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, November 6th
The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, Ottawa Senators (Available in 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Pageau has been lighting it up over the past week (3G-1A in three games) and now leads the Sens in goals with six, and while he obviously won’t continue to shoot 17%, he should still have some fantasy value over the next few weeks and makes a great waiver add as a Zibanejad replacement or even just to fill in with games given the Sens’ stacked schedule this month (see below).
Pageau is playing 17:28/game this season, has topped 20 minutes twice, and is typically used as a Swiss Army knife for Sens’ coach D.J. Smith: a shutdown centre, top power-play option, and top PKer who can play up and down the lineup. His most common linemate at 5v5 has been the surprising Connor Brown, and the two together have some incredible fancy stats – 64% shot share, 80% goal share, and a nice 69% expected goal share.
For leagues that count peripherals, Pageau is even more enticing given he averages just under 2HIT/game, a little over 1BLK/game and takes faceoffs; he’s not much of a bruiser so he doesn’t pick up PIM, but that’s the only area of concern.
The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)
Jaden Schwartz, W, St. Louis Blues (Available in 65 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Just six weeks into the season, Jaden Schwartz is almost halfway to last season’s point total (11-25-36), with 3G-11A in just 17 games on 34 shots; given his role on the Blues, Schwartz’ low ownership on Yahoo is astounding.
That 11-25-36 line was obviously a big disappointment – especially coming off a 59pt season in only 62 games in 2017-18 – but Schwartz’ brutal year basically boiled down to unsustainably-low shooting percentages: after shooting between 10.6% and 15.3% through his career, Schwartz shot a measly 6% on 183 shots and his IPP dropped.
Those stats all point to an improvement this year, and even without Vlad Tarasenko that’s borne out with two goals and two assists in his past four games with eight shots in that time. Schwartz’ ice time has seen a slight dip on average (17:49/game this year vs. 18:08 last year) but that’s due to Schwartz not getting used in a shutdown role nearly as much as he did last year; the drop in ice time is worth the increase in opportunity.
The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)
Timo Meier, W, San Jose Sharks (Owned in 72 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Meier is a big fantasy darling after his coming-out party last season when he scored 30-36 in 78 games and took 250 shots, but his play – along with everyone on the Sharks outside of Evander Kane – has been a huge disappointment this season.
Meier is playing a full minute per game more than he did last year thanks to the departures of Joonas Donskoi and Joe Pavelski and is firing the puck at a great rate (45S through 16 games) but has been shifted up and down the Sharks’ lineup, and the result is a stat line of just 3G-3A. He’s obviously a very talented player and will be an asset later in the season, but until he gets steady linemates and jumps to the first power play unit, he’s a major concern.
The fancy stats all point to that production eventually coming, as the on-ice shooting percentage is a pithy 4.76 percent at 5v5 and the actual GF/60 of 1.36 is much worse than the expected GF/60 rate of 2.42. Try to pick him up as a distressed asset, but current Meier owners should hold him on the bench and try to fill the production elsewhere.
The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)
Joe Pavelski, C, Dallas Stars (Owned in 86 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – It’s been a big fall from grace for Pavelski, who was a consistent 60+ point producer in San Jose over his career and who saw top power play minutes and top 5v5 minutes the past few seasons. Since signing in Dallas, Pavelski has seen a role reduction, getting shifted around from the top line all the way to the fourth, but he’s yet to get his preferred net-front role on the top power play.
While 3G-5A in 17 games is fine in deep leagues, that’s very poor production from an 86%-owned player and is easily replaced off the waiver wire. Pavelski isn’t anywhere close to the shooting rate expected of him – he has just 29 shots in 17 games – and his block and hit rates are as low as they’ve been since 2013-14. Part of the drop in peripherals is the drop in ice time (about one minute less per game than when he was in SJ), but the largest part is the loss of role.
Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)
Ottawa – Not much fantasy relevance coming out of Ottawa these days outside of Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Duclair, but they have the best schedule this period (Nov 8 – Nov 20) so need to garner consideration. They play seven times this period which includes games against the Devils, Flyers, Sabres and Red Wings to go along with a home-and-home against Carolina and a rivalry game against the Habs.
Florida – The Cats have six games in this period, but they face some incredibly appealing opponents in the Rangers (twice!), Jets and Flyers; their other two games come against the Bruins and Islanders which will be a tougher ask. Florida’s schedule has been fairly light so far (14GP) but they’ve scored 3.5 goals/game and their power play is clicking over 20%.
Vegas – It’s been a tough stretch of late for the Nevada darlings who’ve scored only 15 in their past five games, going 2-1-2 in those games, but their upcoming schedule should see them put up fantasy numbers closer to what was expected in the pre-season. They only have six games, but those games come against the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Kings and Maple Leafs in addition to games against the Capitals and Flames.
Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)
Columbus – The Jackets have yet to score more than four goals in a game this season – although they’ve accomplished that four times – and with only eight goals in their past five games, they’ve been reeling lately. Their upcoming schedule won’t do them any favours, with only four games this stretch which includes playing Montreal twice. Their other two games are at Colorado and home to the Blues.
Nashville – Another team with only four games this period, the Predators have scored seemingly at will (fourth in the league in Goals For) although it’s been very spread out scoring from a fantasy perspective: no player has double digit goals or more than 16 points, the team scoring leaders are defensemen, and seven forwards have 10 or more points. Don’t count on much consistent production in the Preds’ games against SJ, VAN, CHI and WPG.
NY Islanders – An insane winning streak will not continue through mid-November after a late collapse against Pittsburgh, and unfortunately the Islanders won’t be able to regain much momentum as they play only four times between the 8th and 20th, which makes them the last Leave ‘Em of the week. They play the Panthers, Leafs, Flyers and Penguins.