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The Waiver Wire: Fantasy Schadenfreude Edition

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In this edition, I explore the phenomenon of Fantasy Schadenfreude and how it can affect your fantasy team.

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Welcome back to another installment of the Waiver Wire!  This week, we are going a little non-traditional.  Rather than the typical disappointments, pleasant surprises and my shot in the dark, I am deciding to write about something that is absolutely killing me and my team, to the benefit of other teams.  I am on the wrong side of Fantasy Schadenfreude and it is something that I really can't control.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the term schadenfreude, it means "satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune".  In this case, Fantasy Schadenfreude will be tweaked to include this feeling within fantasy hockey.  In other words, their players are playing really well, because they're on good or hot teams.  Those good or hot teams are beating bad or cold teams and my players belong to those bad or cold teams.  You may recall that in my first installment of The Waiver Wire, I talked about how I played fantasy hockey like I play blackjack, I play the odds.  This article is about how the odds are playing me.

Players on the Wrong Side of Fantasy Schadenfreude

Matt Moulson - BUF - LW - 39% owned

Those of you who know me, know that my number two team is the Buffalo Sabres.  This season has been excruciatingly painful, but the fans are not the only ones suffering.  Matt Moulson was traded at the deadline last year to the Minnesota Wild.  He decided that he hated it there so much, that he'd rather re-sign in Buffalo, which is what he did.  Moulson was a late bloomer, but has quite the track record.  Three 30 goal seasons, a 15 goal season in the lockout and averaging .67 points per game over the entire length of his career.  Even last year, on the Sabres he put up 11-18-29 in 44 games.  That is a 21-33-54 pace.  Not too shabby for a bad team.  But this year, the Sabres are so bad, that it is almost impossible to produce anything good unless you are Crosby yourself.  Moulson has put up 1-2-3 in 16 games, while sporting a -8.  He's only shooting 3.4% but even if that picks up, there's no way he touches 20 goals.  I was really surprised to see 39% of the fantasy world still owning Moulson, given that there are probably 150 better options in the free agent pool currently.

Brian Campbell - FLA - D - 60% owned

Brian Campbell is your stereotypical offensive-minded defenseman.  He is fantastic offensively and leaves a lot to be desired defensively.  But hey, the closest thing to defense in most fantasy leagues are hits, blocked shots and plus minus with the super occasional take away stat so usually, that doesn't matter.  In doing my research, I found out that Campbell was a sixth round pick in 1997.  He was developed by the Sabres, landed in San Jose for a bit, went off to Chicago and finally landed in Florida.  The past three years of his fantasy career has pretty much been spent on the wrong side of Schadenfreude.  Even with these past three years, he still has managed a career average of .5 points per game.  This year, he has 0-3-3 and is -6 in 13 games.  For a player of his caliber, that is brutal.  On top of that, Campbell only has 13 shots.  He's a player that is hard to drop, because you know he can produce but after 12 games, and after seeing how the Panthers' season is going, many fantasy owners are probably growing impatient.

Players on the Right Side of Fantasy Schadenfreude

Mark Giordano - CGY - D - 96& owned

If the season ended today, Mark Giordano would probably win the Norris, and in an alternate dimension where there is no Sidney Crosby, he'd probably be the MVP of the league as well.  Calgary is off to a 9-5-2 start which is good enough for fourth in the Western Conference.  Their top two scorers are Giordano and TJ Brodie and rookie Johnny Gaudreau is rocking it with 3-9-12 in 15 games.  And by the way, Jonas Hiller is 7-3-1 with a 2.07 GAA and .931 save %.  Pretty much everyone on this team is on the right side of Fantasy Schadenfreude but I wanted to talk about Giordano.  Giordano wasn't even drafted.  You could look at his career before last year and say "Gee, he's put up .39 points per game and plays a pretty solid defensive game".  Now it's "holy shit,  over the last 80 games, he's scoring at a pace of .81 points per game, and still has that solid defensive game.  Norris, here he comes!"  Seriously.  Will the Flames sustain this pace?  Probably not.  They are shooting approximately 11.1% (I bet they're high quality shots though) which is absolutely insane.  They are also riding some amazing goaltending (I am sensing deja vu).  This Fantasy Schadenfreude wave won't last forever, but I'm really excited to see how far it goes.

Patric Hornqvist - PIT - RW - 93% owned

On June 27, 2014, Hornqvist became one of the happiest people in the world.  Sure he had to move to western Pennsylvania, which might as well be Alabama.  Sure, it doesn't have the amazing food of Nashville.  But you know what Pittsburgh does have?  Sidney Crosby.  Crosby is the best player in the game, straight up.  There is no argument.  You can try, you are wrong.  One of the things that makes him the best players of the game, is how he elevates the game of those he plays with.  I like to call this the Chris Kunitz effect.  Crosby plays with third liner, third liner lights it up, third liner gets paid.  What happens when you put a legit top six winger with Crosby?  Well you get Patric Hornqvist and his stat line of 9-9-18 and +7 in 13 games.  That's silly good, considering Hornqvist was a respectable .59 points per game in his career (although in Nashville, that may be .7 points per game on an average offensively gifted team).  Fantasy Schadenfreude doesn't get any better than that.  Pittsburgh is demolishing opponents left and right.  Marc-Andre Fleury is having a hell of a year as well being 9-2 with a .931 sv% and 1.90 GAA.

The conclusion of Fantasy Schadenfreude is that sometimes, it is predictable.  I drafted Hornqist because I knew he'd be with Crosby, and figured that he'd light it up.  Many times however, it is unpredictable.  I personally am surprised that the Avalanche, Stars and Blue Jackets are doing so poorly.  On the other side, I am absolutely surprised by how Vancouver, Nashville, Winnipeg, Calgary and the Islanders are doing.  There are quite a few players I drafted that I thought would be doing better by now, but have been pulled down by their teams surprising poor performance.  Let me know who surprised you on either side of the spectrum.  Who has been a huge surprise for you?  And who is trapped on a poor performing team?