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.
Moriah Jefferson, G, Lynx: The Lynx announced in late May that Jefferson was out indefinitely due to a left quadriceps injury, but she made a speedy recovery and was back in action after missing just three games. She hasn't missed a beat since returning to the court, playing at least 30 minutes in each matchup while averaging 8.0 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds. She added a pair of steals and a block to her ledger Sunday as well. Jefferson has proven to be a well-rounded contributor so far this year and could be worth picking up in leagues where she's available.
Alysha Clark, F, Mystics: Clark returned to the court in early June after missing three games due to the league's health and safety protocols. She faced a minutes restriction during her first game back in action but has seen her workload increase across the last three matchups. Part of her increased run has been due to Elena Delle Donne missing time recently, but Clark has shot 56.7 percent from the floor since returning to the court and should maintain value, even when Delle Donne is back in action.
Nina Milic, F, Lynx: While the Lynx got some encouraging news this week with Jefferson returning to the court, they had a discouraging development with Sylvia Fowles sustaining a knee injury that will keep her sidelined indefinitely. Damiris Dantas has filled Fowles' starting role, but Milic has seen a strong uptick in production recently. Milic has played double-digit minutes in four of the last five matchups and averaged 11.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. Milic is widely available in season-long leagues and should have increased value while Fowles is sidelined.
Shey Peddy, G, Mercury: Peddy missed a pair of games in late May due to a back injury, and she had limited production during her first game back on the court May 31. Although she's continued to come off the bench over her last four games, she's been more productive during that time, averaging 8.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 23.3 minutes per game during that time. It's not yet clear whether she'll reclaim her starting role at some point, but she's remained productive while coming off the bench.
Crystal Dangerfield, G, Liberty: Dangerfield has claimed a spot in the starting lineup over the last six games while Sami Whitcomb has transitioned into a bench role. While Dangerfield hasn't been the most prolific scorer, she's had well-rounded production that has made her a strong fantasy contributor. Over her six starts, she's averaged 6.2 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game. Dangerfield posted a season-high 11 points in Sunday's loss to Chicago but has become a much stronger fantasy option regardless of her scoring output.
Monique Billings, F, Dream: Billings was a consistent fantasy option over her first four appearances of the season but missed three games in May due to the league's health and safety protocols. While she's shown glimpses of production since returning to the court, she hasn't been as consistent on a game-by-game basis. The 26-year-old doesn't generally contribute much outside of scoring and rebounds, so she doesn't have the same fantasy floor that some other players in the league have. Billings is far from a matchup-proof option and could be a player worth moving if you can find a taker.
Kennedy Burke, F, Mystics: Burke was a strong fantasy option between mid-May and early June, but her playing time has dropped off over the last three matchups. During that time, she's averaged just 7.7 minutes per game and has failed to generate much production in any category. The Mystics have plenty of talented guards, and Burke appears to be on the outside looking in for playing time in spite of her output earlier in the season.
Dana Evans, G, Sky: Like Burke, Evans was a decent fantasy option earlier in the season, but she's averaged just 7.5 minutes per game over her last two appearances since Julie Allemand has returned to the court. While Allemand hasn't been the most productive contributor since making her season debut, her presence has diminished Evans' playing time in Chicago's crowded backcourt.
Jantel Lavender, F, Storm: Lavender recorded double-digit minutes in each of her first nine appearances of the season but has been held under 10 minutes in the last four matchups while averaging just 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.3 minutes per game during that time. Lavender stepped up for the Storm when they dealt with absences earlier in the season, but she's taken on a lesser role now that the team is back to full health.
Damiris Dantas, F, Lynx: Dantas missed the first month of the season due to a foot injury, and she's taken on a starting role during her first two games back on the court since Sylvia Fowles has been unavailable. In spite of Dantas' starting role, she's shot just 25.0 percent from the floor and has averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. Dantas' efficiency dropped last year, and she's struggled to find her shot early this season. It's not yet clear when Fowles will return to the court, but Nina Milic has been the much stronger frontcourt contributor recently.
Note: Updated injury and absence information throughout the week can be found on RotoWire's Injury News page.
Atlanta Dream: Erica Wheeler suffered a left foot sprain Tuesday against the Storm and was unavailable for Friday's matchup against Phoenix. Aari McDonald had plenty of playing time Friday, while Asia Durr also played 25 minutes after being traded to Atlanta on Wednesday. If Wheeler misses additional time, McDonald and Durr should continue to see additional run.
Chicago Sky: Julie Allemand made her season debut Friday against the Sun but has averaged just 8.5 minutes per game over her two appearances since returning to the court. While Allemand hasn't had excessive production, her presence has led to decreased playing time for Dana Evans and Rebekah Gardner.
Dallas Wings: Marina Mabrey has missed the last two games due to the league's health and safety protocols, and it's not yet clear when she'll be able to return. However, her absence has created additional opportunities for Tyasha Harris and Veronica Burton. Satou Sabally had taken on a starting role over her last five appearances but sustained a knee injury during Sunday's loss to Seattle. The severity of the issue isn't yet clear, but Kayla Thornton and Teaira McCowan should see increased run if Sabally misses any games.
Las Vegas Aces: Jackie Young has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, but coach Becky Hammon said this weekend that the guard has progressed well in her recovery and will likely return to the court "in the next week or so." Kelsey Plum has been the most heavily involved player for the Aces in Young's absence, while Aisha Sheppard and Sydney Colson have also seen an uptick in playing time despite maintaining bench roles.
Los Angeles Sparks: Kristi Toliver was activated by the Sparks last week, but she didn't make her season debut Saturday against the Aces. However, the Sparks don't play again until Sunday, so it seems likely that she'll be able to make her season debut soon. Los Angeles has had plenty of backcourt production from Jordin Canada, Lexie Brown, Brittney Sykes and Chennedy Carter, but Toliver's presence will likely shake up the usage among the team's guards. Toliver started in all 19 of her appearances for the Sparks last year, and it's possible that Canada or Brown retreat to the bench once Toliver is back in action.
Minnesota Lynx: Sylvia Fowles was one of the most dominant players in the league to begin the season, but she's been ruled out indefinitely due to a knee injury. Damiris Dantas returned to the court last weekend and took Fowles' place in the starting lineup, while Nina Milic has been productive off the bench. Moriah Jefferson also returned to the court following a three-game absence, leading to a downturn in playing time for Rachel Banham and Evina Westbrook. Kayla McBride missed Sunday's loss to Indiana due to a foot issue, but it seems likely that she'll be back in action this week.
New York Liberty: Rebecca Allen sustained a chin laceration Friday against Indiana and was available Sunday against the Sky, but she played just seven minutes against Chicago. It's not yet clear whether she'll be able to suit up Thursday, but Stefanie Dolson and Han Xu should see increased runs if Allen is out or limited. DiDi Richards was targeting a return for Sunday's matchup, but it appears more likely that she'll return from her lengthy absence at some point this week. While Richards showed some glimpses of production last year, her presence is unlikely to significantly impact the Liberty's rotation.
Phoenix Mercury: Tina Charles missed the first two games in June due to a shoulder injury, but she's had plenty of fantasy production since returning to the court. Diamond DeShields has had slightly less playing time since Charles returned to the court. Sophie Cunningham sustained a sprained elbow ligament June 5 and is expected to miss several weeks, so DeShields should maintain a sizable role in the near future.
Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne has played in three consecutive games just once this season, as the Mystics have given her plenty of rest days due to her injury history. However, she tweaked her back injury Wednesday and has missed the last two games. Myisha Hines-Allen and Shakira Austin saw increased run over the last two games but will likely see their playing time decrease this week since Delle Donne is probable for Tuesday's matchup. While Delle Donne should be back in action this week, her sporadic rest days have hindered her season-long fantasy value.
Note: Projected lineups and up-to-the-minute lineup confirmations can be found on RotoWire's Daily Lineups page.
Dallas Wings: The Wings shook up their lineup last week by starting Satou Sabally and Teaira McCowan. Sabally has maintained her starting role, but Kayla Thornton has returned to the lineup over the last four games.
Los Angeles Sparks: Kristi Toliver appears likely to make her season debut soon. She served exclusively as a starter for the Sparks last year, so it seems likely that either Jordin Canada or Lexie Brown will take on a bench role once Toliver is ultimately cleared to return.