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Fantasy buzz: Brown, Yakupov benefiting from fresh starts

Kings forward thriving alongside Kopitar in new system; Avalanche wing producing on Duchene's line

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

All season long, NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.

 

5 p.m.
Yamamoto could get top-line trial with McDavid

Edmonton Oilers rookie forward Kailer Yamamoto skated on the top line with Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon at practice Thursday.

Yamamoto (RW, 4 percent owned in Yahoo) took the place of right wing Leon Draisaitl (eye), who sustained an injury against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Forward Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) is also day to day.

The Oilers are in the midst of a four-day break between games. They next play against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Yamamoto had seven points (five goals, two assists) in six preseason games and was tied for the lead in preseason goals with Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets.

 

2:30 p.m.
DFS advice for Thursday games

All season long, NHL.com's fantasy staff will provide daily picks for DraftKings NHL contests. This article includes expensive and value plays and can be used as a basis for your roster decision-making.

READ: Daily fantasy picks for Thursday, Oct. 12 | Projected starting goalies

 

11:45 a.m
Brown catching fire in Kings' new system

Whether it's the exposure to bounce-back center Anze Kopitar or the fresh start under coach John Stevens, Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown has quickly regained fantasy relevance.

The 32-year-old wing had two goals, one assist, was plus-3 and had eight shots on goal in the Kings' 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. He also had five hits and four penalty minutes, living up to his track record as a peripheral category specialist. He's playing most frequently alongside Kopitar and Alex Iafallo at even strength.

This was a monster fantasy performance that few players League-wide are capable of. And when you consider Brown (LW/RW, 11 percent owned in Yahoo) had two points (one goal, one assist), three SOG, three hits and was plus-3 against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, we could be onto something big in standard fantasy formats.

Brown had a stretch of five straight 50-point seasons earlier in his career but has not come close in any of the four full seasons since. That said, he's always been worth owning or at least a streaming option in a hits league; he has 2,988 hits in 936 games since 2005-06, the most in the NHL over the span.

Video: CGY@LAK: Brown redirects Forbort's shot for 3-2 lead

 

Devils make big statement at Maple Leafs

The New Jersey Devils won their first two games of the season against backup goaltenders for projected non-contending teams. But what transpired against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday was a statement fantasy owners need to take seriously.

The Devils earned a 6-3 road win against the Maple Leafs, thanks largely to their high-speed offense and an elite performance by goaltender Cory Schneider (47 saves on 50 shots faced). Whether you're talking about forward Jesper Bratt or Pavel Zacha or defenseman Will Butcher, each has gained traction in fantasy circles and needs to be considered based on your lineup need(s).

Bratt (LW/RW, 36 percent owned in Yahoo) has at least a point in each of his first three games, totaling six points (three goals, three assists), a plus-5, two power-play points and four shots on goal. Zacha (C/LW, 13 percent owned) scored two goals, one on the power play, against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. And Butcher (D, 27 percent owned), one of the most impressive rookie defensemen thus far, had multiple assists for the second time in his first three NHL games. Butcher has five assists, three on power play, in three games.

 

Yakupov putting past behind him with Avalanche

Forward Nail Yakupov looks re-energized early on this season for the Colorado Avalanche.

It may be a little early to consider adding Yakupov, but he's one of many Avalanche players defying fantasy expectations. He has five points (three goals, two assists) in four games with a plus-6 and 11 shots on goal since joining Colorado. He's playing on Colorado's second line with Matt Duchene and rookie Alexander Kerfoot. He had one goal and one assist against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, scoring his goal in transition off a beautiful pass by Nathan MacKinnon in the second period.

Yakupov (RW, 7 percent owned in Yahoo) hasn't done any damage on the power play, but is seeing 2:20 per game in those situations with Duchene, Kerfoot, Colin Wilson and defenseman Erik Johnson. But it's encouraging to see him already match his goal total from last season with the St. Louis Blues (three in 40 games).

The 24-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Avalanche on July 4. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, but his only fantasy-relevant season came as a rookie during the shortened season of 2012-13. He scored 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 48 games, an 82-game pace of nearly 53 points.

But the seasons that followed saw him become more of a fantasy liability than a performer; he maxed out at 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 81 games during the 2014-15 season with the Oilers, and that came along with a minus-35. He was minus-33 in 2013-14.

Video: BOS@COL: Yakupov cranks one-timer past Rask

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