WNBA Fantasy Basketball Stock Watch: Who's up, who's down

At the most fundamental level, WNBA fantasy is about minimizing risk while giving yourself the best odds to win on a daily or weekly basis. We may crown a champion at the end of the year, but the journey is almost as important as the destination. We are just a few games into the 2019 season and there are already some interesting trends worth monitoring.

DeWanna Bonner (Mercury)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

Fresh off her player of the week award, DeWanna Bonner continued her stellar start to the season and has now scored at least 22 points in four straight games. Bonner leads the league in scoring (23.8 ppg) and is fifth in rebounding (8.5 rpg). She is playing almost 35 minutes per game and is averaging an astonishing 1.26 fantasy points per minute.

Is it sustainable? Yes

With Diana Taurasi out, Bonner is the Mercury’s best player. Even when Taurasi returns, Bonner should continue to put up MVP type numbers. Bonner is outperforming her draft position and her fantasy value has never been higher. It would not surprise me if she records a triple-double at some point this season.

Elena Delle Donne (Mystics)

Fantasy Stock Value: Down

After missing the start of the season recovering from injury, Elena Delle Donne has been gradually worked back into the rotation for the Mystics. Delle Donne has struggled early on with her shooting (38.1%) and is averaging just 14.8 points per game, a large dropoff from her career average (20.2 ppg). Her 1.13 FPPM is her lowest total since 2013.

Is it sustainable? Yes

I’m not saying to bench Delle Donne, she is a fantasy stud and you should continue to play her. If you drafted her, odds are you don’t have any better options anyways. With Delle Donne, the injury history will always be a concern, plus the Mystics have substantial depth this season where they can play the hot hand and not have to lean on her like years past. Delle Donne’s name still holds value, so if you can trade her for another superstar, I would advise in doing so.

Dearica Hamby (Aces)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

In her 5th season, Dearica Hambry is on pace to average career highs in every fantasy scoring category, including fantasy points per minute where she is averaging an impressive 1.36 FPPM. Hambry is currently 2nd on the Aces in rebounds (6.5 rpg) and blocks (0.8 bpg), and she has scored in double digits in 4 out of 6 games to begin the season.

Is it sustainable? No

Hamby is playing significant minutes in the Aces frontcourt as they try to incorporate Liz Cambage into the lineup. In the season opener, where Liz Cambage did not play, Hambry played 27 minutes and had a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds). In the 5 games since, with Cambage in the rotation, Hambry has averaged 17 minutes, 9.4 points, and 5 rebounds. While still a respectable FPPM average, Hamby’s numbers could take a dip as Cambage becomes more heavily involved.

Natasha Howard (Storm)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

After winning the most improved player award last season, most people expected Natasha Howard to continue to elevate her game in 2019. Howard was viewed as a borderline top 10 pick in fantasy (she went 9th overall in our Hashtag Basketball draft). With the start to the season, she is having she is making the case to have been the first overall pick. Through 8 games, she is averaging 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks. In 2018, Breanna Stewart averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks, and was named league MVP.

Is it sustainable? Yes

Howard’s numbers to start the season are on par with Stewart’s from last year. Howard is an athletic big who can dominate on both ends of the floor and it is clear that the Storm are making her a focal point of the offense. Howard is on her way to making her first All-Star team and could be taking home hardware for the second year in a row.

Kennedy Burke (Fever)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

Kennedy Burke is not the first, second, or even third scoring option for the Fever but that hasn’t stopped her from scoring in double digits in back to back games. At 6-foot-1, Burke is a difficult matchup for other guards in the league. Burke signed with the Fever as a rookie free agent as is shooting a staggering 65.2 FG% and over 58% from 3-point range in her first 4 games in the league.

Is it sustainable? No

Burke is a prolific shooter who can hit from long range but that level of productivity will be almost impossible to maintain. I like Burke as a sleeper in fantasy and I am high on her for the remainder of the season. It’s just that with so many other scoring options on the Fever, there could be some off nights in her future and inconsistency can be a headache for fantasy players.

Brittney Griner (Mercury)

Fantasy Stock Value: Down

Brittney Griner was a consensus top 5 pick in fantasy (she went 4th overall in our Hashtag Basketball draft) and is one of the most expensive (over $10K) players in daily fantasy as well. Griner was a preseason favorite to win MVP but is not even the MVP on her own team (see DeWanna Bonner, above). Through 6 games, Griner is averaging 17.7 points, 7.5 rebounds (her lowest in both categories since 2016), and .99 FPPM (career low).

Is it sustainable? No

Like most great centers, Griner needs help from the guard position to truly dominate. Good news for Griner and the Mercury, help is on the way with Diana Taurasi returning to practice this week. Taurasi is ahead of schedule in her rehab and could be back on the court in just a few weeks. When Taurasi returns, the spacing will help free up the lane for Griner and her numbers should return to form.

Napheesa Collier (Lynx)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

In her first game in the league, Napheesa Collier scored 27 points, the second most by a rookie in their debut in WNBA history, trailing only Candace Parker (34 points). Collier is a versatile forward who can hit from long range and is quickly becoming one of the Lynx’s most reliable players. Collier leads all rookies in scoring (11.5 ppg) and leads the Lynx in blocks (1.1 bpg).

Is it sustainable? Yes

Hopefully, you bought low on Collier because her value will continue to rise as the season progresses. Like all rookies, there will be growing pains with Collier but she will continue to see significant playing time and have ample opportunity. Playing that many minutes makes her more attractive in daily fantasy than FPPM leagues but she has already shown that she can score buckets in bunches and the Lynx are committed to her as their future. Collier is the early favorite to win the rookie of the year award.

Allie Quigley (Sky)

Fantasy Stock Value: Down

Allie Quigley is currently 4th on the Sky in scoring after leading the team in points per game for the previous 2 seasons. Her scoring average (9.4 ppg) is her lowest total since 2013. Quigley's average of .64 FPPM is her lowest average since 2009. Prior to the season, Quigley was one of the top-rated guards in fantasy (she went 27th overall in our Hashtag Basketball draft and was the 8th guard selected) and she is currently underperforming in terms of her draft position.

Is it sustainable? Yes

It’s not that I don’t like Quigley, I think she is a fantastic player and one of the best pure shooters in the league. It’s just that Chicago is deeper and more talented than they have been in years. Courtney Vandersloot is such a good facilitator that she will spread the ball around and the Sky won’t have to rely on Quigley as much for her scoring (they have Diamond DeShields for that).

Jonquel Jones (Sun)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

After being named player of the week, Jonquel Jones continued her exceptional start to the season leading the Sun to a 7-1 start. The 6-foot-6 center is averaging 1.39 FPPM and is showing that she should have been picked much higher in fantasy drafts, maybe even first overall. Through 8 games, she is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, and minutes.

Is it sustainable? Yes

With Chiney Oguwmike traded to the Sparks, Jones is the unquestioned leader on the Sun. Jones is a prolific scorer and is one of the most efficient and dominating rebounders in the league. She has the unique combination of size and the skill set to dominate on both ends of the floor. If the Sun continue on their hot start, Jones should be a front runner for the MVP award.

Maria Vadeeva (Sparks)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

In the season opener, Maria Vadeeva made her first career start and led the Sparks in scoring (24 points) while shooting 55% from the field and connecting on 2-4 from long range. The 6-foot-4 center dominated on both ends of the court and made defenders look silly in the process.

Is it sustainable? No

Unfortunately, her game 1 performance was just a tease for the Sparks and fantasy players. Vadeeva is playing for Russia in the EuroBasket tournament, which runs through July 7 and could be overseas until then. She will most certainly have a role upon returning but at that point, Candace Parker should be fully healthy as well. Vadeeva showed what she is capable of, but opportunities in the Sparks frontcourt will be scarce, with Parker and the Oguwmike sisters seeing most of the playing time.

Arike Ogunbowale (Wings)

Fantasy Stock Value: Down

Prior to the season, Arike Ogunbowale was on the short list of favorites to win rookie of the year. Ogunbowale, who is currently day-to-day with an ankle sprain, is known for her ability to create space and get her shot off. Its been a rough start to her rookie campaign and Oqunbowale has struggled with her shooting so far this season (26.7 FG% and 16.7 3P%).

Is it sustainable? Yes

Ogunbowale is a pure and clutch shooter, her shots will start to fall eventually so be patient. It’s not just Ogunbowale who is off to a cold start, the Wings are the only remaining winless team and have no players averaging double digits in scoring. Subside your expectations for the Wings and Ogunbowale for now.

Kelsey Mitchell (Fever)

Fantasy Stock Value: Up

Through 7 games, the Fever have almost as many wins (4) as they had all of last year (6). Kelsey Mitchell has been a vital part of the Fever’s surprise start and has outperformed her draft position (47th overall, 19th guard selected). Mitchell is the leading scorer on the Fever (15.4 ppg) and has improved her 3-point shooting to just under 40%.

Is it sustainable? Yes

Mitchell is a sniper from long range and has perfected the step back shot. She almost always has the hot hand and has the ability to put up points quickly. After making the All-Rookie Team last year, Mitchell is continuing her progression to All-Star status this season.

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