Brett TalleyFantasy HockeyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: February 15, 2016

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for Monday’s five-game evening slate of NHL contests around the industry. At the bottom of the post I’ve embedded my research chart for the day. Here is just a snippet of an 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, score-adjusted and weighted for recent performance unless otherwise noted.

And as always, make sure to check Twitter for any injury news, and check LeftWingLock for starting goalies and line combos.

Game Breakdowns

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Pittsburgh at Florida

Both of these teams have two top lines that are good possession lines you wouldn’t necessarily want to try and pick on. Florida typically has a decent third line that would likely avoid Pittsburgh’s top two lines and have a chance to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s weak depth lines. But Florida has suffered a couple of injuries recently, so their serviceable depth line players are either hurt or playing in the top six right now. So with both teams lacking depth, there’s no opportunity to pick on that lack of depth.

If you want to get a piece of this game, the way to do it is with Florida’s second line. Of each team’s top six lines, Florida’s second is arguably the best possession line, and Pittsburgh’s second is arguably the weakest. Given that those lines should match up with each other, Florida’s second line is worth a look. The only problem is a lack of value. Reilly Smith continues to be underpriced on Fanduel, but his linemates are a bit over-priced across the board.

Dallas at Nashville

This is an interesting matchup. Excluding fourth lines, Dallas probably has the best and worst possession lines playing in this game. Dallas’ top line is the best possession trio and the line centered by Cody Eakin (with Antoine Roussel on his wing) is the worst.

As for Nashville’s top line, they’re Nashville’s weakest possession line. They’re not awful in that respect, but their possession numbers are the worst of Nashville’s forwards on the top three lines. The top line also plays with Roman Josi and Shea Weber who do not have good possession numbers this season, so that quintet can be picked on. They match up almost exclusively with the opposition’s top line in home games.

As a result, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves are in play tonight. Benn is pricey across the board, so good luck fitting him in, but Seguin is priced decently on FanDuel. As for Eaves, his hat trick recently has pushed his price up, so he’s not the value he was a week ago. That said, his best price is on Fandual, which makes him and Seguin a mini-stack option there. John Klingberg’s best price is on FanDuel, so he’s an option there as well, but Alex Goligoski is priced better on DraftKings and Fantasy Draft.

On the other side of that game, both Nashville’s second and third lines should see ice against the weak pair of Eakin and Roussel. Lean towards the members of those two lines who see power play time which are Mike Riberio on the top unit and Mike Fisher and Filip Forsberg on the second unit. Those second and third lines play a lot with defenseman Ryan Ellis at even strength. Ellis is a nice value across the board, so look to target Predators who play with Ellis both at even strength and on the power play. Ellis plays on the second unit with Forsberg and Fisher.

Toronto at Chicago

Toronto is completely depleted right now, and they had little to work with to begin with, so they can safely be ignored in this tough matchup in which Chicago is a -300 favorite. But Chicago is going to be a very popular play tonight, so you have to have some exposure to them in cash games. Because they’re likely to be extremely popular, feel free to fade them in GPPs.

Their lines could end up changing a bit with Marian Hossa getting injured over the weekend, but the guess is that they’ll leave the second line (the Kane line) intact and move a depth liner up to play with Toews and Shaw. If that’s the case, having some exposure to the Kane line in cash is almost mandatory.

Both Kane and Panarin are most affordable on FanDuel and arguably even underpriced there. You should have no problem getting at least one of them in there. Duncan Keith is also reasonably priced there. On DraftKings, none of the Hawks are priced all that well, but Artem Anisimov is probably the most affordable of those three forwards, Keith and Brent Seabrook. On Fantasy Draft, the forwards are priced better than the D-men but none particularly well. Because he’s the cheapest, Anisimov may be easiest to fit in there.

Montreal at Arizona

Let’s start with how the individual lines likely match up here. Arizona’s weak third line should match up with Montreal’s top line, but the Habs top line should see a heavy, heavy dose of Arizona’s solid top D pair, featuring Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Arizona’s solid top line should see Montreal’s depth lines, and their middling second line should match up evenly with Montreal’s second line.

The question with Habs comes down to whether you want to pick on Arizona’s weaker third line but square off against OEL or go with Montreal’s second line against Arizona’s middle-of-the-road second line and run into OEL a bit less. For me, the second line is a better option partly because of matchup but also partly because they’re cheaper. Well, Max Pacioretty on that line is expensive, but his linemates provide some salary relief on a day where you may need it. Sven Andrighetto is playing on that second line that doubles as the second power play unit, and he only costs $200 and $300 above the minimum on DraftKings and Fanduel, respectively.

Pacioretty, Andrighetto and David Desharnais are ranked in the rankings below instead of the top liners simply because of the potential need for salary relief today with Hawks and the Stars big guns in play. Also ranked are P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov who play a lot of minutes at even strength with all of Montreal’s lines, and they chew up a ton of power play minutes.

As for Yotes, Hanzal’s lines is almost always worth considering in home games since they get to face the opposition’s depth lines so frequently. Montreal doesn’t happen to have strong depth lines, so Hanzal’s line has another strong matchup tonight. Hanzal, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair also make up a power play unit for the Yotes, so they make for a good stack option. OEL is an option to be paired with any or all of them as he plays so many minutes, both at even strength and on the power play.

Minnesota at Vancouver

Minnesota’s depth lines can be exploited, but I have no faith in Vancouver’s offense taking advantage of them. I have my own little offensive and defensive rating metric, and Vancouver ranks 28th in the league in offense. As Michael Clifford was pointing out on Twitter this weekend, coach Willie Desjardins does not take the opportunities to get his best players into good offensive situations. And outside of the Sedins, they don’t have anyone threatening anyway.

As for the Wild, anyone avoiding the Sedins is definitely an option tonight. The Sedins tend to see the opposition’s top line, so Minnesota’s second unit should avoid that matchup. Minnesota’s third and fourth lines are a weird mix of good and bad players right now, so stick with Minnesota’s second line.

Two of those second liners, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter, stay together on a power play unit, so they make for a nice mini-stack. Jason Zucker joins them at even strength but does not see power play time. The same goes for Marco Scandella on the blue line. Zucker and Scandella would only be serious considerations if running a Wild stack in a GPP.

Player Rankings

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Here are positional rankings for tonight’s slate. The color of each player’s salary represents their value on that site. Once again, here’s the color code: Blue is amazeballs, green is great, yellow is good, orange is bad, red is awful and deep red is no effing way.

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.

Research Chart

You can download the research chart from this Google Sheet page here. Please keep in mind that the projections and values in the chart below are based on matchups on the team level, not on an individual level. So if you see a name in the discussion section above or the rankings above and they have a good value grade here, then they’re a solid play.


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