A Different Breed
Do this long enough and you’ve heard the expression “goalies are voodoo.” And perhaps more so this year, goalies have indeed been voodoo for me and so many other fantasy managers.
One night Connor Hellebuyck is hella good. And the next start? He’s given up two goals on two shots and I haven’t even loaded up Stat Tracker yet. Ilya Sorokin? He’s in the hunt for the Vezina and he’s got a .500 won-loss record. Jake Oettinger? It would be really nice if the Stars could win one game in OT. And so it goes. I’ve almost come to the conclusion that rostering goalies is like rostering catchers in fantasy baseball. As long as you have the spots filled, who cares who it is…I did say almost.
Personally, I have THREE stud goalies on one of my teams (Igor Shesterkin, Oettinger, and Sorokin), hence the ranting above. I drafted Sorokin in the second round and, because I had two picks in a row, I got cute and also picked up Otter with the next pick. Later on I landed Shesty because someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I know, it’s Apples & Ginos heresy, but I was young…Zero G was just a twinkle in my eye. Anyway, fast forward.
So I must be killing it this year in my league right? As they sarcastically say here on the East Coast, “yeah, o.k,” because I keep my fingers crossed on a daily basis with this crew. In actuality, I’ve had to wheel and deal just to maintain relevancy in my league because of the voodoo nature of goaltending.
Recently, another manager in my league asked me how to evaluate goalies and for goalie management strategies. Little did he know! But I’ve learned my lesson (until I forget) and fortunately stumbled upon some really good sources of information and found the light.
The Zero G OG
My nightly fantasy hockey season ritual involves monitoring my team’s stats on Yahoo’s Stat Tracker (it’s a fantasy hockey thing) and I literally scroll my computer screen up or down so I can only see how my skaters are doing. I just can’t bear to watch sometimes. That’s how nerve wracking it can be to watch goalies and their respective performances.
When it comes to net minders, it’s probably a good idea to get comfortable playing the so-called long game. Roll with one or two stud starters who you plug in without much thought and fill in your other goalie slot(s) with either his backup or by picking up players from your waiver wire along the way.
One of the cornerstones of Apples and Ginos is the fantasy hockey strategy of Zero G created by Nate from Apples and Ginos. It’s backed by his exhaustive analytics and overall fantasy hockey expertise and experience. There is outstanding content on this site and on the Apples and Ginos podcast to help you become more acquainted with it and I highly recommend that you take the time to check it out.
In a nutshell, it’s the idea that because trying to predict goalie outcomes is pretty much like day trading in a foreign stock market, you shouldn’t spend a lot of draft capital on goalies. In other words, don’t spend a high draft pick on a goalie. Taken a step further, there’s more value to be had in drafting high quality skaters than in going overboard with your goalie selections. But because we are already deep into the season, it’s sort of too late to fully implement Zero G. But you can still follow the concepts for the rest of the season in a modified version.
This means that you’re going to have to monitor your league’s goalie free agents throughout the remainder of the season and stream goalies. I know, more homework. But we’re trying to help you win your leagues so hang in there.
Points V Cats
1. In a Points League: It’s pretty straightforward for me in these types of leagues. Check out the upcoming weekly schedules. Keeping in mind your league’s scoring settings, go for volume starts regardless of matchups and/or individual goalie statistics.
2. In a Categories League: Again, check out the upcoming weekly schedules. Keeping in mind your league’s scoring settings, go for goalies who have a SV% (save percentage) above .900 and a GAA (goals against average) in the 3.00 and below range. These players are not always easy to find, but they can be had.
Another tip: Look for back to backs in the schedules and see if a team’s back up goalie is available. If you have a goalie like Shesterkin, a good play would be to pick up his back up, Jaroslav Halak, who should get a decent amount of starts especially on the front or back end of a back to back. Come to think of it, rostering the backup of any of your volume starters is not a bad idea.
Playing the Numbers
In The Truth #17 , Nate outlines some confounding players and what to do with them. Additionally, there’s a handy Fantasy Playoff Schedule Spreadsheet linked in the piece.
Do yourself a favor and first, check out your playoff schedule, and then match it up with Nate’s spreadsheet. He does an excellent job of highlighting which teams have the most favorable playoff schedules. Using this information will help you not only maximize your rosters for the playoffs, but will also give you additional help in targeting potential goalies.
Exorcising the Voodoos
Hopefully by now, you’re feeling a bit more confident with your team and how to deal with enigmatic goalies.
As a recap:
1. Temper your expectations with respect to goalies. Some games they will have you punching the air in exaltation. On other nights, you’ll just want to punch. It’s just the nature of goalies and fantasy hockey.
2. Pay attention to your league’s free agent goalies and upcoming schedules. Be on the lookout for back to back games in which you can pick up a backup goalie.
3. In a Points League, go for volume starters. In a Categories League, be mindful of GAA and SV%. Ideally you want goalies that have a SV% above .900 and a GAA of 3.00 or less.
4. Check out Nate’s Fantasy Playoff Schedule Spreadsheet to target the best potential players to pick up based on their respective schedules.
5. Last, but not least, employ the Zero G drafting strategy in NEXT year’s draft. Doing so will enhance your chances of winning your league and exorcising the goalie voodoos.
Thanks for reading and best of luck this week and for the rest of the season.