DON'T HIT SNOOZE: October Sleeper Review By Luke Garrison (Friday November 16th, 2018)
Last month, I looked at five potential forwards and why they might be worth adding to your fantasy offence.
Let’s see how these sleepers have performed following my projections.
Three of my picks ended up successful, one didn’t work out, and one still looks good despite injury trouble.
Remember, owned percentages are based on pools from Yahoo fantasy sports.
Anders Lee—New York Islanders Pos. Eligibility: LW
“Here's another potential goal-scoring winger to consider. It's unlikely that he'll score 40 like last season given that he's no longer on a line with John Tavares; however, he's racked up 74 goals and 114 points over his past two campaigns and will be on the top power play unit with the likes of Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal.
He will also continue to be apart of the top-six while taking a regular shift on the second line with Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson. He's played over 18 minutes in three of his four games so far and has registered two goals, an assist, and 13 shots on goal. He's certainly be able to produce at a half-decent rate given all of the opportunity he'll receive.”
Previous Owned Rate—44% Current Owned Rate—70%
This pick has proven to be a hit as the Islanders in general have been surprising many with their hot start. They currently sit second in the Metropolitan Division with a 10-6-2 record and Anders Lee is now playing on the top line alongside Mat Barzal and Josh Bailey. Since the release of this article, Lee has amassed 12 points (four goals) through 14 games and still has a spot on the top power play unit. If he’s somehow still available, you should really consider picking him up.
PREDICTION Kasperi Kapanen—Toronto Maple Leafs Pos. Eligibility: RW
“After three seasons of waiting, it would appear as though Kasperi Kapanen will finally get a chance to stick in the Leafs' lineup full-time. What's even more encouraging for his fantasy value is the fact that he's been playing on a line with Auston Matthews. As the Nylander saga continues, it would appear as though the young winger will continue to play with Matthews although no one knows for how long.
His two goals and six points in six games look very appetizing and he should be picked up and started until his time on the top line comes to an end. He's a former first round pick and the raw skill has always been evident. Perhaps he's finally found some consistent finish.”
Previous Owned Rate—44% Current Owned Rate—46%
This pick has worked out well as Kapanen continues to show he can perform in a top-six role. He proved me right immediately by having a two-goal game the same day this article came out and he’s up to eight goals and six assists through 19 games so far. He was in the midst of a mini-slump as he went four straight games without a point; however, he broke that streak in San Jose on Thursday with another two-goal game.
The young Finn won’t fill the scoresheet every game but he’s currently playing a prominent role on what is arguably the best offensive team in the league. The only threat to his production would be the return of William Nylander; however, I wouldn’t be holding my breath regarding that scenario. He’s now seeing time on the second power play unit and also kills penalties so it’s obvious Babcock trusts him. Babcock’s trust equals ice time galore and that was evident against the Sharks as Kapanen played north of 20 minutes for the first time this season. It’s very strange to still see him owned at less than 50%.
Nick Bjugstad—Florida Panthers Pos. Eligibility: C/LW/RW
“It's actually sort of surprising that Bjugstad is owned at such a low clip. He posted 19 goals and 49 points last season and should be able to build off of those numbers as a member of the top line alongside Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov. The fact that he has three-position eligibility is of course another very appealing trait.
The only thing to watch for is his injury concerns. He hasn't missed a ton of time over his career so far; however, last season was also the first time he's ever gotten into all 82 games. If he can stay healthy, he's going to produce. He's on the second power play unit as well and the sky's the limit if he can stay consistent.
He's already out with an upper-body injury that appears to be day-to-day at this point. Tread with caution, but feel free to stash for the immediate future.”
Previous Owned Rate—23% Current Owned Rate—16%
It may be hard for some to view Bjugstad as a success since he’s been moved from the first line down to the third; however, he’s still put up eight points through thirteen game so far (including five in his last seven) and seems to be finding some decent chemistry with the likes of Jared McCann and Denis Malgin. Being out of that potent top-six could also lead to weaker competition on a nightly basis as other teams will likely try to line match the top two units. Despite his third line demotion, he’s still on the second power play unit and is a great player to add in deeper leagues if you need a utility man.
James Neal—Calgary Flames Pos. Eligibility: LW/RW
“He hasn't been playing on either of the top two lines; however, there's a lot to like about him playing with Sam Bennett and Dillon Dube. He's still playing roughly 16 minutes per night and is also seeing time with the second power play unit. Elias Lindholm and Austin Czarnik are currently ahead of him on the right wing side of the depth chart but they're far from locks on their respective lines.
Should Neal be able to get any kind of hot streak together, he could certainly find himself moved into top-six duties. He's about as consistent as they come in terms of veteran goal scoring. Over the past five years, he's averaged 26 goals and 226 shots each season. He's owned at a bit of a higher rate than most sleepers but perhaps he's still kicking around on the wire in your pool.
If you need some more goals going forward on either wing, he could be someone to target. He currently has a goal and an assist through his first four games.”
Previous Owned Rate—53% Current Owned Rate—29%
Unfortunately, James Neal still hasn’t found his stride. In the 14 games he’s played since the release of this article, he’s only racked up two points (both goals) and has seen his ice-time slip as a result. He’s been all over the middle-six and currently plays on the third line with Mark Jankowski and Dillon Dube. The emergence of Elias Lindholm has also really hurt.
All of this is very uncharacteristic for Neal as he’s still shooting a lot (36 shots throughout those 14 games); however, he’s only putting pucks in the net at a 6.7% clip. That’s pretty awful when you realize his career average is 11.8%. It’s hard to say whether or not he’ll break out of this funk as perhaps Calgary just isn’t a good fit.
On the positive side of things, he was added to the second power play unit ahead of the Flames’ last game in order to ‘find his spark’ so Calgary hasn’t given up on him yet. He’s capable but he’s not worth stashing anytime soon. Feel free to add him to your watchlist as you never know.
“The rookie winger has gotten off to a hot start for the Sens posting two goals, five points, and nine shots on goal through his first three games. Skating on the second line with Mark Stone and Zack Smith has clearly been paying dividends. He's also seen time on the second power play unit.
He's set to receive a real opportunity to make an impact in Ottawa given that the team is clearly not going to be competitive this season. He has only been playing around 14 minutes per night so far but that can be expected given this is his first taste of the NHL. The sky's the limit for the fourth overall pick from last June's draft.”
Previous Owned Rate—35% Current Owned Rate—42%
This article was unfortunately a bit of a jinx for the rookie winger as he was injured during the first period of his next game. He suffered a torn ligament to his left leg and was expected to be out for a month. Luckily, he recovered at a good pace and re-entered the lineup just three weeks later (November 8th). He has a goal and an assist through four games since his return and has also been promoted to the top power play unit.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Sens; however, they currently have the eighth best power play in the league and they’re not out of the playoff race just yet. Tkachuk has seen season highs in ice-time during two of his last three games (16:39 and 16:58 respectively) and the physical element he brings (24 hits through eight games) can be useful depending on which categories your league features.
Whether Ottawa stays competitive or not, they’ll be using Tkachuk a lot. There was never much doubt as to whether he would stick with Ottawa this season or not; however, the Sens officially told him to ‘find a place to live’ on Thursday as he’s two games away from burning the first year of his entry-level contract. There’s definitely a reason his ownage rate has gone up 7% despite the injury.
Thank you for reading my fantasy sleeper follow-up. I will be releasing my latest sleeper picks within the next couple of days. Stay tuned!