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FanDuel NHL: Value Plays for the Week

Michael Clifford

Michael Clifford writes about fantasy hockey for RotoWire. He was a FSWA finalist in 2015 and 2013 for Hockey Writer of the Year. Former SportsNet hockey columnist, where he churned out four articles a week.

New line combinations have presented themselves following the roster shakeup that was trade deadline day last Wednesday. It can take time for the FanDuel price to be reflected in these movements, so with that in mind, here are this week's value plays per position.

Right Wing

Rich Peverley - Dallas Stars ($3,800)

Last week, rookie winger Valeri Nichushkin was relegated to the fourth line for various reasons, giving Peverley the chance to replace him on the top line alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The results have been good thus far for Peverley, who has three assists with a plus-3 rating in his last two games.

It's still a small sample size for the season, but in nearly 206 five-on-five minutes with Seguin this year, Peverley and company have outscored the opposition by greater than a 2:1 margin. For any line to do that while at even strength for a sustained amount of time is phenomenal. For comparison's sake, Seguin and Peverley (68.2 goals-for percentage) have done better in goals for/against at five-on-five than Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz (63.3 goals-for percentage).

Peverley hasn't received the call to the top power-play yet, unit but that's not a major concern because Dallas' power play isn't consistent anyway. He still gets second-unit minutes, however, and that's better than nothing.

This week, the Stars are at home against Columbus on Monday before going to St. Louis a day later. The schedule follows with a home game Friday against Calgary and concludes with a trip to Winnipeg on Sunday. At least two of those games (Columbus, Calgary) are very good matchups for Peverley and his linemates. Considering his price and his situation, he's one of the top plays of the week.

Left Wing

Brandon Saad - Chicago Blackhawks ($5,300)

Saad is reaching the upper end of what I would consider value no matter how much a guy produces, at a certain price point, they're no longer a value but he's still underpriced a little bit, in my opinion.

Chicago's Marian Hossa was injured about a week ago and will be out at least another week, it seems. That forced a lineup change, which brought Patrick Sharp to Patrick Kane's line and moved Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad to a line with Jonathan Toews. In the three games since moving alongside Toews, Saad has two assists, is a plus-2, and has 11 shots on goal. That last total of 11 shots in three games is important for this reason: there has been no other block of three games this year where Saad has managed 11 shots on goal, yet he managed to do so in his first three games with Toews. Obviously these two have a bit of chemistry, and if Saad keeps up this shooting pace, it's only a matter of time before the goals start going in.

Toews has been on a scoring tear with six goals in his last four games and Saad is in the best position to receive the residual benefits. If Saad had been Toews' line mate all year, his price would at least be another $1,000 higher than it is right now. Chicago goes to Colorado for a game before two home contests against Nashville and Detroit. The Blackhawks have averaged 3.2 goals/game against these three teams in six games this year.


Marcus Johansson - Washington Capitals ($3,600)

Washington can be a very maddening team when it comes to daily fantasy because they're liable to perform like offensive monsters one game and give up six goals against in the next game. The highs are high and the lows are low, so I would say that Johansson would make a better pick for Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) games than in 50/50s.

Johansson has a new linemate in Dustin Penner, Washington's trade deadline acquisition. It was a bad week for Johansson last week, as he had zero points and went minus-3 in three games. With that said, he cracked 18 minutes of ice time in back-to-back games for just the second time in 2014, an indication that coach Adam Oates has been impressed with his play of late. Johansson is part of the top two forward units on the power play as Washington runs two lines and leaves Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson on the ice the entire time.

Washington starts the week with a home-and-home with Pittsburgh, followed by home games against Vancouver and Toronto. In five games this year against these teams, the Caps have managed just nine goals, but none of those goals came on the power play (a combined 0-for-16 with the man advantage). But here's the kicker: Washington averaged 42.5 shots-for in their two games against Toronto this season, and Vancouver is a much worse team now than they were in December. In the Capitals' previous two games against Pittsburgh, Johansson had two assists and was a plus-1. If his line can get matched up against the depth players of the Penguins, Johansson could have a very good start to this week. For his price, it's worth the risk.


Michael Stone - Phoenix Coyotes ($3,400)

Phoenix began a streak of five straight games against Eastern Conference teams last week, and in the first two games, the Coyotes went 3-for-6 on the power play. This week, they start with back-to-back games in Tampa Bay and Florida before going to Boston on Thursday. They wrap up their week with a home game against Calgary on Saturday. Three of those four teams (Boston excepted) are in the bottom half of the NHL in terms of penalty killing, with Florida ranking dead last.

In the Coyotes' two games last week against Eastern teams (Montreal and Washington), Stone had two power-play assists with five shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. While the pairing of Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson still receives the bulk of the power play time, the second unit revolves around feeding Stone for shots from the point. That means a lot of tips, deflections, rebounds and consequently, some pretty easy power-play assists.

Stone is not getting lined up against the top lines of the other team, and that means he'll avoid the Steven Stamkos' line Monday against Tampa Bay. It also puts him in a prime position to garner some easy plus ratings should his power-play production falter. In other words, there are a lot of ways that Stone can contribute, and that kind of versatility for his price is very difficult to come by.


Joni Ortio - Calgary Flames ($5,000)

A little over a month ago, Calgary goalie Karri Ramo went down with a knee injury, from which he still hasn't returned. At the trade deadline, the Flames dealt starting goalie Reto Berra to Colorado. This has vaulted Joni Ortio from the East Coast Hockey League at the start of the year to an everyday starter in the NHL as of now.

Small sample sizes are difficult ways to judge goaltenders, but Ortio has found success at the three levels he's played at this year (ECHL, AHL, and now the NHL.) His 3.9 fantasy points per game in his first four games aren't very good for a goaltender, but at his price of $5,000, it's actually a bargain, as his price point should be about $5,300 or higher.
On top of that, the Flames have really started to clamp down defensively. In Calgary's last 11 games, they have not given up more than 31 shots against or more than three goals against on any occasion. They've even started to find the back of the net to prop up their defense, with 11 goals coming in their last four games.

The Flames are at home to Los Angeles on Monday (a team playing the second half of a back-to-back on the road) and Anaheim on Wednesday (a team that has lost five of its last eight games). They finish the week with back-to-back games on the road, with the Stars coming on Friday and the Coyotes coming Saturday. None of those games are easy matchups, but that makes Ortio the perfect target for GPPs on days he starts. His price point will allow DFS players to stack their lineups elsewhere, and if the Flames should pull out a win, he's unlikely to be highly owned. He is a goalie to avoid in 50/50 games, however.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.