All fantasy owners need help in the short term AND the long term. The Looking Ahead feature identifies one player to plug into lineups in the short term, a second to invest in for the long term, a third to bench for the coming week, and a fourth who will struggle to meet expectations for some time. All players discussed are selected based on their upcoming schedule.
Stats updated through Wednesday, January 23rd
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Bryan Little, C, Winnipeg Jets (Available in 84 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the schedule being so unappealing, there isn’t much in the way of quick fill-ins this week, but Little should be available and the ability to put up a couple points in a pinch until reinforcements come off their byes.
Little is ostensibly the Jets’ second-line centre between Jack Roslovic and Patrik Laine, but the Jets have been rolling out their bottom three lines fairly equally recently. While that may seem like it would hurt Little’s production, it allows Little, Laine and Roslovic to face lesser competition – which helps explain Little’s three goals and two assists in his last five games.
Little plays both on the penalty kill and the second power play so he’ll still see ~16 minutes per night, and at only 16% on Yahoo! he’s a no-cost fill-in.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Frank Vatrano, W, Florida Panthers (Available in 77 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Did you pick up Vatrano when I suggested it back in late October? If not, don’t fear, he’s still available in the bulk of leagues, and he has even more upside now than in the early days of the season.
Since getting the call to play alongside Aleksander Barkov on the first line, Vatrano has been piling up the points: five goals and four assists in the seven games with Barkov. In leagues that track shots on goal, Vatrano is immensely valuable: in those seven games, he fired 27 shots on net (3.85/game, a full shot more than his season average); Vatrano has always been a volume shooter, and he’s currently sixth in the league in shots per 60 at 5v5 (min. 300 minutes).
Vatrano is seeing just over 14 minutes a night with second unit power play minutes, but he did crest 16 and 18 minutes in two of his past three games. His trend arrow is pointing all the way up, and it’s nice to see him flourishing in a top-line role; he’s not much of a name, so he can probably be picked up for a song in leagues where he is owned.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks (Owned in 76 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Since Christmas, Getzlaf has managed to score one goal and three assists – that’s over 13 games, playing his regular 18+ minutes per night.
Getzlaf is getting a point on 75% of goals scored when he’s on the ice, which would most likely mean there’s no positive regression coming as that’s close to what he put up last year (71%) when he put up 11G-50A in 56 games on 9.4% shooting. This season, he’s at 10G-23A in 45 games while shooting 9.5%. The fact that he’s picking up so many points on goals he’s on the ice for – 75% is 41st of 301 qualified forwards – speaks more to a quality of teammate than anything else; with the shots and goal totals so similar as last year, it’s the lack of assists that are killing Getzlaf.
The injury to Rickard Rakell definitely hurt Getzlaf’s production earlier in the season, but the Ducks have been decimated recently: Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and now Ondrej Kase are all hurt for the foreseeable future (or possibly through the rest of the season) which means Getzlaf owners are counting on Devin Shore, Nick Ritchie, Adam Henrique and Rickard Rakell to score consistently.
All that being said, Getzlaf still has an obvious value and shouldn’t be straight dumped, but fantasy owners should be extremely concerned for the future.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
J.T. Miller, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – His ownership percentage is probably boosted by owners that drafted him and have since given up on their fantasy teams – it’s about that time in the season – but J.T. Miller at even 34% on Yahoo is egregiously high.
As the Lightning have solidified their lines, Miller has found himself on the outside looking in: Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat get the “top” line duties with Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov play with Brayden Point, and Miller can’t even find himself a third-line role some nights. With Tyler Johnson getting injured before the All-Star break, it was Alex Killorn that moved up alongside Point and Kucherov, which speaks to what little value Miller has.
He does play on the second power play unit and has managed 7G-20A on 62 shots this year, but only eight of those 27 points have come since December 1st. He’ll have some value in leagues that track hits, but he can otherwise be dropped or shopped as a throw-in.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Philadelphia – Coming out of the break, the Flyers play five games up to Feb. 6th, with three of those games offering lots of fantasy potential: after playing Winnipeg at home on Jan 28th, the Flyers go on the road against Rangers and Bruins, before finishing the period with home games against Edmonton and Vancouver. Playing the defensively-porous Rangers, Oilers and Canucks should be a boon – especially with the Flyers scoring four goals per game in their past five games.
Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania’s other team also gets to play five games in this period, although they have tougher games coming against the Lightning, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes. The Penguins do get to play both Ottawa and New Jersey, and Pittsburgh sits sixth in Goals For this season; suffice it to say, expect some solid fantasy production through the end of the month.
Winnipeg – The Jets come out of the All-Star break on the road, playing the Flyers and Bruins before going home to see Columbus, Anaheim and San Jose. The two Western Conference teams have been poor defensively in different ways – the Ducks allowing the most shots against, while the Sharks have sub-.900 goaltending at 5v5 – and the Flyers have been one of the worst defensive teams as well, so the Jets should fill some nets.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
The All-Star break continues through this weekend, and the teams on bye coming out of the break won’t play until February 1st. Those teams are: Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, NY Islanders, Ottawa, San Jose, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas and Washington – two-thirds of the league won’t see the ice for another six days.
Because of that, it’s another light “Leave ‘Em” section this week; players on those teams won’t be any help until next week’s article so avoid them.