How to Weaponize your Fantasy Team for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Singer Andy Williams first introduced the now beloved line into the popular vernacular as a nod to the Christmas season way back in 1963. While the holidays are great, we respectfully object to Mr. Williams.

For NHL hockey fans, right now is the most wonderful time of the year–the onset of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If you’re a fan and a DFS hockey manager, your interest is twofold–and maybe a struggle as you strike a balance between cheering on the postseason run of your favorite team while effectively assembling a competitive fantasy squad.

Let passion be your guide on the former. We’re here to help with the latter by providing some quick strategies and tips to make the most of your Stanley Cup playoffs fantasy hockey experience.

Stacking–The advantage of drafting complementary players from the same team

Under the DFS hockey format, rosters may change with each match. This can be a double-edged sword. The ability to constantly turnover a roster permits you, the manager, the chance to fine-tune your lineup very quickly while reacting to the dynamics of each game day.

On the flipside, there are endless possibilities. Managers without a well-oiled gameplan may find themselves overwhelmed when assembling a competitive squad.

The scoring rules of DFH largely shape the common strategies managers use when drafting players. Goals (3 pts.) , assists (2 pts), and wins by goalie (3 pts.) earn your fantasy team the most points. Naturally, prolific scoring centers and brick wall goaltenders are often the first considerations for fantasy managers and the priciest players on the market.

But there’s a competitive advantage to be had when your supporting players squeeze out great performances.

“Stacking” lineups or lines are particularly useful in leveraging real-world hot streaks on for your fantasy team. In this practice, you draft multiple players from the same team, even the same line.

Since NHL teams typically stagger their best players over multiple lines, similarly constructing your fantasy roster around key teammates playing on different lines creates a powerful representation of the team. You benefit from the scoring of multiple lines.

You may want to mimic a high-flying line of a particular team. Let’s say you have a menacing goal machine at center like Toronto’s John Tavares. Teaming him with fellow linemates Mitchell Marner and Zach Hyman on the wings mimics the forward three on the Maple Leafs’ first line. This trio is responsible for a combined 94 goals, 129 assists, and 223 points in 2018-19. Obviously, such production would bode well for your fantasy team.

Interestingly, the Great One posted similar numbers all by himself for Edmonton during the 1981-82 campaign, but we won’t digress…

Unsure about your goalie? May the statistics be with you

A few considerations should be made when deciding which goaltender to draft on a given night. The most important factor is obvious but deserves mention–finding a goalie likely to win. Goalies with a high probability of winning on the day you put them into your lineup are usually worth the price regardless of how expensive they might be.

Two statistics to weigh when optimizing your goaltender position are his save percentage (SV%) and his team’s shot attempts percentage. If the goalie’s SV% is high, say .915-.930 range, and the team is getting the best of opponents in shot attempts, and thus puck control, there’s a good chance you have a winner between the pipes.

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski

The influence of odds and money lines

The worlds of sports betting and fantasy share much in common. Both are a “game-outside-the-game” and a way for fans to become personally invested in their favorite teams and players–financially and emotionally! Both are also data-dependent disciplines where knowing how to read projections and how to perform a few math formulas (don’t worry, there’s no test!) can make you quite successful.

The fantasy players who don’t take advantage of the glorious data mountain found in sports odds are doing themselves a disservice. Let the Vegas pros help you out!

Drafting fantasy players from teams with favored odds increases the likelihood that you too will prevail a DFS hockey winner. Two of our favorite methods involve studying money lines and the expert analysis offered at top sports betting sites.

Glancing over the money lines on NHL games can arm you with some seriously valuable intel. Money lines are simple to read, and they’re expressed in this format, using a Metropolitan Division match-up between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins as an example:

  • Pittsburgh  +175
  • N.Y. Islanders  -210

The away team is listed first or “on top” with money lines, so we know right away the Islanders will be hosting the Penguins. It’s a little counterintuitive, but the team with the negative (-) number is the favorite while the team with the positive (+) number is the underdog.

The number to the right of the (+) or (-) sign explains the bet amount to win $100 on the favorite or the win amount based on a $100 bet on the underdog.

So if you place a bet that the Islanders, the favorite, will win the game, it will cost you a $210 wager. When the Islanders win, you receive a $310 payout ($100 in winnings + $210 wagered amount).

If you bet the underdog Penguins will win, the wager will cost $100. If you’re right, you get a $275 payout ($175 in winnings + $100 wagered amount).

Notice in this example how the sportsbook rewards a bet on the underdog Penguins by paying out $175 on a win versus the $100 for the favored Islanders?

The larger the required wager is on the favorite, the more probability that team has to win the game.

As a fantasy manager, the insights that money lines provide into which teams are predicted to win and by what margin may guide your draft picks. Again, you want to select players from teams with high probabilities of winning because more scoring action is expected.

The articles, blog posts, and game previews published by sportsbooks and betting outlets are also quality sources you can comb for fantasy strategy. These are braindumps straight for from authoritative oddsmakers and handicappers, and the information can be pure gold.

For example, the Oddschecker Western Conference previews will inform you right winger Mark Stone of the Las Vegas Knights is anticipated to carry his late-season scoring streak into the playoffs. Maybe he deserves a spot on your roster, if you have Mark Stone from the Las Vegas Knights on your fantasy team.

Sure, it takes a little time and research, but honing your DFS hockey strategy will pay off in the playoffs. Roster stacking, goalie optimization, and leaning on the expertise of the oddsmakers are just a few ways to make this happen. After all, there’s no feeling quite like winning during this, the most wonderful time of the year.

About Andy Stitzer

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