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

Naz Hillmon, F, Dream: Hillmon has had increased opportunities recently while Monique Billings and Nia Coffey have been sidelined, drawing four consecutive starts while playing at least 30 minutes in each of her last five appearances. Over the last five matchups, Hillmon has averaged 8.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. The 22-year-old's results were inconsistent earlier in the year, but she certainly warrants fantasy consideration while Billings and Coffey remain sidelined.

Natisha Hiedeman, G, Sun: Hiedeman has started 23 consecutive games, but she had limited production earlier in the season. However, she's had an uptick in playing time this month and has responded well to her increased responsibilities. The 25-year-old has scored in double figures in six of her eight appearances since the start of July, averaging 11.5 points and 4.0 assists in 29.8 minutes per game during that time. While Hiedeman has still shown some signs of inconsistency over the last few weeks, she's been a much more reliable contributor in the scoring and assists columns.

Danielle Robinson, G, Fever: The Fever have adjusted their distribution of playing time recently, and Robinson has been a beneficiary with more consistent minutes. She's been back in the starting lineup for her last five appearances and has played at least 20 minutes in each of those matchups. She hasn't scored in double figures in any of those outings but has been a fairly reliable fantasy contributor due to her well-rounded production. While Robinson hasn't been an elite contributor in any given category, her combination of scoring, rebounds and assists makes her worthy of consideration for fantasy managers in need of a replacement player during the playoffs.

Rachel Banham, G, Lynx: After being held under 10 points in 17 of her first 20 appearances of the season, Banham has been much more productive in July, scoring in double figures in six of her nine appearances this month. Over that span, she's averaged 13.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. Although Banham has continued to come off the bench, she's been a much more reliable contributor recently, partially due to the fact that Moriah Jefferson has been playing through a knee injury recently.

Riquna Williams, G, Aces: Williams was an inconsistent fantasy option earlier in the year but has had more reliable output recently. She's had a slight increase in her scoring and rebounding production over the last few matchups, averaging 8.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game over her last five appearances. The Aces rely heavily on their starters, but Williams has been one of the bright spots off the bench. She shouldn't be rostered in all fantasy leagues but is an option for fantasy managers looking for a fill-in option, especially in deeper formats.

Fallers

Moriah Jefferson, G, Lynx: Jefferson has been one of the breakout stars of the 2022 WNBA season, but her production has dropped in recent weeks while she's played through a knee injury. The guard has been held under 10 points in each of the last seven games, averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 assists in 24.0 minutes per game over that stretch. Jefferson's knee issue hasn't been significant enough to land her on the injury report, and it's also possible that coach Cheryl Reeve has wanted to give other backcourt contributors a chance to play down the stretch as the likelihood of a playoff berth diminishes for Minnesota.

Destanni Henderson, G, Fever: Henderson has had inconsistent playing time for most of the year, but she had spurts of production that made her worthy of some fantasy consideration. However, her results have dropped off in recent weeks, and she's been held scoreless in four of the last seven matchups. She's averaged just 2.0 points and 1.6 assists in 10.6 minutes per game over those seven appearances, and fantasy managers are better off looking elsewhere for the final few weeks of the WNBA season.

Emily Engstler, F, Fever: Like Robinson, Engstler didn't have particularly strong results in any given category earlier in the season, but she managed to carve out relatively consistent fantasy production due to her production in several areas. However, her playing time has diminished recently, and she's been held under 10 minutes of playing time in two of the last three games. She's been held scoreless during that stretch while averaging just 2.0 minutes per game. While Engstler warranted fantasy consideration earlier in the year, her contributions have been minimal recently.

Shakira Austin, C, Mystics: Austin was a strong contributor on the scoreboard and on the boards earlier in the season, but her playing time has decreased recently despite maintaining her starting role. She's been held under 20 minutes in three of the last five matchups and has averaged 3.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game during that time. She averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over her firs 23 appearances of the year, but her involvement has dropped off over the last few weeks.

Alysha Clark, F, Mystics: Clark was a fairly reliable source of double-digit scoring totals earlier in the year, and she also averaged 4.9 rebounds per game over her 12 appearances after returning to the court in early June. She's maintained her starting role in recent matchups and has played at least 30 minutes in three of her last five appearances, but she's been held under 10 points in each of those games while averaging just 4.2 rebounds per game over that span. Clark was able to carve out relatively consistent production early in 2022, but she's been a much less reliable fantasy option down the stretch.

Injury/Absence Implications

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

Atlanta Dream: Nia Coffey has missed the last five games due to a knee injury, while Monique Billings has been sidelined for four consecutive matchups due to an ankle issue. Their absences have created additional opportunities for Naz Hillmon. Asia Durr missed Sunday's game due to a hip injury, which led to slightly increased playing time for Rhyne Howard and Tiffany Hayes.

Chicago Sky: Courtney Vandersloot missed four consecutive games due to a concussion but returned to the court for Tuesday's Commissioner's Cup final. Julie Allemand saw increased run in her absence but should see her playing time decrease now that Vandersloot is back in action.

Connecticut Sun: Jonquel Jones recently missed three games due to the league's health and safety protocols, and she appeared to be on a minutes restriction while coming off the bench Sunday against the Lynx. Brionna Jones remained in the starting lineup Sunday, but it wouldn't be surprising to see her retreat to the bench once Jonquel Jones regains her conditioning. Bria Hartley sustained a knee injury Sunday, and it's not yet clear whether she'll be forced to miss additional time.

Dallas Wings: Satou Sabally has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, leading to increased work for Teaira McCowan and Isabelle Harrison. The Wings were even more shorthanded in the frontcourt Sunday since Awak Kuier sat out with an ankle issue.

Indiana Fever: Lexie Hull missed six games earlier this month due to a wrist injury but has been back in action over the last two matchups.

Los Angeles Sparks: Liz Cambage had a tumultuous first season with the Sparks and ultimately agreed to a contract divorce with the team Tuesday. Once the team returns to action, Chiney Ogwumike, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Katie Lou Samuelson will likely see increased run in the frontcourt. Ogwumike missed Sunday's game with a non-COVID illness but is a candidate to claim a starting role once she returns. The team has also been dealing with absences in the backcourt recently. Kristi Toliver has missed the last three games with a calf issue, while Lexie Brown was sidelined Saturday due to an ankle issue. Chennedy Carter has been back in action over the last two games after missing six consecutive matchups with a knee injury, while Brittney Sykes and Jordin Canada have had increased run recently.

Minnesota Lynx: Sylvia Fowles missed Sunday's game due to a knee injury, which allowed Nikolina Milic to see increased run. Damiris Dantas has also stepped away from the team, and it's not clear when she'll return. Jessica Shepard has taken on a starting role in her absence.

New York Liberty: Michaela Onyenwere recently missed two games with a knee injury but returned to the court Saturday.

Phoenix Mercury: Diamond DeShields has been sidelined for the last two games due to a hip injury, leading to increased run for Sophie Cunningham and Brianna Turner.

Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne will likely rest Thursday against the Wings, which should lead to increased run for Myisha Hines-Allen.

Lineup Trends

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

Atlanta Dream: Naz Hillmon has taken on a starting role in the last four games since Monique Billings has been sidelined.

Chicago Sky: Julie Allemand started four consecutive games with Courtney Vandersloot sidelined but returned to the bench Tuesday against the Aces since Vandersloot was back in action.

Connecticut Sun: Brionna Jones has started the last four games but will likely return to a bench role once Jonquel Jones regains her conditioning.

Los Angeles Sparks: Chiney Ogwumike recently started four consecutive games and seems like the most likely starting option after Liz Cambage agreed to a contract divorce.

Minnesota Lynx: Jessica Shepard has taken on a starting role with Damiris Dantas away from the team, while Nikolina Milic started Sunday since Sylvia Fowles was sidelined.

Seattle Storm: Tina Charles came off the bench during her first eight appearances with the Storm but has started the last two games, while Ezi Magbegor 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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