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Is Tavares the BAC?

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Fantasy owners are always on the lookout for the BAC.

No, that doesn't stand for blood alcohol content, though it's important to always keep track of that as well.

The acronym denotes the title of Best After Crosby, named after Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is the undisputed best player in fantasy, so there's no reason to talk about him aside from our weekly admiration of his numbers. We need something we can dispute, and the title of BAC is one of those topics.

New York Islanders center John Tavares just might have the title after erupting for seven goals and 16 points over his last seven games.

But we won't know for sure until we see how Tavares stacks up against some of the other top players in fantasy hockey.

Tavares vs. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Ovechkin's 31 goals lead the NHL by six and his 225 SOG lead by 49, but he has just 12 assists and a -17 differential. The Capitals winger also has 32 PIM and 23 PPP. With 20 goals, 34 assists, 34 PIM, 21 PPP, 139 SOG and a +2, Tavares has been a better fantasy asset than Ovechkin this season.

Tavares vs. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Kane is tied with Tavares for second in the NHL with 54 points, and he has a similar breakdown to Tavares with 23 goals and 31 assists. Kane's 156 SOG, 14 PIM, 20 PPP and +10 don't outweigh Tavares' production in those categories. It's too close to call.

Tavares vs. Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins

Tavares edges Kunitz, Crosby's linemate, by nine assists, three power-play points (PPP) and 11 shots on goal (SOG). He has three fewer goals and two fewer penalty minutes (PIM). The only category in which Kunitz really distances himself from the Islanders star is +/-, where Kunitz beats Tavares +23 to +2.

Tavares vs. Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks

Sharp is one player who may be hotter than Tavares -- he's torched opponents for two hat tricks, 14 goals and 22 points in his last 14 games. That gives Sharp 25 goals, 21 assists, 24 PIM and 176 SOG. Tavares has five fewer goals, 13 more assists, 10 more PIM, five more PPP and 37 less SOG. Once again, he has a massive disadvantage in +/-, trailing Sharp's +22 by 20.

OK, so Tavares' lackluster +/- prevents him from taking down Kunitz or Sharp for the BAC title -- for the sake of closure in this matter, Sharp's 176 SOG put him ahead of Kunitz -- but he's still a top-five fantasy player and is on the upswing.

For the rest of the season, I'd actually prefer to have the 23-year-old Tavares over Kunitz or Sharp.

Kunitz' fantasy value is entirely dependent on Crosby being healthy, and Crosby hasn't exactly been the most durable player in the league during his career.

The 32-year-old Sharp's recent history also is marred by injuries, as he missed 20 games last season.

Sharp also is performing at a career-best pace of 1.02 ppg after posting 0.83 ppg his last six seasons, so there's a chance he drops off. The veteran only had two goals and eight points in October before going off for 38 over his last 32.

Tavares has been more consistently excellent, notching 13 points over 12 games in October, 17 points in 15 November games, 14 points over 13 games in December and 10 points this month.

We may not be able to strap the BAC championship belt around Tavares' waist yet, but he'll continue to be a strong contender for the gold, er, silver.

01/08 11:07:32 ET


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