The DobberHockey crew is proud to have provided Sportsnet readers with fantasy hockey tips all season long. With Sportsnet offering a FREE playoff hockey pool presented by Ram with $50,000 in cash prizes available, we figured we would offer up a strategy guide to help get a leg up on the competition. Follow along for some tips and tricks to build the best possible roster.
1. Sign up!
Did we mention that it was free to enter? Sign up here.
2. Understanding the Rules
The best path to victory in any fantasy league is to first understand the rules, including roster makeup, scoring and any other minutiae you can take advantage of.
In this contest, you must pick six players (three forwards, two defencemen and one goalie) from each conference for 12 players total. Skaters score one fantasy point per goal or assist, while goalies get two fantasy points for each win, and one fantasy point per shutout. You must select one forward, one defenceman and one goalie to be your Ram Capable players and their points will be doubled.
Players are assigned a “salary” between 1-4 points. You have a total salary cap of 30 to fit your entire roster within, so you cannot merely load up on the best players.
You can build a new roster in advance of Round 2 and Round 3 of the playoffs so you don’t have to worry about how far your players might advance, but rather how many points they’ll get in the round you are selecting for. Alexander Radulov scored seven points in six Round 1 games last year, which would have made him an excellent pick in this contest even though his Canadiens were eliminated by the Rangers.
3. The Salary Cap
With 12 roster spots to fill and only 30 salary points available you have an average of 2.5 salary points to spend on each roster spot. Figuring out where to spend up and where to go cheap is a big part of the strategy in this contest.
A popular strategy will be a “stars and scrubs” approach where people pick high variance options costing only one salary point and then load up on known high salaried options. If taking this approach, it is worth noting that each of the highest-salary players (4 stars) are forwards except for goaltenders Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Pekka Rinne:
There isn’t much room to save money in goal, however. Every team’s starter is priced as at least three salary points.
Another option is to fill out your roster with mid-tier options much like the Vegas Golden Knights did en route to a Pacific Division championship. Ironically, the Golden Knights’ top line is also one of this competition’s most expensive, costing a total of nine salary points.
A good strategy would be to load up on one cheap line and hope it goes bananas for an entire round. Here is a breakdown of the salary cost of each team’s top line:
|TEAM||PLAYER 1||STAR POINTS||PLAYER 2||STAR POINTS||PLAYER 3||STAR POINTS||TOTAL STAR POINTS|
|BOS||Brad Marchand||4||Patrice Bergeron||3||David Pastrnak||3||10|
|TBL||Nikita Kucherov||4||Steven Stamkos||4||JT Miller||2||10|
|ANA||Ryan Getzlaf||4||Rickard Rakell||3||Corey Perry||2||9|
|COL||Nathan MacKinnon||4||Mikko Rantanen||3||Gabriel Landeskog||2||9|
|VGK||Jonathan Marchessault||3||William Karlsson||3||Reilly Smith||3||9|
|WPG||Blake Wheeler||4||Mark Scheifele||3||Kyle Connor||2||9|
|NJD||Taylor Hall||4||Nico Hischier||2||Kyle Palmieri||2||8|
|PHI||Claude Giroux||4||Sean Couturier||3||Travis Konecny||1||8|
|WSH||Alex Ovechkin||4||Nicklas Backstrom||3||Tom Wilson||1||8|
|LAK||Anze Kopitar||4||Dustin Brown||2||Alex Iafalo||1||7|
|NSH||Filip Forsberg||3||Viktor Arvidsson||2||Ryan Johansen||2||7|
|PIT||Sidney Crosby||4||Jake Guentzel||2||Bryan Rust||1||7|
|MIN||Eric Staal||3||Jason Zucker||2||Nino Niederreiter||1||6|
|CBJ||Artemi Panarin||3||Cam Atkinson||2||Pierre-Luc Dubois||1||6|
|TOR||Auston Matthews||3||William Nylander||2||Zach Hyman||1||6|
|SJS||Joe Pavelski||2||Evander Kane||2||Melker Karlsson||1||5|
It’s worth noting that very few of the cheapest lines above feature all three members on their team’s top power play unit so there may be diminishing returns from the third members of these lines. Examples of this are Melker Karlsson, Zach Hyman, Alex Iafallo and Travis Konecny, but if they were slam-dunk options they wouldn’t be cheap.
4. General Population League Strategies
Since you will be competing against thousands of other participants in this contest there is a ton of merit in picking players who simply aren’t that popular. The goal is still to put together the roster that puts up the most points, but there’s nothing to gain if you and several thousand others all have Sidney Crosby. Every point he earns will simply keep you in lock step with the general population.
The only way to truly get ahead is to take players no one else has and hope they go off. If that happens you, and only you, reap the benefits.
Sportsnet has kindly provided data on the consensus picks of others that you can use as a road map to building your roster. Here are the most owned players in the contest pool so far. Check the site for updates between now and Wednesday evening:
We aren’t suggesting that you can’t win picking from the list above, but the odds of differentiating yourself from the competition go way up if you can avoid doing so.
For instance, many remember the amazing first round that Charlie McAvoy had for the Bruins last spring. If you couple that with his player salary of just one star, he hits top-10 ownership in this year’s contest. You’d do well to remember that McAvoy’s playoff boom came with Torey Krug injured and an opportunity available to skate on Boston’s top power play unit. This year, Krug is healthy and coming off a season in which he nearly scored 60 points. You have to spend up to get Krug (three salary points) but in doing so you get the lesser-owned player with the better odds of putting up points.
Here are the ownership percentage levels for each team’s top line:
|TEAM||PLAYER 1||OWNERSHIP %||PLAYER 2||OWNERSHIP %||PLAYER 3||OWNERSHIP %||TOTAL OWNERSHP %|
|NSH||Filip Forsberg||7.8||Viktor Arvidsson||12.9||Ryan Johansen||2.8||23.5|
|WPG||Blake Wheeler||5.2||Mark Scheifele||9.5||Kyle Connor||4.8||19.5|
|TOR||Auston Matthews||15.2||William Nylander||3.2||Zach Hyman||0||18.4|
|PIT||Sidney Crosby||10.7||Jake Guentzel||2.8||Bryan Rust||0||13.5|
|BOS||Brad Marchand||3.7||Patrice Bergeron||7.8||David Pastrnak||1.9||13.4|
|TBL||Nikita Kucherov||6.3||Steven Stamkos||0.6||JT Miller||0.7||7.6|
|VGK||Jonathan Marchessault||1||William Karlsson||6.4||Reilly Smith||0||7.4|
|WSH||Alex Ovechkin||2.3||Nicklas Backstrom||2.3||Tom Wilson||0||4.6|
|SJS||Joe Pavelski||1.9||Evander Kane||2.2||Melker Karlsson||0||4.1|
|LAK||Anze Kopitar||1.7||Dustin Brown||1.2||Alex Iafalo||0||2.9|
|ANA||Ryan Getzlaf||1.2||Rickard Rakell||0.6||Corey Perry||1||2.8|
|COL||Nathan MacKinnon||2.6||Mikko Rantanen||0||Gabriel Landeskog||0||2.6|
|PHI||Claude Giroux||2.3||Sean Couturier||0||Travis Konecny||0||2.3|
|NJD||Taylor Hall||2.1||Nico Hischier||0||Kyle Palmieri||0||2.1|
|CBJ||Artemi Panarin||1||Cam Atkinson||0.6||Pierre-Luc Dubois||0||1.6|
|MIN||Eric Staal||0||Jason Zucker||0||Nino Niederreiter||0||0|
You get the sense that people are really into the Jets, and for good reason, but that popularity makes them a team to avoid when stacked up against underappreciated options in the player pool. It certainly seems that the top lines in San Jose, Columbus and Minnesota are in the Goldilocks zone of being inexpensive to roster and scarcely owned. The reward of owning one (or all) of these players should they go off is greater than you could find rostering players on more popular teams.
5. Picking Your Ram Capable Players
There’s no real secret to this. Since your Ram Capable Players are worth double points, you want the best player at each position to be worth double. This is dictated by simple math. If my worst forward scores four points in Round 1, and my best forward scores eight points, I’ll get 20 total fantasy points by having my best player worth double, and only 16 total fantasy points by having my worst player worth double. Ultimately, there’s no telling ahead of time who that best player will be, so you just have to bank on past production and reputation.
There is enormous potential to lap the field by having a player no one else owns as your Ram Capable Player and to have him lead Round 1 in scoring, but don’t overthink this. You can get exceptional unowned players. Take the best player at each position on your roster and bank on him to go off for double points.
If, for instance, you felt compelled to take Sidney Crosby despite his high ownership it would likely be because you expect him to lead Round 1 in scoring. In that case, you darn well better make sure he’s also worth double points to you.
For more help with your fantasy hockey playoffs pick up the DobberHockey Interactive Playoff Draft List!