Grand Theft Roto: Mailbag

I was already a heavy Facebook user, so when The Boss (Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto), put out the call for a few friends on the new ESPN Fan Profiles, I was quick to join.

The reason I mention it (beyond the fact that I have only like three friends and it looks sad), is that it gives me an outlet to answer some mailbag questions. There are normally too many to slot into an article and answer them all (my editors would have my head with such a word count), so I can now post them on the Blog section of my Fan Profile.

So, if you ask me a question from the link at the bottom of this page and you want to see an answer, just make me your "friend" on Fan Profiles and eventually you will see a response if I don't squeeze your question into a regular column.

In the spirit of getting some of those questions I receive answered, I present to you the first Grand Theft Roto hockey mailbag.

Casing the Joint

Michael (Canton, Mich.):
My question: I am thinking about trying to swing a trade for Maxim Afinogenov. I am thinking about offering Brad Boyes. Do you think this would be a good "Grand Theft Roto" trade? Any advice?

Answer: Although (as identified by my colleagues Pete Becker and Tristan Cockcroft) Boyes is a sell-high candidate, I don't necessarily agree that Afinogenov is a buy-low. Buffalo is getting a very balanced attack (circa 2005-06) and Afinogenov looks more like a mid-60-point player as opposed to the 80-point guy we pegged in the preseason. I'd still explore dealing Boyes for someone who is more apt to keep up a strong pace.

Jon (New Haven, Conn.):
Sean, I just traded Lubomir Visnovsky for Jonathan Cheechoo. I also have John-Michael Liles, Brent Burns, and Sergei Gonchar on my defense, so I figured it was worth taking the chance. Did I "buy low" or just overpay?

Answer: You bought low, and you did a good job of it. Cheechoo will get back on his horse at some point and you still have an average defense. Visnovsky is a great player, but Cheechoo can win leagues.

Bill (Parts Unknown):
Hey Sean, I have a certain amount of cash to spend, and the following players will fit into my cap space. Who do you think will produce the most points: Justin Williams, Alex Tanguay, Evgeni Malkin, Rick Nash, Jason Spezza or Rod Brind'Amour?

Answer: Spezza. With Dany Heatley by his side, Spezza is the only player besides Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby who I suspect could take a run at the Art Ross Trophy.

Matt (Lincoln, R.I.):
I recently dropped Ray Emery to pick up Milan Hejduk (don't know why he was dropped) in hopes of building my offense. I currently have Martin Gerber, Martin Brodeur and Olaf Kolzig between the pipes. After Emery's spectacular showing last week, I'm getting a little buyer's remorse here. Should I try to drop a struggling Slava Kozlov or Mike Knuble in hopes of picking Emery back up? I already have three goalies at this point, but with the platoon system about to start up in Ottawa, I'm a bit nervous Gerber will get the short end of the stick. What should I do about Emery?

Answer: The aftertaste of a Stanley Cup loss will be strong in Ottawa. I suspect Emery will share starts with Gerber until they can ship off Gerber for help on defense later this season. Emery has shown he can take the Senators to the Cup final and has the potential to win it. Pick Emery back up, but don't expect big numbers until later this season. Drop Knuble to get him.

Chad (Gainesville, Fla.):
Take a look at this theft. I traded Chris Chambers for Marvin Harrison! Does it get any better than that?

Answer: I believe you were looking for Shawn Peters' inbox, from fantasy football Grand Theft Roto. We do have an issue with too many Shawns on our fantasy staff, but I am the only spelled S-E-A-N. On a side note, Harrison hasn't done anything for you yet, so don't be so cocky.

Jeremy (New York City):
Hey Sean, I'm getting horrible plus/minus ratings. Can you give me a few off-the-radar guys that consistently have good ratings? Someone I can get for next to nothing. Thanks.

Answer: Chris Phillips is my first recommendation. He racks up the plus/minus from your defense and should come cheap because he doesn't score much. Anyone from the Minnesota Wild should help. Jason Chimera had a positive rating on last season's Blue Jackets team. I suspect he should have very useful numbers on this season's version as a fantasy reserve.

Chris (Jacksonville, Fla.):
I am a die-hard Avs fan and just completed a trade with a Canucks fan and wanted your thoughts. I nabbed Paul Stastny, Kimmo Timonen and Marc-Andre Fleury and gave up Patrick Marleau, Paul Ranger and Roberto Luongo. Push or did I get a steal considering I still have Marty Turco?

Answer: Stastny trumps Marleau, so long as the Sharks' captain remains away from Joe Thornton at even strength (which I suspect). Timonen trumps Ranger. And the drop-off from Fleury to Luongo isn't enough to make those other deals not worth pulling off. I'd say you did a fine job. Fleury will find his ground before too long. I expect to see him in the top 10 among goaltenders before the season is done.

Kevin (Grand Rapids, Mich.):
I have two questions: One, is it a decent idea to pick up someone to play only if no one else is playing just for PIM in a head-to-head league? For example, I picked up Derek Boogaard and play him when no other LWs have a game. Second, whom would you take out of these three (I basically have room for two of the three RWs): Jason Pominville, Ales Kotalik or J.P. Dumont. Thanks.

Answer: With regard to streaming in PIMs players … hell yeah. That is a terrific strategy. If you have the unlimited moves and the time to do it, that is the most efficient way to pick up PIMs without hurting your offensive output anywhere. I'll go you one further and say look for rivalries as well. When the Islanders and Rangers play, you know there are going to be fights. Dumont is my choice among those three players. Pominville and Kotalik are secondary players on Buffalo, but Dumont is first line for the Predators.

That's all I have room for here, but as I said, I'll be answering more questions on my Fan Profile. So be my friend.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.