Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 11
Here we are, once again: Changing on the Fly, Volume 11. No long intro this week, I'll just get right into it.
In case you are new here and missed earlier volumes, this is a weekly article based on JJ Zachariason's "15 Transactions for Week X" and Russell Peddle's "Dozen Dimes," which focus on football and basketball, respectively.
Add Petr Mrazek, G – Detroit Red Wings (23% owned)
Less than two minutes into the game Saturday, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was carted off on a stretcher after injuring his groin. Stretchers are never a good sign, and even though there has been no official announcement, one can presume that Howard’s injury will be at least a few weeks, if not longer to heal. It is a shame, as his 2.11 goals against average and .920 save percentage merited him an announcement to his second All-Star game.
While his All-Star replacement hasn’t been announced (should be Marc-André Fleury), Petr Mrazek will replace Howard in the Red Wings goal. Mrazek represents a slight downgrade to Howard for both the Red Wings and fantasy owners but will get the majority of starts at least until Howard or Jonas Gustavsson returns from injury. With a 2.29 goals against average and .916 save percentage, Mrazek is probably the best option in most free agent pools. If you own Howard or are frustrated by another keeper on your roster, here is your solution.
Buy Jarome Iginla, RW – Colorado Avalanche (71%)
It’s halfway through the year, and Jarome Iginla has 12 goals and 15 assists; prorate over a full 82 game slate and those (prorated) 64 points would represent his worst points per game rate since the ‘90s.
Typically, this would be the case of age’s catching up with a former superstar, and fantasy owners would just have to be happy with what they get.
A closer look at Iginla’s split stats before and after the All-Star Game shows a different story.
Even if you were to break it down into the latter portion of Iginla’s career, he performs much better after the All-Star break than before it (when an All-Star game is held -- multiple have been cancelled due to the Olympics and the lockout in recent years).
|Season||PPG (Pre All-Star)||PPG Post All-Star|
Despite his slow start and advancing age, consider Jarome a “buy low” candidate. Surely many owners have written him off.
Drop Tanner Pearson, LW – Los Angeles Kings (17%)
Tanner Pearson came out of the gate scoring this season. He put up 7 goals and 2 assists in 11 games in the month of October to earn himself Rookie of the Month honors. Since, he has slowed down and has only posted 7 points in 21 games and has been dropped by the large majority of fantasy owners.
If you have been stubborn in holding on to Pearson, hoping he bounces backs, here is your window to get out guilt-free. Pearson fractured his left fibula on the weekend and will miss time. There is no real reason to hold onto Pearson throughout his injury unless you have an unused injured reserve slot, and even then, his fantasy value has been negligible over the past few months.
Drop Tyler Toffoli, RW – Los Angeles Kings (60%)
Tyler Toffoli is out indefinitely with mono, and that has led to the Kings’ forward being the most dropped player in Yahoo! leagues over the past few days. Similarly to Pearson, Toffoli started the year off hot and has since faded.
The illness will keep Toffoli off the ice for the next week or so, and in a situation that mirrors Pearson’s, his illness can be used as and excuse to drop him unless you have a place to stash him for at least a week, perhaps more.
Rough season just got way rougher for LA. Toffoli out for weeks with mono, Pearson gone with lower leg fracture.— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) January 11, 2015
Anyone have any good “Kingssing disease” jokes? … I’ll show myself the door.
Drop/Sell Cam Fowler, D – Anaheim Ducks (77%)
Add Cam Fowler to the list of underperforming defensemen, especially on the power play. He has only five assists, has yet to score a goal with the man-advantage, and is getting fewer shooting opportunities than in past years.
To compound the problem, Fowler has lost a good portion of his power play time to Sami Vatanen, who plays over a minute more per game than Fowler. Fowler is still on pace for 40 points, so perhaps you could peddle Fowler off to another owner who seem him as a buy-low candidate, but unless there is a change in Anaheim, don’t expect a lot of power play points that are going to help your fantasy hockey team.
Buy/Add Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW – Columbus Blue Jackets (63%)
At first glance, Brandon Dubinsky’s numbers are underwhelming; he has only two goals and eight assists on the season; he didn’t score his first goals until notching two on last Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. But it is important to remember that Dubinsky missed the first two months to recover from abdominal surgery, so you must take into account his per game production.
Since returning, Dubinsky hasn’t missed a beat and has integrated himself back into the Blue Jackets lineup. Perhaps an owner in your league looks at Dubinsky’s raw numbers and undervalues what he actually brings to the table.
Drop Andrei Markov, D – Montreal Canadiens (72%)
It isn’t that Andrei Markov is a poor fantasy hockey defenseman -- he isn’t. He is just fine. He currently ranks 31st amongst defensemen with 21 points and 21st in power play points; those numbers put him right in the category of “useful” for fantasy hockey purposes.
My problem with Markov this week is that the Habs play only two games: a Tuesday game against Tampa Bay and a Saturday night match against Pittsburgh. There isn’t a lot of opportunity for Markov to contribute this week.
If you are in a rotisserie league with a games-played limit (typically 82) or in deep league where more than 40 defensemen are rostered, hold on to Markov. If you are in either a weekly or daily head-to-head league with 10 or fewer teams, you’ll probably gain more by streaming defensemen into his roster spot this week and the rest of the season than you will lose long term by dropping Markov. The drop off between an Andrei Markov and a waiver wire defenseman (in a 10-team league) isn’t a big one; go for quantity over quality in this case.
Add Ben Scrivens, G – Edmonton Oilers (31%)
I’m almost in shock; I am recommending an Edmonton goaltender. But since Christmas, the Oilers’ goaltender has been performing splendidly and has started to turn a corner on what has been otherwise a frustrating season.
|Ben Scrivens||Minutes||Minutes||Goals Against||GAA||Sv%|
|First 24 games||1412||606||76||3.23||0.889|
|Last 6 Games||361||170||12||1.99||0.934|
Ben Scrivens is not a “1” or “1a” fantasy goalie, but if you need an option to reach a minimum starts limit, or if your league relies heavily on counting stats, such as saves, Scrivens could be available to you and a decent option.
Add Bryan Bickell, LW – Chicago Blackhawks (3%)
The Chicago Blackhawks have the best schedule in the league this week. They play four games: Colorado (Tuesday), at Minnesota (Thursday), at Edmonton (Friday), Minnesota (Sunday). Adding any Blackhawks this week would be advantageous to your fantasy hockey squad, but most are unavailable; even Brandon Saad and Brad Richards have over 50% ownership in Yahoo! leagues.
Both Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, however, are sitting on waiver wires, and both are viable streaming options, depending on your positional needs and league makeup. Given the choice, Bickell is the better option; he is leading the team with 98 hits and has been on somewhat of a hot streak with seven points in his last seven games. Both he and Shaw are getting power play time, although Bickell has had an advantage in the linemate department recently as he has been paired with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane versus Shaw’s skating with Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Sharp on the Hawks’ third line.
Oh #blackhawkproblems. Can I just draft them as my whole fantasy squad?
Hold Tommy Wingels, RW – San Jose Shark (39%)
“Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.” Yet here he is again, Tommy Wingels. Full disclosure, I own him in my main league, and I’ve had a hard time letting go. Every week I say to myself that this is the time -- and yet he is still on my roster.
Wingels did score a goal Tuesday against the Wild, but that is not the main reason to hold on to him this week. The Sharks play four games this week, including both Monday and Tuesday, so Wingels will again get his opportunities to disappoint. If your league counts hits, Wingels is still a productive option, as he ranks second in the league in the category. Right now Wingels isn’t scoring but is playing with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, so don’t “misunderestimate” him just yet. He could pick up.