2012 Elite Series Ramada Championship Oneida Lake - Syracuse, NY, Aug 23 - 26, 2012

Don't expect an all-Northern Top 12

Bucket E – Schultz, Simonton, VanDam

Although 2009 Oneida champion Chad Griffin is in Bucket E, as is Green Bay champ Jonathon VanDam, I'm leaning toward Bernie Shultz. Although the Florida pro is not having a great season (85th in AOY points), he has a great history on Oneida and momentum coming into this week, having placed ninth on Green Bay.

In three Elite Series events on Oneida, Bernie has made the Sunday cut every time, placing eighth in 2006, 10th in 2008 and11th in 2009. He's also competed in eight Classics. A win on Oneida would send him to his ninth.

"You could see Bernie doing it [again]," Zona said. "Bernie does well on smallmouth." But, he said, you must give Griffin "a little bit of a nod" because he's won here. Still, Griffin is in last place in the AOY race, with only 120 points (leader Brent Chapman has 566 points). I'm steering clear and sticking with Schultz.

Of the young guys in the bucket, you could consider Northerners Michael Simonton or VanDam, who placed second and 29th here in a 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open, respectively. Avoid Oklahoman Jared Miller, who finished 115th in that event.

Having qualified for the 2013 Classic with his win on Green Bay last month, VanDam will be loose and confident. If the smallmouth/drop shot bite is the deal, we could see both him and Bernie on Sunday again. But at 1.9 percent Fantasy ownership, Bernie offers better value than VanDam, who's at 41.5 percent.