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Fantasy Lacrosse: NLL Week 8 Preview

Week 8 brings with it the most action packed week of the season so far.  Across the entire weekend, all the teams will be in action at least once.  As a fan, I am stoked to kick back, relax and watch some up and down lacrosse. 

However, as an avid Fantasy Lacrosse player, I am ready for the chess match to really begin. Until now, you have been able to sit back, pick the studs on each roster that have played each week, and basically be on cruise control. But now, picking the right match-up will mean the difference between a top five finish for the week, and an early exit.

Week 8 Fantasy Lacrosse Notes

There are a lot of considerations this weekend. First, you have the Trevor Baptiste decision. Trevor has been a beast this season for fantasy lacrosse owners. He fills all the major stat categories and is a machine with loose balls. You could play him against the Black Wolves, but at 62% on draws, his opponent Joe Nardella is the 3rd best draw man in the league this season and the Wolves might have the best transition defense in the league. Do you play Baptise on Sunday, when he has battled hard against top competition less than 24 hours after the game on Saturday. 

Granted, Rochester is playing back to back as well, but they have been showing some signs of life as of late and will be looking to swing their fortunes with two cracks at their first win. Do you play him in both games, because you have that much faith in his abilities?

Other questions to consider this week:

  • Do you believe in Callum Crawford as the top dog in fantasy lacrosse this season?  (Hint: I do!)
  • Which one of the Swarm players do you rely on against the league’s worst defense: Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats or Shayne Jackson? Or are you going to draft all three anticipating a rout?
  • Will Mark Matthews break out in fantasy lacrosse this week?
  • Is Mitch Jones leading the league in total points just a mirage?

No matter what you do, be sure to think through your decisions as this week definitely brings more questions than answers!

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 1 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.

Forward

Callum Crawford
Season Stats – 11G, 16A, 11 LB, 0 CTO
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 25.75 total fantasy points, 9.91 fantasy PPG

If you watch the Black Wolves on BR Live this year, or follow them on the internet, you are bound to have heard Crawford talk about how everyone needs to touch the ball and it can’t die in his stick. Crawford has shown in the past that he can do it all himself, but his fantasy production is sky-rocketing this year because he is using his teammates more and trusting in the Black Wolves offense. With a good number of second assists, and wonderful finishing capabilities, Crawford should continue to be the top point producer in the league per game this year. 

Defense/Transition

Zach Currier
Season Stats – 2G, 5A, 43 LB, 4 CTO
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 5.44 fantasy PPG

The safe play this week, even with the above mentioned back to back’s, is to take Baptiste in both games and Jake Withers in his one and only game against San Diego. However, in a week with so many players available, you do not need to play it safe with all of your defensive options.

Currier is playing against Rochester and is coming in well rested.  Both Shawn Evans and Holden Cattoni are known for taking chances to generate offense, which should leave a few caused turnovers in Currier’s back pocket. So although he may get fewer loose balls than his faceoff counterparts, his ability to produce in transition, as well as the opportunities for a season high in caused turnovers, make Currier my starter of the week. 

Goalie

Christian Del Bianco
Season Stats – 195 Saves, 34 GA
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 12.06 fantasy PPG

Normally, I wouldn’t mention Del Bianco in this section. Not because he isn’t a great starter, but because he is almost always the obvious choice.  However, in a week when picking the right starting goalie is critical, this is the week you HAVE to start Del Bianco.  He is not only the top choice week to week, but he is playing against the winless Knighthawks, who although last week showed up with a better performance, have not had much offensive firepower this season. I am predicting that we will we see a dominating 45 save, five goal performance from him this week.

Stud to Avoid

Mitch Jones
Season Stats – 12G, 20A, 37 LB, 2 CTO
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 8.25 fantasy PPG

At 28-years-old, Mitch Jones is off to a fast start. However, over the last two seasons Jones has averaged 6.48 fantasy points per game. Although he is to be commended for his fast start, and the fact that he has surely won some folks a top five finish this year while other fantasy lacrosse players (see myself) have left him on the shelf, this is the week he probably comes back down to his level. This is as much because of his overall skill set, as it is because he is playing against a great defensive team in Colorado. With a loaded week of games, I would avoid all Vancouver forwards, but if I had to pick one under-performer for you in a key week, it would be Jones.

Rookie to Watch

Andrew Kew
Season Stats – 6G, 13A, 18 LB, 0 CTO
Fantasy Lacrosse Stats – 7.83 fantasy PPG

The 23-year-old is showing everyone why he was the pre-draft favorite to go number 1 overall.  Although this is not the best week to rely on a rookie, and he has a tough match up, he would be the pick for anyone looking to go big or go home. He could easily put up a 12 point fantasy week, benefiting from the attention that will be placed on Crawford. However, he could easily be swallowed up this week and disappoint, as rookies often do. But if you are down on your luck and looking to make moves this week on the overall season leaderboard, Kew is someone worth taking a gamble on. 

Lange’s Lineup

Forwards – Callum Crawford (NEB), Lyle Thompson (GEO) and Mark Matthews (SAS)

Defense/Transition – Zach Currier (CGY), Ian MacKay (BUF) and Jake Withers (HFX)

Goalie – Christian Del Bianco (TOR)

Adam and Hutton’s Epoch Lacrosse Fantasy Locks

For more Fantasy Lacrosse coverage, be sure to listen to the Pro Lacrosse Talk podcast every week.

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