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If the NBA had anything to do with FanDuel being the first — and so far only — DFS site offering WNBA, then kudos to Adam Silver. FanDuel and other DFS sites have boosted the NBA’s overall viewing numbers, and, in fact, daily fantasy is the directly responsible for the NBA expanding their Thursday night slates to more than two games.
Two years ago, the NBA noticed a dramatic decrease in viewership on Thursday nights when compared to the other night’s of the week, even though Thursday was the NBA’s “Monday Night Football” for lack of a better way to put it. The NBA had key matchups in primetime on Thursdays, and traditionally this night would garner the highest viewership for weeknight games.
They eventually realized that because they had only two games on Thursday — one primetime east coast game and one primetime west coast game — that a lot of casual DFS players would not play that night, and it negatively affected viewership. In 2016-’17 the league decided to put more than two games on Thursday night and lo and behold viewership went up.
The power of daily fantasy is now being brought to the WNBA, a sport that has long suffered in the shadow of it’s bigger brother, the NBA. In fact, if not for the NBA supporting the WNBA financially, the league would have likely folded years ago. If Fanduel and the WNBA can pull this off, viewership will go up and eventually help the sport.
As soon as I found out that FanDuel would be offering WNBA contests I started doing some research on the sport. As you can imagine, analytic data on the sport is difficult to find. At least in the way we are used to with other DFS sports. But the information is there if you know where to find it. So without further ado, let’s get to the first DFS WNBA advice column…
UPDATE: New additions in ORANGE
(Stats and info via RotoWomen.com)
Sue Bird $5,500 @ LA *GTD
Bird is listed as GTD, but everything I’ve read said she should be good to go for the opener. Bird led the WNBA in assists in 2017 averaging 5.8 per game and tacked on 12.8 points per game as well. She does have a tough matchup with the Sparks, the second best defense in 2016, but she should still be able to hit value at her price of $5,500.
Jasmine Thomas $5,500 vs ATL
Thomas was a close second to Bird in the assists per game column and averaged 11.7 points in 2016. She has the better matchup than Brid against the Atlanta Dream, and on a three-game slate could be a must-play.
Moriah Jefferson $5,600 @ NY OUT Of the three guards I’ve featured, Jefferson is the highest scoring of them all sporting a nice 13.9 points per game. She is also top 8 in assists with just over four per game. The New York Liberty were the third-best rated defense last year.
Tiffany Hayes $5,300 @ CON
Thankfully I posted this article a day early because I did not see the news about Angel McCoughtry taking the year off from the WNBA. With McMoughtry out, the biggest benefactor will be Hayes. She averaged a career-high with 15 points per game in 2016, and that was with McCoughtry on the court and having the highest usage percent in the league. One could only assume that 15ppg will go up this year.
Tina Charles $8,400 vs SA
Charles will likely be the highest owned player on the slate, but rightfully so. She led the league in both points at 21.5 per game and rebounds with 9.9 per game. The last time that feat happened in the NBA was way back in 1956-’66 when Wilt Chamberlain pulled off that feat. In other words, she is dominant, have her on your roster.
Nneka Ogwumike $8,000 vs SEA
Very close behind Charles was Ogwumike ranking third in both points and rebounds per game. The Seattle Storm are a good defensive team, so she is a little riskier than Charles at $8,000, but I’m going to try to fit both in my lineups.
Angel McCoughtry $6,700 @ CON OUT When I started doing my research, the first thing I looked at was usage rate, and McCoughtry had the highest usage rate of any player in 2016 with a 31.1 percent rate. To put that in perspective, that rate is higher than John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, and Damian Lillard’s usage rate from this past season.
Breanna Stewart $8,000 @ LA
Stewart was second to only Tina Charles in rebounding and ranked eighth in scoring in 2016.
G Sugar Rodgers $5,100 vs SA
Rodgers filled out the stat sheet in 2016 with 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and a 21 percent usage rate.
G Alex Bentley $3,800 vs ATL **GTD
She averaged 12.9 points per game with a 23 percent usage rate in 2016. At $3,800, she might be the best value on the slate.
F Chiney Ogwumike $5,400 vs ATL OUT She is another one of those forwards that are near the top in both rebounds and points per game. She averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2016.
F Morgan Tuck $3,000 vs ATL
With the news that Chiney Ogwumike will miss the entire season (Achilles), Tuck should have a bigger role in the offense. She only averaged 7 ppg last season, but in 27 minutes in the last preseason game this year she put up 20 and 5. It was preseason, but one would think she would log some more minutes than the 16 she averaged last season and production should follow.
F Isabelle Harrison $3,000 @ NY
After suffering an injury (ACL) in 2015 she was limited to only 7.5 minutes a game last year and only drew one start in 26 games. If there was any doubt that she would be healthy a full two years removed from the injury, it has been answered by her preseason numbers. She only played in one game, but she played 26 minutes scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
G Bria Holmes $3,200 @ CON
After averaging only 7.5 points and 21 minutes per game in the 2016 regular season, she came alive in the playoffs with over 35 minutes per game and nearly doubling her scoring average with 15.5 in two games. If she can carry that momentum into 2017, she could really be a steal at $3,200.
F Kiah Stokes $4,100 vs SA
Stokes averaged 7.4 rebounds per game, good for seventh in the league in 2016, and tonight she gets a matchup with the worst rebounding team from last year. She also added 6.9 points per game as well.