Ugh, just ugh.
It’s April 1 today, aka April Fools' Day.
For (hopefully) many human beings - particularly ones above the age of 14 - this only means that April has begun (and hopefully the cold weather is gone or close to gone).
Unfortunately, an untold number of people don’t see it that way, and they make it an irritation-heavy 24 hours for an unnerving amount of people. It’s difficult to say how large that portion might be, yet it’s enough to make this day the most obnoxious of the year. It’s the day when you should make sure that salt shaker lids are firmly fashioned, seats aren’t being pulled when you sit down, any dream opportunity phone call is carefully screened … and any bit of news must be put through an extra filter of skepticism.
It’s an enormous hassle, in other words. But hey, it also seems like a great opportunity to throw out a column gimmick: 2013-14 … the year in fantasy fooling.
FIRST, A NOTE ON DUCHENE, THOUGH
Before I get to that, important news: Matt Duchene suffered a knee injury that looks primed to keep him out for the rest of the regular season, if not a playoff round (or more). The advice is pretty simple, then: make the painful move to drop him in yearly leagues (can’t cut lists permitting) but suck it up in keeper leagues.
The Avalanche are rich in center talent with Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly, so it’s possible that all three could benefit in chunks or maybe one will get a bigger bump. All three are useful anyway but we’ll have to wait and see what kind of impact this might have.
Duchene missed action on November 21, 23 and 27. Colorado won all three games. Stastny in particular carried a significant load in that small sample size while O'Reilly seemed to get a bump, too, yet that was before MacKinnon truly caught fire. So, again, this could be a mystery ... but I'm guessing the Avalanche will notice his absence much more over three-plus weeks than three games.
THOSE WHO FEEL FOOLISH
-- Your humble author, for jinxing Steve Stamkos earlier this season. On Nov. 8, I wrote this:
I fear that I might be jinxing Stamkos merely by mentioning this, but he's been a regular ever since he got out of Barry Melrose's doghouse (yes, you weren't hallucinating, he did get a cup of coffee as a head coach again in 2008-09). He played all 82 games from 2009-10 through 2011-12 and all 48 last season. Also, he's been in all 15 games in 2013-14.
Naturally, he suffered that awful injury on Nov. 11 and didn’t return until March 6, missing the 2014 Olympics in the process. My bad ladies and gents.
-- Unfairly enough, people who were on the wrong end of Ryan Miller going from something of an anchor with the Buffalo Sabres (at least in fantasy leagues that are more about goalie wins) to being a go-to netminder for the St. Louis Blues. Especially if you waited until late-February.
Consider this: Miller is 9-3-1 with the Blues, all in March. That matches his victories in November and December combined. Maybe more remarkably, he faced more shots in two different months in Buffalo (405 in 11 October games, 327 in nine November games) than he faced in a heavy 13 games in March (318 shots).
Miller's individual stats have actually dipped considerably in St. Louis (.912 save percentage) versus with the Sabres (.923).
We'll see if this ultimately makes those who called Miller a savior for the Blues a fool, though. Take Jaroslav Halak as an interesting other example. He went 24-9-4 in St. Louis, with a superior .917 save percentage. He now has a .925 save percentage despite a 4-2-3 record for Washington. All small sample sizes, but maybe the Blues should see Miller dominate in the playoffs for risking the fool's appearance of giving away a shaky contract extension?
-- Anyone who thought the Winnipeg Jets could protect a 4-0 lead.
-- Those who bought into the Vancouver Canucks' offensive players.
Just about everyone of note suffered some disturbing years: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows had awful years. I'll say that there was a bit of a Ryan Callahan impact for Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins,* but the bad certainly outweighs the good.
The jury may still be out regarding Alain Vigneault vs. John Tortorella, but fantasy owners should absolutely lean toward the former.
-- People who drafted Anders Lindback instead of Ben Bishop and Ray Emery instead of Steve Mason.
The former probably should have known better. The latter maybe should have waited to see which goalie Philly decided to really stick with.
-- People who invested a significant pick in Nail Yakupov.
Even with the injury issues, it appears that Vladimir Tarasenko was the breakout Russian scoring winger in 2013-14.
-- The Detroit Red Wings for signing Stephen Weiss (and debatably choosing Weiss over Valtteri Filppula, though it might be more complicated than that).
To be fair, injuries are tough to gauge. Still, his 2012-13 presented a recurring issue that was more worrisome than usual (and he was glaringly abysmal when he played). Maybe that signing will look better over time, but the Red Wings signing Weiss jockeys with the Toronto Maple Leafs buying out Mikhail Grabovski to over-pay David Clarkson as the bonehead signing of the 2013 summer.
-- Anyone doubting that Tyler Seguin might develop into a franchise scorer.
… And, oddly enough, anyone who said that the Boston Bruins would fall apart without him. (And while we’re on the subject, anyone who dismissed Jarome Iginla’s chances of being an outstanding fantasy forward because of an Eastern Conference finals series when, by the way, both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby also failed to score a point).
-- People who said Jaromir Jagr is too old.
With 64 points, he’s tied for 23rd-most points in the NHL. His 24 goals tie him with the likes of Anze Kopitar and James Neal. Jagr seems like he has plenty left in the tank.
-- Those who panic-traded Philadelphia Flyers.
Plenty of players bounced back from slow starts, from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek to Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell.
-- “Ocho Cinco” jokers.
Hey, make fun of Chad Johnson’s name all you want, he has 17 wins at this point and Tuukka Rask hasn’t missed any real time. (OK, go ahead and keep making that joke … it’s practically human nature.)
-- People who didn’t think offseason surgeries would be a big deal for Cam Ward or Pekka Rinne.
Although, honestly, Ward might just not “have it” any more. Rinne’s unexpected lost season - there was a warning sign, but you don’t see “E. Coli” as a non-April Fool’s injury very often - hurt fantasy owners a lot more, however, as Ward didn’t cost the same premium pick.
Irate folks have probably already overreacted in comments if a statement dictates it, but just to note: I’m not saying people are fools for making such “mistakes.” I’m saying some of these situations make us feel like fools.
Really, though, the biggest fools are those who don’t learn from mistakes or admit that they’ve made one. If the Dose preaches anything, it’s being willing to be flexible and wager that fantasy owners can succeed more often than not by making as many educated guesses as possible.
Even if some mistakes leaving us feeling like, well, fools.
* - Granted, Higgins fell apart in March and it was mainly business of usual for Kesler.