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With the Classic in the rearview, Fantasy Fishing is moving to the full field of anglers, which is going to make this game a little more complicated.
And if we learned anything from the Classic it's that the bucket system is not a free pass to a high score. Options aren't always the best thing. There are going to be a lot of tough questions because there are no more bargains. You can't justify putting Todd Faircloth on your team instead of Skeet Reese because he cost a couple of fewer points.
For instance, in Group A for this week's TroKar Duel in the Delta on the California Delta, you can have two of these three options: Elite Series 2007 Delta champion Aaron Martens, California's own and Delta expert Reese, and current Classic champ and best angler in the world Kevin VanDam.
Last year, it was an easier decision. I would have probably gone with the cheaper Reese and Martens so I could free up a couple of extra points to use in the third and fourth slots, but this year I'm thinking it's time to get out the dartboard; at least then I could blame fate when my team bombs. Odds are two of these three will finish in the top 12 and the other one will finish somewhere around 25th. I just don't know who will do what.
A quick look at Group B points immediately points to Fred Roumbanis, who started his career in California. Not only did he finish 21st when the Elite Series was on the Delta in 2007, but in four California tournaments he's fished with BASS since 2004, his worst finish is 27th.
After Roumbanis, it gets a little murky. Byron Velvick was a California guy, but he bombed last time on the Delta. I feel as if this slot should really be filled by someone who consistently catches fish, and whose style suits this shallow-water fishery. That means Greg Hackney, Tommy Biffle, or maybe Dean Rojas.
Then there are the 53 anglers in Group C, of which you can pick one. Start with the guys from California, Jared Lintner and Ish Monroe. Monroe didn't show well on the Delta in 2007, but Lintner finished seventh and jump-started a really nice rookie season. But that's not saying a lot considering that five of the guys in Group C finished in the top 12 that year: Derek Remitz (second), Stephen Browning (third), Lintner, Chris Lane (ninth), and James Niggemeyer (11th).
Take your pick. For more information on the anglers and tournaments, check out the angler database.
Surprises: Brent Chapman, Kevin Wirth, Jeff Freeman.
Colossal disappointments: Skeet Reese, Boyd Duckett. If you somehow managed to keep both of these guys (who finished one-two last time on Lay Lake) off your roster, then you're probably near the top of your league. If you had them both, like me, you're going to spend the next few weeks catching up.
Mild disappointments: Steve Kennedy, Greg Hackney, Randy Howell, Alton Jones. They didn't totally bomb, but they hurt your team if you invested in their typical consistency.