NHL DFS Picks Today: Is Jake Neighbours’ Value Legit? (January 18)

There is an 11-game NHL slate for DFS players to peruse for picks tonight, including top centers Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Nathan Mackinnon. There are cheaper options that could get bypassed, so let’s look at some of those, and then dig for value.

As always, Stokastic members are encouraged to check the Discord before lock for updated roster information.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Tage Thompson (BUF vs. CHI): DraftKings – $7,700 | FanDuel – $7,800

After a very slow start to the season, Thompson’s production finally turned around and his last month has been closer to what we’d expect from him: seven goals, five assists, and 4.0 shots per game over his last 11 contests. On the campaign, he has registered a DraftKings shot bonus in 10/34 appearances, or 29.4%, a number that was 26.9% a season ago. Even with Jeff Skinner off the top line due to injury, Thompson’s top line has averaged 3.0 expected goals and 4.2 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

The matchup against Chicago is the clear appeal. Over the last six weeks, this basement team has given up the second-most expected goals and fifth-most actual goals/60 at 5-on-5; Buffalo has one of the highest team totals on the board tonight and that matchup is a big reason why.

Thompson is the fifth-ranked center by Stokastic’s DraftKings fantasy point projections tonight, and he carries the fifth-highest price tag. It makes him a fine relative value. That is even higher on FanDuel, though, where he’s eighth by projection but 13th by price. The great matchup has him in play on either site, however.

Marco Rossi (MIN at TB): DraftKings – $4,000 | FanDuel – $5,800

Rossi has been skating on the top line for Minnesota and that means skating with superstar winger Kirill Kaprizov. Minnesota’s top line has been solid this season, creating 2.9 goals/60 at 5-on-5 while controlling 53.8% of the expected goal share. Skating next to Kaprizov has been productive for Rossi as his individual points/60 at 5-on-5 is 2.39 when lined up with the all-world flank and 1.94 without him. Rossi’s individual shots/60 also rises by 23.4% with Kaprizov and every little bit helps his DFS value.

The matchup against Tampa Bay is not a daunting one. The Lightning have been in the middle of the league by 5-on-5 defensive stats over the last six weeks, ranking the same by goals against per 60 minutes. Rossi doesn’t skate on the top power play unit, so that hurts his DFS value a bit, but he doesn’t need top power play minutes at his price.

A lack of shot volume from Rossi, as well as the lack of top PP minutes, keeps his fantasy point projection moderate for tonight. On the bright side, his ownership projections are under 1% on DK and 1.4% on FD tonight, and that makes him, and his line mates, low-owned options for tournaments.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Elias Pettersson (VAN vs. ARI): DraftKings – $8,300 | FanDuel – $9,800

Vancouver’s loaded top line has been phenomenal over the last couple of weeks, but much of that success has been due to shooting percentages – they are shooting 24.7% together at 5-on-5, and that would be unsustainable for a power play, let alone even strength situations. However, they are creating 35.1 shots per 60 minutes and even 11% shooting would have this line flirt with 4.0 goals/60 minutes, which is an elite total. The reason they’ve filled the net is a hot streak, but this trio is genuinely creating a lot of offence besides, and that’s a great sign.

One thing that has usually plagued Pettersson’s DFS value is his shot volume, and he was landing just 2.3 shots per game through November. His last 20 games have seen him jump all the way up to 3.5 shots/game, though, a number that has persisted in the six games since the Canucks put their three forward all-stars on the top line. Arizona visiting brings the team that is giving up the second-most shots per minute while short-handed over the last six weeks, so Pettersson’s great even strength line also has a very good power play matchup.

Like Rossi above, Pettersson’s historical lack of shot volume keeps his fantasy point projections lower than similarly priced options. Also like Rossi above, it is also keeping his ownership projections very low, coming in at 1.7% on DK and under 1% on FD. That low ownership with great line mates bring him into focus for tournaments.

Claude Giroux (OTT vs. MON): DraftKings – $5,400 | FanDuel – $6,700

Josh Norris is injured and when Ottawa’s top line has any center besides him, they create nearly 40% more expected goals and over 55% more actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. On top of that, Giroux has been much more productive with Brady Tkachuk on the opposite wing as his points/60 is 3.71 with the star flank as a line mate at 5-on-5. That is a number more than twice as high as when he doesn’t have Tkachuk on the left side so this is a night where the stars are lining up for Giroux, both metaphorically and in reality.

Montreal is in town, and they played last night, so this is a road back-to-back for them. The road team’s top line, which has generally been very good defensively this season, has seen those numbers slide to 2.8 expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over their last 10 games, which is below average. Giroux has also been moved to the top PP unit and Montreal’s last 20 games have seen the team give up the sixth-most shots and fourth-most goals/60 on the penalty kill.

Of all wingers priced under $6,000 on DK and $7,000 on FD, Giroux ranks fifth and fourth, respectively, by fantasy point projection. The great matchup and reasonable price is likely to drive his ownership into double digits on both sites, so tournament players will need to decide how much ownership they’re willing to endure, but he’s on a great line in a great matchup.

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Jake Neighbours (STL at WAS): DraftKings – $3,600 | FanDuel – $4,400

Recent changes have pushed Neighbours to the St. Louis top line, and they have productive with this winger there: 41.2 shots, 4.1 expected goals, and 3.6 actual goals/60 at 5-on-5 this season in over 100 minutes together. When Neighbours has Robert Thomas as his center, his shot attempt rate jumps by a whopping 66%. In addition to that great slotting at 5-on-5, Neighbours has been skating on the team’s top power play unit. While St. Louis has largely struggled with the man advantage, the goal scoring has improved greatly with Neighbours playing the net-front role in a small sample.

Going into Washington is a good matchup for St. Louis as the home side is 28th in the league by expected goals against/60 over their last 20 games. The actual goals against haven’t been as bad, but are still below average by tying for 20th. Neighbours has seen a huge improvement in line mates and is in a position to succeed at all offensive strengths.

Fantasy projections have Neighbours around 2.0 points per $1,000 on both sites tonight, and that’s good for his price. On top of that, his projected ownership is under 3% on DK and 1% on FD. He can be used either in a tournament stack or as a cheap one-off option.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Adam Fox (NYR at VGK): DraftKings – $5,300 | FanDuel – $7,100

The issue with Fox’s DFS value is that he doesn’t create much for peripherals, landing 1.7 shots per game and blocking 1.5. His value is derived from the power play, where 60% of his points have come from this season, and 45.5% over the last three seasons. Visiting Vegas gives Fox a good power play matchup to work with as the Golden Knights are 27th by shots against and 31st by goals against while short-handed over the last six weeks. Injuries to Jack Eichel and William Karlsson takes Vegas’s two most-often used penalty killers out of the lineup, and that is great news for Fox’s upside tonight.

As expected, Fox’s fantasy point projection is moderate for his price given the lack of peripherals. However, as has been a theme for most of this article, his projected ownership is low, coming in under 3% on both sites.

FanDuel users may want an option that projects better in this price range, so they should consider Charlie McAvoy (BOS, $7,200) who fills that description.

Ryan McDonagh (NSH at LA): DraftKings – $3,200 | FanDuel – $4,200

In the 10 games since the holiday break, McDonagh has averaged 23:01 per night in ice time. That is nearly two more minutes per game than he was earning up to that point, and that has helped him boost his shot volume on a per-game basis. Also importantly, he has 18 blocks in that span, which is a slight improvement in his shot blocking volume as well. Being on the road to face a Los Angeles team averaging the second-most all-situations shots/60 of any team over the last six weeks gives McDonagh an opportunity to throw himself in front of a lot of rubber with his additional ice time.

Because blocked shots aren’t worth as much on FD as DK, McDonagh projects worse on FanDuel tonight. However, his fantasy points per $1,000 is over 2.0 for DraftKings, and that makes him a cheap defenseman to consider for tournaments.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Juuse Saros (NSH at LA): DraftKings – $7,300 | FanDuel – $6,900

Few teams are struggling to score goals like Los Angeles has of late. Their last six weeks have produced the highest shots/60 rate of any team in the league at 5-on-5, but they’re 28th by goals scored/60. Nashville is around the league average by minor penalties taken over the last couple of months, so there may not be a lot of power play time for Los Angeles. It gives Saros a chance to rack up saves away from special team play, and against a team creating so much volume, that gives him a lot of DFS upside.

Stokastic’s GoalieStats section has Saros with the third-highest projected save total tonight but he’s seventh by expected goals against. That is a discrepancy which favors DFS players, and he can be considered as a low-cost goalie to use for tournaments because of it.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

TB1: Nikita Kucherov – Brayden Point – Steven Stamkos

There has been a bit of bad luck for this trio as their 145 minutes together at 5-on-5 has led to 36.1 shots and 3.0 expected goals per 60 minutes, but just 1.6 actual goals. Over the prior two seasons, they created 35.3 shots, 3.4 expected goals, and 4.6 actual goals/60, so this is a very talented trio that is creating a lot offensively but just running cold by shooting percentages. The better news is hosting Minnesota tonight brings a Wild team taking over four minor penalties per game across the last two months, one of the highest rates in the league. This Tampa line should see a good amount of power play minutes in this matchup.

This trio is very expensive on both sites, but they are also leading our Top Stacks tool by top-2 stack probability on DraftKings tonight, and is second over on FanDuel. They are expected to have much lower ownership than that top-2 stack percentage, which gives them good leverage for tournaments.

CGY1: Jonathan Huberdeau – Elias Lindholm – Yegor Sharangovich

Let’s try this again.

Huberdeau was a late scratch for Calgary’s game on Tuesday due to illness but should return tonight. The last time Huberdeau was in the lineup, this entire line was on the team’s top power play unit together. Hosting Toronto means hosting a team that is giving up the fourth-most shots and seventh-most goals per minute while short-handed over the last six weeks. Toronto doesn’t take a lot of penalties, but they are very much struggling to kill the ones they do take. It gives this perfectly correlated Flames line a solid power play matchup.

In their price range, there are few lines that are perfectly correlated on their team’s top power play unit. It is what makes this Calgary trio a line to consider for tournaments; they’re cheap enough to stack with most (not all) of the expensive lines on the slate.

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*Additional best NHL DFS picks today stats from Natural Stat Trick

Michael has been writing about fantasy hockey for over a decade, and has been playing Daily Fantasy for just as long. He has contributed to both the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Herald, has worked for Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and is now in his fifth season with Stokastic. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy.

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