Tuesday's eight-game slate features a number of teams closer to the bottom of the NHL standings, but their rosters are still teeming with valuable fantasy commodities. In fact, playing for slow-starting teams like the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs or Flames has allowed multiple players' excellent early season performances to fly under the radar. We'll look to identify those players and more in search of the night's best DFS value plays.
Brian Elliott, STL at CBJ ($26) - Elliott is projected to get the starting nod for St. Louis in the second game of a back-to-back and will be heavily favored to pick up the win in the battle of the blue-themed teams. The former starter just has to put up a decent effort to be worth his modest $26 price, which shouldn't be a tough task considering he is 4-1-1 this season.
Goalies to Avoid:
Cory Schneider, NJD at CGY ($38) - Scoring isn't Calgary's problem. Sure, the Flames can't keep the puck out of their own net, but they have posted a respectable 2.9 goals per game over their last 10, making $38 an exorbitant price for Schneider. You could have Pekka Rinne against Anaheim's last-place offense at the same cost, or anyone else for less.
Martin Jones, SJS at BOS ($35) - Like with Schneider, it's important not to fall for the fallacy that a team's record is indicative of its offensive production. The Bruins rank third in the NHL in goals per game despite hovering around .500, making Jones a sub-optimal play at $35.
Sidney Crosby, PIT vs. MIN ($21) - Crosby's price has once again creeped down due to his recent struggles, but a resurgence could be in the cards Tuesday. The 28-year-old has posted an out-of-character minus-8 rating and just nine points in 17 games, but it's not like his skills just eroded in one offseason during what should be his prime. Minnesota ranks in the bottom half of the NHL in goals allowed per game despite its impressive 10-3-3 record, so don't be surprised if Crosby finds just enough room to cash in and begin his ascent up the scoring leaderboard.
Center to Avoid:
Vernon Fiddler, DAL at BUF ($16) - Fiddler is a little too low on the Stars' totem pole to properly take advantage of facing the Sabres. The fourth-line center doesn't play on the power play, so he will miss out on a chance to feast on Buffalo's 75-percent penalty kill, and his overall allowance of less than 13 minutes per game makes him a questionable bet to produce consistent results.
Jakub Voracek, PHI vs. LAK ($16) - The hate on Voracek has gone too far. His price has steadily declined since the season's inception, but it would be surprising to see it drop below its current $16 mark. Voracek finally broke out with his first goal of the season Saturday in Carolina, making now the perfect time to grab him before his price rebounds. For all his early struggles this season, the Czech winger is still just months removed from finishing up an 81-point campaign.
Joffrey Lupul, TOR vs. COL ($14) - Lupul's decent start to the season has gone largely unnoticed because he toils for the last-place Maple leafs, but it would be foolish to ignore him in a premium matchup against the Avalanche. The five-time 20-goal scorer has found the back of the net in consecutive contests, giving him seven goals this season, and his 14 shots on goal in the last three games show he's generating a lot of chances. Toronto and Colorado are both playing .500 hockey over their last 10, so take advantage of Lupul's bargain price in a rare game in which his team won't be the underdog
Wings to Avoid:
Craig Smith, NSH vs. ANH ($17) - Prior to Saturday's three-point outburst in a 7-0 win over Winnipeg, Smith had failed to record a point in his last 10 games. We need to see Smith string a couple of quality performances together before we're ready to spend $17 on him.
Matt Moulson, BUF vs. DAL ($16) - Moulson has just one point, an assist, in his last five contests, and things don't get any easier with Dallas in town. His first-line role alongside Ryan O'Reilly just means Moulson will spend more time facing the Stars' superb Benn-Seguin-Sharp line. The plus/minus risk is high in this one while the overall upside isn't.
John Klingberg, DAL at BUF ($24) - Half of Klingberg's 20 points have come with the man advantage, making him an excellent candidate to contribute against a putrid Buffalo penalty kill that ranks among the five worst units in the league. Klingberg's price may seem high at first, but when you consider the fact that he's leading all NHL defensemen in points and sports a robust plus-8 rating, $24 looks like a bargain.
Kevin Shattenkirk, STL at CBJ ($18) - Shattenkirk has now had four games to shake off the rust after returning from a groin injury, and it's time to expect him to start producing. With 200 points in 345 career games, Shattenkirk is one of the league's premier offensive blueliners, and it will be impossible to nab him for just $18 once he finds his scoring touch. Get him cheap while you still can, and watch the results pour in against the overmatched Blue Jackets.
Defenseman to Avoid:
Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF vs. DAL ($19) - Ristolainen has excelled with six points in his last four games, but his lack of prior offensive production raises questions about this hot streak's sustainability. Buffalo's top defenseman is also in the unenviable position of having to check the aforementioned Dallas first line; Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp have combined for 66 points this season, and Ristolainen's minus-6 rating doesn't provide much encouragement that he will slow them.