Fantasy Hockey: What To Do About Steven Stamkos

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos
Nov 11 2013 Boston MA USA Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos 91 is wheeled off on a stretcher during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden Bob DeChiara USA TODAY Sports

As people living in a first world country, we tend to take things for granted. The basic necessities like food, water, shelter are things we enjoy that billions around the world go without on a daily basis.

In a suddenly not-so-apt analogy, we fantasy hockey enthusiasts sometimes take the health of certain players for granted. Remember when it was all but certain that Sidney Crosby’s career was coming to an end? The only hockey he’s missed in the last 20 months was a freak accident of a puck to the face.

It goes the other way as well. The volatility of individual production is apparent in every player, but you could always count on 82 games from Steven Stamkos. In fact, he hadn’t missed a game since the middle of January 2009, when Stamkos was a rookie.

That all came crashing down yesterday afternoon in a freak, horrific accident that took place during the Tampa Bay/Boston game (do not watch if you are squeamish):

At 1:41, you see his leg crash into the post, and his ankle snap back like his leg was a Pez dispenser. We would later learn the result is a broken tibia, with Stamkos set for surgery this morning to fix the problem. There is no immediate timetable for return, but a reasonable estimate put out last night by TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Sportscenter was three to four months.

Let’s face it, this is a massive loss for everyone. Not only has Stamkos suffered a terrible setback in his career – in an Olympic year no less – but the Lightning are now short one of the most dynamic players in hockey, Team Canada may be missing their first line right winger, and fantasy hockey owners are left picking up the pieces.

Here are my recommendations for what to do with Steven Stamkos this year:

Redraft (one year) Leagues

As Jar Jar Binks would say: “Steadyyyy. Steady.”

  • If your league has an IR spot, stash him. If you have another player occupying this IR spot, and they aren’t vitally crucial to your team, that player has to go.

All leagues are not created equal

  • The loss of Stamkos is huge in any league. However, it’s easier to survive this in a head to head league than it is in a rotisserie league. If I’m in a head to head league and maybe I started the year 3-0, or have an IR spot that could be filled, I’m inquiring as to what Stamkos would cost in a trade. In a one year league, the price should be basement bargain right now, like maybe your fourth defenseman, or a spare center.
  • The reason I’m inquiring on Stamkos in H2H leagues is you really want his stats in March, once fantasy playoffs come around, not in November. So if I’m in first place and have a bench spot to spare, I’m looking to see what his price tag is. If it’s not dirt cheap, though, just leave it be and take some schadenfreude in watching someone else’s team disappear for the season.

Roto leagues are a sinkhole of value, get some if you can

  • If I’m in a roto league and I own him, he’s finding the waiver wire unless there really is a spot to keep him. If I have four bench spots and no IR (which is the set up of many leagues), that’s just not deep enough to hold him.
  • I’m at least putting out feelers to see what the return might be in a trade. You could be in a 10 person league where an owner is leaving someone like Kyle Okposo on the bench. In shallow leagues, you might be able to still get reasonable value for him in a trade. Do that.

Keeper Leagues

The real question is what to do in keeper/dynasty leagues.

Mercy is for the weak, and it’s a buyer’s market

Ok that’s not really true. Mercy is a great virtue for a person to have in real life. In fantasy sports, not so much:

  • In keeper leagues, if the owner with Stamkos is struggling so far this year, I’m seeing if I can get a good price at this point, it should be no more than 75 cents on the dollar. You have to be able to sell the “you’re going to lose this season” angle if you want to pull this off.
  • His price won’t get any lower than it will today. You don’t want to wait three weeks and all of a sudden get hit with a “Stamkos Recovery Ahead of Scehdule” headline.
  • I would start with a decent young player like Bobby Ryan (maybe a sell-high like Alex Steen) and see if that will do it. You’d be surprised what some people might accept in a panic.
  • If you are trading for him, make sure you use the same pitch that Rick Harrison does on Pawn Stars: You are assuming all the risk at this point if you take on Stamkos. That could be a selling point for some people.

Take the advice Hank didn’t and “Tread Lightly”

  • Remember, there still isn’t an official timeline on Stamkos, just speculation. It could be three months, it could be the season, it could be two months, we just don’t know. That’s part of the “assuming the risk” argument; with no timeline, the owner of Stamkos is taking on additional risk at the moment.

As always, if you have a specific question, feel free to tweet me @SlimCliffy. There is an opportunity for those that are looking to bolster their team for cheap, you just need to remember how to craft your argument. At this point, you’re trying to make the Stamkos owner panic as much as possible. It may be merciless, but that’s fantasy sports.

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