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Rookies Guide For Winning Your Fantasy Hockey League

New owners in a fantasy hockey league often take their lumps, learning to play a new game while the veteran fantasy hockey owners have all the tricks down. If you’ve played fantasy football or fantasy hockey though, you’ll know there are fantasy hockey tips to make you a better player right out of the gate.

Read our ten tips for how to win at fantasy hockey and avoid the no-no’s of fantasy hockey, because there’s no reason you have to sacrifice a fantasy hockey season in order to learn what not-to-do.

1. Draft Players Who Get Lots of Minutes – Don’t get a forward off a team’s 4th line, because he won’t get the consistent minutes to make a solid fantasy contribution. Get someone on the 2nd line of a bad team than the 4th line of the Red Wings. The player will just have more time to collect stats.

The same goes for players on the blue line. Draft only the top two defensemen on a team, because they are going to log 10 minutes more a game than the 2nd pairing and even more than the 3rd pairing. Only draft a starting goaltender, of course. Backup netminders are worth nothing in fantasy hockey.

You’ll occasionally find an exception to this rule, so don’t follow this fantasy hockey tip blindly, but analyse to see why a player breaks the rule and draft accordingly.

2. Assists Are Big – Assists are handed out a lot more liberally in the NHL, because you can have up to 2 assists assigned for each goal scored. Find guys that rack up the assists by playing on lines with the league’s best goal scorers. If you can’t have Crosby or Ovechkin, get their line mates.

3. Know Their Line Situation – Average players can become fantasy juggernauts in the right situation. If an average winger is placed on a line with a superstar centerman, that run-of-the-mill player can suddenly become a fantasy hockey god. Scout for players being put on a line with All-Star centers, both before the season and during the season.

4. Draft Versatile Players – Players who play near the statistical average in most NHL stats categories are a huge asset in fantasy hockey, even if they don’t dominate any one category. Draft versatile players who will help you in as many categories as possible. You’ll nickel-and-dime your opponents to death.

5. Max Out Your Matches Started – Because the way the NHL schedule works, you’ll have some messed up situations where certain players have more games in a week than others. Max out your matches played according to your league’s starting lineup rules, because you’ll simply have more matches to accumulate fantasy hockey points. Keep a close eye on this in either a match-up hockey league or a rotisserie league. Wring out as many points as you can out of your starting lineup.

6. Pay Less Attention to Plus/Minus – +/- totals are about like field goal kickers in fantasy football. There are so many parts to this score out of the control of the player himself, that they’re just volatile from one year to the next. Plus/minus comes down to who is your player’s line mates (or the primary line they play behind, if a defender) or how the goalie is playing that year. Any one of those can be affected by injuries, trades, coaching changes, changes in team playing style or team chemistry.

This is highly volatile from one year to the next, so don’t look at last year’s numbers as the gospel when drafting for plus/minus. Don’t completely discount it, but make it the last determiner when drafting fantasy hockey players.

7. Goalies Are Important – If you’re playing in a rotisserie style fantasy hockey league, which I’m sure you’re doing, goalies are important. That’s because they usually dominate three different statistical categories. A good goalie helps you in more statistical categories than most position players.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Goaltenders – On a similar note, disappointing goaltenders can kill you, if their goals-against average and save percentage go off a cliff. Keep a close eye on this statistic in the early part of the season. If your netminder is killing you in these two categories, he’s likely to do the same all year. Find a backup plan immediately.

9. Watch Out For Injuries – Keep track of which players you have with injuries. This doesn’t go for just missed games. If a player grits through an injury, but isn’t effective, that’s often worse than not playing, because you don’t know to replace him in your lineup. Watch out for leg injuries and especially groin injuries, because hockey players need their legs under them to be effective. It all starts with the legs in hockey, so get a player with a groin injury out of your lineup immediately.

10. Drafting Rookies Is Acceptable – Unlike fantasy football and fantasy basketball, drafting talented rookies isn’t a bad bet. You can get real value with a breakout player, if the rookie gets enough playing time. Once again, do your due diligence and make sure the rookie forward is really going to get the playing time you hope he does. If so, there’s no reason to shy away from rookies in fantasy hockey.

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