Geek of the Week – Buffalo Soldiers

Terry Campkin

2015-03-30

gionta

Can the Buffalo Sabres really provide fantasy value next week?

Many H2H weekly leagues will be entering the playoff finals tomorrow and it's looking like I will be one of the finalists in my main keeper league. I am super excited for the final round to get started, but I know that my competition will be stiff so I want to make sure that I use every advantage I can to put me over the top. With the help of Fantasy Hockey Geek, I think I have found three guys who will give me the push I need to get over the hump: my Buffalo Soldiers.

I am in a head-to-head keeper that caps weekly adds at three to prevent streaming. I had a bye week going into the semi-finals, and I was able to use that week to make some shrewd (okay, maybe lucky) adds of Derek Engelland, Andrew Shaw and Lance Bouma. These three players have had huge weeks to help me get out to a huge lead over my semi-final opponent, and it doesn't look like I will need my three adds to help with this week's matchups, so I focused on using the adds towards next week's matches. At this time of year, I always make my adds based on schedule. Our league rosters 15 players and an additional 15 on the bench, so making sure you have players that you can actually get into games is key. Looking at the schedule for next week, there was one team that fit particularly well into my schedule: The Buffalo Sabres. The Sabes play four games next week, with three of them coming on nights where my roster isn't currently full (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and their opponents are relatively weak (Colorado, Arizona, Toronto and Chicago). This is the exact kind of team schedule that I was looking for – unfortunately, it happens to be the schedule owned by a team that is a fantasy wasteland.

I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to find any help from the waiver wire considering how bad Buffalo is and the fact that their only moderately good players (Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson and Rasmus Ristolainen) were already owned. I thought I would check Fantasy Hockey Geek anyway though – maybe there is a player who is providing some value that just hasn't caught my eye yet. I was hoping to find one useful add. I found three:

Brian Gionta

Gionta is the one guy who I considered off the top of my head without even checking FHG. Steve Laidlaw has been rambling about Gionta for a couple weeks now, and I was aware that his shot total was up. Anytime you can add a volume shooter who you can fit in for three or four games as your 30th roster player, you are doing yourself a huge favour towards winning that category. As much as I trust Steve's advice, I ran the last month in FHG just to make sure that Gionta was worth my time:

Rank

Player

G

A

+/-

SOG

PPP

HITS

158

Brian Gionta

3

4

-5

38

6

5

You can see above that Gionta has been the 158th best player in my league over the past month, which isn't exactly stellar, but when you consider that our league rosters 360 players +IRs you can see that Gionta is well worth owning right now. Seven points in 11 games is solid and the fact that six of those have come on the power play is what is driving his value up nicely. Notice also that he has averaged about 3.5 shots per game in that span, and you can see why he is shooting up the value rankings. The only thing keeping Gionta's value from vaulting into the top 100 is his -5 and his measly 5 hits. My team happens to be first in the league in +/- and hits though, so I was willing to give up a bit in those two categories. Case closed. Brian Gionta added, Derek Engelland dropped.


Johan Larsson

Larsson was a guy that I definitely would not have found without the help of FHG. I thought I would be done after Gionta, but when I ran the FHG numbers for Gionta, I noticed another Sabre whose value has actually been far greater than Brian's over the past month:

Rank

Player

G

A

+/-

SOG

PPP

HITS

55

Johan Larsson

3

5

4

21

2

30

You can see above that Larsson is ranked way up as the 55th most valuable player in the league for the past month! This is huge value from a rookie that is on very few GMs' radars. He has eight points in 11 games with two coming on the powerplay. Looking into him a little bit further, you can see that this value isn't all good fortune either: there are reasons behind it. Larsson has been added to the top line and top powerplay, skating over 20 minutes for six consecutive games. He is racking up just under two shots and three hits per game. These are David Backes type numbers. Ok, I am convinced and I will thank FHG for the insight: Johan Larsson added, Kimmo Timonen dropped.

Zach Bogosian

Bogosian was the last player I stumbled across and again I may not have found him without the help of FHG. I felt a little dumb for overlooking Bogosian as he has had good value in our league for years and is actually a borderline keeper. He was recently dropped because of his injury though and I wasn't going to add him at that time because I want all of my roster slots working for me at this time of year. When I saw Bogo's name on FHG though, it triggered my memory about his availability:

Rank

Player

G

A

+/-

SOG

PPP

HITS

274

Zach Bogosian

0

2

-1

20

0

17

You can see that Bogosian is way down at 274th over the past month, but that actually isn't bad at all when you consider that he has only played five games in that time compared to everyone else who has 11 or 12. If you prorate his stats for the five games he has played, he would have four points, 44 shots and 37 hits in that time frame. A quick look at his game log shows that the Sabres aren't going to hesitate to play this guy: he played over 29 minutes in his last two games. This would explain his spike in the volume categories. Let's take a look at the FHG what-if analysis tool to see where Bogo's value would have been if he played at the 11 game pace that I outlined above:

Rank

Player

FHG Value

Games Played

G

A

+/-

SOG

PPP

HITS

274

Zach Bogosian

8

5

0

2

-1

20

0

17

23

Zach Bogosian – what if?

73

11

0

4

-2

44

0

37

If Bogosian had not been hurt and continued to put up numbers at the same pace, he would have been the 23rd most valuable player in the league over the past month! That's insane value and it really goes to show how valuable defencemen who put up big hit and shot volumes can be. Granted, I don't think we can expect Bogosian to keep firing almost four shots and over three hits per game, but with the ice time he is getting, I think that we will continue to see some great results in both categories. As a player who I am just adding to fit into my schedule, I will take the shots and hits. Even if he gets me zero points, he is going to help me to cinch the peripherals and that will go a long way towards securing my victory. If I have the inside track on two out of ten categories then I only need to go 3-5 in the other categories to win the ship (I own the tie break). This one is easy for me: add Bogosian, drop Mikko Koivu. I know Koivu may seem like a big name to drop, but I am not keeping him and the Wild only have two games next week, both of which Koivu would be on my bench for. These are decisions you have to make when chasing a championship. For the record, Koivu's value is way down at 253rd over the past month in 13 games, so I am really not risking much here. That little tidbit from FHG made pushing the drop button a lot easier.

And there you have it: three players with favorable schedules and hot recent performance who I think will help push me over the top on my quest for a championship. With the help of Fantasy Hockey Geek I was able to identify three very useful players who are flying under the radar of my competition. I will get 12 total GPs out of these guys and I don't think that it's out of the question to expect six points, 30 shots, 20 hits and maybe even a couple of peepers next week. Those are huge numbers to be adding to my weekly totals and all it cost me was a few fringe players who I wouldn't have gotten into my lineup anyway. That and about five minutes worth of work on FHG. To find some guys who will help push your team over the top for a championship, log on to FHG today and do the same. And best of luck to all in their quest to bring home the title!

Geek of the Week – Anders Lee Take Two

Geek of the Week – Trades!

Geek of the Week – Patrick Maroon

 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
VICTOR HEDMAN T.B 6 3 5 8
JOHN KLINGBERG DAL 6 1 6 7
ALEXANDER RADULOV DAL 7 1 6 7
MATTIAS JANMARK DAL 4 1 2 3

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency MIN Players
23.2% KEVIN FIALA MARCUS FOLIGNO ERIC STAAL
17.9% RYAN HARTMAN MIKKO KOIVU NICO STURM
14.7% ALEX GALCHENYUK JORDAN GREENWAY MATS ZUCCARELLO

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