Week 11 Fantasy Lacrosse Notes
As fantasy lacrosse owners in the NLL, we have many factors to take into account when setting and choosing our lineups. The pro box league is unlike other lacrosse leagues, such as the PLL, where all the teams travel together and home crowds are not a consideration. But, with a game being played this weekend in Vancouver on Friday night, and both teams playing in that game again on the other coast, in the late afternoon on Sunday, this external factor is a consideration to keep in mind this weekend. There are three big factors that I believe will impact results this weekend, and generally speaking, every weekend this season.
- Back-to-back Games
In a league where not every team plays each week, and some play only once, it is important to watch out for back to backs. Are teams traveling a long distance after their first game? Who are they playing on the second night? Will the same goalie start both games, or are they looking to rest one of the two? These are all questions that you need to answer for yourself before setting your lineup. As the season moves on, you will see how this type of game does, or does not, affect the performance of certain players. Until then, you are best to avoid players that are involved in the second game of a weekend. This week, I will start Dhane Smith during the second game of the weekend, but that is with the knowledge that this type of schedule has never affected his output as a player in the past.
- Home vs Away
Like all sports, the home floor advantage for teams is important. But, within the NLL the importance varies from team to team. In New England for example, they have a special exception from the league to use a smaller floor, making transition players more likely to get involved. Furthermore, spacing can be challenging for the opponent’s offense to excel as much as they may do elsewhere, especially since they are not used to that type of floor. Some teams, such as New York and Rochester, are notorious for struggling on the road, making the home goalies playing against them great options for starts each week.
- Distance of Travel
Yes, this one ties in with back to back games, but in a league where some players live far away from their home stadiums, and geography dictates that some teams have a much tougher travel schedule than others, it is important to consider the travel involved each week. Veterans are less affected by this as they are used to the travel. It should be a consideration for rookies and second year players, until their performance shows how travel affects their game as a whole. I do not shy away from rookies each week who have a good home match up, but if they are traveling via a plane to get to a game, I generally stay away from them until they prove that they can handle the grind of an NLL season.
Start ‘em and Sit ‘em
Everybody knows to start Lyle Thompson or Mark Matthews, but what is harder to map out is who to pair with them, or when to sit those tier one studs, to win the ultimate bragging rights between you and your buddies throughout the week. This section is dedicated to finding those players who can take you from good to great each week, and who to sit each week as well.
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 7.43 Fantasy PPG
Cattoni is a player who I was not high on to start the season. Rochester was down, and from a fantasy perspective he just was not producing. His last two games, though, speak volumes to the the type of player he is, how vital he is to Rochester and how dangerous he can be from a fantasy lacrosse perspective. In their last two games, Cattoni has mustered up 17 fantasy points, while having a hand in 74% of the Knighthawks goals. This stretch includes five fantasy points in a game when his team was held to just four goals.
This week, Rochester hosts Vancouver on Sunday, who play two games over the weekend and have a coast to coast trip with less than a 48 hour turnaround between competitions. This external factor should allow for Rochester, and therefore Cattoni, to produce a good number of points, however even if they don’t, you can still expect a pretty good fantasy output from their top player!
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 5.13 Fantasy PPG
Brad Kri is off to a tremendoub start this year. The most underrated stat in fantasy lacrosse is caused turnovers. When looking at fantasy players at this position, we often use loose alls as our barometer, but the stat I recommend you recommend to look at first and foremost is caused turnovers. When you add Kri’s 13 caused turnovers, which are good enough to be second in the league, to his crucial six points in transition, you are getting a guaranteed three points per game. Now, pair these numbers with the fact that he is 20th in the league in LB’s and you have a fantasy stud! All of this, and the fact that Toronto’s opponent is Buffalo, who like Vancouver, will travel coast to coast for two games in less than 48 hours, and you have a perfect fantasy storm.
Christian Del Bianco
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 9.46 Fantasy PPG
Simply put, the best goalie in the league is facing off against the lowest scoring team in the league. At first glance this season, I thought this might be a rest day for Del Bianco, and I would monitor this situation for possible changes before locking in your roster. Given that right now they are outside the playoff picture looking in, I do not see them sitting him this week. If he does play, you can lock him in as a top fantasy performer, guaranteed.
Stud to Avoid
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 6.00 Fantasy PPG
On paper, 6 fantasy points per game is a pretty solid effort on the season, and it does rank McLaughlin among the leaders. Below the surface, he is a player who I find difficult to trust. With an average of 13.71 shots per game, I would expect him to be among the elite of the elite, with around 8.5 – 9 fantasy lacrosse points per game. The fact is, that he is a high volume, ball dominant player, who just doesn’t produce as much on a weekly basis in order to be a strong consideration for your fantasy lineup. Yes, he can win a week for sure, but he is absolutely not a lock.
Rookie to Watch
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 4.07 Fantasy PPG
Gibson has been given, and will continue to be given, every opportunity to be a top player for the Riptide this year. I view New York a lot like the 2015 Minnesota team. The year before moving to Georgia, the Swarm was loaded with young talent. Shayne Jackson, Miles Thompson, Logan Schuss, Callum Crawford and Keil Matisz. Lots of those players moved on to other places, but it was a great collection of young talent who are all excelling at a high level somewhere now. This New York squad should have a similar boom in years to come. Hopefully they can keep them all together and bring a trophy to the Island soon. However, until that time comes, Gibson is the only forward on this roster worthy of a spot in your fantasy lineup, and with so many top players on a bye this week, you may want to consider him.
Week 10 In Review
Matt Beers and Joe Nardella
It is always tough when you make predictions on January 30, and one of the players you highlighted gets put on the injured reserve list two days later. From a non-fantasy perspective, what Vancouver was able to do this past weekend without their best defensive player, as well as without one of their top offensive players in Logan Schuss, was phenomenal. Unfortunately, from a fantasy perspective, Matt Beers wasn’t added to the reserve list until after your roster was locked, so if you followed my advice here it no doubt cost you last week.
However, if you also took my advice and started my “Rookie Stud to Watch” Joe Nardella, you were pretty pleased. He went 15-17 at the faceoff which led to 11 loose balls, his first NLL career goal and 4.75 fantasy lacrosse points, a lone bright spot in the Black Wolves week 10 loss.
For more Fantasy Lacrosse coverage, be sure to listen to the Pro Lacrosse Talk podcast every week.
Forwards – Holden Cattoni (ROC), Mark Matthews (SAS) and Dhane Smtih (BUF @TOR)
Defense/Transition – Brad Kri (TOR), Zach Currier (CGY) and Kyle Rubisch (SAS)
Goalie – Christian Del Bianco (CGY)