Brett TalleyFantasy HockeyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: October 22, 2015

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for Thursday’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 an old chart I’ll use to explain what you’re looking at.

10-12 NHL DFS

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 seventh 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 derived from’s preseason projections which I have cut down to a per-game basis and adjusted for quality of opponent. 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.

Make sure to check Twitter for any injury news, and check LeftWingLock for starting goalies and line combos.

Teams to Target

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Let’s start with the New York Rangers who arguably have the best matchup of the day against Arizona. The Yotes have allowed an above average number of shot attempts per 60 at even strength, and Mike Smith‘s hot start has cooled off as he has a save percentage of .851 in his last three starts. Per my little matchup stat, which is basically a mix of Corsi against and projected save percentage, this is the best matchup to target.

The only hesitation you might have is the fact that the New York top six has yet to really get going. But we’re six or so games in, and it’s far too early to be bailing on guys with a long track record of production. So I have no reservations about stacking the top line pair of Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. Nash is very reasonably priced for a player of his caliber, and Stepan is affordable as well. They’re not huge values or anything, but they’re not overpriced in this matchup. The value plays are their second and third line centers, Derick Brassard and Kevin Hayes. Brassard has an attractive price tag and is a great one-off guy to fill out a lineup, while Hayes is more of a salary relief option in tournament lineups. On the blue line, Keith Yandle is the guy to stack with Stepan and Nash on the top power play, and Ryan McDonagh is a nice value on the second unit.

Outside of Arizona, the three best matchups probably belong to Nashville (against Anaheim), Washington (against Vancouver) and New Jersey (against Ottawa). New Jersey’s offense isn’t good enough to trust absent a great matchup, and Ottawa is only a good matchup. As for Washington, John Calrson and T.J. Oshie are priced reasonably enough if you’d like to get exposure to Ovechkin, but I don’t really see a team heavy stack there. But the team out of that trio I really like is Nashville.

Nashville has been a slightly above average offense at even strength in terms of shot attempts, and Anaheim has been a fantasy-friendly matchup as they have allowed the seventh most shot attempts per 60 at even strength. Nashville’s top line has really been getting it done as they are one of eight lines to score at least five goals so far. The pair I like there is Mike Fisher and Filip Forsberg, who are both nice values today. To expand that stack, I’d pair them with Shea Weber who joins them on the top power play unit. A more contrarian GPP play would be to stack the second line wingers, Craig Smith and Colin Wilson. That would allow you to spend big elsewhere. Wilson is an especially good salary-relief option.

Now we have to talk about that Dallas at Pittsburgh game. As has been discussed here before, the Stars play a fantasy-friendly style of hockey where they put a lot of pucks toward the net and allow their opponents to do a fair bit of the same. Tonight their opponent is the Pittsburgh Penguins, which makes for a ton of individual talent on one sheet of ice. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin. And those are just the stars. That list could go on for awhile.

The line of Seguin, Benn and Patrick Sharp is arguably the best line in hockey right now as they have scored more goals than any other line outside of Ottawa’s top line. Seguin is fifth in shots on goal so far, and he’s always a consideration. His price on DK is maybe not as accessible as it is on other sites, but his projection is so good that he’s not out of reach at $8,500. As much as I’d love to pair him with Jamie Benn, I think he has to either be played alone or with Patrick Sharp if you can make his salary work.

As for the Pens, I’ll probably fade them on +/- sites as I prefer Dallas slightly in this one. But if you want to roll with Pittsburgh over Dallas, I’d lean toward the second line pair of Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Thankfully, DK is not a +/- site, so I can play Kris Letang in the same lineup as any Stars I want. Letang is an excellent value tonight and someone to get in your lineups if at all possible.

One last note. The Kings shooting percentage is one of the lowest in the league and is bound to rebound at some point. They’ve put up the fourth most shot attempts per 60 at even strength, so they could really have a big day coming once pucks start finding the back of the net. Their matchup with San Jose is just average, so I’m not on them for a big stack tonight. But I can’t ignore Tyler Toffoli‘s price tag. He’s very reasonably priced and could be paired with Alec Martinez, who joins Toffoli on the second power play unit.

In net, let’s pick on the winless Blue Jackets. I think Columbus is going to get this thing turned around sooner rather than later because they have not been a bad possession team. They too have some positive regression coming in the shooting percentage department, and Sergei Bobrovsky‘s .835 SV% is unsustainably low. That said, the Wild are the second biggest favorite of the night at at -212, so the three win points for Dubnyk are a good bet. Dubnyk also isn’t one of the most expensive goalies of the night, so he provides a little value.

As a GPP play, Pekka Rinne has an interesting matchup with the Ducks. Like the Kings, the Ducks currently have an impossibly low shooting percentage. But, to date, the Ducks have been one of the best matchups in the league for goalies. Until the Ducks turn it around (and they will), you can gamble on some upside with goalies facing them.

Another GPP option is Dallas’ Antti Niemi if he starts. He’s been very good in two starts and bad in another, so he has some upside. He has a matchup similar to that of Rinne as the Penguins have been a good matchup for goalies so far, but that could start to reverse course at any moment. Niemi has a price tag that could potentially provide some value.

If you don’t like Dubnyk for some reason, Corey Crawford is another cash game option. The Blackhawks are a -160 favorite and the Panthers have one of the lowest implied goal totals of the day. My model just doesn’t love the matchup because there is little upside against a Panthers team that doesn’t put a ton of pucks toward the net.

Player Rankings


  1. Mike Fisher – $4,500 – Nashville Predators
  2. Derek Stepan – $5,400 – New York Rangers
  3. Derick Brassard – $4,700 – New York Rangers
  4. Tyler Seguin – $8,500 – Dallas Stars
  5. Evgeni Malkin – $7,000 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  6. Kevin Hayes – $4,100 – New York Rangers


  1. Filip Forsberg (LW) – $6,000 – Nashville Predators
  2. Rick Nash (LW) – $6,800 – New York Rangers
  3. Tyler Toffoli (RW) – $5,300 – Los Angeles Kings
  4. Craig Smith (RW) – $4,900 – Nashville Predators
  5. Patric Hornqvist (RW) – $5,900 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  6. Patrick Sharp (RW) – $5,700 – Dallas Stars
  7. Colin Wilson (LW) – $3,600 – Nashville Predators


  1. Kris Letang – $5,500 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. Shea Weber – $5,400 – Nashville Predators
  3. Keith Yandle – $5,000 – New York Rangers
  4. Alec Martinez – $3,300 – Los Angeles Kings
  5. Ryan McDonagh – $4,500 – New York Rangers
  6. Jared Spurgeon – $3,500 – Minnesota Wild


  1. Devan Dubnyk – $7,200 – Minnesota Wild
  2. Pekka Rinne – $7,900 – Nashville Predators
  3. Antti Niemi – $6,800 – Dallas Stars
  4. Corey Crawford – $7,600 – Chicago Blackhawks

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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