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 second season of Fantasy Women's Basketball on ESPN has been rolling on, and several teams have adjusted their rotations recently, including the Storm, as they attempt to find their way in a rebuilding season. With multiple prominent players also dealing with injuries, following league trends is vital to ensure your fantasy team remains effective.

Stock Watch

Risers

Jordan Horston, G, Storm: Horston had inconsistent playing time over the first few weeks of the season, but her usage has increased over the past three games. She's played at least 26 minutes in each of those tilts, averaging 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game. The 22-year-old was rewarded with her first career start Sunday against the Mystics, and it wouldn't be surprising to see that role continue, given her recent production on both ends of the floor.

Dearica Hamby, F, Sparks: Hamby has taken on a starting role over the past three games with Chiney Ogwumike sidelined due to a foot injury. Hamby has performed well during those matchups, averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game. It's unclear when Ogwumike will be able to return to action, but Hamby should continue to have value as long as she's starting. She's been less effective off the bench but still generates enough production to warrant picking up, at least as a short-term consideration.

Kalani Brown, C, Wings: Another player who has stepped up in the absence of a teammate is Brown, who has started the past three games with Crystal Dangerfield out due to an ankle injury. The center posted a double-double in her first start and has averaged 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26.0 minutes per game over the past three matchups. While it's certainly possible her role will decrease once Dangerfield is back in action, Brown's recent production could lead to a sustained role moving forward.

Odyssey Sims, G, Wings: Sims joined the Wings on a hardship deal last week and has seen considerable run with Dallas since joining the club. Over her three appearances, she's averaged 5.7 points and 7.0 assists in 22.0 minutes per game despite coming off the bench in every matchup. The 30-year-old may lose her roster spot once the Wings are closer to full strength, but she's at least worthy of considering in the short term.

Sug Sutton, G, Mercury: Sutton began the season in a bench role but scored double figures in her first four appearances. She's joined the starting lineup over the past two matchups with Moriah Jefferson sidelined with an ankle injury, and Sutton has been proficient as a scorer and passer in her new role. It's unclear when Jefferson will be able to return to action, but Sutton has proven to be a fantasy asset regardless of her role early in 2023.

Fallers

Myisha Hines-Allen, F, Mystics: Hines-Allen missed the start of the season while completing her recovery from knee surgery, and she recently sustained a neck injury in practice that didn't result in her missing any games. While it's possible the Mystics are easing her into action with just 10.0 minutes per game over her 10 appearances, she's shooting just 7.7 percent from the floor this year. Hines-Allen had an underwhelming performance in 2022, and there are likely players with more upside available in most fantasy formats.

Zia Cooke, G, Sparks: Cooke began 2023 on a high note with well-rounded production in her first three appearances, but she's had inconsistent playing time recently and has been held scoreless in three of her last four outings. Over her five appearances this month, she's averaged just 2.2 points in 10.4 minutes per game, depleting her fantasy value. The rookie's early-season production makes her a name to keep an eye on in the long run, but fantasy managers in most leagues can likely move on at this point.

Naz Hillmon, F, Dream: Hillmon had an encouraging start to the season with four consecutive games in which she posted double-digit fantasy points on ESPN, but her production has decreased since the start of June. The 23-year-old showed some glimpses of production during her rookie season in 2022, but with Nia Coffey healthy to begin the 2023 campaign and Haley Jones also developing, it's been harder for Hillmon to find consistent production this season.

Natisha Hiedeman, G, Sun: Hiedeman has started the first 10 games of the season, and she appeared to be on track to be a consistent fantasy contributor over the first few weeks. However, she's been less effective over the past four matchups, averaging 5.5 points and 4.5 assists in 28.8 minutes per game. Hiedeman still shows some glimpses of production and isn't necessarily a drop candidate at this point, but fantasy managers should consider leaving her on the bench when a more consistent player is available to start.

Mercedes Russell, C, Storm: Russell's early-season production in the scoring and rebounding columns made her a reliable fantasy contributor. However, she hasn't had as much of an impact in recent games. Her playing time has decreased over the past three matchups, and she lost out on her starting role during Sunday's loss to Washington. Jordan Horston performed well as her replacement in the starting five, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Russell's bench role continue. Most fantasy managers can likely consider dropping Russell at this point.

Injury/Absence Implications

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

Atlanta Dream: Aari McDonald sustained a torn labrum in her shoulder last week and is on track to miss 3-to-4 weeks. Haley Jones has seen a significant increase in playing time during McDonald's absence.

Chicago Sky: Morgan Bertsch continues to deal with a sprained left ankle, but she was spotted going through rehab without a walking boot last week. It's unclear when she'll be ready for game action, but she's trending in the right direction.

Dallas Wings: Crystal Dangerfield has missed the past three games with an ankle injury, and the Wings haven't officially announced her status before recent games. Since Dangerfield started the five games leading up to her absence, unless she's listed in the starting lineup, it wouldn't be a bad idea to start another player over her when possible.

Los Angeles Sparks: Layshia Clarendon was productive early in the season, but she recently sustained a partial tear of the right plantar fascia and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. Chiney Ogwumike has also been dealing with a foot injury that has forced her to sit the past three games, and while a timetable for her return isn't yet known, she's likely in for more of a short-term absence. Dearica Hamby and Karlie Samuelson have seen increased minutes recently.

Minnesota Lynx: Aerial Powers has missed the past two games with a right ankle injury. However, she's struggled to find minutes early in 2023, so her absence hasn't significantly impacted Minnesota's rotation.

New York Liberty: Sabrina Ionescu indicated in early June that she was dealing with a hamstring issue, but she played through it for several games. However, she appears to be on track to miss at least one matchup, as she's doubtful for Tuesday's matchup against Atlanta. Marine Johannes and Kayla Thornton are candidates for increased run if Ionescu is sidelined.

Phoenix Mercury: Like the Wings, another team that hasn't updated injury statuses ahead of recent matchups is the Mercury. Moriah Jefferson has been dealing with an ankle injury and missed Sunday's game in Indiana after being deemed questionable, while Shey Peddy was also unavailable Sunday but is probable for Tuesday's game against the Storm. If Peddy is available Tuesday while Jefferson sits, Peddy could see a slight uptick in playing time.

Seattle Storm: Jewell Loyd missed Friday's game against Washington with a foot injury, but she returned to action for Sunday's rematch and didn't appear to have significant limitations.

Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne sat out Sunday against Seattle due to neck stiffness, but she recently suggested that she'll be available Tuesday against the Fever.

Lineup Trends

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

Atlanta Dream: Naz Hillmon and Haley Jones have split the first two starts during Aari McDonald's absence, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Jones draw most of the starts while McDonald is sidelined.

Phoenix Mercury: Michaela Onyenwere has started the past three matchups, while Brianna Turner has come off the bench.

Seattle Storm: Jordan Horston replaced Mercedes Russell in Sunday's starting lineup, and it wouldn't be surprising to see that trend continue, given Horston's recent production.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019. In 2023, he was named the FSWA Player Notes Writer of the Year. In addition to RotoWire, Jason writes for the Sports Broadcast Journal. In 2024, he was dubbed "The Polish Parlay" for his WNBA hot betting streak.
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