National Lacrosse League 2014 Top Season-Opening Fantasy Picks

Jim FlanneryAnalyst IDecember 24, 2013

Rochester's Johnny Powless could be a hidden gem for your fantasy NLL team.
Rochester's Johnny Powless could be a hidden gem for your fantasy NLL team.Photo: Larry Palumbo, via

The National Lacrosse League's 2014 season actually opens in 2013, with three games taking place on Dec. 28. With the season beginning in only a few days, it's time to start thinking about who you're going to select for your fantasy lacrosse team.

Six teams are active in Week 1, so obviously that's where you'll want to spend your fantasy money. There are a few players who are pretty good bets to earn you some points, such as the Colorado Mammoth's John Grant Jr. and Ryan Benesch of the Buffalo Bandits, who are both perennial top-10 scorers.

Kevin Crowley of the Philadelphia Wings and Mark Matthews of the Edmonton Rush are also pretty much sure things to score a few goals and are also known quantities.

But that's not where you win fantasy leagues, as everyone knows. You win by finding the bargains.

One of the possible hidden gems to start this year could be Johnny Powless of the Rochester Knighthawks. Powless is just 20 years old and has already played two years in the NLL. His sophomore numbers (22 goals, 19 assists) were down slightly from his rookie season (26 G, 24 A).

This means that Powless is not only primed for a breakout season, he's also probably undervalued.

The Minnesota Swarm's top draft pick, Logan Schuss, will also be one to watch among this year's forwards. Rookies are usually a little undervalued, which makes Schuss a good candidate. He had a four-goal night in a preseason scrimmage against Rochester, so that's a good sign that he's the real deal.

But the real steal might be the less well-known Scott Jones who was also selected in the first round and who has also been scoring with regularity in preseason scrimmages. Jones could be flying under the fantasy radar and could be a great pickup.

One more Swarm player that could pay great fantasy dividends is transition Brock Sorensen. He had a decent rookie season, picking up 11 points and 51 loose balls, but he has tons of room to grow.

When you start filling out your defense, consider Dan Ball of the Colorado Mammoth. The third-year defenseman was a late cut by the Swarm and quickly snapped up by the Mammoth to add depth on the left side. He is liable to enter the season with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove that he belongs in the NLL and that makes him a worthwhile gamble.

I'd also look to Colorado when it comes to goaltending. They had a bad year between the pipes last year, so they'll be undervalued, but Tye Belanger turned things around nicely in the second half of the 2013 season. 

With stud rookie Dillon Ward added to the goaltending mix and Hall of Famer Dallas Eliuk coaching Belanger and Ward, look for a huge uptick in their performance this year, which means you should be getting good value for your fantasy dollar.


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