This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
Friday's NHL slate is a modest one, with just three games on tap beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern time. While there aren't many options to choose from, certain players still stand out as options to target or avoid at their respective valuations. Read on to see who falls into which category.
Antti Niemi, MON at FLA ($22): It's no coincidence that Carey Price heated up right as Shea Weber returned to the lineup to provide a stabilizing presence on an otherwise lackluster blue line. Since Weber's Nov. 27 return, Price has allowed two goals or fewer in nine of 13 appearances while winning eight of those games. While Niemi represents a downgrade from the starter, there's a good chance Weber's presence also leads to improvement from the affordable backup against a Panthers team that sports a minus-10 goal differential and has won just 15 of its first 35 games.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Roberto Luongo, FLA vs. MON ($25): Luongo's struggled mightily of late, allowing four-plus goals in seven of his past 12 starts. Given those recent results, the veteran netminder can't be trusted against any opponent.
Mathew Barzal, NYI vs. OTT ($24): With 29 points in 35 games, Barzal's lagging well behind last season's 85-point pace, but there's still hope for a turnaround from the 21-year-old pivot. While far from an elite sniper, Barzal's able to create Grade-A opportunities with his blazing speed, and his 6.3 shooting percentage should start to climb closer to last year's 12.9 percent conversion rate at some point. With a Senators club that's surrendering a league-high 3.89 goals per game coming to town, this is an ideal scenario for beginning such a turnaround.
CENTER TO AVOID
Brock Nelson, NYI vs. OTT ($19): Nelson's not as likely to capitalize on this favorable matchup as his teammate Barzal. The hulking center has failed to break 4.0 fantasy points in nine of his past 17 appearances, giving Nelson a low floor relative to his price.
Andreas Johnsson, TOR at CLS ($19): Johnson's thriving on Toronto's top line alongside John Tavares and Mitchell Marner, making him a great choice for owners who want to benefit from those two studs' production without breaking the bank. With five multi-point games in the past 14, including a hat trick, Johnsson is no slouch himself. His upside is excellent relative to his $19 valuation against a Blue Jackets team that's playing the second leg of a back-to-back.
Paul Byron, MON at FLA ($16): Byron was the beneficiary of coach Claude Julien's latest line shuffling, getting promoted to the top line alongside Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin. The move has paid immediate dividends, as Byron comes into this contest riding a two-game goal streak. He gets a nice opportunity to stretch that streak to three against a Panthers team that's giving up 3.49 goals per game – fifth-most in the league.
WINGS TO AVOID
Nick Foligno, CLS vs. TOR ($17): Foligno's struggled mightily over the past 13 games, only scoring 4.0 or more fantasy points in four of those contests. A turnaround is unlikely to come on the second night of a back-to-back against a Maple Leafs team that's outscoring opponents 3.78 to 2.78 on average this season.
Anthony Beauvillier, NYI vs. OTT ($16): Beauvillier's average of 4.1 fantasy points per game is worst among all wingers in this slate that cost more than $14, and he might get even worse if his shooting luck normalizes. His lack of success thus far comes despite an 18.0 percent shooting percentage, which is likely to drop as the season moves along.
Keith Yandle, FLA vs. MON ($20): Penalty killing has been a problem for the Canadiens, who rank eighth from the bottom at just 77.5 percent. Those words are music to Yandle's ears, as power-play production accounts for the vast majority of his scoring. Of Yandle's 31 points this season, 21 have come with the extra man.
Ryan Pulock, NYI vs. OTT ($21): Pulock's best asset is his rocket of a shot, which makes up for any potential lack of accuracy with pure velocity. That shooting prowess netted him 10 goals last season, including five on the power play. While he still sees time with the extra man this season, Pulock has produced just two goals (one on the power play). The driving force behind that decline in production is a 2.7 shooting percentage, which is less than half of Pulock's 6.0 career mark coming into this campaign. This home matchup against the league's second-worst penalty kill (74.3 percent) and worst defense overall could be just what Pulock needs to start bringing that conversion rate back up, making this a nice time to look his way.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Jake Gardiner, TOR at CLS ($19): Gardiner lacks the offensive upside of many of his teammates, having lit the lamp just twice all season. He's a good source of rating and assists, but your money is best spent elsewhere on this stacked Toronto squad.
Ryan Murray, CLS vs. TOR ($16): Murray lacks the offensive upside of fellow $16 blueliner Zach Werenski, while both have a low rating floor against the powerhouse Mapke Leafs. You may as well grab Werenski – who has seven goals – or pay up for Seth Jones (six goals) rather than turning to Murray, who's lit the lamp just once all season.