PLL fantasy breakout candidates

PLL Fantasy: Five breakout fantasy candidates to watch

By Paul Lamonaca | May 17, 2024

Weekly Fantasy is officially back. Here are five players to keep on your radar who could see their point production increase this season:

Jules Heningburg, Carolina Chaos

Over the offseason, Heningburg signed with the Chaos during free agency. During his tenure with the California Redwoods, Heningburg’s production slowly declined after a position change in 2021 saw him go from attack to running out of the box as a midfielder. Heningburg averaged just 18.4 touches per game in 2023, one of the lowest among the Redwoods’ offensive midfield -- a group that rotated its personnel constantly. This ultimately lowered Heningburg’s runs and ability to facilitate the ball all season.

With Heningburg most likely moving back to attack for Carolina, he has the opportunity to make an impact as a facilitator behind the cage. With returners in Josh Byrne and Brian Minicus at attack, Heningburg can be a great insert at X as he can complement Byrne’s finishing abilities.

During the 2023 season, attackmen averaged 29.8 touches per game compared to midfielders averaging 19.4. With Heningburg transitioning from being a third/fourth midfielder to now having a chance to start at attack, his touches per game will significantly increase, giving him an opportunity to boost his point totals in 2024. 

Grant Ament, Utah Archers

The 2021 Attackman of the Year had a slow start to his 2023 campaign. Battling a lower body injury for most of the season, Ament was not nearly as productive as he was in previous years, only scoring 13 points over eight regular-season games. 

When the postseason rolled around, Ament completely flipped the switch, scoring 11 points in two games to help lead the Archers to their first PLL Championship.

Ament can carry his momentum from last year into this season by being Utah's top facilitator at attack and distributing the ball to the Archers' array of offensive weapons. 

If he’s able to stay healthy, Ament will have the opportunity to be one of the biggest scoring threats in the PLL this season.

Sam Handley, Denver Outlaws

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound midfielder out of Penn had a more disappointing rookie year than most people expected. Handley, along with the rest of the Chrome LC offense, struggled mightily during the team’s abysmal 1-9 season. 

This season could be different for the Outlaws and Handley after Denver selected Duke midfielder Brennan O’Neill first overall in the College Draft. The question for the Outlaws is whether they’ll run O’Neill through the box as a midfielder, like he did during the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship, or keep him at his natural spot at attack. 

If O’Neill plays as a midfielder, teams will likely use their long-stick midfielder to cover him, leaving Handley to be guarded by a short stick. 

In 2023, Handley had a 5.6% shooting percentage when guarded by an LSM. When covered by a short stick, his percentage skyrocketed to 36.4%. With O’Neill now aboard, he should see more of the latter in 2024. 

Brad Smith, Maryland Whipsnakes

Smith made a name for himself as one of the best on-the-run shooters in the PLL over the past several seasons. In 2022, he was fourth in regular-season midfielder scoring with 22 points. But in 2023, Smith missed half of the regular season with an injury.

While Smith was injured, the Whipsnakes were able to showcase a budding star in Tucker Dordevic, who went on to win the PLL Rookie of the Year award. Dordevic and Smith can be a lethal duo this season with Dordevic most likely drawing the LSM, giving Smith the opportunity to initiate against a short stick.

There are some questions about how the Whipsnakes' roster will look after they made several offensive additions during the offseason, but head coach and general manager Jim Stagnitta will definitely need to rely on his veteran in Smith along with Dordevic as their main scorers from up top. 

If healthy, Smith can add a huge layer of scoring to the Whipsnakes’ offense and ultimately see his point tally rise in 2024.

Colin Kirst, Boston Cannons 

The 2023 All-Star and Goalie of the Year finalist backstopped the Cannons to their first semifinal appearance since the merger. Kirst was fourth in save percentage in 2023 and averaged 25.44 weekly fantasy points, establishing himself as one of the top netminders in the PLL. 

Kirst also was an integral part of the Cannons’ success during the 2024 Championship Series, posting the second-highest save percentage in the tournament to help propel Boston to its first Championship Series title.

Boston made several additions in the offseason, including signing 2023 Dave Pietramala Defenseman of the Year Garrett Epple to help boost a highly talented defense. The Cannons also acquired former Whipsnakes defenseman Bryce Young in a trade last November. 

With the additions to the defense along with a second year under his belt, Kirst again looks poised to be one of the most dominant goalies in the league.