20 Fantasy Thoughts: A ‘ruthless’ survival guide for the playoffs

Cam Talbot deflects a shot. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

It’s gut-check time for fantasy owners.

The playoffs are here and it’s my civic duty to prepare you as best as possible for the journey ahead. From a strategic perspective, it’s time to throw patience out the window and embrace aggressiveness when it comes to roster movement. Now’s not the time to play the waiting game when it comes to a struggling player.

Furthermore, within reason, don’t be afraid to cut ties with prolific names. Be ruthless.

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Most importantly, it’s imperative – especially this time of year – that you’re always on top of the upcoming schedule. Below, you can find the rest of season outlook:

Games Remaining Teams
15 CAR, NYI
14 BUF, COL, DAL, FLA, LAK, NSH, NJD, NYR, PHI, PIT, VAN, WSH
13 ANA, ARI, BOS, CHI, EDM, MIN, OTT, SJS, STL, TBL, TOR, WPG
12 CGY, CBJ, DET, MTL, VGK

In the meantime, schedule manipulation is another important mechanism to help gain an upper hand on your opponent. Simply put, build up as much game volume across your roster as possible. Use the power of numbers to your benefit.

Let’s examine the upcoming week – March 9 to 15:

1. Target waiver adds from Colorado, Edmonton and St. Louis, respectively. Not only does each team have four games, but all three are in action on the week’s quiet nights – Monday (five games), Wednesday (four games) and Friday (five games).

2. Here’s a deeper dive into those three schedules:

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (@LAK), Wed (NYR), Fri (VAN), Sun (VGK)
Waiver Looks: Vladislav Namestnikov (16%), Tyson Jost (7%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Nathan MacKinnon (4), Pavel Francouz (3), Gabriel Landeskog (2)

Edmonton Oilers: Mon (VGK), Wed (WPG), Fri (NYI), Sun (@PHI)
Waiver Looks: Zack Kassian (18%), Tyler Ennis (17%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Leon Draisaitl (4), Connor McDavid (4), Mikko Koskinen (3)

St. Louis Blues: Mon (FLA), Wed (@ANA), Fri (SJS), Sun (OTT)
Waiver Looks: Zach Sanford (16%), Robert Thomas (6%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Jordan Binnington (4), Ryan O’Reilly (3), Alex Pietrangelo (2)

3. Additionally, there are 12 other teams who should be on your radar due to their four-game slates: ANA, BUF, CAR, NSH, NJD, NYI, OTT, PHI, PIT, TBL, VAN and WPG.

4. Conversely, steer clear of roster adds from Calgary and Columbus. They both play just twice. Honestly, I’d say anyone on the Flames outside Johnny Gaudreau and maybe Sean Monahan are droppable in non-keeper formats at this point.

5. Speaking of Calgary, veteran goalie Cam Talbot is worth a look. The 32-year-old is 3-0-0 thus far in March with a 1.31 goals against average and 0.957 save percentage. Calgary is starting to motor.

6. Scoop up Ryan Miller. John Gibson was forced to leave Anaheim’s game on Friday night versus Toronto with an apparent lower-body injury. The Ducks have won five in a row.

7. Stream Jonathan Quick. The two-time Cup champ has allowed just seven goals over his past five outings. That’s really good. Los Angeles has also won five consecutive games.

8. Even though he was lit up by the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night in his return from a non-displaced rib fracture, I’d still pick up Igor Shesterkin immediately. The kid’s the real deal.

9. Ditto for Juuse Saros, who has clearly finally won Nashville’s starting job. The 24-year-old has suited up in 14 of the Predators’ past 20 games. In that time frame, the 24-year-old has posted a 10-4-0 record, which has included three shutouts, to the tune of a 2.15 GAA and 0.936 save percentage. Case closed.

10. Monitor Linus Ullmark closely. The 26-year-old Sabres No. 1 is back and good to go after missing over a month with an ankle injury. It’s still Buffalo, though, so proceed with caution if you’re interested.

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11. If you’re desperate for a goalie start, look to Florida’s Chris Driedger. With Sergei Bobrovsky currently sidelined, the journeyman will see the brunt of the load in the Panthers crease. Again, be careful.

12. Drop Andreas Athanasiou. He’s no longer in Edmonton’s top-six, nor is he on the first power-play unit. Easy decision.

13. Cut ties with Phil Kessel. The 32-year-old has just three measly goals over the past 20 games. Need I say more?

14. Snatch up Zach Parise. Since almost becoming an Islander at the trade deadline, the 35-year-old has four goals and eight points. Ride the hot streak.

15. Samuel Girard is the logical in-house replacement for the banged-up Cale Makar. Outside of Denver, Jared Spurgeon, Duncan Keith and Vince Dunn are capable of providing you with a short-term boost. The Avalanche have been mum when it comes to Makar’s status.

16. Looking for some value plays? Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and newcomer Derek Grant have been sneaky point producers lately. Try them out!

17. Speaking of bargain buys, can I interest you in some Dominik Kahun? The dual-eligible winger has two goals and two assists in five games for the Sabres since being acquired from Pittsburgh.

18. Another winger to examine further is New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt. The sophomore forward is a stealth play for the upcoming week. Not only has he been producing, but the Devils have a four-game week. Bratt has five goals and nine points since mid-February.

19. Some other Tomas Tatar replacement options: Nick Foligno, James Neal, Adam Henrique, Nikita Gusev and Andrew Mangiapane.

20. New York’s Pavel Buchnevich could be your best bet. He’s currently riding a five-game point streak (one goal, six assists). That Mika Zibanejad exposure may be too good to pass up. He’s on a different planet right now.

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