New York Atlas draft pick Connor Shellenberger

PLL Fantasy: Who will be the best rookie attackman? 

By Paul Lamonaca | May 23, 2024

The 2024 PLL College Draft showcased the unprecedented level of talent coming into the league this year. 

While playmakers were abundant, there were three attackmen who headlined the draft. Which one of them will be the most productive in fantasy this year? Let’s break it down:

Brennan O’Neill, Denver Outlaws

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound attackman from Duke was taken with the No. 1 overall pick due to his size, his skill and the creativity he possesses when the ball is in his stick.

In his career with the Blue Devils, O’Neill scored 307 points, was named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2021 and received the prestigious Tewaaraton Award in 2023, given to the nation’s top player.

While O’Neill played attack collegiately, he could see time at midfield in the PLL, like he did for Team USA during the World Lacrosse Championships in 2023. 

O’Neill will most likely be the Outlaws’ top initiator – a major weakness for the team in 2023 – and ultimately take the majority of shots in Denver’s offensive sets. That volume, coupled with his elite skills, could allow him to quickly become one of the top scorers in the league. 

With the two-point line now a factor, O’Neill’s shooting range is another area where he can flourish by forcing teams to play him closer up and spread apart their defense in the process.

Connor Shellenberger, New York Atlas

From a freshman campaign in 2021 that led Virginia to a national championship, to becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer in 2024, Shellenberger’s presence on the lacrosse field is like no other.

The No. 2 overall pick’s vision behind the cage sets him apart as an elite passer. He excels at involving his teammates, making everyone else on offense a threat even without the ball.

Over the offseason, the Atlas traded Chris Gray – their leading scorer and top initiator behind the cage – to the California Redwoods. Shellenberger will be able to instantly fill that void as the quarterback for New York’s offense.

The Atlas also will continue to have a possession advantage each game thanks to four-time PLL Faceoff Athlete of the Year Trevor Baptiste, meaning more offensive opportunities and more scoring chances for Shellenberger.

Shellenberger’s built-in chemistry with New York’s roster should help, too. He’s reuniting with his former starting attack line at Virginia in undrafted rookie Payton Cormier and second-year standout Xander DicksonIn 2023, the trio formed the most efficient attack unit in the NCAA, tallying a total of 227 points. 

Pat Kavanagh, Boston Cannons

After constant hype about the top three attackmen in the 2024 draft potentially going in the first three picks, Kavanagh fell to the Cannons at No. 6. Regardless of his draft slot, he will be an instant fit for Boston’s offense. 

At Notre Dame, Kavanagh was the backbone of the 2023 Fighting Irish team that won the program’s first-ever national championship. Kavanagh brings creativity in his playstyle along with relentless determination for ground balls that helps get his team extra possessions of offense. 

The Cannons could use those extra possessions, as they ranked last in faceoff percentage last season. 

Kavanagh will have a great complement alongside him with his older brother, Matt, at attack. But with all three attackmen from 2023 returning for the Cannons, Pat Kavanagh’s impact on the offense might be delayed. 

With that logjam at his natural position, Kavanagh won’t be the best option for fantasy GMs, even though his clutch play and unrelenting effort should immediately help his new club.  

Verdict: Connor Shellenberger

Shellenberger checks all of the boxes when it comes to being a complete attackman. He can dodge, he can facilitate and he can work off-ball. The Atlas were fifth in offensive efficiency last season, and Shellenberger could be the key to driving the team’s point totals up in 2024. 

Shellenberger has consistently ranked as one of the most efficient scorers per game in college, and this trend will likely continue from the time he steps onto the field for the Atlas.