NHL DFS Lineup Advice – February 2, 2021

I am just going to jump right into this one. We have the first player to hit a salary of $9,000 on the year. The simple question of the night will be to play or fade Connor McDavid? That’s an incredibly steep price tag. But coming off a five-point performance against the same team, will you have the guts to not roster him?

With the Penguins and Devils game getting a PPD, there are now only eight games on tap this evening. Two games stand out above the rest with a 6.5 implied total. The Canadiens and Oilers are the clear “chalk” and we should see a lot of exposure in DFS. Edmonton is a heavy favorite against the Senators at -245 after scoring eight on Sunday.

***Game Theory***
Remember, DFS is not sports betting. We are not putting our money down against Vegas lines. We are playing against other people and need to make decisions based off what our opponents are going to do. Like baseball, hockey has a ton of variance. The best player in the game has nearly an uncapped ceiling for fantasy production, yet a floor of literally zero. Unlike basketball and football, Connor McDavid and Mike Trout can score a big fat 0 (although highly unlikely). Whereas Patrick Mahomes or James Harden will provide some fantasy production, even on their worst outings.

This gives DFS players an edge in tournaments. Connor McDavid will undoubtedly be the highest owned player tonight. He is the best player in the world, playing the worst team in the league. He scored a goal and four assists two nights ago against Ottawa and could have scored more. At his price tag, we can easily fit in significant alternatives with similar upside and at a massive ownership reduction. By not rostering McDavid and hoping for a pedestrian outing, you can easily lap the field (I expect 60%+ ownership) with a simple pivot. It is different when a player is minimum priced chalk versus the highest priced player. At minimum salary, there are few pivots and it is difficult to make up ground. At $9,000 we can literally roster anyone else we want.

To be clear, I still believe Connor is the best play on the night, in terms of raw point production. However, pivoting will net you a higher return on the rest of your lineup and inherently make your roster different. Let’s look at some options.

Center

Mark Scheifele (WPG) $7,100 vs. CGY
– Scored a goal and assist last night against Calgary along with three shots on goal and a blocked shot (19.3 DK points)
– Calgary will likely start backup goalie, David Rittich tonight – who is, at best, a minor league starter on a bottom feeding team
– Winnipeg is a top 10 offensive team in the NHL
– Scheifele will center the top forward line and PP1

Sebatstian Aho (CAR) $6,400 @ CHI
– Chicago is still a bad team, despite only allowing 10 goals against in their last six games
– In those six games they played three of the worst offensive teams in the league; Detroit (2 goals per game), Nashville (2.3 goals per game), Columbus (2.3 goals per game)
– Sebastian Aho is tied as the leading scorer for Carolina with six points through six games
– Will play on the top forward line and PP1
– Carolina own the highest CF% at 56.6% and Chicago is ranked 23rd with a 48.21%

J.T. Compher (COL) $2,800 vs. MIN
– If you want to play McDavid, here is your top salary saver
– Nathan MacKinnon is out with injury and Compher will take his place on the top forward line and PP1 (as of right now)
– Minnesota is a very “average” team across the board in all advanced stats
– This won’t be an extremley high-scoring game, but the salary relief is far too great to pass up

Wing

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM) $7,900 vs. OTT
– Perfect pivot off McDavid, as it is very hard to fit both players in the same lineup (especially with Draisaitl)
– Nugent-Hopkins plays on the top forward line with McDavid and the PP1
– RNH has scored 10 points through 11 games and is averaging 3.6 shots on goal per game
– Edmonton scored four power-play goals last game – a trend that should continue

Andrei Svechnikov (CAR) $6,300 @ CHI
– Skates on the top forward line with Aho and PP1
– Svechnikov is the trigger man on the team, scoring four goals through six games
– Averaging over three shots on goal per game and 18 minutes of ice-time
– With the CF% advantage, Carolina should control the possession time and scoring chance advantage
– Vegas expects Carolina to score as a -155 road favorite in a game total with 6

Johnathan Drouin (MON) $4,200 vs. VAN
– Vancouver is allowing 3.58 goals against per game (including two games allowing just one goal each against Ottawa – remove those games and it jumps to 4.5 GA per game)
– Montreal scored six against the Canucks last night
– Johnathan Drouin is averaging a point per game with one goal and eight assists through nine games
– Will play on the second forward line and top power-play unit

Defense

Jeff Petry (MON) $6,700 vs. VAN
– Leads all defense, on the slate, in FPPG with 14.5
– Coming off a two goal, one assist and 32.3 DK point performance against Vancouver last night
– Averages 22 minutes of ice-time as he plays on the top pairing and PP1
– Contributes in all facets of the game, offensively and defensively

Bowen Byram (COL) $3,300 vs. MIN
– Both Devon Toews and Erik Johnson are out of the lineup and Byram looks like he will start on the top pairing with Cale Makar
– Byram should quarterback PP2
– Averaging 18 minutes per game and should see an increased role tonight with the shortage of bodies
– One of the most skilled rookies this season who should see some offensive production with the extended opportunities

Goalie

Jordan Binnington (STL) $8,300 vs. ARI
– St. Louis is a -160 home favorite tonight against the Coyotes
– Arizona averages just 2.5 goals for per game, but 28 shots on goal per game
– Binnington owns a 5-1-1 record with a .918 SV% and 2.49 GAA
– The Blues struggles have been on the PK (ranked 26th in the league), but Arizona has a below average power-play
– Basically, if St. Louis can limit the power-plays, Binnington should be in-line for one of the highest scoring performances on the night at the position

Good luck tonight everyone. There are a lot of huge contests on DraftKings, including a $15 Fantasy Hockey World Champion Qualifier. Always keep in mind that DFS is not only about playing the best plays, but also about understanding how the rest of the field will react. As always, reach out on twitter @J_maw

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