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 Looking Ahead 2014: Week Nine Allow Anonymous Users Reply to This Topic...
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Posted - 11/28/2014 :  10:20:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Which teams have the best schedule for Week Nine.

There are no guarantees in fantasy hockey, but a pair of tried and true strategies will always pay off in the long haul:

Bet on the best combination of talent and opportunity to achieve the desired level of production you are looking for from your roster. Talent means nothing without opportunity, and vice-versa.

Focus on the process by which you make roster decisions, as opposed to the results they yield. Long-term success is not attainable without the knowledge of why you were successful in the short term.

With that in mind, let’s take a look ahead at some teams and players to target or avoid in the coming week or so:

Love ‘Em (These squads are the best bet to produce for fantasy owners)

Detroit – Nothing portends fantasy success quite like playing five of seven games at home between Friday, Nov. 28 and Sunday, Dec. 5.Oh, and then the squad travels to North Carolina to take on an overmatched and underwhelming Hurricanes squad a day later. No team in the entire league has a more enviable schedule over the next week or 10 days than the Red Wings. This bodes quite well for the squad’s workhorse netminder Jimmy Howard, who’s save percentage currently stands at an impressive .920 through 18 starts.

Tampa Bay – This is a really, really good team… that plays Buffalo twice in three days between Dec. 2 and Dec. 4. What more needs to be said? Well, the Lightning also play five games between Nov. 28 and Dec. 6. Lean on any and all fantasy-relevant Tampa Bay players in the short term.

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed for the immediate future)

Winnipeg – The Jets travel to Boston to take on an extremely solid Bruins squad on Friday, Nov. 28. Their next game is not until Wednesday, Dec. 3, and they only play three games between Nov. 28 and Dec. 6. It’s not unreasonable to suggest fantasy owners should bench all of their Jets, especially in 10-team or 12-team weekly leagues. There is no matchup-proof players like Sidney Crosby or Claude Giroux on this team. Andrew Ladd (of all people) leads the Jets in scoring with 16 points in 24 games. Look elsewhere for fantasy production.

Edmonton – Volume, volume, volume… Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 6, this Oilers play just two games. They host the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 1 and travel to Winnipeg for a matchup against the Jets on Dec. 3. It’s just not enough action to consider anyone from this team, even Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are undesirable options.

Bet On ‘Em (These players are owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues or less and may be worth a look)

Nick Bjugstad, C, Florida (Available in 85 percent of Yahoo leagues) A 2010 first-round selection by the Panthers, Bjugstad is a developing player who continues to improve in all facets of his game. At just 22 years of age, Bjugstad is entrenched in the top six for the Panthers. He is also seeing more than two minutes of ice time and centering the team’s top line. There’s a lot to like here, and there is reason to believe an ever-improving, young player with more than 100 games of NHL experience can continue to be an effective cog in the Florida offense for the foreseeable future. He’s no superstar, but his eight goals and 12 points in 20 games suggest Bjugstad is a viable depth option in most formats.

Antoine Vermette, C, Arizona (Available in 76 percent of Yahoo leagues) Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu has long been lauded for his ability to be a quality playmaking center who can also be an effective defense player. It’s not a stretch to refer to Vermette as a poor man’s Mikko Koivu. No, Vermette is no top-line center. In fact, he’s a much better to center a squad’s second line. He’s also not someone who will put up 30 goals or 50 assists in a season, but Vermette is more than capable of 20 apiece. Only two Coyotes are seeing more power-play ice time per game this season than this veteran center: Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Vermette is playing the kind of role for the Coyotes that will allow him to exceed the production he has provided fantasy owners for much of his career. Fifty points is not out of the question for the 32-year-old Vermette in 2014-2015.

Cam Atkinson, C, Columbus (Available in 81 percent of Yahoo leagues) The 25-year-old Blue Jackets forward totaled 21 goals a year ago and is (quietly) on pace for nearly 30 this season. While he lacks ideal size and athleticism, Atkinson is adept at driving possession and getting the puck on net (as evidenced by the fact that he leads Columbus in this year in shots on goal with 78). Atkinson is one of his team’s most trusted players, and he’s a quality bench option in all formats.

Kris Russell, D, Calgary (Available in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues) His next goal will be his first this season, but Russell has totaled nine points in 22 games this year. Coming off a 2013-14 season in which he totaled seven goals and 22 assists as a member of Calgary’s top power play unit, Russell cannot be denied as a viable fantasy defenseman in deeper fantasy leagues (12 or more teams), even though he has been relegated to the squad’s second power play unit this season. He could be in line for a more favorable role if injuries become an issue for the Flames’ defensive corps, so Russell is worth a speculative add for owners who have roster room to spare.

Written by Mike T. Schmidt of

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