Friday March 25th, 2016

Welcome to Friday Fantasy Freak Out, where we look at some of the options for fantasy hockey general managers who are desperate to have a strong weekend.

Weekends can make or break weekly, head-to-head fantasy leagues. No lead is safe, especially with the high number of games that usually occur on Saturdays. You’ll either want to fortify your lead or mount an improbably comeback. The players we believe can help you do either one will be examined here.

It takes a healthy level of recklessness to make bold weekend fantasy moves. You’re not waiting to see how things pan out with a player: You need results immediately. There is often great risk involved with these players, which is why each has been given a recklessness letter grade. The higher the grade, the more your fellow poolies will question your moves if not your sanity. But there’s also a higher potential for reward as well.

Chris Kreider, F, Rangers

With new heavier game, Stars are dangerous

Certainly hasn't been the best season for the speedy forward, that’s for sure. And with no points in his last five games, he’s a risky pick.

But if there’s any team he's likely to break out against, it’s the Montreal Canadiens, whom the Rangers visit on Saturday. The Blueshirts then travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Sunday. New York has been scoring at a decent clip, with nine total goals in its last two games. If the Ranger can keep it up, you have to imagine Kreider finds his way onto the score sheet this weekend.

Recklessness grade: B-

Justin Williams, F, Capitals

Net worth: Key goalies in playoff races and beyond

Mr. Game 7 is really finding his stride with some steady late season offensive production. He’s the classic “Intangibles” player but with five points in his last seven games, and a safe bet for a point or two this weekend. His plus/minus also looks decent (+18) so that’s worth keeping your eye on in an otherwise often overlooked category.

The Capitals have games against the New Jersey Devils and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The way Washington is rolling, it’s worth betting on nearly any player on its roster.

Recklessness grade: D

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Anton Stralman, D, Lightning

Oft-traded Lee Stempniak’s home at last ... for now

I am continually astounded at how few fantasy GMs own Stralman. There’s a chance that he’s been picked up in your league, but if not, jump on him immediately. He plays on the Lightning’s top pair and sees lots of ice on the power play as well.

The risk here is simply that he might not be available. If you’re in a league where he is, odds are there are also bigger names on your waiver wire that will tempt you. But with home games this weekend against the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders, don’t look past Stralman. The Lightning are keen to lock up a playoff spot and they’ll count on him as they have all season to get it done.

Recklessness grade: C-

Scott Darling, G, Blackhawks

How worrisome is the Blackhawks’ losing skid?

I wrote recently about the Blackhawks struggles and the main takeaway was they shouldn’t be that big a concern. They’ll rebound, but will have to do so without their starting goalie, Corey Crawford, who is still day-to-day with an upper body injury. Darling has filled in well enough in his absence (.908 save percentage in March). He’s played in Chicago's last four games and figures to get at least one start, maybe two this weekend when the Hawks visit Vancouver and Calgary. And there aren’t too many teams that are better win-column fodder right now than those two. Expect at least one win out of Darling this weekend. Just keep an eye on that save percentage.

Recklessness grade: B


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