WNBA Fantasy Primer: Stock Watch, Injuries and Trends

WNBA Fantasy Primer: Stock Watch, Injuries and Trends

This article is part of our WNBA Fantasy Primer series.

WNBA Fantasy Basketball Update

The first season of season-long WNBA Fantasy on ESPN is underway, and there are plenty of trends to track to stay competitive in leagues. This weekly column is intended to provide an analysis of trends impacting production in season-long leagues, and the discussion section is available for league-specific questions, such as waiver advice and start/sit questions.

Stock Watch

Risers

Aari McDonald, G, Dream: McDonald has had increased opportunities while Erica Wheeler has been sidelined with a foot injury and has averaged 17.3 points, 5.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 38.7 minutes per game over her last three appearances. Although Wheeler isn't expected to have a long-term absence, McDonald's production has risen over the last several weeks, and she's topped 20 fantasy points in six of the last eight games. While she'll likely return to a bench role once Wheeler is back in action, McDonald should continue to see plenty of work for Atlanta.

Kayla Thornton, F, Wings: Thornton displayed glimpses of production earlier in the season but has been a much more consistent contributor recently. She hasn't been a particularly reliable scorer this year, as she's scored in double figures just four times to begin the season. However, she's been productive on the boards, averaging 7.6 rebounds in 2022. In spite of Thornton's lack of consistent scoring, he's had plenty of fantasy production due to her combination of scoring and rebounds.

Asia Durr, G, Dream: Durr didn't have a prominent role for the Wings early in the season, but she was traded to the Dream on June 8. She's played at least 25 minutes in each of her three appearances since joining Atlanta and has averaged 16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 27.3 minutes per game during that time. While it's possible that her playing time will decrease once Erica Wheeler is back in action, it appears as though Durr will have a larger role with the Dream than she had with the Wings.

Marine Johannes, G, Liberty: Johannes signed with the Liberty on June 8 after spending two seasons away from the WNBA. She's had a prominent role in her return to New York, averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 assists in 30.5 minutes per game over her four appearances this season. The 27-year-old has taken on a starting role over the last two games with Rebecca Allen sidelined due to a concussion, but it seems likely that she'll return to the bench once Allen is back in action. However, Johannes has had plenty of playing time early in her time with the Liberty regardless of her starting status.

Chiney Ogwumike, F, Sparks: Ogwumike has come off the bench in all 12 of her appearances this season but has had consistent playing time. The 30-year-old hasn't been particularly dominant in any given category but has been a fairly reliable fantasy contributor due to her combination of scoring and rebounds. She had her best performance of the season Sunday against Dallas, as she had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, marking the first time that she had recorded double figures in any category this year. Although Ogwumike has shown some signs of inconsistency this season, she's been a steady source of fantasy production.

Fallers

Elena Delle Donne, F, Mystics: Delle Donne's production when she's been on the court this season hasn't been a major concern, but her availability has been an issue this season. She hasn't played three consecutive games since mid-May and hasn't played in back-to-back games since early June. Her absences have been due to a combination of back issues and rest, and her availability has decreased in recent weeks. Although she likely isn't a drop candidate due to her production when healthy, fantasy managers could consider finding a trade partner to deal Delle Donne ahead of the playoffs.

Emily Engstler, F, Fever: Engstler was consistently dominant between late May and early June but has had some lackluster performances over the last few weeks. She's averaged just 3.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game over the last five matchups and was held under 15 fantasy points in four of those appearances. While the 22-year-old has still displayed some glimpses of production, there may be some more reliable fantasy contributors available in most fantasy leagues.

Rebecca Allen, G, Liberty: Allen is slated to miss a third consecutive game due to a concussion Wednesday, but she saw a decrease in production prior to her absence. Over her last four appearances, she averaged just 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. While part of her decrease in production may have been due to a facial injury, it wouldn't be surprising to see her continue to play a lesser role for the Liberty upon her return since Marine Johannes has had plenty of playing time since joining the team.

Nia Coffey, F, Dream: Coffey will miss her first game of the season Tuesday against the Wings but had decreased results leading up to her absence. Over her last four appearances, the forward has averaged just 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. While it's possible that some of her decreased production in recent games was due to her knee injury, she's been held to single-digit scoring totals with five or fewer rebounds in eight of the last nine games over the past month. Coffey has maintained a starting role for the Dream but hasn't been a very reliable fantasy option.

Lexie Brown, G, Sparks: Brown started in 10 consecutive games between May 14 and June 10, but she took on a bench role Sunday against the Wings while Kristi Toliver took on a starting role during her season debut. Even while Brown had a starting role, she had somewhat limited production, averaging just 6.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29.3 minutes per game over her 10 starts. While Brown's playing time remained somewhat steady during Sunday's matchup while Toliver played just 15 minutes, it wouldn't be surprising to see Brown take on a lesser role in the coming weeks.

Injury/Absence Implications

Note: Updated injury and absence information throughout the week can be found on RotoWire's Injury News page.

Atlanta Dream: The Dream have been one of the teams most impacted by injuries over the last week. Erica Wheeler is on track to miss a fourth consecutive game Tuesday against the Wings, which should lead to additional playing time for Aari McDonald once again. Kia Vaughn will miss a third consecutive game due to the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday, and Naz Hillmon has had an increased role off the bench in her absence. Nia Coffey played through a knee injury Friday against the Sky but will be unavailable Tuesday. In her absence, Cheyenne Parker and Monique Billings should see increased playing time. Kristy Wallace is in the league's concussion protocol and will miss Tuesday's game, which should lead to increased run for Rhyne Howard and Asia Durr.

Chicago Sky: Candace Parker missed two games due to a knee injury last week but will be back in action Tuesday against Las Vegas. Emma Meesseman could see a slight decrease in playing time, while Azura Stevens and Ruthy Hebard should see decreased run in the frontcourt.

Dallas Wings: Satou Sabally will miss a fourth consecutive game due to a knee injury Tuesday. Isabelle Harrison has taken on a starting role in her absence, while Kayla Thornton has seen an increase in production while maintaining her starting role. Teaira McCowan and Awak Kuier have also had increased playing time off the bench. Marina Mabrey returned from a two-game absence last Wednesday, which led to a decrease in playing time for Tyasha Harris and Veronica Burton.

Indiana Fever: Lexie Hull was away from the team June 12 due to her college graduation, but she's reclaimed her bench role over the last two games.

Las Vegas Aces: Jackie Young returned from a two-game absence Wednesday, which led to decreased playing time for Theresa Plaisance, Kiah Stokes and Aisha Sheppard.

Los Angeles Sparks: Kristi Toliver made her season debut Sunday against the Wings and took on a starting role, while Lexie Brown retreated to the bench. Chennedy Carter also saw decreased playing time off the bench.

Minnesota Lynx: Kayla McBride missed the Lynx's June 12 loss to the Fever due to a foot injury but has been back in action over the last two games, leading to a decrease in playing time for Bridget Carleton and Evina Westbrook. Natalie Achonwa has missed the last 14 games due to a hamstring injury but appears to be closing in on a return, as she's questionable for Tuesday's game against the Mercury. However, she averaged just 2.5 points in 10.5 minutes per game over her first two appearances of the season.

New York Liberty: Rebecca Allen will miss a third consecutive game due to a concussion Wednesday, while Stefanie Dolson and Marine Johannes have had increased run in her absence. DiDi Richards made her second appearance of the season Sunday against the Storm after missing significant time due to a hamstring injury. However, she's unlikely to be a significant part of the Liberty's rotation.

Seattle Storm: Mercedes Russell has missed the last three games due to a recurrent, atypical headache syndrome and appears to be on track to miss at least another week. Gabby Williams and Jantel Lavender have had increased playing time in her absence. Sue Bird missed last Tuesday's game due to an illness but has been back in action over the last two games, leading to decreased run for Briann January.

Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne has played in just three of the last seven games and is slated to rest once again Tuesday. When Delle Donne has been sidelined, Shakira Austin, Myisha Hines-Allen and Tianna Hawkins have had increased playing time.

Lineup Trends

Note: Projected lineups and up-to-the-minute lineup confirmations can be found on RotoWire's Daily Lineups page.

Minnesota Lynx: Nina Milic has taken on a starting role in the last two games while Jessica Shepard has retreated to the bench.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Shebilske
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019 as his first position covering fantasy sports. In addition to RotoWire, he writes for Sports Broadcast Journal.
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