Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey – October 29

by Michael Clifford on October 29, 2015

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for another bargain bin/top shelf DraftKings column.

A reminder that the players listed as bargain options aren’t really to be relied upon for production. With guys at that level, all that can be hoped for is to target guys in good situations and hope for the best. Their main function is salary relief to be able to fit in more expensive options, and then hope that their fortuitous situation turns into a few points.

The cheap players will all be $3000 or less, while the top shelf options will be $7000 or more (with the defenceman at $5000 or more).

Cheap Players

Centre

Sam Reinhart (Buffalo) – $2700

One of the more unexpected turn of events to start the year is that the Buffalo Sabres have been an adequate defensive team, ranking just inside the top half of the league in adjusted shot attempts allowed per 60 minutes at five-on-five. Conversely, the Pittsburgh Penguins are tied for 24th in the NHL in this regard with the Ottawa Senators, and just behind the Edmonton Oilers. That is not good company.

The Penguins have been largely aided by Marc-André Fleury and his .937 save percentage. They will not be afforded that luxury tonight, as it seems backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff gets the nod in net.

With the injury to Evander Kane, it appears that Sam Reinhart will now be playing on the second line with Jack Eichel. Reinhart is also seeing a little bit of power play time as well. Given that the Pens will be without Fleury, and haven’t been that good defensively this year, I like the second line’s chances of getting on the board. 

Wing

Iiro Pakarainen (Edmonton) – $2600

Ever since the Jordan Eberle injury, it’s been a revolving door at right wing for the top line of the Edmonton Oilers. Of late, it had been Rob Klinkhammer, but he’s found himself on the injured reserve. In his stead in Edmonton’s last game, Iiro Pakarainen found himself on the top line.

Pakarainen was a seventh round pick in 2011, and made his way back to Finland. After a few years back home, he returned to North America, and signed as a free agent with the Oilers. He spent last year in the AHL, and is now with the big club.

I know Edmonton is home to Montréal, and facing Carey Price is never ideal. That is one reason to pick him though; there should be almost no one selecting him tonight. As well, the Habs have not looked very good defensively for a few games now. While I would rather use Pakarainen as salary relief in a tournament, there are very few players with his quality of line mates and at that cost.

*UPDATE: Leon Draisaitl has been called up by the Edmonton Oilers. While he didn't take part in morning skate, there's a reasonable chance he takes the spot on the top line, not Pakarainen. There probably won't be certainty for a while yet, but for those looking for other options to avoid Pakarainen, I would look at Antoine Roussel ($2800) or Jiri Sekac ($2700). 

Defence

Yannick Weber (Vancouver) – $2800

Weber is a player to use with the same kind of thought process as Pakarainen rather than Reinhart. Whereas Reinhart is a good young player who has a lot of expectations, Weber really has none. He has mark of 21 points per 82 games with Vancouver, and that’s just not good for fantasy.

What this is all about is Weber’s opportunity. Of late, he has been playing on the top power play unit alongside Alex Edler, and that includes the Sedin twins. While Weber is obviously not the focal point of this power play by any stretch, there is the opportunity here for an easy second assist with a shot on goal, or something of that nature.

The Stars – Vancouver’s opponent – had only taken 11 penalties resulting in power plays through their first five games; in their last four games, that number is 15. Meanwhile, the Canucks have been one of the best teams in generating shots with the man advantage. This could be a recipe for one or two power play goals, making Weber viable for cheap on the blue line tonight.

Expensive Players

Centre

Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay) – $7400

Every night, there are players who are considered to be chalk plays, or guys that are going to be widely owned by the general public. With Colorado coming to town, it’s safe to say that Steven Stamkos fits the bill.

For 50/50s and head-to-head games, though, it’s fine to go with chalk. The purpose is to build a solid foundation, and not be overly concerned with ownership rates (though lower rates can be very helpful at times).

Despite the five goals, there are some red flags around Stamkos, and that is why I have been avoiding him most of this year. Right now, he’s playing under 19 minutes a game for the first time since his rookie year, and his lowest shot per game rate of his career.

The Colorado Avalanche, though, are a cure for whatever ails any team. The Avs are last in both shot attempts per 60 minutes allowed, and shots on goal per 60 minutes allowed. They are 25th in goals against per 60 minutes, and 26th in scoring chances against per 60 minutes. In short, they have been a terrible even strength team.

I don’t usually like taking Stamkos, but it seems like if there was ever a matchup to use him, it would be tonight.

Winger

Max Pacioretty (Montreal) – $7700

There are only a handful of players off to the torrid start that Pacioretty is off to. He is averaging 3.7 shots per game, has seven goals in 10 contests, and a lot of that damage is coming at five-on-five. His numbers can get better if he can start racking up the power play points. 

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, the Oilers haven’t been very good defensively this year, as measured by shot attempts. I do believe that bringing up Darnell Nurse will help a little bit, but it’s still not nearly enough to bring this club around to playoff-contending levels.

Pacioretty may be another guy that will be highly-owned tonight, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The combination of he, Tomas Plekanec, and Brendan Gallagher should be a bit too much for the defence corps to handle. Not to mention that Pacioretty has a pretty decent floor: in only two games this year has he managed fewer than three shots on goal.

Defence

Justin Faulk (Carolina) – $5600

Kind of like Pittsburgh being a bad defensive team has been a secret this year, the same goes for the New York Islanders, only worse: the only team giving up more adjusted shot attempts per 60 minutes this year than the Islanders is Colorado. That is awful.

This is important because Carolina going into Brooklyn would seem to give Justin Faulk a very reasonable floor to work with. He is averaging over 25:30 in ice time per game, and is approaching four shots on goal per contest. Anytime a defenceman is shooting that much, it’s hard to ignore him in cash games just because of the relative certainty of points.

There are only six defencemen on DraftKings tonight priced over $5000, and the only one aside from Faulk that I think is worth considering is P.K. Subban. However, DFS players should rarely double up on expensive players from the same team in cash games (Pacioretty), so I would lean Faulk tonight.

Some stats courtesy of War On Ice, Hockey Reference, and Hockey Analysis. Line combinations from Dobber’s Frozen Pool

 

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