December 7, 2023

We’re all busy. Work, school, kids, other family obligations, pets, household chores etc. take up so many hours and minutes of the day, it often feels like there’s hardly any time leftover for life’s more routine pleasures. But I’ll bet you still have (an average of) seven minutes a day to invest in your fantasy hockey squad, with the ultimate aim of winning it all. Maybe consider the task of roster management your few moments of Zen – a break away from all other noise in your life. Beats vacuuming, in any case.

Of course, while more time spent researching all matters fantasy hockey is better than less, no one has hours and hours everyday to invest in what amounts to playing a game within a game. Except us. We do. So let ESPN.com’s fantasy hockey department watch all the action and mine all the numbers/analysis on your behalf, with a view of squishing it into small morsels of potent, useful advice. Which you’ll ideally be able to digest and apply to your own roster in (an average of) seven minutes a day.

Sound good? If so, the following weekly guide provides a day-by-day plan of what to do/read on our website or, better yet, on the ESPN Fantasy App, regardless of your variety of daily-adjustment league (H2H Points, H2H Categories, H2H Most Categories, Season Points etc.) For those engaged in weekly set-and-forget competition, the following blueprint is still of use. You only need to jam it all before Monday’s first tilt.


Resources: Goalie depth chart | Daily lines | Projections | Play for free | Player rater | Most added/dropped | Mock draft lobby | How to watch on ESPN+


Monday: The Most Important Day (7 – 8 minutes)

Even in leagues that allow for daily lineup adjustments – by far, the most popular competition across the ESPN.com universe – getting off on the week’s right fantasy foot is key. Here’s your chance to suss out your opponent in head-to-head competition, comb through your roster for injuries and other liabilities (struggling goalie, ice-cold winger who may have tumbled down to the bottom-six etc.), and set each day’s lineup ahead of time. Ideally, you’re still going to make adjustments every individual day, but sometimes life unravels and that undertaking gets a miss. At least then you aren’t leaving your only four active players benched during an ultra-light Wednesday schedule.

So first click on the ‘My Team’ tab and give your squad a good, hard gander. Anyone hurt? How badly? If an available IR spot is open, and the player is deemed eligible, toss them in there. If not, decide how necessary that asset is to your team moving forward. No, you’re not dropping Connor McDavid even if he’s expected to miss a couple of weeks. But perhaps you do give the boot to a more mediocre and replaceable asset. Then gauge how well, or not, your players are performing by studying their stats through the last 7/15 days. Reading their attached notes and gauging their ESPN.com-wide add/drop list is also helpful. If droves of fantasy managers are dropping so-and-so, there’s probably a good reason why.

Does your roster sparkle like a championship ring crafted for a hockey team in Nevada? If so, fabulous.

If not, now’s the occasion to peruse your waiver wire for players that are outperforming, or will outperform, those currently entrenched. While many leagues allow for shuffling everyday, some don’t. Make sure you know when you’re able to swap assets in and out and adjust your own weekly schedule accordingly.

The week’s first Stock Watch hits your ESPN.com screen Monday in charting players on the rise and fall. Sean Allen’s Rankings, which are continuously modified, will also help you strengthen your roster with accessible, better bodies.

Lastly, fine tune your lineup for Monday, with an eye to specific on-ice match-ups. For instance, maybe give a pass on starting a fumbling netminder against one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.

Tuesday/Thursday: Column Catchup (6 – 7 minutes)

Here’s your opportunity to get a real leg up on the competition by diving into fantasy advice that goes beyond our Stock Watch content. In these biweekly pieces we focus on material outside the rise/fall box with the intent of providing you that extra edge via additional insight. The more you know, right?

Perhaps it’s a little guidance in how to lightly re-tool your roster by hacking the upcoming schedule. Or maybe a deeper dive into the fantasy goaltending scene. Does your team stink? Our occasional study on sleepers could help those more desperate managers. Whatever the specific subject, it’s likely worth a quick read.

Once that’s digested, as usual, give your squad a quick skim ensuring everyone’s healthy, your active goalies are actually playing, and all matchups still make sense. If not, adjust internally or give waivers another looksee for improvements.

Wednesday/Friday: More Stock Watch (4 – 5 minutes)

If your team is rocking and rolling, you need only give Wednesday’s and Friday’s Stock Watch reports a quick skim, just in case someone pops and merits an availability check. Otherwise, leave your roster be and, if necessary, move players around accordingly. Yes, I know you set each day’s lineup at week’s launch, but skaters still fall hurt on the regular, matchups, previously perceived as favorable, turn sour, and goalies get nights off (sometimes unexpectedly).

There’s a good chance this motion takes you fewer than 30 seconds, and you’re free to get on with your day. However, if your roster isn’t rocking nor rolling, characters outlined in our Stock Watch likely deserve closer examination. It also wouldn’t hurt to give Sean’s Rankings another going over for a hidden available gem.

In Category Leagues, start squinting extra hard at your box score no later than Friday. If you’re absolutely killing it in assists but lagging behind in hits, that should help guide who to activate instead of another player, heading into the weekend.

The Weekend: Lineup Management (5 – 6 minutes)

Fair or not, Saturday’s plum slate can often make or break your fantasy week. So many, many games, some starting as early as the crack of breakfast on the west coast. So, before you ferry the kids to soccer practice, or take yourself to soccer practice, or practice your favorite couch position watching soccer, give your fantasy hockey lineup a look.

There’s a good chance you’ll have to make a handful of tough determinations about who to start and who to sit, based on who’s hot/not, strength of matchup, and other factors. Since these decisions are often agonizing, it doesn’t hurt to re-skim our material from the previous few days in hopes of making the most informed choices possible. Strange stuff is still going to go down – sports, right? – but you may as well optimize your lineup as best you can with all info on hand. As always, give Waivers a quick lookover if you have any holes to fill/duds to replace. Repeat on Sunday, but with an ultra-focussed view on specific needs in Category Leagues.

There you have it: A recipe for fantasy success by investing only minutes a day! While there’s no way of guaranteeing a season’s end crown by following this blueprint, a little daily diligence only increases your odds.

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