A Random Walk

This piece is all about what to do with your star player who isn’t performing as well as expected at this point in the season.

Let me be clear here: I’m not talking about a star player who is having a bad year. If that’s been the case for a player on your team, you’ve hopefully made the appropriate corrections awhile ago. What I AM talking about is a star player who, for lack of a better phrase, is slumping or is stagnant as of late.

Streaming Note

I’m a firm believer in streaming player(s) into and out of your lineup on a pretty much weekly basis. In fact, it’s a rare week that I do not use my weekly allotment of add/drops and I would recommend that if you haven’t been doing so up to this point, you think long and hard about doing so especially now.

Now that I have your attention…

Tage-ing Against the Machine

Went out for a walk with my doggie in the early morning of December 7, 2022. With the irony of the date not being lost, I almost did a very regrettable thing. Frustrated with my defenseman draft selections (a story for another piece) and in a moment of weakness and irrationality, I offered my Tage Thompson, he of the un-drafted sort, for another’s Victor Hedman, he of the underperforming sort. I figured it was a good Sell Sorta High (Tage at the time) for a Buy Sorta Low (Hedman at the time and sorta still). 

While my canine was pausing to take care of her business, I had a reversion back to the mean moment and was able to take care of my business: 


Who knows how much in the nick of time it was, but my potential trade partner hadn’t responded to my proposal so I was spared public and private league shame. 

For those who don’t know, December 7, 2022 was the day that Thompson had a six point game (five goals and one assist) against Columbus. Mind you, I’ve been on the losing end of similar situations far more often than not, but for this one moment in time, I was able to pull myself off the edge and slink back home.

Putting this article together, I’m reminded of a lesson which I hope I learned that day. More importantly, I hope it helps you too.

Twinkle Twinkle…

…little star, how I wonder what you are. While this well-known lyric lulls children to sleep, it might help awaken us in time to figure out what to do with our star players during our collective playoff runs. Especially if they seem a bit stuck.

The way I see it, we have to give our stars the chance to shine here folks. Don’t wonder what they are. Instead, keep in mind that they’re meant to shine.

Day Trading vs. A Random Walk

A lot of how I approach the fantasy playoffs is based on my own managerial philosophy and I think it’s important to keep yours in mind during this point of the season. 

Are you comfortable with more of a day trading approach to managing your fantasy hockey team? In other words, if you’ve been successful on a consistent basis picking up players based upon hot streaks (and your research) and dropping them when they go cold, I’d recommend you keep following that path. You’re obviously on to something. Assuming you’ve qualified for your league’s playoffs, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

At this time of year in the fantasy hockey season, it can be tempting to try to reinvent the wheel. I would caution against doing so. I believe that you should continue to employ whatever managerial strategies you’ve used successfully up to this point. 

I, on the other hand, am not a day trader (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just don’t have the nerves nor enough Maalox for trying to time buy/sell opportunities. More likely, I’m just not patient enough nor savvy enough to pull it off regularly. 

Recognizing this, I rely on information found on sites like Apples and Ginos to provide me with the technical expertise and research I need. Using this critical information helps me bridge the gap between my gut and the eye test stuff and their analytical expertise. 

Therefore, when it comes to managing my own fantasy hockey team, I’m more of a Random Walk Down Wall Street kind of guy.

For those unfamiliar, A Random Walk Down Wall Street is a pretty well-known and highly regarded book about investing written by Burton G. Malkiel. Basically, the author makes the case for investing for the long term in high quality companies regardless of the specific industry. Does this sound like you?

And I think that philosophy is somewhat analogous to what I like to refer to as The Fantasy Hockey Professor’s First Principle: Always play your best players regardless of matchups. It doesn’t always work out in the short term, but over time it does. More importantly, it lessens the chances of experiencing even more of the Sit/Start dilemmas.

Crunch Time

At this time of year however, long-term “investing” may not appear to be in your best interest. I’d argue that appearances can be deceiving. 

I’m a big believer in holding fast to your core players (however many that may be), and making adjustments to your peripheral-type players on your roster along the way. It’s a common fantasy hockey strategy I know, but it can be called into question as you near the end of the season. That’s not to say that none of your core players are off limits in the pinch of playoff time. I just think you need to be mindful of chasing rainbows.

It’s one thing to be down to the wire in a matchup with a core/star player that has an unfavorable schedule (e.g, like only playing two times), and they haven’t been performing very well as of late. In that case, you may have to part ways to win. 

But, if it’s just a case of them being on a cold streak, I’m holding. 

Time for Timo

For this part of our random walk, we’ll let Timo Meier lead the way. 

Timo Timers are very protective of their beautician. Spend any time in the Timo chats on Yahoo, and you’ll mostly find surrogate parents mindful of any potential troll-ees trying to set traps. And for good reason. 

Meier owners love Timo and have benefitted from two years of his explosive potential and production. They do not tolerate party poopers. He truly is one of the most exciting players to have on your fantasy roster. And yet, I still think that Meier flies somewhat under the radar. But not anymore for you dear reader. 

If you’re in a league with +/-, you’ve learned to accept the minuses as part of his having played on mostly dustbin (no offense) teams (alas, no more…Let’s Go Devils!).

But who cares? With Timo, you’ve got a play driver whose roof is always on the verge of being torn off the sucker. He’s equally valuable in Points and Categories leagues because he shoots, scores, dishes, hits, and takes penalty minutes. He’s a tough player to pry away from emotionally attached owners so be prepared to overpay should you want to acquire his services. 

Earlier in the year, Timers were beside themselves on what to do about his relatively slow start. Blushingly, I was concerned too. Fortunately, we powered through and his example can be of use for us at this late stage.

Lately, he’s been held out due to injury/trade related issues and it’s been a challenge to replace his production especially if you’re in a league with no IR+ options. So what can you do?

Hold On

Of all the guidance I could possibly give with respect to what to do with your star players come playoff time, the best advice I can offer is to just Hold On. At this point in the season, we have to be comfortable dancing with the dates we’ve brought to the party. That’s it? Yeah, pretty much.  

Sure you can tinker along the edges of your roster and I highly recommend that you continue to do so. But with respect to your stars, they are your stars because they are stars and, at a certain point (like say, right now), you have to give them the chance to lead you home. 

To Recap:

1. Continue to use the managerial philosophy you’ve used successfully all year. Whether you’re a day trader, a random walker, or a combination of the two, stay the course. 

2. It can be tempting to chase after shooting stars down the stretch. I’d recommend shying away from doing so. Unless you’re the Wizard of Oz, it’s way more common to be too late to the party than too early. 

3. Short of unfavorable schedules and poor recent performances, give your stars the chance to shine.

A Little P.S.

A little more Timo Time? I had the opportunity to caddy last summer for a former NHL player. 

Let’s just say that he Devilishly has/had the inside scoop where Meier is/was concerned. When I told him that Timo was one of my favorite players and was on my fantasy team last year, he paused for a moment and said, “Do yourself a favor and draft him again. He’s a great kid who’s just coming into his own.” I don’t remember what I had for breakfast today, but I won’t forget that advice. 

So twinkle twinkle little star, I no longer wonder what you are.

Thanks for reading and best of luck this week and for the rest of the season. 

Mike@Fantasy Hockey Professor

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