NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Friday (11/4)
The NHL giveth and taketh away. The league has only two games on tap for Friday’s DFS slate, meaning we’ll have to dig deep into lineups to find production and value players to target when constructing DFS builds. Columbus will travel to Colorado to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions as +205 underdogs on the moneyline, while the Carolina Hurricanes will host an improved Buffalo Sabres team.
The Avalanche are on a two-game losing slump and haven’t been manufacturing nearly the same production on offense that they displayed during their Stanley Cup run. Nazem Kadri (C – Flames) and goaltender Darcy Kuemper (G – Capitals) signed huge contracts elsewhere, leaving Colorado with questions about how to re-shuffle their attack lines and goaltenders. Fortunately, they get a plus matchup against the Blue Jackets, who have a minus-18 goal differential entering Friday’s game in Denver. It appears to be a bounce-back spot for the Avs, led by Valeri Nichushkin (RW – Avalanche) and Nathan MacKinnon (C – Avalanche) against Columbus’ netminder Elvis Merzlikins (G – Blue Jackets). Buffalo doesn’t have world-class goaltending but they are led on offense by Tage Thompson (C – Sabres) and Alex Tuch (RW – Sabres), while defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (D – Sabres) has notably improved his skillset in the offensive zone. Carolina and Buffalo are both on three-game winning streaks, so there should be plenty of production within their ranks.
Let’s look at eight of my favorite players to target in DFS lineups during a shallow two-game NHL slate on Friday night.
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Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Tage Thompson (C – Sabres): $6,700
Buffalo is a surprisingly good team early in the season, ripping off three consecutive wins to sit in second place within the Atlantic Division. First-line center Tage Thompson is tied for the lead point-scorer on the Sabres, netting seven goals and seven assists through ten games. The 25-year-old is on a heater, scoring six goals across his last three games while collecting 11 points during this stretch. You can’t ignore this production, even against talented Carolina netminder Antti Raanta (G – Hurricanes). Pay up to acquire Thompson’s ridiculous ceiling.
Mikko Rantanen (RW – Avalanche): $6,400
Mikko Rantanen is one of Colorado’s most explosive players within its attack lines. The 26-year-old winger has 11 points, including four goals, through nine games played and is due for a juicy matchup against Columbus’ struggling netminder Elvis Merzlikins on Friday night. Merzlikins has allowed a paltry 4.85 GAA with a .864 save percentage, so Rantanen should be prioritized at his discounted rate.
Brady Skjei (D – Hurricanes): $4,000
Carolina is getting good production on both ends of the rink from 28-year-old defenseman Brady Skjei. He’s not a high-volume shooter but Skjei does have a pair of goals and six total points this season. The Hurricanes will get a good matchup against Buffalo goaltender Eric Comrie (G – Sabres), who has allowed at least three goals in five consecutive starts. Skjei also possesses a nice floor due to the two blocked shots he finishes with during most outings, paired with roughly three shots on goal. He may not pop every game, but Skjei’s floor is a nice commodity to possess in DFS lineups.
Alexandar Georgiev (G – Avalanche): $8,300
The departure of Darcy Kuemper to Washington this offseason has created an opportunity for 26-year-old Alexandar Georgiev to prove his worth in Colorado. So far, it’s been pretty good, averaging 2.81 GAA and holding onto a 4-1 record as a starter in the crease. Columbus has only scored 26 goals through ten games while surrendering 44 goals due to bad defense and goaltending. Since the Blue Jackets are always playing from behind and pressed for production, Georgiev is worth the high salary in a matchup that feels like a get-right game for the Avs and Georgiev to end their two-game losing slump.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Dylan Cozens (C – Sabres): $6,300
We’re reaching into Buffalo’s third-line attack for this one, but Dylan Cozens has plenty of value where he earns his minutes. The 21-year-old center is earning over 17 minutes ATOI this season and has doubled the number of goals (4) compared to his two assists, which is always a promising sign when creating DFS builds. Cozens has scored three goals in his last five games, averages three to four shots on goal, and is also good for an occasional blocked shot. The Hurricanes aren’t a pushover, but Cozens has the opportunity and talent to manufacture a point in a tough road environment on Friday night. He’s not too expensive, so plug Cozens in as a solid floor play.
Valeri Nichushkin (RW – Avalanche): $9,200
Colorado’s top point leader has been day-to-day with a lower-body injury but he is trending towards playing against Columbus on Friday night. Valeri Nichushkin has expanded his usage within the Avalanche offense, scoring four goals and five assists in his last four games played, earning at least one point in every single outing during this stretch. Columbus is too good of a matchup to ignore most players on Colorado, especially their leading goal scorer, so pay up to acquire the 27-year-old winger in FanDuel lineups.
Rasmus Dahlin (D – Sabres): $7,700
Buffalo has to be enjoying the development of defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in 2022. The 22-year-old already has 14 points through the Sabres’ first ten games, scoring six goals, and showcasing his talent in the offensive zone. He’s a big-bodied player with finesse and vision, while the Sabres’ front office brought in a couple of pieces last year and during this offseason to bolster the top attack line. Dahlin is a high-volume shooter, attempting three to six shots per game, while also racking up blocked shots in the defensive zone. If he winds up with a point or two on top of the other floor production, you’re likely going to cash your lineups. Target Dahlin and pay up for one of the league’s best young defensemen right now.
Antti Raanta (G – Hurricanes): $7,900
Carolina is expected to turn to Antti Raanta in the crease against Buffalo on Friday night. The 33-year-old netminder has been rock solid defending the goal for the Hurricanes this season, logging a 2-1 record as a starter, while recording over 25 saves in both of his previous games played. Raanta has allowed three goals in consecutive starts, but the Hurricanes have an explosive offense that has accrued over 30 goals this season, so Raanta should be safe at home against Buffalo, who has firepower but a leaky goaltender, giving Raanta the edge. He’s a discounted netminder, so fire him up and pay up for centers or wingers elsewhere in your lineups.
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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.