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Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: April 3rd

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for tonight’s DraftKings contests. At the bottom of the post I’ve embedded my research chart for the day. Here is just a snippet of the chart I’ll use to explain what you’re looking at.

NHL DFS ex.

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 fifth 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. ‘Pts/Gm’ is a projection derived from my own Marcel-like projection system. 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 ‘zDIFF’ 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

Buffalo is in action tonight and playing against an above average offense, so you would assume their opponent is the top play of the day. But their opponent is Chicago who is playing for the second night in a row. It’s still obviously a good matchup, but there are teams I like more than Chicago.

The thing I do like about the Hawks is that you can use their top line to get a bit of salary relief, which is going to be necessary given some of the names I’m going to throw at you below. With Kris Versteeg ($3,900, W) playing with Jonathan Toews ($6,200, C) and Marian Hossa ($6,800, W) again recently, we’ve got a cheap, productive player playing on a top line in a good matchup. Versteeg is pretty easily the value play of the day, and I imagine I’ll be pairing him with Toews. But there are a lot of players I like tonight classified as centers, so I could also see myself going Versteeg/Hossa

After Chicago we’ve got three home teams that look good, San Jose hosting Arizona, Anaheim hosting Colorado and Dallas hosting St. Louis.

Dallas is the best offense of the bunch, but they also have the worst matchup. Had St. Louis not played last night, I probably wouldn’t be considering Stars. And St. Louis saved their top goalie for the second half of this back-to-back, so Dallas is only a borderline play for me. However, they too provide some salary relief options with the second line pair of Jason Spezza ($5,500, C) and Patrick Eaves ($4,100, W), who join Tyler Seguin ($9,000, C) and Jamie Benn ($8,900, W) on the power play. Speaking of Seguin and Benn, Cody Eakin ($4,000, C) continues to see time with them and allows you to roster either stud by pairing them with Eakin. And as always, John Klingberg ($4,100, D) is a great value on the blue line.

But the safer plays from this set of home teams are the West Coast teams. Anaheim has the better matchup against Colorado, but San Jose has a better offense. Well, that is to say that San Jose has two good scoring lines and Anaheim has more like one and a half, especially if Ryan Kesler sits again. But Ryan Getzlaf ($8,000, C) and Corey Perry ($7,800, W) are obviously awesome offensively, so it matters not that San Jose is better offensively as a team. Getzlaf/Perry are a great play if you can afford them. Jiri Sekac ($2,600, W) has been playing on the top line recently, so he’s potentially a value, but he’s generally not a productive player and is hard to trust. If you want to pair Getzlaf/Perry with a defenseman, James Wisniewski ($4,400, D) is your guy.

From the Sharks, it’s either the Thornton line or the Couture line. Thornton has been running ice cold, but if you’ve read my posts before, you might know I’m not really a believer in playing streaks. I base my plays on projections that essentially take past performance and weight the most recent performance a little more heavily. Those projections show what we all know: that Joe Thornton ($4,200, C) has been a very productive hockey player for quite some time. I’m not going to avoid him just because he’s had a bad couple of weeks. If anything, it makes me want to roster him more because his price keeps falling as he struggles. That cold streak is undoubtedly going to end, and he’s going to be a nice little value whenever it does. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s going to end tonight because he’s due or even because this a good matchup. I’m just saying it’s going to end at some point soon, and tonight falls within the time period of soon.

Assuming you can afford it (and I think you will be able to), I’d pair Thornton with Joe Pavelski ($8,300, C). But if you need to save some dough, you can pair him with Melker Karlsson ($3,500, C). I’d say you can use all three, but with all three listed at center, that’s probably not workable. Logan Couture ($8,700, C) and Patrick Marleau ($6,600, W) also have a good chance to be highly productive, but they’ll cost you an arm and a leg. If you were to go with Versteeg/Toews and Spezza/Eaves, you could probably fit that pair in, but that feels like more of a GPP play. If you’re dead set on playing the second line, you can use the other winger on that line, Tomas Hertl ($3,700, W) for some salary relief. Marleau/Hertl actually doesn’t grade out as a bad value.

Speaking of GPP plays, on short slates like tonight (only five games), sometimes it’s not a bad idea to try and find a depth line that will do some scoring while having a low ownership percentage. Well, that’s always a good idea; it’s just that it’s hard to do and not as necessary on a big slate when there a lot of options from which people can choose. I think the spot to look for a depth line tonight is Anaheim. The status of Ryan Kesler and Matt Beleskey ($4,000, W) was unknown as of this writing, and Beleskey could end up on the third line opposite right winger, Jakob Silfverberg ($4,200, W), which wouldn’t be a bad little contrarion play.

Player Rankings

Mini-Stacks

  1. Joe Thornton/Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
  2. Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry – Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks
  3. Patrick Marleau/Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks
  4. Jonathan Toews/Kris Versteeg – Chicago Blackhawks
  5. Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa – Chicago Blackhawks
  6. Jason Spezza/Patrick Eaves – Dallas Stars
  7. Cody Eakin/Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars

Defense

  1. John Klingberg – $4,100 – Dallas Stars
  2. Duncan Keith – $5,000 – Chicago Blackhawks
  3. James Wisniewski – $4,400 – Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks
  4. Matt Irwin – $3,400 – San Jose Sharks
  5. Alex Pietrangelo – $5,300 – St. Louis Blues
  6. Brent Burns – $7,600 – San Jose Sharks

Goalies

  1. Antti Niemi – $8,600 – San Jose Sharks
  2. Scott Darling – $8,100 – Chicago Blackhawks
  3. Anders Lindback – $7,100 – Buffalo Sabres (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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