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Fantasy Hockey: Breakaways and Benders

Are you willing to take a gamble with Steve Mason?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In this weekly piece I will provide 5 players below 50% owned who should be looked into owning (Breakaways) and 5 players above 50% owned who are struggling (Benders). This doesn't mean you should drop the Benders but maybe they can ride the pine for a week to get their head back in the game. Generally, I am very skittish about dropping anyone above 90% owned unless they have shown 2+ months of really bad play. My rationale for the selections includes some looking through the box scores but a majority of it is with the eye test, watching the games.

5 Breakaways:

Eric Staal (C, Min) 47% owned. Despite Zach Parise dropping to the second line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund, Eric still gets goals,  SOG and FW. Also he's the center on their first power play unit.

Andreas Martinsen (LW, Col) 0% owned. With Gabriel Landeskog out for a few games Martinsen is slotted on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and  A.J. Greer. He has 2 assists in the last two games since this move along with 17 hits. It's a short term fix but something interesting to watch.

Radim Vrbata (RW, Ari) 12% owned. He won't get you many PIM or hits, or FW or BS but he will get right to the heart of it as he fires a lot of shots and scores goals. He's on the top line with Martin Hanzel and Max Domi (Both of whom do plenty of the aforementioned categories) leaving Radim space and open lanes to score. He's tied for 32nd in the league in goals despite being 12% owned.  He has 5 points in his last 6 games to go with 27 shots (or over 4 shots per game).

Dan Girardi (D, NYR) 15% owned. King of the ancillary categories, he will also come in strong with Hits, Blocked Shots, +/- and occasionally some shorthanded points. If your league utilizes those categories, he's your guy.

Steve Mason (G, Phi) 41% owned. It's a risk, he was shaky earlier this season and this team has allowed the most goals in the league (along with playing the most games) but Michael Neuvirth is out, Mason has been solid the last few outings and Hakstol benching Shayne Gostisbehere for bad defensive coverage tells me that he is going to start focusing on shutting down goals.

5 Benders:

Steven Stamkos (C, TB) 96% owned. If there is any doubt that you might struggle down the stretch to make the playoffs AND you are not in a keeper league AND there is no IR spot on your team. I'd drop him. He's out 4 months so you won't see him until late February and at that point you are getting at most just over a month out of him.

Torey Krug (D, Bos) 86% owned. Boston has a tough schedule this week and Torey has 4 points in 17 games with a -5. I'd bench him this week if you can.

Tyson Barrie (C, Col) 84% owned. After a great year last year where he had 49 points he has 6 points, is a -7 with only 11 hits. I'm not sure I'd drop him just yet but I'd definitely bench him.

Chris Kunitz (LW, Pit) 52% owned. Sit him this week. He has a lower body injury, he's only averaging a point every other game and Pittsburgh has a rough schedule this week.

Semyon Varlamov (G, Col) 66% owned. There are better options in net and he's obviously have a severe down year, drop him.