Brett TalleyFantasy HockeyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: January 2, 2016

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by player rankings for Saturday’s nine-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 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

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Colorado home to Calgary

This is well traveled territory here thanks to the research of reader @JoeCarterFan, but using non-top lines against Calgary has been money, money, money, MO-NAAAY! this year. Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik on LA’s second line netted a couple against Calgary on Thursday.

Now what constitutes Colorado’s top line at the moment is a bit of an issue as the former first line trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog all played on separate lines in their last game. But the guess is Duchene and Landeskog are on the top line centered by John Mithcell, while MacKinnon will play down the lineup a bit. In this case, that’s a good thing for MacKinnon, and assuming he’s not on the top line, he’s a prime option today. His wingers may be Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, and that whole line would be in play. The third liners Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau are also options. It will be important to check line rushes from morning skate tomorrow to make sure the lines shake out this way.

On the blue line, Francois Beauchemin has been seeing the most power play time recently, so he may be the best option. That said, Erik Johnson has been a bit more productive in DK scoring this season, so he’s also a very good option. If you need salary relief, Nick Holden sees a tiny bit of power play time.

Calgary on the road in Colorado

When Duchene, MacKinnon and Landeskog were all playing together, it wasn’t a bad idea to avoid the skaters likely to be facing them. But with trio split up in some fashion, there’s really no Colorado line you have to avoid. The Avs continue to allow a ton of shot attempts, so they’re a good team matchup even though it’s hard to pick out an individual matchup to exploit. That’s good when they’re playing the Flames, because Calgary’s top line is about the only one you can trust. Were they going up against that former Colorado top line, it would be tough to roster Flames. Alas, the top line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler are all in play along with defenseman Mark Giordano who joins them on the power play.

St. Louis on the road in Toronto

With Jonathan Bernier confirmed in net for the Leafs, the Blues have to be considered. The Leafs line to be avoided from a possession standpoint is their second line centered by Tyler Bozak. Toronto has been going L1-L1, L2-L2 and L3-L3 in recent home games, so St. Louis’ second line centered by David Backes should probably be avoided.

Toronto’s third line is the best one to pick on, so Robby Fabbri on the third line is an interesting salary relief option. He has four goals in his last six games and is seeing power play time with the second unit. If you want to mini-stack with him, you could do it with Jori Lehtera who joins him on the third line and second PP unit.

The top line for St. Louis is also in play as they’ll see plenty of ice against the weak possession D pair of Matt Hunwick and Morgan Rielly. As long as Vladimir Tarasenko is back in the lineup after an illness kept him out on Thursday, he’s a prime option. Paul Stastny is also a very nice value in this matchup, and Alexander Steen could be used with them in tournament stacks if you can afford it. Kevin Shattenkirk is an option to be stacked with any of them as he joins them on the power play.

Washington on the road in Columbus

When picking skaters against the fantasy-friendly Blue Jackets, you want to avoid the pair of Alexander Wennberg and Scott Hartnell who drive possession well. Instead pick on their top line centered by Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky’s line tends to match up with the opposition’s top lines in home games, so Ovi. and Co. are in play. None of them are big values, but Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie are at least fairly priced while Nicklas Backstrom is a tad overpriced. Matt Niskanen could be stacked with any of them as he joins them on the top power play unit with John Carlson sidelined.

Player Rankings


  1. Nathan MacKinnon – $6,700 – Colorado Avalanche
  2. Paul Stastny – $4,800 – St. Louis Blues
  3. Sean Monahan – $5,600 – Calgary Flames
  4. Nicklas Backstrom – $6,200 – Washington Capitals
  5. Robby Fabbri – $2,700 – St. Louis Blues
  6. Carl Soderberg – $4,600 – Colorado Avalanche


  1. Vladimir Tarasenko – $7,700 – St. Louis Blues
  2. Alexander Ovechkin – $8,800 – Washington Capitals
  3. Johnny Gaudreau – $6,800 – Calgary Flames
  4. Jarome Iginla – $4,600 – Colorado Avalanche
  5. Alexander Steen – $7,100 – St. Louis Blues
  6. T.J. Oshie – $5,800 – Washington Capitals
  7. Alex Tanguay – $3,500 – Colorado Avalanche
  8. Jiri Hudler – $4,300 – Calgary Flames
  9. Blake Comeau – $3,100 – Colorado Avalanche


  1. Mark Giordano – $6,100 – Calgary Flames
  2. Kevin Shattenkirk – $6,300 – St. Louis Blues
  3. Francois Beauchemin – $5,300 – Colorado Avalanche
  4. Erik Johnson – $5,400 – Colorado Avalanche
  5. Matt Niskanen – $4,300 – Washington Capitals
  6. Nick Holden – $3,200 – Colorado Avalanche


  1. Thomas Greiss – $7,700 – New York Islanders
  2. Martin Jones – $6,900 – San Jose Sharks
  3. Semyon Varlamov – $7,400 – Colorado Avalanche
  4. Antti Niemi – $7,100 – Dallas Stars
  5. Cam Ward – $6,500 – Carolina Hurricanes (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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