PLL top props: Star player prop bets for Premier Lacrosse League Week 5
Week 5 of the Premier Lacrosse League season rolls into Minnesota this weekend, taking over TCO Stadium. Half of the teams in the league were impacted by the return of players from the indoor season, most notably the Chaos — who immediately added Josh Byrne, Dhane Smith, Ian Mackay and Chase Fraser to their lineup. The Archers, Waterdogs and Whipsnakes all got impact players back, as well, although they all took a week off before their presumed return to field play this week. The exception was former MVP Zed Williams, who was in the lineup right away for the Whipsnakes.
The personnel changes can mean a shuffling of roles for some players on those teams, and for the way the an offense and defense gets schemed each week. That, in turn, impacts the way player props might be evaluated. There are still a handful on the board that should be worth a play.
Justin Guterding (Whipsnakes) under 2.5 points (+105)
Justin Guterding has moved back to midfield following Williams’ return from the indoor season. In his first game as a midfielder last week against Redwoods, Guterding managed two points and just one shot. Since his first two PLL years, Guterding hasn’t produced at the all-star level we were used to. When he was traded to Whipsnakes, he became more of a role player and less of a central figure. The opportunity to play attack in the absence of Williams meant he featured more prominently as a key weapon, but now that Williams has returned Guterding is once again a complementary piece. As an assisted shooter, Guterding is shooting 50%, while unassisted he’s just 20%. The opportunities for him to be assisted diminish with Williams being back.
There are two places where you might expect the Whipsnakes to attack. First, the Waterdogs are the worst in the league in defensive efficiency in transition situations, allowing teams to shoot 62.5%. Whipsnakes in recent weeks have emphasized attacking earlier in the shot clock and out of sub-game situations, trying to catch unsettled defenses. If they do that effectively, the beneficiaries have been Mike Chanenchuk, Michael Ehrhardt, Carlson and now likely Williams, but not so much Guterding. Second, their last meeting was a feeding frenzy for the Whipsnakes’ attack. Carlson and Matt Rambo combined for 10 points with six goals, and now Williams joins that mix.
The Whipsnakes lead the league in doorstep goals with 15 and shoot 68% from that area. That Bryan Cole and Brad Smith had three points each in that first meeting, as well, and I would expect Waterdogs LSM Ryland Rees to match up with Guterding — meaning Smith and Cole likely get more opportunities against short sticks. On top of all that, the return of Dillon Ward in net could mean the Whipsnakes have a harder time scoring in this meeting. Guterding should be involved and a key cog in the offensive machine, but when it comes to the scorebook the big numbers will be coming from other personnel.
Check out our full preview of Whipsnakes vs Waterdogs
Michael Sowers (Waterdogs) under 3.5 points (+115)
Last week against Chaos, scheme and ball movement rather than individual efforts led the Waterdogs to a win. This week, it’s the Whipsnakes. Sowers will likely be leaned upon to win as a dodger this weekend. The Whipsnakes surrender 28.6% shooting on assisted opportunities. It’s hard to generate assisted opportunities without drawing help defenders, and Sowers is the best candidate for that. The Whipsnakes are second in the league in overall defensive efficiency, including the second-best efficiency against transition. They have yet to surrender more than 12 goals.
In their previous meeting, the Whips prevailed 12-11 in OT. Sowers recorded 5 points in that game but shot just 13%, and took enough physical punishment that he missed the next week. Sowers’ ability is undeniable. He can separate from defenders and has elite vision, allowing him to do damage from virtually any spot on the offense. The question with Sowers as a pro has been durability. He missed almost his entire rookie season following a concussion, and some serious medical complications as a result. He has missed time this year with injury, as well. Sowers has never been afraid to put his body on the line around the net, absorbing a great deal of contact
The scout on Sowers now is to play physical, make him uncomfortable, and try to wear him down. That’s easier said than done, since it’s so hard to get your hands on him in the first place. But the Whips defense protects the interior very well giving up a total of just 11 goals from the low lefty and righty wings, and the doorstep combined.
Compounding all of this, Jake Withers is now on the IR for the Waterdogs, meaning rookie Zac Tucci will have to contend with Joe Nardella this week. Tucci has been solid, going 50% in two games including a respectable 47% against Connor Farrell. Still, it will likely be a heavy possession advantage for the Whipsnakes. Coupled with that, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Matt Dunn will be up to the challenge and win the matchup — forcing the Waterdogs to look elsewhere for an offensive party starter and limiting Sowers production.
Read more about the matchup between Whipsnakes and Waterdogs
Connor Kelly (Waterdogs) over 3.5 points (+145)
Kelly’s point total has gone up every week so far, culminating in a six-point game a week ago against Chaos that included two made two-pointers. He is shooting 30% over his last three games including those two made two bombs. Whipsnakes goaltender Kyle Bernlohr have given up 5 two-pointers this year, the second most in the league. In their first meeting Kelly scored two goals on six shots, but early in that game Waterdogs faceoff specialist Withers left with an injury and the Waterdogs possessions were severely limited as a result. Prior to that injury, the Waterdogs were actually in control of the game. Compounding that, Zach Currier became the Waterdogs primary faceoff option and wasn’t available on offense as consistently. Currier not being able to play as much offense meant he didn’t draw the LSM matchup, making the LSM was available for Kelly, Schlosser and other midfielders.
Withers will remain out this week, and the emergence of Tucci as a quality backup means Currier will be in his regular role and Kelly should be back with a short stick matchup. That is particularly good news, since Kelly has been effective as a dodger — particularly out of the invert. If the Waterdogs find success with other initiators, Kelly has been excellent as an assisted shooter. He’s 5-for-15 in those situations this year, which puts him ninth in the PLL. If Kelly plays out of the invert as a primary dodger, he becomes a feed first player when he initiates from behind, as he’s just 1-for-9 on unassisted shooting.
If Sowers is having a tough time with Dunn, using Kelly to QB the offense from X is an attractive option against a short stick matchup. He has seven assist opportunities on the year and four of them have been converted into goals. This is some long odds for a player prop, but Kelly can stay hot as a focal point of the Waterdogs’ offense, keep his point total high, and hit the over on the 3.5 despite the challenging match up and possession disadvantage.
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