Daily Fantasy Saturday: Don’t Forget About Kane
We've made it. After months, that has seemed like years, meaningful hockey returns on Saturday. COVID-19 may still be impacting our lives on a daily basis, but at least for now one of our favorite outlets to which we can escape the issues around us (and easily social distance!) is back. In addition to the games themselves returning, the daily fantasy contests have followed.
I thought perhaps both Draft Kings and FanDuel would welcome the NHL back with huge contests and prize pools. After all they were running tournaments with five-figure payouts for video games just a few weeks ago. However, that is not really the case. Both sites basically have their standard contest structures. But after months of no contests at all, I won't complain too much.
If you're familiar with daily fantasy and getting back in the swing of things, or if you're new to the game and giving it a shot for the first time, hopefully I can help you out. During more "normal" times we have a pretty good idea of what teams and players are playing well, and who are not. In addition, team lines are usually fairly consistent day-to-day, and we can know who to expect to be skating with whom. However, with this month's long layoff coupled with a not-so-transparent injury policy, things are much more uncertain than usual.
Strategy wise for daily fantasy, I typically like to stack my lineups with several players from the same team and lines. But until we have a few games to see how teams look, I am going to focus more on players who simply have a strong history of shooting the puck and less on making sure all my players are correlated with one another. I will still probably have a fair number of mini-stacks comprising of two players, just not as many three- or four-man ones as usual. I think it's safe to assume we will see coaches shuffling lines frequently as teams try to find a combination that clicks. The lack of prep time leading up to the playoffs along with the short five-game series could mean quick adjustments on the fly for many teams. This is why I'm not too worried about fully stacking, but that doesn't mean it's not a viable strategy because if you can nail the right line that puts up a few goals you will put yourself in fantastic shape.
There are five games on the slate Saturday scattered all throughout the day. I will run through a few players I will be including in my lineups. All prices are from Draft Kings but can be applied to FanDuel as well.
Patrick Kane ($7,300)
The Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers sets up as the premier game on the slate from a fantasy perspective, as it currently is the only one with a Vegas total over 5.5. In fact, it is sitting at 6.5, which is a full goal above every other game. It is likely the majority of people will end up playing the Edmonton side, which makes sense given the offensive firepower they possess. But this could leave Kane and Chicago being overlooked which creates a potential low-owned opportunity for tournaments. Kane had five goals in five games before the pause while averaging 22.0 Draft Kings points and is no stranger to the playoffs. Kane can create on his own so pairing him with another Blackhawk isn't a necessity, but if so Dylan Strome ($4,300) makes the most sense and comes in at a reasonable price tag.
Kyle Connor ($7,000)
One of the league's hottest players before the pause was Winnipeg's Kyle Connor, who had eight goals in his last seven games. He also had 29 shots during that span, putting him just over an average of four per game. Under Draft Kings scoring, a bonus is awarded for any player who takes five shots or more so achieving this mark is key in climbing up the leaderboards, and Connor gives you a chance at this bonus night in and night out. Winnipeg has a talented top line who often leads the way in the scoring department so pairing Connor with either Mark Scheifele (6,000) or Blake Wheeler ($5,600) makes a lot of sense.
Anders Lee ($5,400)
Of all the teams to make the play-in tournament, nobody allowed more goals per game throughout the season than the Florida Panthers. While the Islanders' style of play doesn't usually lend itself to consistent fantasy production, a great match-up certainly shouldn't be overlooked. Lee wasn't quite racking up the goals before the pause, having only scored three times in the team's last 16 games, but it wasn't for lack of effort. In nine of those games Lee tallied at least four shots, and typically when you're putting the puck on the net that often, goals will eventually follow. If looking to pair him with another Isle, Mathew Barzal ($5,500) would be the best option.
Kailer Yamamoto ($4,700)
As previously stated, Vegas is expecting some goals in the Chicago/Edmonton game, so it is still worth discussing the Edmonton side. Yamamoto was thriving before the pause with 26 points in 27 games while mostly skating alongside Hart Trophy finalist Leon Draisaitl ($8,100). Yamamoto provides cheap exposure to the Edmonton offense and can easily be paired with Draisaitl for a mini-stack. In fact, Yamamoto is one player if rostering you probably don't want to roster by himself given his reliance on the above connection. Yamamoto was able to score a goal in the exhibition Tuesday, so he can hopefully pick right back up where he left off.
Mika Zibanejad ($7,900)
It would be a crime to talk about fantasy production without at least mentioning Zibanejad. The Rangers' offense was firing on all cylinders before the break led by Zibanejad who had 17 goals in New York's final 13 games while averaging 24.5 Draft Kings points. These are truly absurd numbers. Most of that stretch was without Chris Kreider ($5,300) who figures to be alongside Zibanejad Saturday. Kreider comes in with a very reasonable price tag as do the Rangers defenseman of Tony DeAngelo ($5,700), Jacob Trouba ($5,600), and Adam Fox ($4,500) all of which are no strangers to finding the box score and serve as a great compliment to Zibanejad in lineups. Both Hurricanes goalies are coming off injuries and have seen a combined one game worth of action since the middle of February, so they will have a bit more rust to shake off than everyone else.
If stacking or finding yourself with three or more player from one team, adding that team's goalie makes a lot of sense. After all, if your players perform well and score goals, it increases the chances that team wins, which in turn could lead to a goalie win and the fantasy points that come with it. As far as a stand-alone option, Connor Hellebuyck ($7,500) sticks out in terms of both price and performance. If looking for high upside, that Chicago-Edmonton game should see plenty of shots and if one goalie gets hot they could rack up a ton of saves and reach the 35-save scoring bonus awarded on Draft Kings. Of course, they could also allow three goals in the first period and get the hook. But that is the life of a daily fantasy goalie. You want high shots against to be able to rack up saves, but things can go south in a hurry if they are getting by.
Some value plays at each position:
Be sure to keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day for any late-breaking news. You can follow my NHL lists comprised of team beat writers by following me @SteveDotzel. Best of luck with your lineups!
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