This is being written before my Buffalo Bills face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs. I’m predicting 17-14 Bills.
As you might know by now, my managing style and what I discuss in my advice column is maximizing games played and putting more skaters on the ice that your opponent. I use data pulled from my own league as well as the two RCL’s to give this idea some supporting data, so let’s hop to it.
Using the Active Stats tabs from my most competitive league as well as the two RCL’s, I’ve compiled a table of every matchup we’ve played this year (I finally added weeks 11-13 to my master sheet!) Out of 580 data points, managers who have played ten or more skaters (as of the end of week 13) than their opponents are 65-5-6. 65 wins, 5 losses, 6 ties. Even 5 more players on-ice than your opponent moves your meter considerably closer to the Wins column (from a coin-flip to winning 62% of the time). Yes, some teams might have better players, or might put up more points (G+A), but nothing correlates more accurately to a Win than the difference of games played between teams. Points, goalie starts, you name it… the bottom line is, you want to put more decent skaters on the ice per week than your opponent, and wins will follow.
To wrap that up, this column isn’t for spot-streams, it is for grabbing players on Monday or Tuesday and having them play on short-slate days in order to maximize player starts.
Going over weeks 11-13, we had a few teams put up great Games Played numbers. Hatrick Laine set a new high mark with +26 skaters played in Week 11. Other managers who deserve props for tons of skaters on ice are Ottawa Sharks, Team Boughner, and I Am Score, who lost a heartbreaker 62 skaters to 59. Slugfest.
A side note is that micro-managing your lineup this way means fewer counting stats left on the bench. An opponent I played had Dylan Larkin sitting when he got a SHP, which is a total waste you cannot get back. When I play, I rarely, if ever, have a player on the bench accumulating stats.
In order to give Razzball readers a potential plus-6 or plus-8 skaters on the week of 1/8, I’m going to cover the three teams with an optimal schedule to grab additional starts. This is an interesting week with a ton of teams only playing one or two games, so be sure to look at your own team and plan accordingly.
Week of 1/8
Teams to target:
Columbus (M, Th, F), Toronto (M, W), Chicago (T, W, F, Su), Minnesota (T, W, St, Su), Ottawa (T, W)
Columbus and Toronto are playing Monday, and are the only teams going. This means you could snag 2-3 skaters and have a leg up on a few counting stats. Toronto is a little more flexible, because after their game on Wednesday you can just cut the guys you picked up and plug holes the rest of the week.
From Columbus, Pierre-Luc DuBois is a solid pickup, with a decent shot rate and ice time, and the best possession numbers on the team. He’s also a little behind on expected goals. For pure shot rate, Josh Anderson is available in most leagues and he’s scoring at an expected rate.
From Toronto, Zach Hyman is an immediate pickup owned in only 10% of ESPN leagues, boasting a similar expected-goals profile to Auston Matthews. I just wish he would shoot more. Leo Komarov is behind on expected goals so you can expect some positive regression at some point, but I’d be more willing to grab Tyler Bozak for two games and roll the dice on his power-play time.
Chicago and Minnesota don’t have anything special on their schedules other than volume, and games on the short Wednesday and short-ish Friday/Sunday. Since Wednesday is the other super-short slate, I’m including Ottawa grabs that you can set free Thursday morning.
Chicago: I mentioned Nick Schmaltz and Jordan Oesterle last week, and both are still available in a ton of leagues. With good shot rates, TOI, and production, either is worth a shot, especially while Oesterle seems to be staying hot.
Minnesota: Charlie Coyle is owned in only about a third of ESPN leagues, and he’s got a good shot rate and solid TOI, although I don’t like his possession stats. Beyond that, Nino Niederreiter is available in 50% of leagues, if he’s on your wire I would grab him as a borderline hold. He’s in the running for the best skater on the team, and is prone to awesome hot streaks.
Ottawa: For two games, I still like Derick Brassard, if he’s available in your league. Solid shot rate, good TOI and PPTOI, he’d be a good fill-in. I also like Ryan Dzingel for deeper leagues. He’s got good possession numbers and is behind on expected goals, if you’ve got the move available for a player on Wednesday and nothing else strikes your fancy.
That’s it for now. I’ll be watching this thread as much as I reasonably can all week, so if you have questions that you want an arbiter for, I will chime in (and will work to give you the best information I have). I am sure Viz and Reid will also pop in every so often. I hope this is helpful, and GO BILLS!
Good luck this week!!