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Curing the Blues

Blues right winger Chris Stewart is too good to stay down for long. (Photo by Mark Buckner /NHLI via Getty Images)

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Blues right winger Chris Stewart is too good to stay down for long. (Photo by Mark Buckner /NHLI via Getty Images)

So many crazy things are happening when it comes to fantasy hockey (seriously – Phil Kessel is the league’s leading scorer?) that it’s hard to sift through and separate the trends from the blips. Let’s get to your letters!

Who has the best fantasy outlook this season going forward between Ryan O'Reilly, T.J. Oshie, Adam Henrique and Chris Stewart?
Mark, Livonia, Mich.

I’ve seen O’Reilly do this before in his rookie campaign. He has 15 or 20 great games out of the gate and then hits a wall. In fact, he’s already hit that wall. I wouldn’t count on him for even 30 points this season. I think Oshie can continue his pace, but I am also wary that his style of play leads to injury. Henrique is the sexy pick right now because he’s doing so well, but I’m not sold on his upside being any higher than that of a second-liner. Which leaves us with Stewart. Prior to the season, this wouldn’t even be a debate – Stewart would have won by a wide margin. But it’s been a tough start for him. All the same, I have to think he can at least turn it around enough to get 60 points. That still makes him your best option.

I have a problem that most fantasy owners would like to have: I'm comfortably in first place in my head-to-head league, largely on the backs of a strong group of forwards. I have Sidney Crosby on IR, but with his return, I need to drop a forward soon. My worst performing forward is Jarome Iginla, but I figure his season will turn around. That leaves me with choosing between Danny Briere, Jason Pominville, Logan Couture, Joffrey Lupul and Patrick Marleau. Any recommendations as to which one I should let go?
Aaron, Kalamazoo, Mich.

I would drop Couture. He’s the ideal combination of less proven (Iginla, Briere and Marleau are proven studs) and/or not off to a great start (compared to Pominville and Lupul).

I'm looking at making a move for Jamie Benn possibly by trading away Jeff Skinner in some sort of package deal, is it worth it?
Luke, Oakville, Ont.

I may be in the minority here – actually, I am – but I would do that move. I like Benn’s upside over Skinner’s by a good 10 percent and both are proven quality players, so there is no downside.

1) Will Zach Boychuk finally get a chance to stick with the Hurricanes? What do you expect from him and Zac Dalpe for offensive output in the coming years? 2) Do you see Gustav Nyquist stepping into a top-six role in Detroit next year, and what about Joe Colborne in Toronto? 3) Is it time to label Blake Wheeler a perennial underachiever? I've wanted to drop him for the past year and a half waiting for him to live up to his potential.

Craig, Oxford, N.S.

1) Not unless there is a coaching change. As things stand, Boychuk and Dalpe are bouncing up and down between the AHL and NHL like pinballs and when they play with the Hurricanes they are lucky to see four minutes. In the future, Dalpe is the safer bet to be a successful top-sixer, but what this team does with the coaching situation (even if it’s nothing at all) will have a big impact.

2) Yes I do. Nyquist could do it this year, but the Red Wings continue to practice patience with their prospects and minimize any mistakes in their developing of players. Colborne could also succeed in that role next year, but I don’t think the Leafs will put him there right away. He’ll probably play a season on a depth line first.

3) It depends on what you hope Wheeler will achieve. If you hope for 70 points, then yes, label him an underachiever. If your expectation is 55 to 65 then I think he’ll get there.

Hi Dobbs, I am in the third year of a GM roto keeper league. We have 12 teams and are limited to Eastern Conference players. There have been debates every off-season with regard to time on ice as a category. I am in the camp that is against it because it includes goalie time as well. Don't think it's a fair category when goalie time is included. As I see it TOI should represent how valuable your players are to their team. Goalies are on the ice by default and an automatic 60 minutes in that category skews a team’s true value. I am wondering what your feeling is on TOI in a roto league. FYI our other categories are +/-, A, G, PIMS, W, SO, SP, specialty team pts.
Chris, Toronto

Hi Chris, I don’t believe TOI should be a category either. Frankly, I don’t see the fun it adds to the game. While it’s certainly a way to make a No. 4 defensive defenseman relevant in fantasy hockey, there are other stats you can include to do that such as hits and blocked shots. But if TOI is a category and the other GMs are happy with that, then I am with you – goalies should not be included. That puts Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and that small handful of goalies who play 70 games into an entirely different stratosphere.

Hey Dobber, I currently have three players on the IR and can only hold two. Worst part is they all affect my weakening left side. No surprise to see any of them there: Andy McDonald, Guillaume Latendresse and Peter Mueller. Any timelines on the returns of these three? Mueller and McDonald have been there pretty well all season, but with Latendresse joining them now, I'm faced with dropping one to fill a roster spot with a usable player. If none of the three is close to a return, which guy would you drop/give up on first? Thanks in advance.

Shaun, Brantford, Ont.

Hey Shaun, I think McDonald is a risk to miss the rest of this season. From what I gather, he is not progressing at all. Mueller is another matter. He’s a big tease – he’s skating and close to a return, but in the past, just when you think he’s ready, he sits out another two weeks. I even activated him one week recently – that’s how sure I was of a return. As for Latendresse, his concussion looks long-term as well. His upside is the lowest of the three and he is also exceedingly injury-prone. With all these details in mind, I would drop McDonald now and get some immediate help. If somebody else goes on IR, I would drop Latendresse, too.

Note regarding the Fantasy Mailbag – it is important to indicate whether or not your league is a keeper league or a one-year league. Also note whether the league is “points only,” “standard roto league,” or if there are any uncommon rules that are important to know. This will help in advising you on the right course of action. Also note that the mailbag is up every two weeks, so keep that in mind when sending in your questions.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear every other Wednesday during the season. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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