NHL Friday Fantasy Freakout: Hidden gems
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.
That said, there isn’t a lot of glamour in this week’s list. But we’ve gotten to the point in the season where you’ll really have to dig to find some gems every weekend.
Steve Mason, G, Flyers
You’ll certainly turn a lot of heads in your league by making a play for Mason this weekend. The Flyers have a couple of afternoon division games: They host the Rangers on Saturday and are in Washington to take on the Capitals on Sunday. But Philly has beaten the Rangers twice in three opportunities this season (the third went to a shootout) and split its season series so far against the Capitals. These two games are entirely winnable.
Mason could very well build off his strong recent performances in back-to-back wins against the Canadiens and Predators and earn a victory or two this weekend. Sure, your GAA and save percentage may take a hit in the process, but if you’re looking at Mason in the first place, you’re likely not all that worried about those stats right now anyway.
Recklessness grade: C
Drew Stafford, F, Jets
Of Stafford’s 14 goals this season, eight have come in games where he’s scored more than one. He has a tendency to break out in bunches and then go ice cold. And the 30-year old hasn’t lit the lamp in a month, so he could be due.
The Jets have a stacked weekend: They’re at home against the Hurricanes on Friday and travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Saturday. Neither of those teams does a tremendous job of keeping the puck out of the back of its net so Stafford may have ample opportunity to end his scoring drought. He could stand to see a little more power play time, of course. You’re taking a big risk oher, but boy, the prospect of a multi-goal game sure sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
Recklessness grade: B+
Brock Nelson, F, Islanders
Nelson’s 20 goals this season are an impressive, surprising, team-leading total, and he's scored six in his last seven games. He sees time on New York’s second power play unit, which you’d think would boost his fantasy viability, but he’s registered just one man advantage point since December 18. When taking a risk on a player like Nelson you’d like to squeeze every possible bit of production out of him, but you’re kind of putting all your proverbial eggs in one metaphorical basket here.
The Islanders play the Red Wings on Saturday and the Oilers on Sunday, neither of whom have done a decent job defensively as of late. Nelson could pay off if you’re in need of more goals, but don’t expect much in any other categories.
Recklessness grade: C+
Andrej Sekera, D, Oilers
Why have a cup of coffee with Sekera this weekend? Two words: Connor McDavid. Yes, the Edmonton wonderkid’s return has sparked the Oilers to wins in their last two games. They head into Montreal to face the dilapidated Canadiens on Saturday before moving on to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders on Sunday. Those are two very beatable teams and you can expect the offensive onslaught to continue.
No Oilers defenseman has seen more ice time on the power play than Sekera in the last few games and he’s parlayed it into three man advantage points in his last two games. You probably will want to ignore his plus/minus rating (–13) but he’s still worth buying in on if only for his offensive production.
Recklessness grade: D+