Welcome back to another season of NHL DFS Power Plays. We’re a daily fantasy hockey column focused on top FanDuel NHL plays for your lineups each day. This is the Wednesday, October 3rd 2018 edition. Opening Night for the NHL 2018 season.
Hockey is finally back, and the NHL has some exciting games slated for us on Wednesday, October 3rd. It’s likely we can grab at least one player from each game for our NHL DFS FanDuel lineups. So we’re engaged throughout the entire slate of games for Opening Night of the professional hockey world in North America.
We will take a look at top plays and value picks for each NHL DFS FanDuel position, and discuss who we like most for GPP and cash plays. At the end of the article, we summarize our thoughts and provide an example NHL DFS optimal lineup.
Before we get there, a reminder to never take a NHL DFS optimal lineup as ‘bible’ for your personal lineup each day. Use the suggestions as guidance. Also, make sure you follow final lineup thoughts throughout the day on our twitter account @FantasyCPR or me @MattyMcMatt17 look for late breaking lineup news.
Here’s a look at the NHL schedule for Wednesday, October 3rd:
Canadiens at Maple Leafs 7pm ET
Bruins at Capitals 7:30pm ET (NBC Sports Network)
Flames at Canucks 10pm ET
Ducks at Sharks 10:30pm ET (NBC Sports Network)
If you’re new to the DFS NHL option on FanDuel, scoring is important to understand. Each goal a center, winger, or defensive-men score is worth 12 points. Assists, are worth 8 points and each shot on goal is a 1.6 point value. So, obvious you want to get someone in your lineup who’s on the ice often, and isn’t afraid to pass and shoot the puck in the offensive zone.
Another aspect to consider is power play and penalty killing units. There are some top short-handed goal scorers in the NHL, and they add an additional two points to your lineup. And any power play points, goal or assist, will add an additional 0.5 points.
On defense, which even centers and wingers can achieve, a blocked shot is 1.6 points. Some defense options we focus on throughout the year have a propensity for piling up points just with blocked shots. And in goal, a win is 12 points, each goal against knocks your point value down by four points.
Each save is 0.8 points, and a shutout is an additional eight points. So if you think you have a goalie who could get a shutout win, you’re looking at least 20 points landing into your lineup score, before you even consider saves.
We need to fill up a total of nine positions, two centers, four wings, two defenders, and a goalie. While doing so, we have to stay under the $55,000 total salary cap. As you’ll see throughout our discussion, finding value in lineups is crucial, but you also need top players. Also, not as important for GPP, but stacking is a big component of winning lineups for NHL DFS.
Now let’s start building our NHL DFS optimal lineup by looking at the top centers for this slate…
NHL DFS FanDuel Power Plays: Top Centers
We’re not going to skimp at the center position for opening night DFS NHL FanDuel. With the Maple Leafs heavily favored (opened -220) hosting the Montreal Canadiens in a game with an over/under of six goals, we know scoring is expected from the top two lines in Toronto.
The Capitals are fresh off a Stanley Cup win, and will raise the banner on Wednesday night. But they have a very tough match up, hosting a strong offensive production coming out of Boston. The Bruins have some well known top players, but also solid value plays.
While the Flames and Canucks may not seem like a sexy offensive play, they have some of the best value in their lineups. And the Ducks and Sharks face off on the U.S. west coast to end the night, also providing some value opportunity.
With that summary in mind, the obvious chalk seems to be the Maple Leafs. And if you follow hockey, you know this is a huge night for John Tavares ($8,300). The super talented 28-year-old former Islander grew up outside of Toronto. Tavares said it was a dream to sign with the Maple Leafs, since entering the NHL, and that’s exactly what he did this off-season.
Last season, Tavares had 84 points in 82 games, scoring 37 goals and providing 47 helpers. John averaged around 20 minutes of ice time per game last year, also his career average. Manning the Leafs’ top regular and power play line, we can expect John to be on the ice around that same amount of time.
However, this is a completely new situation. Tavares has more talent around him, and may see slightly less ice time. Even though the Maple Leafs’ Tavares line hasn’t seen much NHL competition yet, they appear to be very well synced and two to three goals from that line on Wednesday night wouldn’t be a surprise.
Tavares isn’t the ideal GPP play, with expected high ownership, but he’s an easy double-digit point play using an expensive salary pick. John could also exceed over 20 points, easily. So Tavares is my anchor at center in all cash plays, and likely used in GPP as well.
If you don’t like Tavares as the top pick, and want lower ownership, you have two great pivot options. First, the higher ownership, but lower risk, pivot is Auston Matthews ($7,800). The 21-year-old scored four goals in his NHL debut during the 2016-2017 season. Matthews leads the Leafs’ second line, and plays with Tavares on the first power play unit.
Ownership is also an issue with Auston. While Matthews might not have the same high-level ownership as Tavares, he’s a very obvious pivot play and likely popular with a lot of NHL DFS professionals. In fact, that’s why I like Tavares so much.
But for that same reason, you may want to veer completely away from the Maple Leafs and grab the Flames top center Sean Monahan ($7,300). The 23-year-old starting center for the Calgary Flames isn’t quite as dominate as Tavares, but he had 31 goals and 33 assists in just 71 games last season.
Monahan also has tremendous offensive talent surrounding him on the ice Wednesday night. If you’re putting a GPP lineup together, Sean is your best low-ownership anchor center. But Tavares is your best play at the position.
If you’re looking at the list of centers by salary on FanDuel and thinking, gee thanks Matt…you like three of the top four most expensive centers…that’s obvious. Right? While it may seem obvious, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of NHL DFS players go to Nicklas Backstrom ($6,600) or Evgeny Kuznetsov ($7,300) expecting a Stanley Cup high on the ice.
The Bruins will also be a popular set of picks, especially given the salary for David Krejci ($5,700). But I don’t like Krejci as my top value pick at center. He may not be cheap, but Bo Horvat ($6,100) feels like a steal.
In 64 games last season, Horvat only had 44 points. Bo spread that out evenly with 22 goals and assists. But, there are some caveats. Horvat looked more dynamic two years ago, his third season. Last season, Bo dealt with a series of injury issues and spent a lot of time off the ice. At times, last season, Horvat went on point-scoring runs, but I often wondered how much better he’d look with a healthier year.
We’re now heading into Horvat’s fifth season, even though he’s only 23. The Canucks still have some work to do, in order to build a winning organization again. But there is a lot of young talent in Vancouver, and that talent now has more experience.
Bo is a sleeper fantasy hockey player heading into this season, with big upside potential. Also, in his first game last year, he had two goals against the Oilers. It wouldn’t be surprising if Horvat had another two points on Wednesday night against Mike Smith and the Flames.
NHL DFS FanDuel Power Plays: Top Wingers
We mentioned stacking as a priority earlier, and that’s what we’ll focus on for the first two winger picks in our lineups. However, we’re not going to do a full four-man stack for our lineups on Wednesday. In stead, we’re looking for a few two-man mini-stacks.
We’ll follow up with our two stacked picks looking for value, to leave plenty of salary on the table for solid defense and goalie picks.
So we love Tavares at center. Who’s the best stack pick with John? That appears to be Mitch Marner ($6,600). The 21-year-old Marner already has two seasons under his belt, and piled up 130 points in just 159 games. Mitch’s 89 assists far outweigh his 41 goals, but with Tavares on the ice, we’re expecting more scoring from Mitch this season.
So far, it appears Marner will play with Tavares’ top line, but Mitch also likely plays on the top power play unit with not only Tavares, but also Auston Matthews. So with multiple power play opportunities on Wednesday night, Marner could be a huge value with a modest salary.
After completing our reasonably priced Maple Leafs mini-stack, I’m looking for my value line mate to Bo Horvat. The best option to pair with Horvat is Brock Boeser ($6,400). The 21-year-old was second in Calder Cup voting, getting two first place votes behind the Calder awardee Mathew Barzal.
Brock arguably had a better chance at the Calder, if it wasn’t for an injury in March. However, Boeser also had cooled off a bit around the time of the injury. Still, Boeser is a top young talent in the Canucks organization, and he’s pared with another top young talent, now with veteran experience, on the Cancuks top lines. Horvat and Boeser are a value power combination I love!
Before we get into the value picks for the winger spot, I wanted to call out another potential stacking opportunity, assuming you’re going with the Flames Monahan. If you go that route, you need to find a way to afford Johnny Gaudreau ($7,400).
The New Jersey native is now 25, and already has 288 total points in just 312 games. Gaudreau is arguably one of the best hockey players on the ice opening night, and owning him is always fun. Johnny dynamic play and high goal-scoring potential consistently makes him a top five or ten pick at the winger spot each time he’s on the ice.
Finally, we’re going to look at two sneaky value picks from the Sharks. We’re going with another mini-stack, although Timo Meier ($4,200) and Joonas Donskoi ($4,100) likely won’t play on the same regular line.
But, the two young Europeans should man the Sharks second power play unit, and will likely have more than their average 12 to 14 minutes of ice time this season. Given the top talent on defense, and veteran talent crowding the first two lines for the sharks, these two picks are sleepers.
Also, the Ducks are dealing with big injuries on their top two lines, providing better match ups for Meier and Donskoi. And, with these two picks, you can pretty much do whatever you want with the top two winger picks, especially for GPP lineups.
Alright, let’s look at a few top picks on defense…
NHL DFS FanDuel Power Plays: Top Defenders
Every season, for the past two years, I write up how great Brent Burns ($7,300) is for NHL DFS. I’m not backing off that claim this season, yet, but I’m concerned about his fantasy impact this year. Burns is now 33 and entering his 15th season in the NHL.
The offensive and defensive minded hockey talent can do practically everyone on the ice. But, the Sharks brought in 28-year-old Erik Karlsson ($7,100) to help Burns out. How will this play out? It’s hard to tell.
Karlsson is also an incredibly talented hockey player, who provides not only dominate defense but offensive upside from the blue line. But, you have to wonder how the Sharks will balance the two super powers they now have at the same position. Does it eat into their minutes on the ice? Can Burns and Karlsson both offer three points per game from the same position? I’m skeptical.
Instead of paying a big price for what could be massive upside, but also a big disappointment, I’d rather stay away from the trial and go to a better bet. Especially with Torey Krug ($6,000) hitting the IR, John Carlson ($6,300) is a great top defense pick on Wednesday night.
For starters, Carlson’s ownership could be lower, thanks to a lot of NHL DFS players, understandably, trying to stack Burns and Karlsson together. But also, the 28-year-old veteran played in all 82 games last year, averaging over 24 minutes of ice time per game, with 68 total points and blocked nearly two shots per game. That production will give you nearly the same amount of points as Burns, but for $1,000 less in salary. I’m sold.
Still, Carlson isn’t cheap, and frankly I looked for a better value on defense before I realized I could afford John. That value was Charlie McAvoy ($4,500). There are several other decent plays on defense like Cam Fowler ($5,000) and Alexander Edler ($5,000). In fact, Fowler and Edler are solid GPP plays.
But the 20-year-old McAvoy now likely starts on the Bruins top lines, with Zdeno Chara ($4,300), and should see between 25 and 30 minutes of ice time on Wednesday night. Charlie is a tremendous young talent at defense, entering his second season.
Last year, he piled up 32 points in 63 games, and managed to log more than one blocked shot per game. And keep in mind, his minutes weren’t always as high as we’d expect to see now with Krug out. You can’t pass up this value, especially if you’re trying to play Burns or Karlsson.
NHL DFS FanDuel Power Plays: Top Goalies
The goalie position can be tough to pick through. Not because it’s hard to identify top goalie talent, but mostly because the match ups provide the best conclusion about the NHL DFS FanDuel point outcome.
Braden Holtby ($9,200) had an up-and-down season last year. In fact, if you played Holtby in your NHL DFS lineups toward the end of the season, you likely went crazy with his horrendous play. Braden was so bad, he eventually was getting benched, before he became a savior, again, in the playoffs.
I’d have to imagine Holtby has his confidence back, making Braden a solid play on Wednesday night. We also know the Bruins will pepper Holtby with a lot of shots, increasing his point-potential with a high volume of saves. However, a win for the Caps isn’t a sure bet, even with Holtby in net.
Part of the reason I’m not willing to pay over $9K for a goalie like Holtby is his match up against Tuukka Rask ($8,700). Rask is in a similar position. Tuukka is one of the most talented goaltenders on the ice Wednesday night. And Rask should see a lot of shots. However, a win isn’t nearly a sure bet as some other options.
Jacob Markstrom ($7,700) likely starts in goal for the Canucks. Markstrom may be the least likely to pile up over 20 points for you, but he’s by far the best GPP play at goaltender Wednesday. Jacob has a winnable match up at home against the Flames, if veteran net-minder Mike Smith ($7,900) struggles.
While John Gibson ($8,300) is a good goaltender who piled up a ton of NHL DFS points last season, I don’t like the odds of the Ducks winning Wednesday night, considering their long list of key player injuries. Also, the Sharks are a formidable opponent on their own ice. That means Martin Jones ($8,800) is likely the better play.
All of that being said, Frederik Andersen ($8,400) appears to be a very cheap high-value play for opening night of hockey, at the goalie spot. Andersen’s price is likely low due to the low amount of shots on goal expected from the Canadiens, and his high 2.81 GAA average last season.
But, if you’ve followed me last year, you recall how I talked about the more important stats for Andersen. Yes, Frederik gives up more goals and most good goalies in the NHL. But Andersen also sees the highest volume of shots. And he wins games. That combination is why Andersen averaged over 21 FanDuel points-per-game last year.
The Leafs defense should be marginally better this season, but not by much. So I still expect the Canadiens to get nearly 30 shots on goal, and Andersen gets an easy win. I also think Frederik has a rare shot at a shutout, hosting the Habs on home ice in Toronto. Andersen is my favorite play at goalie in all formats.
NHL DFS FanDuel Power Plays: October 3rd 2018 Summary
We know Tavares and the Leafs are a little chalky to open the NHL season against the Canadiens, but we can’t pass up the opportunity to pile up points from John and Mitch on the top Leafs lines for the night. Their price isn’t too unreasonable either. Matthews is a solid pivot from Tavares and gives you exposure to both lines.
But if you’re looking for a lower ownership mini-stack, consider Flames top liners Monahan and Gaudreau. For a value play at center, and solid mini-stack from the Canucks, I love the young and talented Horvat and Boeser in all formats. For a GPP play, consider Krejci.
For value plays at winger, we’re going with another mini-stack from the Sharks second and third lines, Meier and Donskoi. Timo and Joonas also play on the same second power play line for San Jose and should have several scoring chances Wednesday night.
Finally, John Carlson is a great pivot on defense away from the obvious dynamic duo at the Sharks blue line of Burns and Karlsson. And Charlie McAvoy‘s value can not be avoided in all formats. And tending the net for us, with big point potential, is Maple Leafs goalie Andersen.
With that summary in mind, here’s a look at a sample lineup for the NHL DFS FanDuel on Wednesday, October 3rd 2018:
C John Tavares ($8,300)
C Bo Horvat ($6,100)
W Mitch Marner ($6,600)
W Brock Boeser ($6,400)
W Timo Meier ($4,200)
W Joonas Donskoi ($4,100)
D John Carlson ($6,300)
D Charlie McAvoy ($4,500)
G Frederik Andersen ($8,400)
Remaining Salary: $100
Note: This is a recommended lineup after discussing our top options for the slate. You should use this as a guide, and provide your own input when building NHL DFS FanDuel lineups. We are not telling you, or selling you, to use this lineup.
Best of luck in your NHL DFS FanDuel contests and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all your DFS news and analysis across College Football, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, EPL, PGA, and NASCAR this fall!