Certain daily fantasy strategies require a leap of faith - like rostering a mediocre starting pitcher in daily fantasy baseball, or opting for a bench player in basketball contests. You make these moves in order to save money for big spending elsewhere, but they could just as easily blow up in your face - leaving you without a realistic path to the money in tournaments, or facing an uphill battle to recoup your investment in cash games.
When it comes to rostering a goaltender in daily fantasy hockey, there are a handful of approaches you can take. And there's a growing suggestion that sifting through the bottom of the netminder pile is an effective way of saving salary, as long as you select the right low-cost goalie. But just like relying on a second- or third-tier starting pitcher, when things don't go your way, you have little or no chance of ending your night with a profit.
Here are three good reasons to make sure you have an elite goaltender in every one of your daily fantasy lineups:
1) They score the most points
It's almost a given that a handful of forwards and even one or two defensemen will outscore the majority of goalies on a given night - but over the course of the season, netminders average the most fantasy points per game. So why not be willing to spend up to get one of the best options on a given slate? Goaltenders should be the backbone of any daily fantasy lineup, in any format. When deciding between elite netminders, you should always consider factors like strength of opponent, game location and recent play - but there's no question that going with a top-flight goalie will work out more often than not.
2) The cost range isn't that wide
Unlike starting pitchers, where the range of salaries between the elite and the not-so-elite can be in excess of $7,000, goaltenders are generally priced within $2,500 of each other from top to bottom. Think of it similarly to the way daily fantasy prices quarterbacks in NFL daily fantasy - and approach that smaller gap the same way as you would in football. The savings you would accrue by choosing Braden Holtby at home versus selecting Cam Ward on the road should never be enough to dissuade you from selecting the better netminder. It's far easier to find solid bargain forwards or defensemen.
3) They're the safest plays of the night
The world's best goaltenders aren't just high fantasy scorers - they're also the most consistent point producers. You rarely see Holtby, Devan Dubnyk, Carey Price or Sergei Bobrovsky have a bad night - even when they're off, they're still doing enough to provide some value, which might not help you as much in tournaments but is still a great scoring base in cash games. Opting for a lower-salary goaltender only increases your chances of rostering a player who won't return any value at all. And with goaltenders such a vital part of any daily fantasy lineup, you're much better off playing it safe between the pipes.