This week’s a little funky. There’s only one light night on the schedule (next Sunday), and two nights without any action (Tuesday, because we all need an overloaded Wednesday schedule, of course, and Thursday). Thanksgiving also messes up our timing — there won’t be a new Fantasy Trends next Friday, either. But don’t worry, we’ll look ahead to give some suggestions with the schedule in mind.
Since our focus doesn’t have to be as schedule dependent as usual, we have something else to dive into — the updated fantasy projections. So let’s get started.
Four Game Streamers
Since the schedule is so loaded, there’s probably going to be less emphasis on adding players for the week (for most managers). Instead, it’ll be about slotting in the hotter players. Looking at some of the risers in the rankings may help with that. Of course, we can’t leave you hanging without some four game streamers — for those who do find themselves in need of some new blood on their roster:
Alexis Lafrenière, LW/RW, NYR | 37% Yahoo
Looks like this former first overall pick is showing he’s not a bust. Three things have been working in his favor: a shift to the right wing, time alongside Artemi Panarin (who complements his skill set) and consistency in the role to generate some chemistry. You won’t get much power play production here, but Lafrenière contributes a couple of shots almost every game, and has been finally producing on the scoresheet. The Rangers are four game streamers the week of the 27th as well, and will be in action on two light nights. So Lafrenière (or other Rangers you may be considering) have a little extra value.
Ilya Mikheyev, LW/RW, VAN | 18% Yahoo
We love a Good Teammate Effect and Mikheyev has that, alongside Elias Pettersson. Expect some goal scoring and a good amount of shot volume for the winger. Keep an eye on Anthony Beauvillier, too, as long as Andrei Kuzmenko is sidelined.
James van Riemsdyk, LW, BOS | 13% Yahoo
The veteran winger’s start wasn’t exactly ideal in Boston, but he’s hit his stride as of late. The Bruins’ second line of van Riemsdyk, Charlie Coyle, and Trent Frederic is earning about 52 percent of the expected goals share in their minutes. The defense isn’t perfect, but the offense definitely is impressive. While we don’t anticipate this line to keep outscoring opponents 4-1 in their minutes, why not benefit from it while they’re hot? Plus, there’s a role on PP1. A meeting with a Red Wings team next Friday that’s bottom-10 in quality chances against while short-handed opens up some scoring potential.
Connor Zary, C, CGY | 3% Yahoo
The Flames are trending in the wrong direction, which is forcing some tough conversations off the ice. Players who were expected to rebound haven’t done that at all, so we understand any hesitation. But Zary seems to be adding somewhat of a spark to their depth scoring, which makes him an option to consider.
Alexandre Carrier, D, NSH | 2% Yahoo
Carrier is more of a category booster, as he can be counted on to block shots. Next week, Nashville will meet two teams that rank in the top-10 in shot attempts (Colorado and Calgary). So those games are pretty good opportunities to rack up blocks if you find yourself needing help in that department. Carrier’s a back-to-back four game streamer, which adds to his value.
We will not be here next Friday, but we can’t leave you hanging for the following week, either.
Boston, Colorado, Nashville, New York, and San Jose are back-to-back four game streamers if that sways you toward a player on any of those teams. Columbus plays on three light nights (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday), while the Rangers and Sharks do twice. Other teams in action on at least one light night next week: Detroit, Washington, Los Angeles, Ottawa, New Jersey, Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, Colorado, and Buffalo.
Trends can change a lot over the next week-plus, so there’s only so much we can project out. Maybe Kirill Marchenko, who we highlighted last week, keeps giving managers reason to scoop him up. Evan Rodrigues could be of value in Florida, or maybe one of their injured defenders returns — like Brandon Montour. If not, if Oliver Ekman-Larsson can keep up his production, he could be a solid pick. Matt Duchene may keep giving managers a reason to pick him up by then, too, even though he’s only in action three times that week.
Risers and Fallers
The first fantasy projection update of the season is here, which gives us a chance to analyze players who have taken the biggest jump in fantasy value (we went by points league settings here, for context), and who has dipped the most.
The risers may be particularly handy, considering how jam-packed most lineups are going to be this week — maybe these help sway who to slot in a starting position… or who to bench.
Leo Carlsson took the biggest leap forward, and it’s easy to see why. When he’s in the lineup, he’s had dynamic games. The tricky part is having a player on your roster who isn’t a mainstay just yet, giving managers something to watch for.
A number of faces in new places are thriving, too. Tyler Toffoli has been excellent in New Jersey, and he’s producing without his mainstay center healthy. When Jack Hughes returns, watch out for what this duo will produce at even strength and on the power play. Ryan O’Reilly has had a major influence on the Predators’ lineup, while Evan Rodrigues has been clicking with some quality teammates in Florida — Florida’s earned about 66 percent of the expected goals share with that top line featuring him, Aleksander Barkov, and Sam Reinhart on the ice. Shayne Gostisbehere is coming off a season-high 4.20 Game Score against the Senators; he’s been a very welcome fix in Detroit, between his even strength offensive impact and role on the top power play unit. A low key option pictured above is Alex Iafallo in Winnipeg, who has been producing and putting up a high rate of shots.
Plus there are rising talents like Sean Durzi to Travis Sanheim, to rebound candidates like Filip Forsberg and Brock Boeser.
On the flip side, how about those trending the wrong way after their start?
Beauvillier’s scoring has slowed to a pace that’s a bit more on par with his career, which is a step down from his post-trade performance in Vancouver. The fact that he’s not a mainstay with Pettersson hurts, too. But keep an eye on where he slots, as long as Kuzmenko is out.
Dylan Cozens remains a tricky one in Buffalo, as we talked a lot about last week. The Tage Thompson injury adds another wrinkle in it all. His absence opens the door to Cozens now playing in the most favorable minutes, with the highest quality of teammate and maybe that gets his game going. But it’s hard to see how the Sabres’ struggling power play will be any better without Thompson, and that may weigh down Cozens even more making this a situation to watch — it may determine how best to proceed with the center, for those not in keeper leagues.
Tyler Bertuzzi’s start has underwhelmed, but there are positive signs below the surface over this last stretch with William Nylander and John Tavares. It’s a step in the right direction, which makes him a faller worth hanging onto. But there’s a lot of room to improve, especially in the shot quality and finishing department. Like Bertuzzi, it wasn’t a perfect start for Brandon Hagel. While his fantasy value has dipped — not playing on PP1 doesn’t help — his even strength usage should help him move back in the right direction. Moving back to a line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov has been a positive change for Hagel, who has started trending in the right direction on both ends of the ice since.
Sticking with the Lightning, not everyone is finding their footing. Tanner Jeannot’s production and usage doesn’t scream ‘fantasy dynamo.’ The bright side: the winger’s shot volume and scoring chance generation is up, and his underlying numbers are trending up on both ends of the ice. But considering his role and linemates, Jeannot just doesn’t bring a ton in most leagues — outside of super deep banger leagues.
Speaking of disappointments, there’s Dawson Mercer. The Devils are hurting at the top, down Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Timo Meier against the Penguins on Thursday night. But without some key players, Mercer’s picked up the pace — he’s finally on th escoresheet, and has upped his shot and scoring chance production. If that’s something Mercer can build on, then managers who drafted him (and stayed patient) are in luck.
(Top photo: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images; Data via Evolving-Hockey, HockeyViz, HockeyStatCards, AllThreeZones, and NaturalStatTrick. This story relies on shot-based metrics; here is a primer on these numbers.)