Special to Yahoo Sports
Sports and holidays go together like fried foods and hot sauce. There's the anticipation of consumption. Then the inevitable overconsumption. And finally, the consequences. But it's the suffering that makes it all worthwhile, right?
During this time of year, try to take it easy. Relax and spend time with others. And of course, dig into a heaping helping of fantasy. Here's what you need from the hockey side to get you through the season:
(Note: This is the last regular column for 2019. Next week's installment will cover overachievers to fade and underperformers to buy in 2020 along with some pickups, and then we're back to normal in January.)
(Yahoo rostership rates/stats as of Dec. 19.)
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres (56 percent rostered)
Despite the 12 goals, 16 assists and a continuing place alongside Jack Eichel, Reinhart is somehow still available in almost half of Yahoo leagues. And the third member of that trio, Victor Olofsson, sits at 75 percent rostered. Sure, Olofsson has produced 32 points — including seven more than Reinhart on the power play — along with carrying the trendy newcomer label, but that still doesn't explain how someone who skates on one of the NHL's most dangerous lines and receives more ice time is getting significantly less love from Yahoo fantasy participants.
Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins (26 percent)
Thanks to all the injuries the Penguins have endured, Tanev has been able to accumulate more offensive stats than he normally would. The former Jet is up to 16 points and should eclipse his peak of 29 set last season. But it's his physical accomplishments that attract fantasy managers. Tanev ranks third in the league with 136 hits and has chipped in with 30 blocks. He hasn't found the scoresheet in four games but has directed five shots on net while delivering 19 hits and four blocks during this span.
Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings (14%)
Since tallying 58 points in 2015-16, Toffoli has teased us with his talent. Many have been reluctant to pick up the Scarborough boy, even after he started the year with two goals and two assists from his first four outings or following a seven-point run in nine November appearances. But quite a few are flocking to Toffoli now with him riding a five-game point streak — with eight in total. Might as well grab him before he reverts to a series of uneven efforts.
Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders (14%)
Eberle's 12 points might appear underwhelming, but it's key to note he's only been involved in 22 games. He's better than the 37 he recorded last season but probably won't reach the 60s from his Oilers' days. Eberle will most likely hit double-digit power-play points again, as he's at five. And over his most recent eight matchups, he's struck for three goals and four assists — with two PPAs.
Carl Soderberg, Arizona Coyotes (6%)
While not the greatest scorer, Soderberg has generally played the steady center role. Arizona acquired the veteran Swede in summer with the intention of having him fill a place in the middle of the lineup. He's done exactly that as the No. 2 pivot and has supplemented his leadership with 10 goals and 10 assists. Soderberg isn't flashy, but he'll get the job done.
Connor Brown, Ottawa Senators (5%)
Based on their ability to score goals in bunches, it seems like Ottawa forwards continue to pop up in this column. Brown's no different from some of the other Sens mentioned as he's already produced 21 points and 81 shots. The ex-Leaf finds himself in a favorable position as a member of the first line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk. If Brown can solidify a spot on the man-advantage, then he'll become a hot commodity. In other words, take him now before that happens.
Alexandre Texier, Columbus Blue Jackets (3%)
Texier gave us a glimpse of his skills in last year's playoffs but found it difficult to reproduce at the start of this season. The second-round selection from 2017 would struggle through the first two months, with only three goals and an assist to show for his efforts. But December has been very good to Texier, with three goals and four assists coming his way. He's hardly seeing any special-teams minutes but looks to be building a strong French Connection with Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Chandler Stephenson, Vegas Golden Knights (1%)
Centering Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty would be a dream for any player, let alone someone who was only involved in 144 NHL contests coming into this campaign. Stephenson was lost in Washington but has found a lifeline in Vegas following a deal earlier this month. In the eight appearances since, he's notched three goals and two assists. It'll be tough for Stephenson to fend off Paul Stastny from reclaiming his old job, but it looks like the situation will remain the same so the talent can be spread across three lines.
Justin Faulk, St. Louis Blues (36%)
For someone who's regularly registered in the 30-to-40-point range, Faulk's current campaign can best be described as disappointing. One could blame his lack of production on joining St. Louis right before the regular season and having to adjust to a new system. But that excuse doesn't justify the seven points from the first 32 encounters. There's plenty of competition for offense on the Blues' blueline, but Faulk appears to have turned a corner with a goal, two assists and 20 shots across the last four.
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings (6%)
Green has faced multiple health issues in the last few years, but none were as scary as Detroit's recent defensive record. The Red Wings sit dead last in GAA — and by a pretty wide margin. Fortunately, a couple of their D-men can produce at the other end. One of them is the former 31-goal guy who's on the point of the second man-advantage. Green notched a PPG and even-strength assist Saturday and has racked up 16 shots, eight hits and eight blocks since late November. He can fit in the lower levels of your lineup if you're ready to absorb the horrible plus-minus.
Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks (5%)
The Canucks spent big bucks to move Myers further west. Very little has come in the way of goals and assists, but the 6-foot-8 rearguard has posted 68 shots, 24 PIM, 45 hits and 47 blocks. And since Alexander Edler went down, Myers has taken advantage of the situation with a pair of PPAs while skating more than 23 minutes a night. Edler is slated to return sometime next week, so give the big guy a chance until then.
Matt Roy, Los Angeles Kings (1%)
The great Janet Eagleson already spilled the beans on Roy, but I'll add a little more info as I recently added him in the RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League. The Detroit native did decently at Michigan Tech with 55 across 115 games and kept it going in the AHL with 47 in 102. A 25-match debut last year yielded two goals and four assists, and Roy would open 2019-20 by putting up zeroes for 13 contests. After a stretch of five in 10 — and an injury to Alec Martinez — the ice time increased. And with six points, 15 shots, 10 hits and nine blocks in his last six, Roy deserves more fantasy attention.
Pavel Francouz, Colorado Avalanche (34%)
It's been tempting to mention Francouz in previous weeks, but others seemed to emerge as better short-term candidates. However, the Czech's recent 5-0-1 run with a 1.78 GAA and .947 save percentage has pushed him back into the fantasy forefront. Even with Philipp Grubauer's recent return, Francouz should be provided with enough starts and pick up plenty of Ws behind an awesome Avs' attack.
Aaron Dell, San Jose Sharks (3%)
The Sharks ended up with the lowest save percentage last season and — surprise, surprise! — they're back at it with a 30th-ranked .886. They're only slightly better sporting a 3.28 GAA, so you're probably wondering why I'm recommending one of their netminders. Well, starter Martin Jones has struggled and hasn't won since Nov. 30. Dell has only performed slightly better but has started the last two — including stopping 33 of 35 versus the Coyotes. It's tough to tell if San Jose will improve, but their backup can serve as a daily fantasy fill-in.