Geek of the Week does a deep dig on surprisingly useful fantasy force Scottie Upshall
When Kris Versteeg was traded, there wasn’t exactly a rush to the waiver wire to add whoever we thought would pick up the minutes of the departed Panther. The Panthers are pretty terrible and it wasn’t obvious who would benefit, so most GMs probably ignored the news or considered some of Florida’s youngsters in hopes of getting out in front of a breakout performance. Some younger players like Bjugastad have seen a bit of an uptick, but the biggest early benefactor of Versteeg’s departure hasn’t been a young gun, it has been our Geek of the Week: Scottie Upshall.
I was tipped off to Upshall when a buddy of mine whose fantasy knowledge I (somewhat) respect added him to his squad, “The Backes Streit Boyes”. Scottie Upshall has not been on my fantasy hockey radar for about half a decade, so I was a bit skeptical when I saw the “added” beside his name last week but as I was writing my most recent piece on Eric Gelinas , Upshall’s name appeared again – on my output from Fantasy Hockey Geek. I have updated the numbers now for the month of November (from the 1st up to the 28th) and here are the results:
(16 team Yahoo! league measuring G, A, +/-, SPG. PPP, Hits):
You can see from the above, that an Upshall add may have indeed been justified as he is providing some solid value of late. In 12 November games, Upshall has 10 points, which is the same total he has had over the past two entire seasons combined (albeit he only played 53 games). The numbers that Upshall has put up in November are pretty comparable to Andrew Ladd, who is a very solid fantasy hockey player in his own right:
Looking at Upshall’s game log, I became even more intrigued when I noticed that since the Versteeg trade Upshall has six points in seven games, adding 17 shots and 12 hits along the way. Hmm, could Upshall be the big winner from the Versteeg trade? This guy’s career high in points is only 32 though, so I wasn’t completely sold at this point - I had to do a bit more digging.
I almost always use FHG first when identifying players who are providing good fantasy hockey value. It is by far the easiest and most accurate way to identify players that are currently providing good fantasy hockey value. After finding players that the FHG math shows as being valuable, I go a bit further to ask myself – why is this happening? And – is this sustainable?
One thing I always check when validating a player’s output is frozen pool. Doing so with Upshall explained a lot to me: he is playing on the Barkov line and also spending a great deal of time on the powerplay; he’s seeing over half of the Panther’s PP minutes over the past 3 games. Ok great, so his story checks out: he has been given more opportunity and his output has gone up as a result.
Another thing I always want to check out is the upside/pedigree of a player, especially when that player’s career high point total is a number that is lower than my waist size. The best place to do this is the Dobber guide, because there really is nobody better in the business at knowing each player’s potential. I open up my guide from this season and see that Upshall has an upside of 60 points, which reinforces the theory that the guy has some talent and is currently seizing an opportunity that hasn’t previously been afforded to him. A quick look at his NHL draft position reminds me that Upshall was once a 6th overall pick and now I am sold – ok, maybe this guy really does have some potential.
The last thing I sometimes like to do is actually watch a game and see if he passes the old eye test. This is the Florida Panthers we are talking about though and I don’t get a ton of time to watch as many games as I would like so why would I watch that terrible team when I can watch another epic Leaf meltdown to the Penguins? So in this case I decided to just trust the numbers.
So now I go full circle back to FHG. I am pretty sure that I want to make an add here, but I need an idea of what exactly I am going to get in Upshall. I showed above how FHG calculates that Upshall has been the 59th most valuable player in this league in the month of November but I want to get an idea of what he will do going forward. One reason he is so valuable is that he plays at the very scarce RW position; it is very difficult to find good production from the right side this year. The other factor is simply that he contributes well to all categories. If Upshall were able to maintain his November production for a full season, his prorated stat line would look like this:
I am not saying that he will definitely continue to post numbers at this rate, but this projection does a good job of showing the kind of value Upshall is currently contributing. I don’t expect Upshall to continue on a 68 point pace, particularly when you consider he has been shooting at a 17% clip in November –well ahead of his career average of 10%.
I do think though that as long as Upshall continues to get these quality minutes in Florida, he can play at a 45-50 point pace while contributing a solid amount of shots and hits from the shallow RW slot. If your league includes PIMs, then Upshall will help you out there as well, to the tune of about 1 PIM per game over the remainder of the season. He is probably available in your league right now, so I would grab him and (at worst) ride the hot strike while it lasts. If Florida keeps deploying him in their top 6 and on the power play then he will continue to help your team all season as a Shane Doan -lite type player. If he gets demoted/hurt/traded, then it will be easy enough for you to cut bait because it’s doubtful that he cost you anything.
Paying attention to player’s changing scenarios and opportunities is always key to staying ahead of the curve in fantasy hockey and Fantasy Hockey Geek provides some great tools to jump on these trends early. Enter your league into FHG today and in a couple quick minutes you can identify guys who are providing great value and get in on the ground floor.
Read more from Terry Campkin, the Fantasy Hockey Geek: