If you are still paying attention to Fantasy at this time of year, you are likely fighting in the semi-finals. This is the time when all of your hard work managing your roster comes to a head. Here to help you make a push for the finals this week are the 2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Week 23 Unsustainable Players.
From here on out, my approach to Unsustainable Players will be slightly different. At this point in the season, you don't have time to wait for a slumping player to turn it around. There will be a heavier focus on players who have favorable matchups as the classic unsustainable statistics are running out of time to regress to the mean!
Just because a player is unsustainably high does not mean they must be avoided. Often, a streaking player with favorable matchups for the week is exactly who you want to be streaming at this time of year. And as always, if you have any players that you want me to cover in future weeks, be sure to leave a comment down below or reach out to me via Twitter - @jchengWPG.
Without further ado, let's jump into the 2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Week 23 Unsustainable Players!
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Week 23 Unsustainable Players
K'Andre Miller, D, New York Rangers (45% rostered)
K'Andre Miller has been on an absolute tear over the past few games. The young defenseman has been a key contributor to the Rangers' recent success, racking up an impressive two goals and six assists in his last seven games. That kind of production is exactly what the team needs to keep climbing up the standings and solidify themselves as one of the top three teams in the Metro division.
Unfortunately, Fantasy GMs cannot rely on this production to continue.
Over this span, Miller has scored on an impressive 16.7% of the shots he has taken, over double the 7.3% shooting percentage he has averaged over the past three seasons. Additionally, his on-ice shooting percentage (oiSH%) is sitting at a whopping 18.8%. This is exactly double the 9.4% oiSH% he finished with last season.
K'Andre Miller (NYR79) was key to the Rangers' demolition of the Preds last night.
He scored two goals and two assists with a 90% xGF% at 5v5, making big plays at both ends of the ice.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 20, 2023
In addition to fears of statistical regression, the Rangers' schedule this week is cause for concern. The team has a tough slate of games ahead, facing the Hurricanes twice and the surging Panthers once. I would not be surprised to see Miller's production return to the 0.5 point-per-game pace he was on earlier this season.
K'Andre Miller's 2nd goal of the night (4th point of the PERIOD) makes it 6-0 #NYR
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) March 19, 2023
If you have the room to add a defenseman on the league's heavy days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday), it might be worth taking a flyer on Miller. However, I believe that there are other players with more favorable matchups that may yield better returns.
Bowen Byram, D, Colorado Avalanche (66% rostered)
It is puzzling to me that Bowen Byram is rostered in so few leagues. Especially in light of the news that Cale Makar was set to miss Monday's game. However, in just over a third of leagues, Byram is still up for grabs.
Perhaps the low ownership can be attributed to a tumultuous couple of weeks for the young defenseman. Over the past seven games, Byram has scored two goals and added just one assist. This 35-point pace is not knocking anyone's socks off.
Despite the recent struggles, we may see Byram turn it around this week.
Asked Bowen Byram if he had such an excited reaction b/c he knew this was a cool goal. No, he said. He was just happy to score.
A listening Cale Makar interrupted.
“He knew it was a highlight goal,” Makar chirped. “He felt like Bobby Orr back there.” pic.twitter.com/sXLv05Ctw2
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 14, 2023
For starters, with the uncertainty surrounding Makar, the Avalanche's first powerplay is Byram's to lose. On Monday, he lined up alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the league's fifth-best powerplay. This will certainly lead to points if Makar is sidelined for any length of time.
Additionally, the Avalanche have the best schedule in the NHL for Fantasy GMs this week. They do not play on any of the heavy nights. And they play four games - all on off-nights. This means that Byram is getting into your lineup at least three more times this week, compared to other players which may ride your bench due to roster constraints.
If you are looking to add a player on your back end to push you over the edge this week, Byram is a good player to take a flyer on.
Clayton Keller, LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes (86% rostered)
If you are in a deeper league, this likely is not a pick for you. However, for Fantasy GMs in shallower leagues, Clayton Keller may be the best addition you can make this week.
Over the past two weeks, Keller has been on an unstoppable run. Through seven games, Keller has scored seven goals and added eight assists. This has brought his point totals on the season up to 75 points in 70 games. If this hot streak continues, Keller could hit the 90-point mark for the first time in his career.
Clayton Keller is stellar! ? pic.twitter.com/TvHTfG7OIc
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 19, 2023
While a lot of his underlying metrics are unsustainably high (33% SH%, 88% IPP, 18.9% oiSH%), some regression would not change my opinion of Keller. Last season, Keller finished on a 77-point pace while posting a 15.8% SH%, 73% IPP, and 12.8% oiSH%. If we assume that Keller will regress to his underlying metrics from last season, this would represent a drop of about 34%. Take Keller's 15 points, reduce it by 34% and you still have a player who is above point-per-game with 10 points in seven games.
Further, like we have been looking at for other players, the case for Keller becomes even stronger when you consider the Coyotes' schedule this week. The Coyotes' are one of seven teams with four games left this week. But unlike the other six, only one of these games (Tuesday) is on a heavy night. This guarantees that Keller will make your roster for at least three games. The value of the off-nights cannot be understated.
Clayton Keller and Brett Ritchie are putting on a show ? pic.twitter.com/Rof6OxDtZ3
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 13, 2023
Overall, if Keller is available in your league, I would scoop him up as soon as possible. He just may be the player that wins you the week.
Jakub Vrana, LW, St. Louis Blues (30% rostered)
Everybody loves a good underdog story. Even more love a good comeback. Jakub Vrana offers both of these.
This season has been a nightmare for Vrana. He started the year with the Detroit Red Wings, left the team to enter the NHL/NHLPA Players' Assistance program, and got demoted to the AHL. At the deadline, the Blues acquired him for pennies on the dollar. So far, he has been "found money" for the Blues.
We like him. We like him a lot.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 20, 2023
Over the past two weeks, Vrana has been very solid. He has scored five goals and added an assist through seven games. This puts him on a 70-point pace if he had played the whole 82-game season.
Part of Vrana's success has been his new-found affinity for shooting the puck. Over the past two weeks, Vrana has racked up 23 shots, putting him on a 269-shot pace. This is the highest shot pace of his career and explains his recent goal-scoring streak.
Additionally, Vrana's IPP and oiSH% are not unreasonably high. His IPP currently sits at 75.0%, compared to the 73.8% he averaged over the past three seasons. His oiSH% sits at 13.1% over the past two weeks, just marginally higher than his 11.8% three-season average.
Something about that Jakub Vrana scoring touch. ? pic.twitter.com/xF71jdEf5B
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 20, 2023
Add the fact that the Blues have a very good schedule through the rest of the week, and you have a very good depth addition to your roster. The Blues play Vrana's old team, the Red Wings (who have been struggling) twice, the NHL basement-dwelling Ducks once, and the L.A. Kings once. Vrana should manage to keep up his hot streak against some of this weaker competition.
Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota Wild (68% rostered)
When the Minnesota Wild bought out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, many thought there were some lean years ahead. However, with the help of Russian phenom Kirill Kaprizov, and Jared Spurgeon's leadership on the back end, the Wild are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot.
Despite the strong season, Spurgeon has been struggling to find the scoresheet as of late. He has just one goal and a couple of assists in his past seven games. His goal and one of the assists came in one game against the floundering San Jose Sharks.
— Alex Micheletti (@AlexMicheletti) March 12, 2023
What is particularly concerning is that with the addition of John Klingberg at the deadline, Spurgeon has seen his powerplay time diminish. Over the past month, Spurgeon has been averaging just 1:10 on the powerplay per game. All of this time has come as a member of the second unit, none of which has been alongside Kaprizov.
In addition to the decreased role, there is not much room for Spurgeon to "bounce back" statistically. His shooting percentage is sitting at 6.7%, not far from the 8.6% he finished with last season. Additionally, his slightly low IPP of 27.3% (compared to 38.8% last year) is offset by an abnormally high oiSH% (15.3% vs. 11.4% last year). Any gains he may make on his IPP will likely be offset by decreases in his oiSH%.
Finally, the Minnesota Wild do not have a good schedule this week. They only play on heavy nights this week. Spurgeon is likely not even making it onto your roster at any point this week. If this is the case, you would be better off dropping him for anyone you can get a game or two from.
And with that, we wrap up our coverage of the 2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Week 23 Unsustainable Players.
Every Tuesday throughout this season 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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