Kesler’s wings. Kesler sees plenty of power play time, but Silfvergberg only sees a bit and Hagelin sees little to none. If you don’t want to stack Kesler with his wingers because of a lack of power play time, you could stack him with defensemen who join him on the blue line. Hampus Lindholm and Kevin Bieksa are the blue line options with Lindholm being the better option but Bieksa being a bit cheaper if you need to save a few hundred bucks.
Winnipeg on the road in Arizona
Ideally you’d like to pick skaters facing Arizona that will avoid ice time with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But OEL plays so many mintues that avoiding him is very tough to do. Instead, it’s probably best just to pick on Antoine Vermette‘s line, which is the lesser possession line of Arizona’s top six. Vermette’s line tends to avoid the opposition’s top line at home, so normally Winnipeg’s second line would be in consideration tonight. But with Mark Scheifele out with a concussion, Winnipeg’s normal second line is no more and what is being deployed as their second line at the moment isn’t appealing.
Instead, lean towards Winnipeg’s third line pair of Mathieu Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers. That pair is nice and cheap and has also been playing on the power play together, making them an interesting mini-stack option. You could pair Dustin Byfuglien with one, both or neither of those two guys. He sees plenty of power play time and averages more than three shots on goal per game.
Winnipeg’s top line of Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Drew Stafford is certainly their most talented line at the moment, so you couldn’t be blamed for feeling safer with them. Stafford is the best value of the trio if you just want a little exposure to it.
Chicago on the road on Colorado
There’s not an obvious group of Colorado players to avoid, nor is there an obvious group to pick on. But avoiding their top line is probably a good idea. That top line tends to match up with the opposition’s top line at home, so they should skate mainly against Jonathan Toews‘ line. That means the second line with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin is in play. Kane is by no means a value, but paying up for him is worth considering in this matchup. Panarin is a decent value and can get you exposure to Kane without actually having to roster the mulleted one. On the blue line, Brent Seabrook is an option to pair with Kane/Panarin.
Islanders on the road in Buffalo
Buffalo is not nearly as good of a matchup for skaters as they were last year, but they’re still an above average matchup. And they’re an even more attractive target tonight playing for the second night in a row. You want to avoid Buffalo’s top line, which is a solid possession unit. That means fade John Tavares and look down the lineup a bit.
Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo have been playing on the second line together recently, and both have been playing on the top power play unit along with Tavares. Another option is Brock Nelson on the third line who has also been playing on the top power play unit. Nelson could be stacked with Ryan Strome on the third line, though Strome does not join Nelson on the power play. If you do use any PP1 Islanders, Nick Leddy is an option to be stacked with them as he continues to play with the top unit.
- Ryan Kesler – $4,300 – Anaheim Ducks
- Jeff Carter – $6,100 – Los Angeles Kings
- Frans Nielsen – $5,200 – New York Islanders
- Mathieu Perreault – $4,100 – Winnipeg Jets
- Brock Nelson – $4,600 – New York Islanders
- Tyler Seguin – $8,600 – Dallas Stars
- Ryan Strome – $3,900 – New York Islanders
- Tyler Toffoli – $5,700 – Los Angeles Kings
- Artemi Panarin – $5,600 – Chicago Blackhawks
- Kyle Okposo – $5,600 – New York Islanders
- Patrick Kane – $8,700 – Chicago Blackhawks
- Jakob Silfverberg – $3,800 – Anaheim Ducks
- Tanner Pearson – $3,700 – Los Angeles Kings
- Nikolaj Ehlers – $3,600 – Winnipeg Jets
- Carl Hagelin – $2,900 – Anaheim Ducks
- Marian Gaborik – $4,600 – Los Angeles Kings
- Drew Stafford – $4,400 – Winnipeg Jets
- Dustin Byfuglien – $6,200 – Winnipeg Jets
- Alec Martinez – $4,100 – Los Angeles Kings
- Jake Muzzin – $4,500 – Los Angeles Kings
- Brent Seabrook – $5,600 – Chicago Blackhawks
- Hampus Lindholm – $3,600 – Anaheim Ducks
- Nick Leddy – $3,800 – New York Islanders
- Kevin Bieksa – $3,300 – Anaheim Ducks
- Petr Mrazek* – $7,200 – Detroit Red Wings
- Antti Niemi – $7,000 – Dallas Stars
- Jimmy Howard – $7,200 – Detroit Red Wings
- Anders Nilsson* – $6,500 – Edmonton Oilers (GPP only)
- Cam Talbot – $6,400 – Edmonton Oilers (GPP only)
- Philipp Grubauer* – $6,800 – Washington Capitals
Goalies with an asterisk next to their name are not expected to start tonight but haven’t been ruled out, so don’t count on them playing. Any players in bold have been confirmed as the starter for the day. And players with a line through their name will not be starting tonight. Make sure you always check LeftWingLock for starting goalie updates in case I am unable to update the list throughout the day.
You can download the research chart from this Google Sheet page here.