With the National Lacrosse League's season opener just days away, it is time for fantasy fans to finalize their Week 1 picks.
First of all, for all you fantasy players who are jonesing for some more action in the absence of the NHL, yes Fantasy NLL is a thing.
Second of all, while there are a number of obvious picks to look at for the season, there are definitely some considerations to keep in mind right off the bat.
The biggest thing to focus on is the fact that Week 1 of the NLL schedule only features a single game. If you're not picking guys from the Washington Stealth and Rochester Knighthawks, you're not going to be earning points on the first weekend.
Washington is looking for redemption after a terrible 2012 campaign and will probably come out firing. Rochester, meanwhile, is trying to repeat as league champions and will want to set the tone for their title defense.
I'm expecting a high-scoring affair as a result, so focusing on the guys likely to put points on the board is probably the right strategy.
Washington's big three are Rhys Duch, Lewis Ratcliff and Athan Iannucci. Any one of these scorers could have a huge night on any given night but I'd take a flyer on Iannucci, who scored 22 of his 45 points in his final four games last year and who should be the least expensive of the three.
On the cheaper side of things coming from the Stealth, you might have a look at Brett Bucktooth or Dean Hill.
Rochester has a bunch of good options among their forwards. New arrival Dan Dawson is an elite scorer and will get you a bunch of points, but he'll cost you. Same goes for Cody Jamieson and Casey Powell, who has returned to the NLL after a year away.
Powell is a former league MVP and will be priced accordingly, but I might stay away until he can prove that he still has what it takes to perform at the level he used to.
Instead I might be looking towards Mike Accursi or Johnny Powless for some scoring punch without the big price tag.
The best transition player on either side is Bobby Snider, who won't get you much in the way of offense, but who will grab a ton of loose balls coming off of faceoffs. Snider set the NLL record for faceoffs won last season and Rochester's best draw man, Tyler Burton, simply won't be able to hang with him.
The potential steal of the season among transition players might be the Knighthawks' Joel McCready, who didn't play last year and might be undervalued as a result. McCready did score a hat trick in an exhibition game earlier in December however, so he may be poised for a hot start to the new season.
Neither team is loaded with defensemen who are likely to deliver big points for you, but Rochester's Brad Self could rack up a few loose balls for you.
Rochester's Pat McCready or Washington's Jeff Moleski would do a solid job of filling the remainder of your defense.
As for goaltending in the first week, I'd call it a dead heat. Go with who you think will win and cross your fingers.
Once you get past the opening week, the season moves to a more regular routine with many more options for your selection.
Be careful with the obvious picks, though; sure John Grant Jr. set the NLL single-season scoring record and will rack up a ton more points this year. But at the price you'll pay for him, you'd be far better off going for Edmonton's first overall pick Mark Matthews, who may be the best new prospect to enter the league in a generation—a good gamble at a great price.
The NLL season begins on Jan. 5, 2013 in Washington, with the Stealth hosting the Knighthawks.
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