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Jeff Shattler

NLL Fantasy Challenge: Week One Preview

01/05/2012, 12:30pm EST
By Alexander Hinkley

NLL.com's fantasy writer provides an overview of the new Fantasy Challenge format and tips to get out to a fast start.

The start of the 2012 National Lacrosse League season is only days away now and that means the first deadline for the new and improved Fantasy Challenge is also coming up. There have been many changes to the fantasy game since last year and some of them are not simply cosmetic.


Reigning League MVP Jeff Shattler was a fantasy stud in 2011, finishing fifth overall in scoring in the NLL Fantasy Challenge.

The start of the 2012 National Lacrosse League season is only days away now and that means the first deadline for the new and improved Fantasy Challenge is also coming up. There have been many changes to the fantasy game since last year and some of them are not simply cosmetic.

NEW RULES

Some of the core rules of the Fantasy Challenge have been changed. First of all teams now start with a $120 salary cap instead of only $100. This will allow you to create a more balanced team right out of the gate.

A good initial strategy is to spread your money out evenly so you maximize your potential for profit. The maximum value for a player is $25, so although the more high-priced guys might be more reliable for putting up points on a consistent basis, there isn’t much room to earn any money there. Those are the type of players you will want on your team later on in the season. You should also make sure to try to spend every dollar you have. Unspent money is wasted money.

Another change is that player positions are now locked-in on your team. What I mean by that is that last year you had to play two goalies and eight runners. You could distribute these runners across defense, transition, and forward pretty much any way you liked so long as you had at least one of each and did not surpass the maximum allowed for a position (e.g. you could only have five forwards). This year the positions are set in stone. Four forwards, three transition players, two defensemen, and one goalie. Perhaps the biggest change here is the one goalie instead of two which will free up some more of your money since all starters are fairly costly.

The scoring system and other rules remain the same from last year. Click on the rules tab on the fantasy page to see a full listing.

NEW LOOK

The most obvious change is the completely revamped look and functionality of the Fantasy Challenge. The newly designed game includes improved navigation, stat tracking, and even the ability to create your own mini leagues to compete against friends or family. You can also now continue to view available players and their values without having to remove someone currently on your team in order to do so.

Each week of the season I will be writing an advice column on who I think are good buys and sells for that particular week. Since there is only one game this week - Calgary at Toronto - you’ll want to fill your lineup with players from each of those teams in order to get any points. Here are a few solid buys and players to avoid in Week One:

BUY

Josh Sanderson (Toronto $19) – Sanderson had a down year last season as part of the “Big Three.” Now that he is back on Toronto where he had tremendous success between 2005 and 2008, he is a good candidate for a bounce back year. Sanderson is a playmaker who could easily break 100 points this season by wracking up assists alongside superstars Colin Doyle, Stephan Leblanc and Garrett Billings. Should this be called the “Big Four”? Let’s not forget Blaine Manning! At under $20, he is also an excellent value.

Daryl Veltman (Calgary $10) – Veltman is another player who had a somewhat disappointing 2011. He broke 70 points each of his first two seasons in the league and then posted just 42 points (13G + 29A) last year. Perhaps now that he has had time to adjust to Calgary’s offensive playing style, he will improve upon these numbers. For a guy that has 70 point potential, risking just $10 on Veltman is well worth it.

Mike Kilby (Calgary $1) – It can sometimes be hard to fill your roster when there are just two teams of players to choose from for the week. Kilby is a good pick because he only costs $1. Having Kilby on your roster will free up a lot of money which can then be put towards another big name player. Keep in mind that all he has to do in order to give you a good return on your money is scoop up one loose ball. Even if he doesn’t, you won’t have to worry about losing any money on him.

AVOID

Pat Campbell (Toronto $13) / Matt Roik (Toronto $15) – Bob Watson was the starting goalie in Toronto for many years but now that Whipper has retired, who will get his starting job? Both Roik and Campbell have experience in this role and even if one or the other starts the season, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will have earned the role for all of 2012. It’s better to avoid both of these players in fantasy for the time being. There’s nothing worse than spending a good chunk of change on a player if he doesn’t even play that week. Go with Calgary’s goaltender, Mike Poulin, instead.

Jeff Shattler (Calgary - $23) – Shattler had a breakout season last year when he set career highs in goals, assists and points. He finished the season with 273 fantasy points, making him the fifth highest producer in the whole Fantasy Challenge. For a guy that started off at just $12, he made a lot of fantasy owners a lot of money. But can he repeat his stellar performance in 2012? Buying into Shattler too soon and based on the way he played a year ago might end up being too costly at this price point. Avoid him for now and see how he does in the first game of the season.

MY TEAM
Mike Poulin – Calgary $18
Stephen Hoar – Toronto $8
Mike Kilby – Calgary $1
Travis Cornwall –Calgary $7
Geoff Snider – Calgary $19
Peter McFetridge – Calgary $5
Josh Sanderson – Toronto $19
Curtis Dickson – Calgary $15
Daryl Veltman – Calgary $10
Blaine Manning – Toronto $18
Team Value: $120

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