Fantasy women’s basketball: Seven things to know heading into the season

The WNBA is rapidly approaching what should be a very exciting season, building off an entertaining Women’s NCAA tournament and a WNBA Draft that adds the likes of Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso and other big names to the league.

We are about a week away from WNBA preseason games. For those playing women’s fantasy basketball, here are seven things you need to know as the season approaches.

1. Indiana Fever select Iowa’s Caitlin Clark No. 1 in 2024 WNBA draft

Clark, the record-breaking face of women’s college basketball, joins a Fever team with last year’s No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston. Clark was the first player in Division I history, men’s or women’s, to reach 3,000 points and 1,000 assists. Her skill set will translate well to the WNBA.

It’s also worth mentioning that Boston and Rhyne Howard were very productive during their rookie seasons since the launch of women’s fantasy basketball. Boston averaged 14.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.3 BPG in 31.2 minutes. Howard averaged 16.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 31.3 minutes.

2. Two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has decided to take some time away from basketball and does not intend to sign the one-year supermax offer from the Washington Mystics

The Mystics went from being a championship contender to a rebuilding team in the blink of an eye because of Delle Donne’s decision. She could sign a one-year deal and play for Washington, sit out the season, or agree to a sign-and-trade and play elsewhere. Last season, Delle Donne averaged 16.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 27.5 minutes over 23 appearances. She also had a usage rate of 25.1%. It’s also worth mentioning that she has only played in 51 games since Washington won the franchise’s only league title in 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and injury issues.

Shakira Austin and Ariel Atkins are two players whom the Mystics will build around and who will benefit immensely from Delle Donne’s absence.

3. The Seattle Storm now have a new big three after signing Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike in free agencyPlay Fantasy WNBA Basketball

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Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike will join Jewell Loyd in Seattle. Loyd averaged a career-high 24.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG to go with 3.4 APG in 35.4 minutes last season for the Storm. It’s evident that Seattle is trying to recreate the partnership she had with Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart years ago in an attempt to compete with the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Diggins-Smith missed all of last season after giving birth to her second child, and it’s no surprise that she didn’t return to the Phoenix Mercury after not seeing eye-to-eye with the team. The Storm tried three starting point guards last season, so it’s also no surprise that signing Diggins-Smith would be a priority. She averaged 19.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.6 SPG for the Mercury during the 2022 season.

Ogwumike averaged 19.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 31.1 minutes with the Los Angeles Sparks last season. She wants to win a title, and the Storm provide her with a chance to do so. Loyd, Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike commanded a high usage rate while on the court last season, but this trio should be able to coexist and should be aggressively targeted in fantasy drafts. Another player who will be actively involved is Ezi Magbegor, who should not be overlooked in drafts.

4. The Atlanta Dream signed former MVP Tina Charles

Charles ranks fourth in the league in career scoring and second in rebounds, averaging 18.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG over 12 seasons. She’s an eight-time All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist. She didn’t play last season following a messy contract divorce with the Mercury.

Unfortunately, the 35-year-old has a history of strained relationships with her teams, but it is worth mentioning that Charles was teammates with Dream head coach Tanisha Wright during their time together with the New York Liberty. Charles should be a value in fantasy drafts, so don’t overlook her.

5. Diamond DeShields signed with the Chicago Sky

DeShields missed the 2023 season with the Dallas Wings because of a knee injury. This is a homecoming of sorts because she spent the first four seasons of her career with the Sky. DeShields averaged 13.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG for the Phoenix Mercury during the 2022 season.

The talented guard is the epitome of a risk-reward player in the middle round of fantasy drafts. DeShields is positioned for high usage rate since the Sky are in rebuilding mode and lost Kahleah Copper, Alanna Smith and Courtney Williams this offseason.

6. Kahleah Copper traded to the Phoenix Mercury from the Chicago Sky

Copper was phenomenal last season for the Sky, averaging 18.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG in 31.2 minutes. With a true knack for scoring, she is one of our league’s most dynamic players. She is also a fierce competitor and a two-way player who can disrupt the game from the defensive end.

Copper is a solid fantasy option in 2024 but could have some down games from a fantasy perspective since she’s now playing alongside Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, Natasha Cloud, and Rebecca Allen. Something to be aware of as you draft your fantasy teams.

7. Don’t overlook rookies Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson, who were selected by the Los Angeles Sparks at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively

This year’s draft class featured the best center and wing in Brink and Jackson. Brink led the nation in blocks this season and has a unique combination of size, length and mobility. She is an elite rim-protector and can impact that side of the ball immediately as Ogwumike’s replacement. Staying healthy will be a big key for her.

Jackson has pro-ready size, skills and athleticism. At Tennessee, she was an excellent scorer who never averaged fewer than 15.0 PPG. She also has the ability to create her own shot and showed us during the Team USA scrimmage that she could compete with the pros.

Both players should see ample minutes for a rebuilding Sparks team in 2024 and should not be overlooked in the latter rounds of your fantasy drafts.

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