Eberle's injury, Backes'/Plekanec's ratedness, Patrick Sharp's outcomes, and DFS.
To start with the biggest news of the day, well yesterday anyway, we of course have to start with Jordan Eberle. Word came down that Eberle will be out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. For the record, the Oilers have 12 games in the month of October, which could still put Eberle around the 70 games played mark should everything go right for him in his recovery. There was a bit on this on Dobber’s injury report yesterday.
I was wondering how much of a discount there would be on Eberle in drafts. Typically, he had been going somewhere in the 30-40 overall range before the injury. Last night, I took part in a draft put on by the RotoExperts, and Eberle fell to 60th overall. I legitimately thought there might be more of a discount than that. I would wager Eberle won’t fall further than the top-75, though.
The second point about this is I wonder what effect this has on the second line duo of McDavid/Hall. Not in fantasy drafts, but on the ice, and by relation, in the early parts of the fantasy season. With the top line of Benoit Pouliot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, there were two, legitimate, good scoring lines. With Eberle out of action, I wonder if teams don’t start keying in on the McDavid line more. It may have an adverse effect on them, especially out of the gate. Edmonton has two games against St. Louis, one against Los Angeles, one against Nashville, one against Montreal, and one against Calgary in October. That could put the likes of Pietrangelo, Doughty, Weber/Josi, Subban, and Giordano/Hamilton on the McDavid line rather than Shattenkirk, Ehrhoff, Jones, Petry, and Wideman. Just a thought.
In Ramblings earlier this summer, I mused that there may be some concern about the top line from Calgary last year being broken up. I know it’s preseason, and I know there is going to be experimenting, but there has been quite a bit of shuffling, especially with Michael Ferland, on the top line. I don’t think the Flames want to rely on another career year from Jiri Hudler and will be looking to spread the scoring out. Only two Flames forwards last year not from the top line cracked 30 points, and they were David Jones and Lance Bouma. If Jones and Bouma are fourth and fifth on this team in scoring again, they may be in trouble. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hudler on the second line more as the season wears on.
One player I’m finding to be undervalued in almost every draft that takes place is Tomas Plekanec. This guy had 60 points last year, has managed at least 30 assists in three of his last four 82-game seasons, has missed three games in four years, and is set to centre Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.
Here is Plekanec’s per-82-game stat line going back three seasons (one of which was a disappointing 2013-2014 campaign): 23 goals, 30 assists, 16 power play points, and 227 shots on goal. Again, that includes a fairly unimpressive season, and now he’s finally getting true first line talents to play with. As long as coach Michel Therrien sticks to the script, that trio could be really dangerous.
There is not a single draft where Plekanec is drafted inside the top-100 players, and I don’t see how he realistically finishes outside the top-50 forwards as long as he’s consistently on that top line. It seems to me that in roto leagues, Plekanec is very much a bargain. Grab him in the 10th round of your draft and reap the profit.
One interesting development that I’m seeing out of preseason is in Dallas, and Patrick Sharp going to the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Tuesday night was Benn’s first game in making his return from hip surgery, and Sharp was slotted immediately on the top line. Now, Valeri Nichushkin – a player who was assumed to play on that line – wasn’t in the lineup, so we’ll see how it looks when he is. But if Sharp starts opening night on that top line… look out. Sharp is a guy going somewhere around the fifth to the seventh round in drafts I have been a part of, and that feels about right. If everything breaks right, Sharp could be a top-15 roto forward. If his age factors into decline, or injuries pop up again, he could be a top-50 forward, or worse. That’s the risk involved with taking him.
This is a situation that is a bit of a wait-and-see approach, but if Nichushkin returns to the lineup and Sharp stays on the top line, Sharp could be one of the steals of drafts this year.
One guy whose draft position I cannot possibly wrap my head around right now is David Backes. Basically, unless you’re in a league with hits as a category, he’s undraftable.
I tweeted this out a couple of days ago, and it’s worth branding into your brain:
Over the last four years: David Backes w/ Alex Steen: 2.29 points/60 minutes David Backes w/o Alex Steen: 1.26 points/60 (Hockey Analysis)
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) September 28, 2015
This is important because Backes looks like he is going to be the “third” line centre for the Blues this year. While Backes' wingers have rotated a bit, Vladimir Tarasenko is on the top line with Paul Stastny, and Jori Lehtera is on the second line with Jaden Schwartz. I know they won’t call Backes a true third line centre, but if those are the other pairings among the forwards, he’s the third line centre.
Backes already lost a minute in ice time last year with Lehtera’s line being so good for half the season, and if Stastny sees an increase in ice time (and he should if he’s playing with Tarasenko), Backes could see even more time lost.
Without Steen on his wing, a drop in the lineup, and a drop in ice time, I am confounded as to why Backes is still pretty much a top-60 pick in every draft I’ve seen. Considering the situation he’s in right now, I wouldn’t draft him in the top-100.
On a final note, I am happy to say that I will be writing weekly for Dobber Hockey this season, but it won’t be in the Ramblings (though as I said a few weeks ago, I will still be doing this from time to time). Rather, I will be writing columns on daily fantasy hockey, giving recommendations for which stars and bargain bin players present good values on a given day.
It is kind of odd, but daily fantasy (DFS, so DraftKings, FanDuel, etc.) is a large part of my writing now, especially for hockey season, but it’s something that I never really covered during the summer. For those looking to get into it this winter, a few tips:
- Start small. I can almost guarantee that the first $50 or $100 you deposit on these sites will be money lost. It is that way for almost every single player that starts playing daily fantasy sports. Jeff Mans of the Fantasy Alarm is now a guy who wins a lot of money regularly playing different sports, and I’ve heard him talk about more than once that he didn’t really start profiting until his third deposit. As with anything, there is a learning curve, even in a sport you may know very well. Early on, stay in the $1 games, develop a routine, and get a feel for the different contests. Your bankroll will thank you in the long run.
- Speaking of bankrolls, early on I wouldn’t use more than 5-percent of your roll on a single night, and even once a comfort level is reached, very few DFS players put down more than 10-percent on a night. There are highs and lows throughout the season, and chasing losses or heavily riding win streaks is a fast track to emptying your account.
- Don’t chase the big score. If you’re getting into DFS only to put one $20 entry on big slates into the contests with thousands of people, just save your deposit and buy yourself a pair of shoes or something. A lot of successful DFS players fund their tournament plays through their cash games. Cash games are essentially double-ups, fifty/fifty games where half the field wins “double” their entry, and head-to-head-games. Those cash games are what slowly build your roll, and allow a DFS player to enter the bigger contests to grab the big score. Rare are DFS winnings built off of depositing money for the sole purposes of winning a $50 000 contest. Build a roll slowly, and use part of the profits for the tournaments.
- Make sure you keep the site-specific scoring in mind. Some sites reward power play points, some don’t. Some sites count blocked shots, some don’t. Some sites take plus/minus into account for scoring, some don’t. A good value on one site doesn’t mean a good value on all sites.
- The season is six months long, and there are contests just about every day of the season. It can get to be a grind. Taking a day or two off here and there is a good way to keep a level head, especially when running cold. Just because there are contests every day doesn’t mean you have to play every day.
There is a lot more to it, but those are just some basic points of advice for those looking to get started in DFS. It can be a lot of fun when done right, even if you’re not winning money most nights. I find it also helps with season-long leagues because you’re forced to keep up on developments every day, and that helps with waiver wires, start/sits, and the like, in seasonal leagues.
I will be starting my column for Dobber next Thursday. Until then.