2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players

by Justin Cheng
2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players

Depending on your league settings, we are only five or six weeks away from playoffs. You have been working hard all year, carefully managing your team. Sit back and buckle up because we are diving headfirst into the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players.

Every Thursday over the course of the season, we will be looking at different players each week who are front of mind for Fantasy GMs. Some players may be seeing their rostered percentage increase due to a recent hot streak. Others are being traded away or dropped across many leagues because of recent struggles.

Maybe the superstar player who was supposed to be the cornerstone of your team has been a bust. Or maybe there is a guy on the waiver wire who has strung together a few impressive performances.

If you are looking for further add/drop guidance, make sure to check out Kyle's stock watch or Tyler's Waiver Wire article!

And as always, if you have any players that you want me to cover after the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players, be sure to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter - @jchengWPG.

2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players

Unsustainably High

Blake Wheeler, C/RW, Winnipeg Jets (71% rostered)

After a dismal start to the season marred by COVID and injury, many (including myself) were ready to write off Blake Wheeler. The 35-year old veteran has been one of the most consistent fantasy forwards over the past six seasons. His best seasons came at the grizzled age of 31 and 32 when he put up 91 points in both of those years. However, this season, it had appeared that age caught up to him. He looked slower and missed significant time due to injury - both regular occurrences for an aging player.

Over the past few games, Wheeler has flipped the whole narrative on its head. After being reunited with Mark Scheifele and getting back up to game speed, he has found a new level. Over the past three games, he has racked up two goals and added seven assists. He has also chipped in 12 shots, three hits, and three blocks, making him a really valuable player in bangers leagues.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
3274123320:4575.9%

This level of production clearly is not sustainable. His oiSH% is sitting at 19.0% and his IPP is sitting at 81.8%. Wheeler is due for some regression in both of these categories, which will inevitably impact his scoring.

Despite his recent streak being unsustainable, I do really like Wheeler as a trade-deadline target. He is playing on Winnipeg's de facto top line and is currently playing nearly 80% of the team's powerplay time. In addition to this, Winnipeg has a very very favorable playoff schedule. The team plays three games in the semi-final week, including games against Detroit and Ottawa. In the week of the finals, Winnipeg plays four games, three of which occur on off-nights. During that final week, they also have the luxury of playing Seattle and Montreal - not exactly world-beaters.

Given that the team will likely be competing for a playoff spot right down to the end of the season, Wheeler will be relied on heavily down the stretch to produce.

Dylan Larkin, C, Detroit Red Wings (84% rostered)

In 2018-19, a year removed from his entry-level contract, Dylan Larkin lit it up. On a Red Wings team that was a black hole of high-end talent, Larkin managed to put up 73 points over 76 games. In the seasons since, as the supporting cast surrounding him has improved, many expected Larkin to continue to thrive.

Unfortunately, quite the opposite has occurred. Larkin has struggled since that season, much to the disappointment of fantasy owners. Going into this year, most people had completely forgotten about Larkin and he went undrafted in the majority of leagues.

Yet, this season, Larkin has found a new level to his game. Through 45 games this season, Larkin has put up 51 points. He is currently riding a six-game point streak, putting up five goals and seven assists during that span.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
6574193119:4967.6%

As much as I have been one of those poor suckers who has drafted Larkin every year only to be disappointed, I don't expect this level of production to continue. Detroit is still in rebuilding mode, and despite being promising young players, linemates Lucas Raymond and Filip Zadina are just that - young. With youth inevitably comes inconsistency, which will hit Larkin hard.

Additionally, Larkin's recent hot streak can be attributed to an over-indexed shooting percentage (28.6%) and an uncharacteristically high IPP (80.0%). When these numbers start to fall back to normal levels, Larkin will cool right off.

I do like Larkin as a depth and streaming option going forward. The team also plays four games in both the semi-final and final week of most leagues, making Larkin a valuable play if you expect to make it that far. If you have locked up a playoff spot, it would not be a bad idea to take a flyer on Larkin, even if he won't maintain his current 164-point pace.

Unsustainably Low

Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW, Vegas Golden Knights (15% rostered)

If you are looking to take a flyer on a guy who has struggled all season, look no further than Evgenii Dadonov. The 32-year-old winger has had a lackluster season, managing just 21 points through 46 games. The scoring well has completely dried up recently, with Dadonov managing just one assist in the past month.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
8010238416:1860.7%

I put Dadonov on this list in more of a speculative move. With the introduction of Jack Eichel into the lineup, Dadonov has found himself on the top line alongside him and Max Pacioretty. This would not be the first time Dadonov has ridden shotgun to a dynamic duo. We are not many seasons removed from Dadonov being a key cog on the Panthers' top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. If Dadonov can find that magic again in a Vegas uniform, he might just give you an edge down the fantasy stretch.

From a statistical standpoint, Dadonov is also due for some positive regression. Despite only scoring 10 goals, he has put up 13.3 xG. It is worth noting that Dadonov has never in his career under-scored his xG metric. Further, his 8.7% shooting percentage on the year is nearly half of the 14.8% he has averaged over the past three seasons. If things start to click, we could see Dadonov finish the year on a strong note.

If you are either locked in a playoff spot, or you are so far out that you need a miracle to climb back into contention, Dadonov is worth looking into.

Sustainably High

Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins (99% rostered)

If there is one player that always seems to fall in the draft too far, that player is Kris Letang. This is partly due to his long rap-sheet of injuries, but still completely unjustified. This year, his ADP was 78.6, below guys like Tyson Barrie, Brock Boeser, and Ondrej Palat.

I have been rewarded handsomely all year after drafting him in two of my leagues. I have been all the more impressed over the past few weeks when he seems to have found another level. Over the past 12 games, Letang has gone point-per-game, racking up three goals and nine assists. He has also added 33 shots and 26 blocks, bringing value beyond the scoresheet.

GPGAPPPSOGHITBLKATOIPP%
1239633252625:4080.0%

The surprising thing about Letang is that, despite scoring at an incredible rate for a defenseman, none of his underlying statistics are out of line. His shooting percentage is sitting at 7.7%, just slightly higher than the 7.4% he has averaged over the past three seasons. His oiSH% is sitting a touch high at 13.2%, but this is compensated by his below-average IPP of 44.4% (compared to 47% over the past three seasons).

Beyond the statistics, Letang also plays over 80% of Pittsburgh's hall-of-fame studded powerplay. If that is not a recipe for success, I don't know what is.

While the Penguins don't have the greatest playoff schedule (although not bad, either), it should not really be a factor. If acquired, Letang would instantly be one of the better defensemen on your team. If you are trying to get back into the playoff race, Letang might be a player you consider trading for. He would make a good blockbuster trade target late in the season.

Sustainably Low

Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights (87% rostered)

Well, they don't call me the "fantasy killer" for nothing. That is the second time in which a player I have placed on sustainably high has gone down with a long-term injury the night the article is set to publish. From the sounds of the injury, it appears as though the back injury that has landed Mark Stone on LTIR has been nagging since the second game of the season.

Going forward, it is unclear if Mark Stone will return in time for fantasy playoffs. Given the cap situation that the Golden Knights find themself in, I could see Stone remaining on LTIR until the playoffs. It is unfortunate that this will be the second year in a row that controversy will break out surrounding a team's use of LTIR. I understand the argument that it has now become an integral part of the NHL to "manage the cap". My opinion is that this really cheapens the league. I want to see the best players playing if they are healthy. Not delaying or biding time in the press box for cap reasons.

If you are a Stone owner and have room in an IR spot, I would hold him. He is too good a player to let go for nothing if he does indeed make a comeback. If you drop him, I guarantee you another player will take a flyer on Stone. At the same time, if someone offers you something for Stone, I would consider it long and hard.

Summary

And with that, we wrap up our coverage of the 2021-22 Fantasy Hockey Week 17 Unsustainable Players.

Every Thursday throughout this series we will be looking at the hottest and coldest players in the league. If you have any players that you want me to cover, be sure to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter @jchengWPG.

Advanced stats and analytics are taken from Natural Stat Trick.


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