Now that we are coming to the end of the extended Week One in fantasy hockey, early returns on draft picks are either looking great or a little worrying. Every year there are a few players who have high expectations coming into the season that fall flat in fantasy despite the hype.
This year is no different as multiple star players have gotten off to rough starts. This presents the perfect opportunity in fantasy to take advantage of a star player’s slow start and get him while his value is at its lowest if the owner of these players in your league is getting impatient. Below we will outline four players to buy low in fantasy right now before they break out of their slumps.
Kevin Fiala RW – Minnesota Wild
After having a breakout year putting up 54 points in 67 games in his first full season with the Wild, many expected Kevin Fiala to establish himself as a bona-fide star this year. As such he was drafted with this expectation. In Yahoo leagues he had an average draft position (ADP) of around 111, which placed him as a ninth to tenth round pick. He was drafted around established fantasy forwards like Nicklas Backstrom and Kyle Palmieri.
Unfortunately, his year has gotten off to a rough start as he has just one point through his first five games. It isn’t from a lack of trying though as he currently leads the league in shots for players with one goal or less.
His underlying numbers suggest he is bound to break out eventually too. He currently has an ixGF of 2.66 which ranks fifth in the league. His iCF of 35 is eighth in the league. His CF% meanwhile sits at an impressive 66.5%, tops on the Wild. All stats are taken at all-situations from Natural Stat Trick.
Fiala is getting lots of ice time too as he’s averaging the highest ice time in his career so far with 18:22. He’s also averaging 4:54 per game on the man advantage while playing on the Wild’s top unit.
All things considered Fiala has been playing some solid hockey so far this season despite having just one point. The numbers suggest the points will come eventually as long as he continues to play like this as he’s generating shots at an impressive rate. He finally got his first point of the season last night which could signal the flood gates opening.
Once they start going in for him, look out. One thing that could boost his value is getting away from Nick Bonino and Marcus Johansson and back with Zach Parise, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the Wild’s lines.
If the owner who has Fiala in your league is getting impatient with his slow start it’s definitely worth looking into acquiring him as the numbers suggest Fiala is bound to start racking up the points. He is also flying under the radar right now with Kirill Kaprizov stealing the spotlight in Minnesota. He’s a perfect buy low candidate considering he has point per game potential on a solid Minnesota team.
Jeff Skinner rw – Buffalo Sabres
After a great year in 2018-19 putting up 40 goals and 63 points, Jeff Skinner was a huge bust last year getting just 23 points in 59 games. Coming into this year he wasn’t on many people’s fantasy radars, especially with Taylor Hall and Dylan Cozens taking spots in the top six.
Skinner had an ADP of 174 this year, around the 14-15 round range. A big fall for a player who had 40 goals just two years ago. His year hasn’t started great either as he has one assist through the Sabres’ first five games and has been demoted to the fourth line. After a disappointing season last year, starting the year goalless in five games certainly isn’t an encouraging sign for fantasy owners.
However, the underlying numbers suggest Skinner is actually playing quite well. His 15 shots are tied for the third most among forwards in the league without a goal. He currently ranks 23rd in the league with an ixGF of 1.86 which is the most among forwards without a goal this year. It also leads the Sabres.
His iHDCF of 11 ranks ninth in the league and is once again the most of any forward without a goal. Impressive company for a player drafted so late. His impacts have been very impressive for a player with no points. Here’s a better look courtesy of @IneffectiveMath (Micah Blake McCurdy).
Despite his low point totals so far Skinner has actually been playing some decent hockey and is very unlucky not to have any points. The fact he is generating these chances while being buried on the fourth line makes it even more impressive. As long as he keeps playing like this the pucks will start to go in for him, which will hopefully bring a promotion into the Sabres talented top six.
He should be able to be had for very cheap in a trade considering his value coming into the season and his slow start. Trading a fringe fantasy roster player for him might be possible at this point, and could reap huge benefits as the season goes on.
Brady Tkachuk LW – Ottawa Senators
It’s no secret that most people were very high on Brady Tkachuk coming into the season and expecting big things from the Senators winger. As we talked about in the offseason, Tkachuk looked set for a huge breakout season this year after having the highest ixGF in the league last year.
Last season he produced 21 goals compared to his 31 expected and was unlucky not to hit 30 goals despite playing on a weak Ottawa team. This year with Ottawa having an improved forward group it seemed like Tkachuk was set up perfectly for a huge year.
After putting up a goal and two assists in his first game, it looked like those who took Tkachuk at his ADP of 44 in the fourth round were getting a huge bargain. Since then though he has zero points in three games as the Senators have scored just six goals in that span.
Over those games Tkachuk has 15 shot attempts, with 11 on goal. Of those 15 shots attempts 11 of them were high danger chances. During that span his CF% is a 64.1% and his xGF% is a ridiculous 72.6%. His xGF% on the year is 81.5% which ranks third among forward in the league.
There’s no question Tkachuk is playing some incredible hockey right now and just can’t buy a goal since his first game. He’s second in the league this season in both ixGF and iHDCF at 2.79 and 16 respectively, behind only Connor McDavid.
Tkachuk should be at the top of the league in goals right now not sitting on just one. He’s picked up where he left off last season and has been a dominant player possession wise and deserves much better. Here’s a great look at how dominate he’s been on offense this season from @IneffectiveMath (Micah Blake McCurdy).
Generating chances at this rate and not getting any points isn’t going to last forever and when he finally starts getting some bounces, he’ll be all over the scoresheet. Tkachuk is the rare fantasy option that offers stat coverage across the board.
He can give you goals, assists, shots and hits making him incredibly valuable so if the owner in your league is looking to cut bait after his slow start you should jump at the opportunity. I’m still very confident that Tkachuk will finish the year as a top 25 forward in fantasy.
Start sending the offers
With the shortened season, players getting off to slow starts can put managers right into panic mode. The opportunistic players are there for the making. The right trade can pay off throughout the season, and if early indications tell us anything, it’s that these three players are definitely solid options to start making offers for.
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