Fantasy Six Pack: Are the Dog Days Over for Cody Franson?
Welcome to this week’s edition of Fantasy Six Pack. In Week 8 we take a look at each position and suggest five players you might want add to your team. We then pick a sixth player that we don’t see paying poolies immediate dividends but we expect will be helpful down the road. We hope you find these articles useful and gain a competitive advantage over your opponents. Feel free to discuss omissions and critique our selections in the comments section. We love discussion here at PuckPuckGoose.com.
Valtteri Filppula, Center, Detroit Red Wings
Head coach, Mike Babcock believes Filppula can be a dominant player in the league and he’s starting to show the league he can be. Filppula was red hot during Week 7, tallying 5 points (4-1-5) in three games. His season total is respectable too with 19 points (7-12-19) in 22 games and sits tied for second in scoring on the Red Wings with another dominant player, Pavel Datsyuk. If you’re playing in a points only league, Filppula could be a great waiver pick up as he has a tendency to put up points in bunches. If your league scores faceoffs, Filppula probably won’t help you much. He’s only taken 113 faceoffs all season, winning 64 of them. Unless Babcock reunites Datsyuk and Zetterberg at even-strength, it’s unlikely his faceoff stats will improve. Filppula is a pure point scorer, if you need goals, assists, plus/minus and power play points, snatch him before he raises any higher than his current 31% ownership in Yahoo! Leagues.
Honourable Mentions: Cody Hodgson (VAN), Shawn Horcoff (EDM) and Nik Antropov (WPG)
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Left Wing, Carolina Hurricanes
The 11 year vet currently has 8 points in 24 games this season and has been a fantasy dud since leaving Toronto but it appears Ponikarovsky might be turning a fantasy corner. 5 of Poni’s 8 points came during Week 7 where he tallied 3 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. Poni is a very streaky player like Alex Kovalev streaky but when he’s on his game and giving it 100%, he’s can be force. Poni won’t tally 70 or 80 points, it’s doubtful he tallies 60 points but if he can be healthy enough to play 75+ games this year, he’s very capable of tallying 40-50 points. Poni is a player that can produce in all fantasy scoring formats, he plays on the power play, doesn’t shy from shooting the puck, takes the body and block shots.
Honourable Mentions: David Booth (VAN), Jason Chimera (WAS) and Viktor Stalberg (CHI)
Kyle Okposo, Right Wing, New York Islanders
I’ve drafted Okposo two years straight late in my fantasy draft and two years going he’s frustrated me to no end. Last year, he suffered a shoulder injury that saw him miss half of the season and this year he stumbled out the gate and has only tallied 6 points in 18 games. He was playing so badly that he was sat for 3 consecutive games. It’s hard to say if he’s finally gotten the message and that more is expected of him but he tallied 3 points (2-1-3) in his second game back and showed how dominate he can be when he’s on his game. You could excuse Okposo’s point drop because he’s playing on the second line away from Tavares but he’s had time to develop chemistry and he’s facing weaker defensive assignments every night. Okposo needs to get his game in check because head coach Jack Capuano wants to see scoring through his lineup and won’t reunite Okposo and Tavares any time soon. That being said, since being scratched Okposo seems to be his old self again, making hits and being strong on the boards. It’s when he plays like he is currently that points start to come. Even if he doesn’t start tallying points, he should contribute nicely in the shots and hits categories.
Honourable Mentions: Blake Wheeler (WPG), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (MIN) and Ales Hemsky (EDM)
Cody Franson, Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs
Did you know last year Cody Franson was a top 4 defender, who put up 29 points (8-21-29) in 80 games last year? It wasn’t a fluke either, in his rookie season he tallied 21 points (6-15-21) in 60 games. He had a 0.353 point per game average over his first two years. So how does a top 4 defender on one team become a healthy scratch on another? I’m not sure, maybe ask Keith Ballard but there is a noticeable trend in Franson’s play, in 61 games as a rookie, Franson came out a minus player in only 10 of those games but in 80 games as a sophomore, Franson finished a minus player in 21 of those games. Maybe Toronto also noticed this trend? Whatever the reason for Franson scratches early in the season, he’s in the lineup now thanks to injuries on the blue line. Franson has only appeared in 9 games this season but has recorded 5 points and is scoring above a 0.500 point per game average. When he’s in the lineup, Franson gives Toronto another offensive weapon on the blue line but it also gives Toronto another physical presence as Franson loves to take the body and is willing to block shots. When Franson gets an opportunity to play, he’ll consistently produce for you in all categories except shots, he’s a bit stingy with his shooting. There have been rumours that the Leafs are shopping Franson but with Komisarek on the shelf, a move is unlikely to happen. If Franson gets move his fantasy value skyrockets no matter where he gets move too because he’ll be given the opportunity to play more than he does in Toronto.
Honourable Mentions: Jared Spurgeon (MIN), Tom Gilbert (EDM) and Adam Larsson (NYD)
Jonathan Bernier, Goaltender, Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are a Stanley Cup contender this year and still have at a full year until they need to address their growing goaltender controversy, so until then Bernier and Quick will continue to be one of the league’s best goalie tandem. Bernier has appeared 4 games this season with a 2-2-0 record but this time last year, Bernier had already appeared in 8 games. The Kings want to lessen Quick’s workload this year in an attempt to go deeper in the playoffs. Which bodes well for Bernier owners because that means Bernier will pick up more games down the road. Last year Bernier appeared in 25 regular season games, expect a similar number of starts this year. Don’t expect Bernier to replace Quick due to injury, Quick has not missed a single NHL game due to injury in his playing career.
Honourable Mentions: Mathieu Garon (TBL), Thomas Greiss (SJS) and Jonas Gustavsson (TOR)
Stefan Elliott, Defense, Colorado Avalanche
Stefan Elliott is already owned in 3% of Yahoo! Leagues, he’s only played in 1 NHL game. Either the 3% are really desperate for a defenseman or they’ve already realized that Elliott could be is this year’s Kevin Shattenkirk. It was last November that the Avalanche recalled Kevin Shattenkirk from Lake Erie but it took Shattenkirk four games to get his first point and seven games to score his first goal. Elliott did both in his first game, not to mention his first NHL goal was his first career game-winning goal. Elliott has produced offensive at every level, there no reason he won’t produce at the NHL level. It’s my opinion that Elliott will have a better rookie season than Adam Larsson and Larsson has a 7 point lead on him. He’s getting limited minutes at the moment but it won’t take long until he shoots up the Avs depth chart and gets prime offensive minutes. If you’re looking for a fifth of sixth defenseman for your fantasy team, you could do a lot worst than Elliott.
Honourable Mentions: Kristian Huselius (CBJ), Mason Raymond (VAN) and David Perron (STL)