James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: To Keep or to Drop

Monday, November 25, 2013

It would be an oversimplification to say that the Daily Dose’s only goal is to help you compete on a day-to-day basis. Really, my aim - hopeless as it may be - is to write the kind of column I’d want to read about fantasy hockey.*


That ends up opening the door for a pretty broad array of focuses in this humble space, but if there’s any obvious restriction, it’s the “daily” part.


Sure, I’m not just trying to get you through each fantasy day like a person living paycheck-to-paycheck, but there isn’t much striving for week-to-week stuff in most cases. After all, Mike Finewax does a phenomenal job of that in his “Week Ahead” features.


(You should peruse that every Friday, by the way.)


Anyway, Finewax does a much finer job than I’d ever do preparing fantasy owners for each week, but American Thanksgiving presents an interesting time warp for the dates Nov. 25 - Dec. 1. It’s different enough that I feel the need to give everyone a quick head’s up.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Monday). It's just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7pm ET. Here's the link.


For everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News and follow @Rotoworld_ HK+@cyclelikesedins on Twitter.


Oh, and there’s still some time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool, so get on that.




If you’re like me and you’ve been around the fantasy/NHL block often enough, you’ve probably noticed that the league has a pretty basic pattern when it comes to its distribution of games. Mondays and Wednesdays are generally pretty low on contests. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are just brimming with matchups. Finally, Fridays and Sundays tend to be the wildcards, as both can range from sparse to populated given various factors.


(That’s especially true regarding Sundays once national TV sets in. Readers who like to drink on Friday and/or Saturday night hopefully realize that sleeping through a hangover can mean a missed goalie switch or late scratch here and there. I’d scold you for missing such tweaks, but hangovers hurt, especially when you approach the “It’s no longer a novelty when a star player is older than you” phase. Getting old is a fun-killer.)


Confession: there was a point several years ago when I pondered actually trying to figure out which teams play the most on Mondays/Wednesdays, but that experiment petered out when I ate a buffalo chicken sandwich and took a good nap.




This week seems to switch things up, at least early on. Here’s the tally of games, by day:


Monday - 9, Tuesday - 1, Wednesday - 13, Thursday - 2, Friday - 12, Saturday - 11, Sunday - 3


No shocker that Friday and Saturday are heavy on games, but it’s really odd to see a Thursday with just two games. It makes perfect sense because of the holiday, it’s just worth mentioning if you’re already understandably in a bit of a routine when it comes to setting your lineups/making tougher decisions on specific days of the week.


Don’t get me wrong, it’s wise to set your lineup going into each week, yet a) injuries complicate matters, b) waiver claims sometimes throw that out of whack and c) being proactive is super-hard.




Much of the Daily Dose is focused on identifying players who should be owned in more Yahoo leagues. We’re now two months into the 2013-14 season, so there’s still time to acquire legitimate producers.


Even so, the fact of the matter is that you’ll need to drop someone to add another player, barring the occasional well-timed trip to the IR.


So, who might be worth dropping? I decided to look at some of the worst-ranked guys who are highly owned and gauge whether the bad times are likely to turn around. (Every DD bit is a friendly suggestion, yet these are even less authoritative than usual, so beware.)


-- Justin Schultz - He has a Yahoo "O Rank" of 79, yet he's been a disappointment. The Edmonton Oilers defenseman is 74 percent owned, but should he be?


It's tough to say. Quality blueliners are tough to find, and despite all his struggles, the 23-year-old's nine points leaves him tied for 43rd among defensemen. That's not great, but he's only four points away from being tied for 16th with Marek Zidlicky and Cam Fowler. The best sign is that the Oilers' three-game winnings streak's earnings are trickling down to him a bit, as he's scored two points in that span. (Although the team itself scored 14 goals, so ...)


Schultz is really weak peripheral-wise, however. He has a -7 rating, just 22 SOG, nine hits and 15 blocked shots. Really, it comes down to who's available on your waiver wire; if you’ve waited things out this long, it might just be worth seeing if he can keep things going with Edmonton showing a pulse.


-- Mark Streit - Another disappointing guy (77 "O Rank"), who's not really getting a ton of ice time with Philly (third among blueliners with 20:16 per game). On the bright side, he's logging the most PP time among blueliners (3:31 per game, slightly more than Kimmo Timonen's 3:25).


In 22 games, Streit has zero goals on 34 SOG. You'd think he's due, but he's never been all that trigger happy. He averages less than two per contest in his career (922 in 513 GP). He's not really reaping rewards from the Flyers' resurgence, which isn't shocking because they're not exactly scoring a ton of goals.


Streit and Schultz both have that tempting potential that makes them hard to drop, which explains why so many people have hung on to them. Context matters, so I’d say I’d lean slightly toward keeping them, unless there’s a hoss or two on the waiver wire.


-- Jonathan Huberdeau is like the Justin Schultz of forwards. He had a great rookie year and boasts serious promise, but he's on a continuously failing team and doesn’t bring much in the peripheral categories.


It's easier to be patient with Schultz because quality blueliners are tough to come by. I'd can Huberdeau. If you love one of the few reasons to feel OK about the Panthers, then wait list him; I doubt people are dying to add him.


-- Sergei Gonchar is showing some glimpses of relevance, but his dismal peripherals make me think it’s over for the once high-scoring defenseman. That’s a pretty easy drop.


-- Brad Marchand - As much as I tend to preach patience with pests/power forwards/etc., Marchand is frustrating fantasy owners like they're opponents he's jawing at. Again, when it comes to forwards, I would have a shorter leash; he's a borderliner, but I'd consider dropping him but keeping an eye out for more consistent production.


Generally, I think that it’s fine to drop depth guys in your lineup on more of a whim. To me, it comes down to how nervous you’d feel while making the cut; Schultz, for one, would leave me a little skittish … even if his numbers aren’t very good at all.


INJURIES (full list)


Viktor Fasth is out three-to-four weeks with an inflamed muscle in his lower-body (pauses for giggles). Great opportunity for Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen could be intriguing, too … It sounds like Pavel Datsyuk might have a concussion. Absolutely brutal. Keep an eye out for updates as this week goes along … Nathan Horton participated in a practice, albeit with a no-contact jersey on. Who knows how long that will take, so don’t be too anxious, but Columbus could really use his offense. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Blue Jackets lean on him heavily … Brandon Dubinsky either has a sore or broken foot. He’s a nice versatility option, so it would be a bummer if this becomes a problem … Martin Hanzal suffered a lower-body injury but might bounce right back. That would be great, as he’s absolutely fantastic, even if he can’t (he almost certainly won’t) keep up that point-per-game pace … Speaking of category-fillers, Radko Gudas has an upper-body injury. He's great in the PIM, hits and blocked shots categories so this would hurt ... Ryan Reaves broke his hand on Brenden Dillon and will be out a month. Not worth an IR spot, at all.


* - I’m not trying to go all Syd Field on you, but I think the best question any writer should ask him or herself is, “Would I want to read this?”

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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