Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet: Top NHL Picks, Values, Goalies for January 4

We have a solid seven-game Friday slate to start the weekend with some primetime matchups. The red-hot Penguins take on the Jets, while the fired-up Dallas Stars welcome the Capitals to Texas. There are plenty of big names in play tonight and lots of potential big games for fantasy purposes to choose from.

Top Line Stacks

Tyler Seguin ($6,900) – Alexander Radulov ($6,900) — Jamie Benn ($6,100, questionable)

DAL vs. WAS

The Stars take on the Capitals tonight in a game that’s essentially a pick-em, as of writing, in the betting odds. The Stars’ first line has been much improved since two-thirds of it were called out publicly as “terrible” by management. Seguin has four points in his past three games while the entire line has scored 11 points collectively in that same span.

The Capitals present a bit of a “prove-it” matchup tonight, but they’re a solid opponent for the Stars’ first line, which also plays together as a unit on the power play. The Capitals enter this game with the seventh-worst penalty kill in the league thus far and are likely to be starting backup Pheonix Copley ($7,500) on the second-half of a back-to-back. The Stars’ first line is in a prime matchup and seems likely to show up for it given all that’s been going on around this team of late.

— Of note, Benn is questionable for this game, so you will have to keep an eye on his injury status going into lock.


Superstar to Build Around

Sidney Crosby, PIT vs. WPG, $7,600 — Crosby has been on one of his patented tears of late and heads into tonight’s game with the Jets having scored 12 points in his past five games. The Jets have been a good opponent for fantasy purposes of late, too, as they’ve allowed at least three goals against in seven of their past eight games. The puck total for this matchup is the only one on the slate, as of writing, that sits above 6, at 6.5, and the matchup has all the makings of a fantasy shootout. Getting exposure to Crosby here, who is still affordable as only the fourth-most expensive player on this slate, makes a ton of sense as it’s hard not to see a lot of goals being scored in this game.


Value on Offense

Jesper Bratt, NJ at ARI, $3,500 — Bratt’s been a part of the Devils’ power play for most of the year and with the injury to Taylor Hall, who is likely to miss tonight’s game, Bratt most likely will be getting some more time in the top six for the Devils at even strength as well. Bratt has been a bit more feisty offensively of late and heads into this game with three or more shots on goal in three of his past four games. He’s also coming off one of his better games of the season, where he played more than 16 minutes, scored and recorded five shots on net. Bratt’s increased role here makes him a superb value at this price tonight.

Vladimir Namestnikov, NYR at COL, $3,400 — Namestnikov hasn’t panned out great thus far with the Rangers, but his role means he needs to be considered here as a value play given the smaller slate. The former Lightning player remains an integral part of the Rangers’ top six and sees plenty of time on their top power play unit, which makes him more valuable in tonight’s matchup against the Avalanche. Colorado enters tonight with the sixth-worst penalty kill in the league and Namestnikov, who has played more than 16 minutes in each of his past four games, is a solid, cheap way to get exposure to the Rangers’ power play.


Stud Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ at CAR, $8,200 — With some stud goalies in slumps and no huge favorites on tonight’s slate, Bobrovsky seems like a decent pay-up option. The Blue Jackets enter this game as -130 road favorites, and Bobrovsky has played well of late, recording wins in five of his past six starts, with two of those wins being shutouts. Carolina also seems like a great fantasy matchup for any goalie, as it’s fourth last in scoring, at 2.5 goals per game, but leads the league in shots for per game, at 36.9. Lots of shots from a team that is bad at finishing means Bobrovsky should in position for a big game tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK at ANH, $7,600 — Fleury and the Golden Knights are also small road favorites tonight, sitting at -135 in the odds as of writing. The former Penguin enters this game hot as well, having stopped 77 of his past 79 shots faced; he’s also allowed a goal or less in each of his past three starts. The Ducks sit second-last in the league in terms of goals scored per game and make for a solid opponent for a goalie who is both affordable and in great form. He should be the consensus value play at goalie tonight.


Value on Defense

Damon Severson, NJ at ARI, $3,700 — The slate doesn’t offer a ton of attractive value options on defense, but Severson is worth noting here. Despite not seeing a ton of power play time, Severson remains the most productive Devil defenseman in terms of points produced on the season and enters this game averaging nearly two shots on goal per game and just under one blocked shot per game as well. His salary was stuck in the $4K range for a long while, but now that it’s dipped under that, he’s a decent nightly target for those who want to punt on defense and retain at least some semblance of upside with their selection. He’d likely need some power play time to really pay off, which he’s not guaranteed to get, but even without it, Severson has been productive for this price point this year.


Power Play Defensemen

Kris Letang, PIT vs. WPG, $6,200 — Letang, like many of the Pittsburgh offensive players, has been on fire of late and enters this game with seven points scored over his past four games. Pittsburgh enters this game having won seven in a row and faces off against a suddenly vulnerable Jets team that has allowed three or more goals against in seven of their past eight games. The Penguins’ power play, which Letang anchors and rarely comes off the ice for, is now up to fifth in overall effectiveness, sitting at a 27 percent goal rate. Given the recent form, he feels almost like a must-roster in this spot.

Tyson Barrie, COL vs. NYR, $5,100 — Barrie quietly has been a very effective play for fantasy purposes of late, as he’s recorded multiple shots on net and at least one point in each of his past three games. Averaging well over 23 minutes over his past 10 starts, Barrie eats up almost all the point time on the power play for the Avalanche, who enter this game with the sixth-best power play in the league. The weaker Rangers are a great opponent for Barrie and most Colorado players, as they’ve got the fifth-worst penalty kill in the league as well.


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