Elite Series: Blue Ridge Brawl fantasy outlook

I've been dreading this tournament for weeks, and now that it's upon us, the feelings of hopelessness aren't easing.

The Blue Ridge Brawl presented by Advance Auto Parts might be the toughest Elite Series tournament to handicap this season.BASS pros have made only one visit to Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake — a 2004 Open event captured by Virginia pro David Dudley — so we can't delve into the past performance chart for insight on this one.

 The best play this week will be to search rosters and free agent lists for post-spawn aficionados and summertime masters. Smith Mountain's bass should be settling into their summer haunts and habits, and anglers with a penchant for summer patterns should figure prominently in fantasy lineups.With a healthy population of smallmouth, Smith Mountain should also play to the strengths of anglers from bronzeback latitudes, though I don't believe brown bass will play as big a role as some might imagine.


Mike Iaconelli


The 2007 season hasn't been a stellar campaign for Jersey boy Mike Iaconelli, but I believe Smith Mountain could be the place for the defending Angler of the Year to turn it around. Ike finished sixth in the 2004 Open here, and he won't be any stranger to the lake's brown bass. He's also an angler who has a knack for figuring out temperamental fish. If the bass are in the transition from a post-spawn to a summer pattern, Ike could work it out to his advantage.


Kevin VanDam


Yeah, I know; there's nothing insightful about this pick. We all know he's capable. It's like picking Tiger Woods to do well in the U.S. Open. I've ridden his coattails in the fantasy game so long this season, I'm starting to feel like Mark Zona. Still, you can't pick against him.


John Crews


This is my local favorite pick — nothing more, nothing less.


John Murray


He's coming off a strong performance in the season's first Major, and with his background on Western fisheries, he's adept at catching them deep, which will serve him well this week in Virginia.


Ishama Monroe


Like Murray, Ish gets a look based on his strong performance in the Major on High Rock Lake and his Western background. The West Coast guys have a proclivity for catching deep fish, and Monroe has been consistently solid this season.


Mike McClelland


A victory at Clarks Hill and a solid showing in the first Major make McClelland a logical choice here. His value points won't bankrupt your fantasy franchise, either.I could keep going. There are a dozen more anglers who have a legitimate shot of winning this thing. And this tournament is a hard one to prognosticate. But I don't want to be accused of throwing darts at the angler list to come up with a fantasy forecast.Though it might not be a bad idea this time.

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