Lessons Learned From Year One Of Playing Fantasy Hockey
Hockey Guy Trey is an expert now, right? Truthfully, I was going to write this blog regardless of whether I won the league or not but… it feels a hell of a lot better after winning. Still, I was far from perfect. I finished the fantasy hockey year 7-7 but realistically only got hot the last 5-6 weeks of the year.
Once I figured out the tricks of the trade, I started winning. That’s code for cutting Carter Hart and plugging in a goalie that doesn’t score negative points every time he stands between the pipes. More on him later.
Without further ado, here are the top lessons I learned from year one of playing fantasy hockey.
1: Do NOT Pick Players On Dreadful Teams
This lesson I should have picked up sooner. After all, the golden rule of fantasy football is avoiding running backs on awful teams. I broke my own rule in fantasy hockey and didn’t realize it. My first round pick this year was Jack Eichel. We all know how that one turned out.
Jack Eichel doesn’t stink. The Sabres sure as shit do. Eichel had a dreadful fantasy season. Sure, he had 18 points in 21 games but eventually was shut down with a neck injury. If Eichel played for a real contender, his value would sky rocket picking up those primary and secondary assists which count the same in fantasy.
Of course, my dumbass didn’t realize that when I first drafted him. Don’t pick players on dreadful teams. I have countless examples.
Uhh… look at Taylor Hall? Guy stinks with the Sabres and looks like his former MVP self in Boston.
Then there are examples like Dylan Larkin. Late in the fantasy playoffs, teams will just shut down players if they’re not in contention. Larkin got shut down with a minor injury which is huge. Especially given the fact that you’re not allowed to change your lineup for a week once it’s set on Monday.
Teams like Buffalo, Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus, Jersey; there is absolutely no reason to pick players from those teams. Don’t care who it is. There is way more risk than reward here.
2: Get The Goalie Situation Right
I can’t stress how important it is to get the right goalie. I started out the season 1-4 and won the title. My only regret was not cutting Carter Hart sooner. I will NEVER forgive Hart for the pain and suffering he caused me. I also drafted Braden Holtby. I cut his ass too real quick.
I learned the key really is to just pick up goalies on good teams. It doesn’t even matter if they’re that good. Waiver claims really carried me to victory. Ilya Samsonov and Robin Lehner were both waiver pick ups. They didn’t even have good years save percentage wise, but they play on teams constantly picking up those 4 point wins for fantasy purposes.
Don’t be the goof that just trots out Mackenzie Blackwood every week and wonder why you’re not winning your match up with a goalie constantly putting up negative points. Goalies swing everything. Use valuable draft ammo on one if you have to. Go make a trade. There’s no reason to trot out bum goalies. It’s asking to lose.
3: The Waiver Wire Is Your Friend
I drafted just eight out of the 22 players on my entire roster that I ended the year with. 28 transactions and three trades later resulted in a winning season. Now, I made a shit ton of mistakes in the draft, but that only furthers the point. Make adjustments.
There’s never a reason to trot out a player averaging less than two fantasy points a game. Use the waiver wire. Pay attention. Make trades to upgrade. Some of the most important players on my team went undrafted. The waiver wire is your friend. Use it.
4: Don’t Be Afraid To Make Drastic Changes
You’re going to draft players that underperform. Admit your mistake and move on. You’re doing more harm than good holding onto that player.
Take Patrik Laine for example. I picked Laine in the third round. The second he was traded to Columbus, Laine’s entire fantasy stock died. I just didn’t know it at the time. Laine was a total bust. I eventually cut him but my mistake was not doing so sooner.
I didn’t want to just pull the plug on my third round pick, but it was the right thing to do. Holding onto him caused more harm than good. It doesn’t matter if they have a big name. Make the necessary adjustments and put yourself in the best position to succeed.
5: Pay Attention To The Schedule
Don’t just plop the same lineup out there every week. Pay attention to that schedule. Does your player only play twice that week and an alternative plays five times? Might want to go with the guy who gives you more cracks at the apple.
Think of it like baseball. Who has a better chance to get a hit? A good player with two at-bats or an average player with five? Try to create those matchups when you can with the waiver wire and bench alternatives. Schedules matter and more so than just when your team has a good matchup.
6: Don’t Get Left In The Dust With Awful Defensemen
When I drafted my team, I went heavy on goal scorers during the first five to six rounds of the draft. That was probably a mistake. I think you can maybe wait on drafting defensemen, but don’t get left in the dust. There were a lot of weeks I was throwing shit because I had to continue to watch Jacob Trouba underperform. He was the second defensemen I picked too. NOT GREAT.
There are only so many top pair defensemen in the league. You have to start five. Translation… it gets thin… quick. You can still prioritize goal scorers but you sure as hell better keep that defense tight. There are only so many that produce and then it drops off a cliff.