Every Monday, Last Word on Hockey will survey the Fantasy Hockey landscape and select a handful of players to assist in your weekly match. We will attempt to select “Studs” who may be available in your league as opposed to those who we know are already owned by other teams. The “Duds” will most certainly be taken and will serve as a warning when you have “who do I start/sit” questions. The “Sleepers” will be almost exclusively available in most leagues. We will also attempt to have a mix of players that will apply to traditional leagues as well as banger leagues. All ownership numbers are based on Sunday research and may be slightly different at the time of publication. Here are our selections for Week 14:
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Studs, Duds, and Sleepers: Week 14
Dubois is having himself a career year for the Winnipeg Jets. The former third-overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets is on pace to hit 30 goals for the first time. It is possible he could hit 40. He should also be a point-per-game player for the first time. Currently riding a six-game winning streak, Dubois has four goals and six assists during this stretch. Two of those points came on the power play, where he is averaging 3.4 minutes per game on the top unit. Fantasy hockey owners are also getting additional banger value with consistent hits and blocks. There is plenty of reason to be excited about Dubois, and this week adds to the delight.
To start with, fantasy hockey owners will get the “bonus game” as the Jets suit up four times. Those four opponents are all bottom half in goals allowed at over three per game. It is also tantalizing that three of the four are bottom third on the penalty kill. Winnipeg will play most of these on the road as they begin a tough stretch of travel. Eight of their next nine will be away from home. As Winnipeg looks to keep pace in the Central Division, they will look to Dubois to lead the way. In Winnipeg victories this season, he has 38 points in 26 games. In the 14 losses, he has nine points. If Winnipeg is winning, you should be as well.
The difference in fantasy hockey ownership on Hertl is baffling. He is rostered by 92% of ESPN leagues as the 35th-ranked forward. In Yahoo leagues, he is only owned by 67%. The widespread availability of Hertl means someone reading this has a gift depth forward available. He is currently third on the San Jose Sharks in points and leads all forwards in assists. While it is unlikely he reaches the 30-goal mark this season, there is optimism that he reaches a career-high in points. While there has been a recent slowdown in his production, he has two goals and three assists in his last five games. This coming week provides a great chance for Hertl to add to those totals for fantasy hockey owners.
Two division games for the Sharks this coming week and an ex-division foe in the Arizona Coyotes. Hertl has torched this group this year, providing his best production split. All three teams rank bottom third in goals allowed, and two of them are bottom five in shots allowed. For a player averaging close to four shots a game the last month, it will not be a surprise to see Hertl net a couple of goals. Moreover, playing three teams in the bottom third on the penalty kill could be just what the Sharks need to get their mediocre power play going. Hertl is averaging 3.1 minutes per game on the top unit. Fantasy hockey owners could be in for a big week with him.
Duds – Goalie Edition
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: Georgiev looks tired. Pavel Francouz is not ready to return for the Colorado Avalanche, so you can expect Georgiev to continue being a workhorse. He has now played in 11 straight contests. A victory on Saturday in overtime snapped a five-game losing streak for him, which is promising. Those five losses though were concerning. He allowed at least three goals in all of them, and five twice. In those games in which he allowed five, one was against a bottom-seven offence, and the other was on 24 shots. Georgiev needs some rest, and it does not appear that it will happen this week, which could be an issue.
Colorado is not providing goal support currently for their netminder. They are averaging less than 2.5 goals per game since Georgiev started his games-played streak. Colorado will play three games this coming week, and only one opponent averages less than that in the Chicago Blackhawks. That game is on the road though, where his GAA is worse than when he is on home ice. The Avalanche have a lot of talent and could easily win all three contests. They just may need to outscore the goalie issues they currently have, which has been a challenge as of late. Proceed with caution and look at your options in net.
This is a little different of a situation than that of Georgiev. Thompson has been the workhorse for the Vegas Golden Knights, starting 28 of their 42 games. He has been a little leaky lately, but Vegas gives ample goal support. This was not the case in his last outing as he was pulled after giving up three goals on 19 shots. This was after a much-needed night off on the heels of playing in six straight games and eight in the last nine, one in relief. Vegas is now on a mini break in their schedule with no games until the 12th. Some extra rest for Thompson might get him back on track to his early season numbers, right? Perhaps not, and fantasy hockey owners should be aware of it.
There are only two games this week for Vegas, and backup Adin Hill may get a nod. One start is not much value, but if he gets the win then all is right. Those two opponents though can score, and they can score a lot. The Edmonton Oilers are the late-week matchup that brings into Vegas the league’s fourth-ranked offence. The best fantasy value is in the first game against the Florida Panthers. However, if Thompson gets this start, it will have been a full five days since his last game and ten days since he finished a game. When he is on three or more days of rest between games, he is 8-6 with a .908 save percentage. On one day’s rest? 9-2 with a .922 save percentage. A sluggish start in either game could doom Vegas and your fantasy hockey goalie slots. Be mindful of using Thompson this week.
Another player who has very different fantasy hockey ownership numbers, Beniers only makes the sleeper category because of his 38% roster numbers in Yahoo leagues. After a slow December, Beniers has started the new year on a roll. Three goals, one on the power play, and two assists in his last three games have coincided with a four-game winning streak for the Seattle Kraken. This should not be a surprise. In Seattle’s 22 wins, he has 24 points. In their 16 losses (four in OT) he has six points. As Beniers goes, so too does the Kraken. His roughly 15:30 production number in Seattle victories is only matched in impressiveness by his 16:33 road production. For fantasy hockey owners, pay attention to that.
Beniers is not just a little better on the road. He is a lot better on the road. Young players can have jitters when playing in front of a home crowd, and this kid is young. But on the road, he has tormented defences league-wide. Seattle will play four games this week (that’s right, another bonus game player) and you may have guessed all four are on the road. Three of those opponents are bottom ten defences. They are also bottom nine on the penalty kill. His largest downside is his unwillingness to shoot the puck. But when he does, good things happen. If he can fix that this week, fantasy hockey owners could reap massive benefits.
Here is this week’s Hail Mary banger forward who can tally some offence this week. Essentially completely available in all fantasy hockey leagues, this pickup could shock owners. First, he does have three goals in the last five games. Second, one of those was a power play goal. Third, one of those was a game-winner. Fourth, his ice time has steadily declined in the last five games, indicating that the Montreal Canadiens coaching staff has now found a stable deployment for Anderson that is generating production. He has the ability to be a mid-20s goal scorer, and this week he may remind people of that.
Of the three games for the Canadiens this week, they have seen two of the opponents already this season. Anderson scored in both of those games. Those defences and penalty kill rank near the bottom of the league which bodes well for Anderson to tally points. The other opponent is the New York Islanders and this is the wild card. The Islanders are a top-ten defensive team, but lately, they have had some high-scoring games. If Anderson catches the latter type of Islander team and pushes play against the bottom defensive teams like he already has this season, then this could be a sneaky value pickup for fantasy hockey owners.
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