Navigating Fantasy Hockey in COVID Era

Navigating Fantasy hockey
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To say that fantasy hockey managers are frustrated would be an understatement. Your teams are lit up in red – riddled with players on the Covid list and “PPD” next to their names. Remember, you’re all in the same boat. Everyone has been impacted by what’s going on in the NHL. However, games continue to be played and the competition rolls on. Instead of complaining, you need to pivot quickly and strategize.

Changing rules mid-season is a no-no, even in this crazy year. But, if you league has a cap on the number of IR spots, that’s a problem. Even pre-pandemic, managers should never be penalized for having too many players who are injured. It’s simply not fair. Commissioners should max out IR spots now given the sheer number of players that are eligible to be moved there. Once that’s taken care of, here’s how you need to navigate the week depending on your move allowance.

NHL free agent frenzy

0-3 Moves

Chances are that the few players you have that are scheduled to play this week will either end up on the COVID list or the game will be postponed. In leagues with limited moves, you need to guard against this. Unless you’re able to add a player until right before puck drop, streamers should be avoided. Look at longer term options to maximize the number of quality players you have on your team. Specifically, it’s important to look at players on American NHL teams, as they are more likely to play their games after the break than the Canadian teams. Here are some cheap options to look at:

Alex Tuch

Currently 22% owned in Yahoo leagues and ready to make his season debut in a Buffalo Sabres uniform. He’s expected to get plenty of opportunity on his new team. The Sabres are also scheduled to play four times the week after the holiday break.

Alex Iafallo and Dustin Brown

The Los Angeles Kings are scheduled to play one game before the break and four the week after. Both Iafallo and Brown are serviceable players in favorable positions that can contribute to your fantasy teams if needed for an extended period of time. Iafallo is playing on the Kings second line and top powerplay unit. He has three points in his last four games. Brown is skating next to Anze Kopitar on the top line and has two points in his last three.

4-7 Moves

Most of the time, managers in leagues that allow between four and seven moves a week don’t need to concern themselves with their allowance. However, your league may count this fantasy “week” as two weeks, so with 11 days of hockey scheduled, you’ll need to strategize a bit. Here are some additional options that are shorter term than three above:

Kasperi Kapanen

When Jake Guentzel went down with an injury, Kapanen took his spot next to Sidney Crosby. He has scored two goals since being promoted five games ago. With Guentzel on the mend, Kapanen’s opportunity will run out soon. The Penguins are scheduled to play once before the break and four times the week after with no back-to-backs. Kapanen is a solid option while he’s next to Sid.

Anthony Cirelli and Taylor Raddysh

Cirelli has become an integral part of the Lightning’s offence with star players Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point out of the lineup. Since Point went down, Cirelli has seven points in 11 games while averaging a career high 20:17 of ice-time per game. Raddysh has come on strong of late. He has eight of his nine points this season over the past nine games. He’s currently playing on Tampa Bay’s top powerplay unit. The Lightning are scheduled to play twice before the break and four times the week after.

Unlimited Moves

If you’re in a league with no restrictions on the amount of moves you can make in a week or season, you should be making moves regularly. Being active is more important now than ever, given the light schedule. Make adds as close to game-time as possible and look for players to add before dropping them the following night for someone else.

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