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 29

The Immediate Fix (Grab this guy and use him for the next several days)

Marcus Johansson, C, Buffalo Sabres (Available in 96 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With the Sabres’ upcoming schedule, there’s no better time to take a flyer on Johansson, who on the season has 6G-15A on 61 shots. Johansson is an interesting player for fantasy because he skates on the second line for the Sabres alongside Jeff Skinner – who the Sabres flatly refuse to play with Jack Eichel for whatever reason – and the top power play unit also features Johansson (until Victor Olofsson returns). For no reason that can be understood by anyone outside of Ralph Krueger, Skinner is relegated to the second power-play unit while Johansson gets the right wing spot to feed Rasmus Dahlin and Eichel.

All that being said, that hasn’t yet translated to many points for MarJo who’s currently mired in a seven-game pointless streak, but who’s taken 2.7 shots/game in those games and topped 18:58 in four of those games. It should also be noted that Skinner missed six of those seven games.

The Building Block (Buy now, sit back and enjoy the production)

Oliver Bjorkstrand, W, Columbus Blue Jackets (Available in 64 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Since coming back from injury, Bjorkstrand’s taken his place back on the Blue Jackets top line (with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist), and he’s scored four goals in his first two games back. Bjorkstrand was on fire prior to the injury – which happened just before Christmas – after getting moved to the top line, with five goals and two assists in seven games. His ice time also climbed over 20 minutes/game in three of those seven games, which is an obvious big jump over his season average of 17:23, which itself is a big jump over last year’s average of 12:20.

Bjorkstrand has always had high-scoring pedigree going back to his draft year, as he put up 109 points in 69 WHL games before putting up 118 points in only 59 games in his draft+1 year. His career-high in points is still just 40 (11G-29A) back in 2017-18, but he’s on pace to smash that given his ice time and new top-6 role; Bjorkstrand has 16G-11A already this season – with 131 shots in just 38 games – and is a must-add where available. He’s shooting 12.2 percent which isn’t unsustainable (his career mark is 11.2), and the winger group on Columbus isn’t full of elite scorers outside of Cam Atkinson so he shouldn’t lose his position any time soon.

The Odd Man Out (His short-term value is cause for concern)

Alex Killorn, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (Owned in 69 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although Killorn had a ton of value earlier in the season – he even made this article as an Immediate Fix – his role has been reduced in a big way as Tampa’s gone back to stacking their top line with Steven StamkosBrayden PointNikita Kucherov. That move pushes Killorn all the way down to the third line, which means instead of having Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli as linemates at 5v5, Killorn is palling around with Pat Maroon and Yanni Gourde – not exactly fantasy gold.

Since Tampa swapped their lines (just after the New Year), Killorn has still produced at a decent clip: 5G-1A in 12 games, but his assist rate has obviously dropped given his linemates. Instead of the 20 minutes/game Killorn was averaging for most of December, he’s now down to just a touch over 17 in January.

There’s definitely still value in the winger – especially given he plays bumper on the top power-play for the Bolts – but Killorn’s hitting (36 in 48GP) and blocking (12 in 48GP) are down compared to his career average, and he’s shooting an unsustainably-high 20.4 percent on the season. He can be held on the bench in deeper leagues to see if an injury or a losing streak shake the Lightning back up, but in shallow leagues he’s droppable.

The Anchors (They’ll do nothing but disappoint even over the long haul)

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo Sabres (Owned in 84 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Before the season started, the assumption was that the Sabres were going to do something with their glut of defensemen – their roster includes Jake McCabe, Colin Miller, Lawrence Pilut, Zach Bogosian, the Rasmuses Dahlin and Ristolainen, Brandon Montour and Henri Jokiharju, and that’s after Marco Scandella got moved in a trade – but instead of making moves, the Sabres’ solution has been to use 11F-7D most nights.

The 11F-7D lineup is a boon for forwards even if linemate chemistry and consistency are tough to gauge, but it’s a nightmare for the defensemen especially in terms of ice time. Ristolainen is down a full two minutes/game from last season, and although that still means 22:44, he doesn’t do enough with the minutes to justify his Yahoo! ownership. He’s on pace to break his career-high in goals (he has five, six is the high) and should hit 40 points on the year, but his special teams time and role have taken a huge hit as Rasmus Dahlin is the Chosen One for the Sabres. Ristolainen is currently getting top power-play minutes, but instead of letting his strong slap shot go from the point, Risto is set up as the net-front player. This has hurt his shot totals and his power-play point production, as that role typically doesn’t rack up goals/assists.

Hang on to Ristolainen in leagues with peripherals, but in points-only leagues he could be shipped out (hopefully in a trade) and replaced by someone like Mike Reilly, Rasmus Sandin, or Jaccob Slavin. Note: the reason Ristolainen is written up this week and not P.K. Subban / Matt Dumba / etc. is because those players have already been written as Anchors. Please, get rid of them!

Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)

NY Rangers – There might not be a better time for the Rangers this year, as the Blueshirts play the maximum seven games this period (January 31 to February 12) against some of the dregs of the league, defensively-speaking. The Rangers will play Detroit (twice!), Toronto, Buffalo, Los Angeles and Winnipeg, and five of the seven games come on off-days (Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun).

Buffalo – The Sabres only have six games compared to the Rangers’ seven, but Buffalo also gets to play Detroit twice during this period, in addition to plus-matchups against the Ducks, Avs and Rangers as well as playing the Blue Jackets. Five of the six come at home where Buffalo’s been much improved, and there’s only one back-to-back.

Columbus – There are a handful of teams that could slot into this spot, as there’s a handful of teams that have six games in this period, but Columbus gets the honours because four of the six are home games – Florida, Detroit, Colorado and Tampa with the two road games coming against Buffalo and Montreal. That list of teams is pretty inviting, and Columbus has scored 14 goals in the four games since Cam Atkinson came back, and they’re only getting healthier with the imminent returns of Josh Anderson and Alexandre Texier.

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)

San Jose – After losing Tomas Hertl in their last game (out for the year now) and already down Logan Couture, the scuttling Sharks will most likely continue their skid to the bottom of the standings given their light schedule: They play four times this period, and will face Tampa Bay, Calgary (twice) and Edmonton. Sharks players have already struggled this season, and their schedule makes them impossible to count on.

Pittsburgh – Outside of Jake Guentzel, the Penguins are almost fully healthy which is great news for the team, but not ideal for fantasy owners who got used to 20 minutes/night of Bryan Rust and John Marino, and the Pens’ upcoming schedule does no favours to anyone. Pittsburgh plays five times between the 31st and February 12, including games against Washington and Tampa Bay (twice). Their other two games come against Philadelphia and Florida which are fine, but on volume they can’t be counted on.

Chicago – The Blackhawks will play five games this period, but four of the games will come on the road (at Arizona, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Edmonton) and their one home game – against the Bruins, of all teams – comes on the back half of a back-to-back. Although Chicago managed to score pretty well going into the All-Star break, don’t expect that to continue through February.

January 31 to February 6

Best Bets

NYR 4.5575 – Away DET – Home DET DAL TOR

DET 4.195 – Away NY Rangers BUF- Home NY Rangers PHI

CAR 4.11 – Away STL ARI- Home VGK VAN

PHI 4.1 – Away PIT DET – Home COL NJD

OTT 4.095 – Away TOR – Home WSH ANH COL

Steer Clear

CHI 2.8025 – Away ARI MIN – Home BOS

PIT 2.8075 – Away WSH TBL- Home PHI

LAK 2.85 – Away WSH NY Islanders- Home ANH

DAL 2.8975 – Away NJD NY Rangers NY Islanders – Home

NSH 2.9025 – Away WPG CGY- Home VGK

February 1 to February 7

Best Bets

NYR 4.505 – Away DET – Home DAL TOR BUF

MIN 4.405 – Away DAL- Home BOS CHI VAN

BUF 4.3575 – Away NY Rangers- Home CBJ COL DET

CBJ 4.3 – Away BUF MTL – Home FLA DET

TOR 4.2525 – Away NY Rangers – Home OTT FLA ANH

Steer Clear

PIT 1.7575 – Away WSH TBL – Home

WSH 1.89 – Away – Home PIT LAK

VGK 2.7075 – Away NSH TBL FLA – Home

CHI 2.8025 – Away ARI MIN – Home BOS

LAK 2.85 – Away WSH NY Islanders – Home ANH

February 2 to February 8

Best Bets

CBJ 4.3575 – Away MTL – Home FLA DET COL

MTL 4.1 – Away NJD – Home CBJ ANH TOR

TOR 4.0425 – Away NY Rangers MTL- Home FLA ANH

CAR 4.01 – Away STL ARI VGK- Home VAN

FLA 3.9425 – Away TOR CBJ – Home VGK PIT

Steer Clear

CHI 1.8525 – Away MIN – Home BOS

SJS 1.995 – Away CGY EDM – Home

PIT 2.7075 – Away WSH TBL FLA- Home

LAK 2.8025 – Away WSH NY Islanders NJD- Home

VGK 2.855 – Away TBL FLA – Home CAR

February 3 to February 9

Best Bets

MIN 4.51 – Away DAL – Home CHI VAN COL

BOS 4.395 – Away CHI DET- Home VAN ARI

NYR 4.3575 – Away – Home DAL TOR BUF LAK

BUF 4.305 – Away NY Rangers – Home COL DET ANH

WPG 4.2625 – Away STL – Home NSH OTT CHI

Steer Clear

WSH 1.995 – Away – Home LAK PHI

PIT 1.805 – Away TBL FLA – Home

CHI 2.755 – Away MIN WPG- Home BOS

SJS 1.995 – Away CGY EDM – Home

CAR 2.8025 – Away STL ARI VGK – Home

February 4 to February 10

Best Bets

MIN 4.51 – Away DAL – Home CHI VAN COL

CBJ 4.305 – Away – Home FLA DET COL TBL

BUF 4.305 – Away NY Rangers – Home COL DET ANH

BOS 4.395 – Away CHI DET – Home VAN ARI

WPG 4.2625 – Away STL – Home NSH OTT CHI

Steer Clear

PIT 1.805 – Away TBL FLA – Home

CHI 2.755 – Away MIN WPG – Home BOS

DAL 2.7975 – Away NY Islanders STL – Home MIN

CAR 2.8025 – Away STL ARI VGK – Home

VGK 2.855 – Away TBL FLA – Home CAR

February 5 to February 11

Best Bets

BUF 4.41 – Away NY Rangers – Home DET ANH DET

MIN 4.405 – Away DAL – Home VAN COL VGK

WPG 4.3675 – Away STL – Home OTT CHI NY Rangers

NYR 4.105 – Away WPG- Home TOR BUF LAK

COL 4.105 – Away OTT CBJ MIN – Home OTT

Steer Clear

SJS 2.095 – Away EDM – Home CGY

WSH 2.1 – Away – Home PHI NY Islanders

PIT 2.75 – Away TBL FLA – Home TBL

VGK 2.855 – Away FLA MIN- Home CAR

DAL 2.8975 – Away STL – Home MIN CAR

February 6 to February 12

Best Bets

BUF 4.41 – Away NY Rangers – Home DET ANH DET

MIN 4.405 – Away DAL – Home VAN COL VGK

WPG 4.3675 – Away STL – Home OTT CHI NY Rangers

COL 4.105 – Away OTT CBJ MIN – Home OTT

VAN 4.0575 – Away MIN – Home CGY NSH CHI

Steer Clear

SJS 2.095 – Away EDM – Home CGY

WSH 2.1 – Away – Home PHI NY Islanders

PIT 2.75 – Away TBL FLA – Home TBL

VGK 2.855 – Away FLA MIN – Home CAR

DAL 2.8975 – Away STL – Home MIN CAR