Looking Ahead: Look Out For Bye Weeks

by Adam Daly-Frey on January 18, 2019


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 17

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

Jordan Weal, C, Arizona Coyotes (Available in 100 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – So much of Weal’s value is in opportunity: with the injuries to Nick Schmaltz (season) and Brad Richardson (a month, approximately), the center depth in Arizona will have Weal lining up alongside a strong group of young wingers like Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer. While coach Rick Tocchet likes to mix up his forward lines, expect to see Weal get some PP1 time and an increase in ice time (current average of 13:56) over the next few days and especially after the All-Star break.

In his three games with Arizona, Weal has only put up one assist and one shot on goal, but started in the offensive zone 68% of the time (albeit this is a tiny sample) and got some power play time. He’s definitely worth a speculative add at no cost, and should be held through the break as Arizona also has a great schedule.

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

Nino Niederreiter, W, Carolina Hurricanes (Available in 77 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – The first round pick has found yet another new home after getting shipped out of Minnesota for Victor Rask, and Niederreiter is in a prime position to put some points up on a Carolina team that’s crushed possession but has struggled scoring for most of the season.

Niederreiter’s career high remains 57 points in 2016-17 so his ceiling isn’t massive. However, he’s a strong power play performer – 49 of his 228 points have come with the man advantage – that attempts a ton of shots (~13 shot attempts/60 at 5v5 over his career) and creates high-danger chances at a strong rate as well while being a plus possession player. He should slot into a top-9 role in Carolina while joining a strong power play, and he is a lock to improve his scoring pace given what his role had diminished to in Minnesota. He’s a strong buy in trades – even after the trade he should be cheap if you act now.

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

Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks (Owned in 88 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – To preface: NO, do not drop Logan Couture. Be concerned? Yes, a little.

Since the Sharks have gone to three very balanced lines – almost four balanced lines given the chances Barclay Goodrow and company get some nights – Logan Couture’s ice time has taken a tumble, as has his production. In his last five games, Couture has seen ice time of 15:39, 17:23, 14:57, 18:12 and 17:03; all five of those games are below his season average (18:40) and all but one are below his career average (18:10). As the calendar turned to 2019, which is around when the new Sharks lines started to form, Couture has managed only 2G-2A in eight games while taking 11 shots on goal.

Losing Tomas Hertl as a linemate has hurt Couture in a big way, probably more than the ice time, as he’s been a part of ~30% of Couture’s points over the past two seasons. The advice on Logan would be to continue playing him – he’s obviously talented and shouldn’t be benched – but maybe start making in-roads on trade avenues. With 43 points in 49 games, Couture looks great on paper and should garner a strong return.

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

Duncan Keith, D, Chicago Blackhawks (Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He’s on pace to just beat out last year’s poor showing – 2G and 30A in 82 games last season – with a 1G-19A season so far. Unlike last year when Keith was still averaging 23.5+ minutes a game, his role on the Hawks has diminished with Joel Quenneville gone.

Keith is down to 22:40 – which is still a lot – but has lost his role on the top power play to Erik Gustafsson (available in 56% of leagues). Given 29% of Keith’s career points have come on the power play, the fact that he’s only put up two assists with the man advantage this year (10% of his total points) is a bad sign, as is the fact that he’s lost a full minute per game of PP time and is playing with lower-quality teammates.

He can be safely dropped in most formats, and should definitely not be owned in cap or keeper leagues. There’s an argument to be made for keeping him around if your league tracks blocks and hits – Keith is at ~4 combined hits/blocks/shots per game which makes him valuable in those leagues, just don’t expect point production.

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

Washington – One of three teams with four games between the 18th and 30th of January, the Caps have struggled to score recently – 13 goals in their past five games which is almost a full goal less than their season average – but have two high-tempo games upcoming, facing Toronto and Chicago on the road. The Capitals will also play home games against the Sharks and Islanders, with the Islanders game coming as the second half of a back-to-back for New York.

Carolina – The Hurricanes addressed some of their secondary scoring issues by grabbing Nino Niederreiter from the Wild on Thursday – for the dirt cheap price of Victor Rask – and have a very strong schedule heading into the break: a home game against Ottawa and a trip out west to face the Oilers, Flames and Canucks. After scoring 17 in their past five and 34 in their past ten, they seem to have figured the scoring out.

Arizona – Arizona makes this list almost by default, as no other teams (beyond the Caps and ‘Canes) have as many games; at the same time, the Coyotes lead both the Canes and Caps in scoring over the past five, with Arizona scoring 19 goals in that time. The addition of Jordan Weal and emergence of Conor Garland have helped the Coyotes immensely, and Arizona will look to continue that against Pittsburgh at home before going on the road against Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

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

With ten teams starting their bye weeks near the end of this period, there are lots of areas of concern. Bye weeks start on the 20th, and the affected teams are Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, New Jersey, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg.

Between the byes and the All-Star break, look away from all of those teams. The Leave ‘Em will look much the same next week with the rest of the bye teams, but will come back to normal sooner than later.

January 18 to January 24

Best Bets

WSH 4.1475 – Away CHI TOR – Home NYI SJS

CAR 4.1475 – Away EDM CGY VAN – Home OTT

ARI 3.985 – Away TOR OTT MTL – Home PIT

VAN 3.6225 – Away – Home BUF DET CAR

EDM 3.5175 – Away – Home CGY CAR DET

Steer Clear

NYR 0.95 – Away BOS – Home

DAL 0.9975 – Away – Home WPG

NJD 0.9975 – Away – Home ANH

WPG 0.9975 – Away DAL – Home

PHI 1.045 – Away MTL – Home

January 19 to January 25

Best Bets

EDM 3.5175 – – Home CGY CAR DET

WSH 3.045 – Away CHI TOR – Home SJS

ANH 3.045 – Away NJD NYI – Home STL

ARI 3.04 – Away TOR OTT MTL – Home

NSH 2.9975 – Away COL VGK – Home FLA

Steer Clear

BUF 0 – Away – Home

CBJ 0.855 – Away MIN – Home

NYR 0.95 – Away BOS – Home

PIT 0.95 – Away VGK – Home

DAL 0.9975 – Away – Home WPG

January 20 to January 26

Best Bets

WSH 3.045 – Away CHI TOR – Home SJS

ARI 3.04 – Away TOR OTT MTL – Home

CAR 2.9925 – Away EDM CGY VAN – Home

VAN 2.4675 – Away – Home DET CAR

EDM 2.4675 – Away – Home CAR DET

Steer Clear

BOS 0 – Away – Home

BUF 0 – Away – Home

CBJ 0 – Away – Home

DAL 0 – Away – Home

NJD 0 – Away – Home

January 21 to January 27

Best Bets

ARI 2.09 – Away OTT MTL – Home

CAR 2.0425 – Away CGY VAN – Home

WSH 2 – Away TOR – Home SJS

NSH 1.9475 – Away COL VGK – Home

MIN 1.9475 – Away VGK COL – Home

Steer Clear

CBJ 0 – Away – Home

BOS 0 – Away – Home

DAL 0 – Away – Home

BUF 0 – Away – Home

NJD 0 – Away – Home

January 22 to January 28

Best Bets

ARI 2.09 – Away OTT MTL – Home

WSH 2 – Away TOR – Home SJS

VAN 1.26 – Away – Home CAR

CAR 2.0425 – Away CGY VAN – Home

CGY 1.26 – Away – Home CAR

Steer Clear

BOS 0 – Away – Home

BUF 0 – Away – Home

CBJ 0 – Away – Home

DAL 0 – Away – Home

FLA 0 – Away – Home

January 23 to January 29

Best Bets

PHI 2.0425 – Away NYR- Home WPG

WPG 1.9 – Away PHI BOS- Home

VAN 1.26 – Away – Home CAR

CBJ 1.155 – Away – Home BUF

PIT 1.1025 – Away – Home NJD

Steer Clear

CGY 0 – Away – Home

CHI 0 – Away – Home

DAL 0 – Away – Home

DET 0 – Away – Home

EDM 0 – Away – Home

January 24 to January 30

Best Bets

PIT 2.0475 – – Home NJD TBL

PHI 2.0425 – Away NYR – Home WPG

WPG 1.9 – Away PHI BOS – Home

BUF 1.805 – Away CBJ DAL- Home

DAL 1.155 – Away – Home BUF

Steer Clear

ANH 0 – Away – Home

CGY 0 – Away – Home

CAR 0 – Away – Home

CHI 0 – Away – Home

COL 0 – Away – Home