Fantasy: Avoiding the turkeys in your hockey pool

Dobber
November 25, 2009

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("Sleepers, Keepers , Bench'em or Drop'em" is a weekly fantasy hockey column written by Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, an honest-to-goodness expert on such matters and founder of DobberHockey.com. His column will run on Puck Daddy every Thursday in a non-holiday week.)

Marian Hossa(notes) makes his season and Chicago debut Wednesday, and his owners have been doing the fantasy hockey equivalent of waiting excitedly outside of Best Buy for the latest "Halo."

Injury replacement of the week: Brian Elliott(notes), Ottawa

Well, duh. A starting goaltender is out for several weeks so of course the backup is going to warrant fantasy interest. But I'm singling out Elliott because he would have been a great No. 3 goaltender pickup at the draft. After all, predicting a Pascal Leclaire(notes) injury is like predicting a donut for a cop - you know he's going to get one, you're just not sure which.

Are you drunk?

No. Thanksgiving this week, so the Puck Daddy piece is a day early and cutting into my drinking time. I think Elliott will win eight of his next 12 starts -- and I also believe that we ain't done with the Leclaire injury news for 2009-10 just yet.

The Keepers who are on fire...

Nathan Horton(notes), Florida Panthers: He has 19 points in his last 18 games, with 22 PIM and is a plus-8 in that span. His slow start is as distant a memory as that OMC song "How Bizarre." Definitely a career season on the horizon, possibly over the 70-point mark.

Maxim Afinogenov(notes), Atlanta Thrashers: It's the perfect storm - playing for a contract, surrounded by fellow Russians, and no Lindy Ruff. Injuries will prevent him from getting to 75, but don't completely rule out 70.

Zach Parise(notes), New Jersey Devils: Eighth in NHL scoring. Get used to it. He's just 25 and I have a feeling that we will see him amongst the Top 10 scorers eight of the next 10 years. He is white hot, with 12 in his last seven contests.

Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers: Since returning from injury, he has nine points in seven games. Sure, the Flyers have passed the torch onto their young, homegrown talent such as Mike Richards(notes), Jeff Carter(notes), Claude Giroux(notes) and James van Riemsdyk(notes), but Briere won't be outdone. He's not going to stop producing, so waiting for that to happen is like waiting for Fox to stop running American Idol. The only way to stop him is to suspend him.

The Sleepers who are on the wire...

David Legwand(notes), Nashville Predators: Hey! It's the curse of the Dobber Puck Daddy -- except this curse works in reverse. I slap some names down in the "slump" section and recommend benching or dropping them ... and then they kick it into gear. Matt Stajan(notes) is a recent example and here is another one, though this one took a month to get rolling. With six points in four games, Legwand is giving the Preds the secondary scoring they need to win. For this year, anyway, he has managed to fend off any threats to his No.2 center role. He has been in that 0.58 to 0.68 points-per-game range four of the last five seasons, with the other one being 0.81.

Troy Brouwer(notes), Chicago Blackhawks: First, he'll have to get through the Marian Hossa return. Naturally, Hossa is going to eat into the ice time of several talented young wingers in the Windy City and Brouwer is a leading candidate. But it's not like he's been playing with Patrick Kane(notes). No, his chemistry of late has been on a line with Andrew Ladd(notes) and John Madden(notes) -- and it's difficult to see Hossa horning in on that line. With seven points and plus-3 with five PIM and three power-play goals in his last seven games, Brouwer shows promise. The power-play goals will diminish, but nevertheless watch his ice time the next three games. If he can still keep it above 15 minutes he is a sleeper for 45 points.

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Raffi Torres(notes), Columbus Blue Jackets: Torres has shown these hot streaks before, but in Columbus it's good to see his luck turn around (knock on wood). Last year he couldn't tie his skate without breaking his fingers and foot in the process. As long as he doesn't break any mirrors, he'll top his career high of 41 points easily, but it's his goals that have poolies turning heads - on pace for 36. I'm thinking 28-20-48.

Carlo Colaiacovo(notes), St. Louis Blues: So far he's making Peter Forsberg(notes) look like an iron man, but when he plays Colaiacovo sure looks like a star. He has five points in his last three games and once the Blues start finding the net, C.C. will be a big part of that. I wouldn't count on more than 65 games, but that could still mean 40 points.

In a slump, these boys are mired...

Matt Carle(notes), Philadelphia Flyers: He's been hot before and he'll be hot again, but right now he's helping your fantasy squad about as much as Mark Eaton(notes). Two points in his last 10 games. Philly shifts power-play time to the hottest pair among Chris Pronger(notes), Kimmo Timonen(notes), Braydon Coburn(notes) and Carle. He'll get his mojo back. Bench him.

Steve Ott(notes), Dallas Stars: Ott was a revelation last campaign when Dallas Stars were dropping like Leclaires. He was a point-per-game player while his mates healed. With the team now healthy and Jamie Benn(notes) in the mix, Ott is back to filling other roles - and opponent's faces. Pointless in nine, he won't help you there until a couple of top six forwards go down. Keep him active for his PIM.

Patric Hornqvist(notes), Nashville Predators: With the top line all healthy and David Legwand and Martin Erat(notes) now finding the net without both hands and a flashlight, Horny is probably not going to frequent the scoresheet now. An injury is needed to put him back there. Bench him.

Sami Salo(notes), Vancouver Canucks: Salo used to be a lock for 60 games and 30 or 35 points. Then he became a lock for 60 games and 25 points. Now it's looking as though the only "lock" is the 60-games part. Currently pointless in nine, he'll be lucky to get 20 this year. Drop him.

Darryl Dobbs is the founder of dobberhockey.com, a fantasy hockey community with over a dozen columnists, a daily blog and in-depth fantasy player rankings. His always accurate opinions can also be found over at The Hockey News in their fantasy section.