Brett TalleyFantasy HockeyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: January 9, 2016

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for Saturday’s eight-game evening 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, 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.

Teams to Target

[cointent_lockedcontent article_labels=”hockey”]

San Jose home to Toronto

Anytime San Jose, Philadelphia or Tampa Bay skaters pop as good plays, I admittedly get a bit worried. Those teams easily stick out as the teams that have burned me most frequently in the last two seasons. But there’s just no arguing that San Jose is in a good spot for the day. They’re hosting Toronto who is playing for the third time in four nights on the final leg of their West Coast swing. To make matters worse (for Toronto, not for DFS players), Jonathan Bernier has been confirmed as tonight’s starter over James Reimer. Fire up the Sharks.

When it comes to individual matchups, Toronto’s top line is a good possession trio, and they skate with Toronto’s top possession D pair. That’s the quintet to be avoided. But their second and third lines are both exploitable, and their second line skates with their worst possession D pair. San Jose typically uses their top line against the opposition’s second line in home games, so the top line is in a particularly good spot tonight.

Joe Thornton centers that top line with Joe Pavelski familiarly on his wing. Those two also play on the top power play unit together, where they’re joined by blue line shot machine Brent Burns. Burns leads all defensemen with 170 shots on goals, and the guy closest to him only has 129. With an average of almost 4.5 shots per game and a matchup like this, Burns actually isn’t overpriced at $8,200. That trio, or at least two of the three, should be cash game staples. Tomas Hertl will join Thornton and Pavelski on the top line tonight, and he’s an excellent salary relief option at his price point.

Boston on the road in Ottawa and Ottawa home to Boston

Both of these teams are a good matchup for opposing skaters, and both teams break down similarly on an individual matchup level. Both top lines are very good possession units, and you typically want to avoid skaters facing those top lines. Ottawa tends to use it’s top line against the opposition’s top line in home games, and they did just that a few weeks ago when Ottawa hosted Boston. So the top lines basically cancel each other out here save a couple of defenseman who make some sense on the power play.

The second and third lines are where you would normally pick on the Sens and the B’s, and those lines facing off against each other tonight could bring about a spate of offense. The best option from these lines is Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. He’s on the left wing of Ottawa’s second line, and he plays up on the top power play unit. Options to mini-stack with Hoffman include his center, Mika Zibanejad, fellow winger Milan Michalek, and defenseman Erik Karlsson, who plays on the top power play unit with Hoffman. I would be inclined to pair Hoffman with Karlsson for a mini-stack and perhaps pair him with his linemates as a stack in a GPP.

On the Boston side of things, there are almost too many similar options to nail it down to a particular mini-stack. Second line winger Matt Beleskey is the best value on the team, but his center, Ryan Spooner, plays up on the top power play unit while Beleskey plays with the second unit. That’s still probably the Boston mini-stack I’d go with, but it’s not quite ideal. Spooner could also be mini-stacked with defenseman Torey Krug who joins Spooner on the top power play unit. The problem is that there are other top-notch defensive options I like better than Krug today.

Boston also provides you with options for serious salary releif in the form of their third line wingers, Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes. Both are good values, particularly Vatrano. However, Vatrano doesn’t see a ton of power play time, while Hayes plays with the second unit.

Given that Boston played last night, it’s not necessary to force some Bruins into your lineup. The matchup is good and they provide some value, but if you can make it work otherwise, feel free to ignore Boston. But you are going to have to find salary relief somewhere, and Boston is an option.

Carolina on the road in Columbus

Carolina on the road playing for the second night in a row doesn’t exactly scream FANTASY POINTS! But Columbus also played last night (against Carolina in Carolina), so these teams are on fairly equal footing in that respect. Where they are not on fairly equal footing is in the possession numbers. Carolina ranks sixth in score-adjusted CF% while Columbus has the sixth worst mark in category. This is a possession mismatch.

The one good possession line for Columbus is their second line centered by Alexander Wennberg, which should be avoided. But their top line centered by Brandon Dubinsky isn’t too scary. Dubinsky’s line tends to match up with the opposition’s top line at home, so Eric Staal‘s line is an option tonight.

Staal is joined on the top line by Elias Lindholm and Kris Versteeg. Lindholm joins Staal on the top power play unit while Versteeg doesn’t see power play time, making Lindholm the better mini-stack option and Versteeg a GPP-only option if stacking the whole line. The other option for a mini-stack with Staal is defenseman Justin Faulk who joins Staal on the top power play unit. Limit yourself to two Canes in cash games if you go that route, either Staal-Lindholm or Staal-Faulk.

Minnesota on the road in Dallas

Eh. I’m mentioning Minnesota because the only teams I really committed to above were San Jose and Ottawa. Boston and Carolina have warts (mainly that they played last night), so here’s a third iffy option to choose from.

Dallas’ top six is full of good possession guys, but their third line is weak in that respect. Dallas will typically give that third line some ice time with the opposition’s top line in home games so that they can try and get their studs on the ice in some good offensive matchups against depth lines. That means Minnesota’s top line is a consideration today.

The problem with Minny skaters is price. Top line center Mikko Koivu is a bit of a value, but any options to mini-stack with him are over-priced. Zach Parise joins Koivu on the top line and top power play unit, but Parise simply isn’t a value at his price point. He could be if he has a huge game, but that’s what is required of him. Defenseman Ryan Suter is closer to reasonably priced and joins Koivu on the top power play unit.

Player Rankings


  1. Joe Pavelski – $7,600 – San Jose Sharks
  2. Eric Staal – $4,800 – Carolina Hurricanes
  3. Joe Thornton – $5,000 – San Jose Sharks
  4. Mikko Koivu – $5,000 – Minnesota Wild
  5. Elias Lindholm – $3,800 – Carolina Hurricanes
  6. Mika Zibanejad – $5,300 – Ottawa Senators
  7. Ryan Spooner – $4,600 – Boston Bruins


  1. Mike Hoffman – $5,900 – Ottawa Senators
  2. Matt Beleskey – $4,300 – Boston Bruins
  3. Tomas Hertl – $4,300 – San Jose Sharks
  4. Milan Michalek – $3,400 – Ottawa Senators
  5. Jimmy Hayes – $3,500 – Boston Bruins
  6. Frank Vatrano – $3,500 – Boston Bruins
  7. Kris Versteeg – $3,900 – Carolina Hurricanes
  8. Joonas Donskoi – $2,800 – San Jose Sharks
  9. Zach Parise – $7,900 – Minnesota Wild


  1. Brent Burns – $8,200 – San Jose Sharks
  2. Justin Faulk – $6,400 – Carolina Hurricanes
  3. Erik Karlsson – $7,500 – Ottawa Senators
  4. Torey Krug – $5,900 – Boston Bruins
  5. Marc-Edouard Vlasic – $4,300 – San Jose Sharks
  6. Ryan Suter – $5,900 – Minnesota Wild


  1. Louis Domingue – $6,400 – Arizona Coyotes
  2. Jhonas Enroth* – $7,100 – Los Angeles Kings
  3. Jonathan Quick – $8,300 – Los Angeles Kings
  4. Martin Jones – $6,900 – San Jose Sharks
  5. Anton Forsberg – $6,100 – Columbus Blue Jackets (GPP only)

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.


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