WNBA daily fantasy preview: Atlanta Dream

Fallen Angel?

The Atlanta Dream were one of the big surprises of the 2018 WNBA season. The team ended up winning 23 games and leading the Western Conference in the regular season, while eventually losing to the Washington Mystics in game 5 of the playoff semifinal.

This was a huge and relatively unexpected improvement, as the Dream only won 12 games in 2017. While part of the reason for this sudden improvement was as a result of Angel McCoughtry coming over, the other pieces on this team were undoubtedly more impressive. They will have to be even more impressive, as McCoughtry will more than likely be missing at least some part of the year as she still recovers from a knee injury. Without further ado, let’s get into the Atlanta Dream DFS preview.

The Team

As stated above, the Dream posted 23 wins, and did so with the best defense in the league. Their 97 defensive rating was anchored by Elizabeth Williams and Jessica Breland, two tremendous defensive players. One area where the Dream will have to improve is offensively. They ended the regular season third-to-last in offensive rating, just above single digit win teams in Indiana and New York.

Typically, it is more difficult to remain a good defense than to remain a good offensive team, so in order to reach 20 games won, the offense almost certainly will need to be polished up. Despite having such a great defense, which could make the Dream avoidable in Daily Fantasy, they play at the second highest pace in the league. Because of this, the elite defense is cancelled out, as there is more opportunity for shots, rebounds, assists, and other peripheral stats.

Fantasy Production

The Dream ended last year starting Renee Montgomery, Tiffany Hayes, Brittney Sykes, Jessica Breland, and Elizabeth Williams. Sykes moved into the starting lineup after McCoughtry was injured. It does not seem as though McCoughtry will be ready at the start of the season, so I would expect the above five to be the starters on night one.

Montgomery is the listed point guard in this lineup, but Hayes and Sykes will both handle the ball while Montgomery spots up from three. Despite not being a great offensive team in real life, the Dream have many usable options in daily fantasy.

Hayes crossed the magical 1fpm barrier last year, and I would expect even higher in games played without McCoughtry in the lineup. Sykes also produces fantasy points at a high rate, at 0.95 fpm last year, with the majority of her games coming off the bench.

Breland and Williams, at 0.95 and 0.8 fpm respectively, produce more fantasy points on FanDuel than DraftKings, as their block and steal numbers represent a high percentage of their overall fantasy points. Though a very useful player in real life, Montgomery comes in at 0.7 fpm, and is not viable unless her price is very low. Alex Bentley will be the first off the bench, and accrues many assists as well as fantasy points, with a 0.8 fpm. There were a couple games last year where she was seeing high 20s minutes, which definitely puts her into consideration.

The Draft and Other Changes

The Dream only had three draft picks in the 2019 WNBA draft, and traded one for Marie Gulich, a center who played just over 100 minutes for the Mercury (speaking of, here is the preview for them) last year. It looks like she will compete for the backup center minutes with Imani McGee-Stafford. Addition Nia Coffey and the returning Blake Dietrick add wing and guard depth, great in real life, but likely will not accrue enough minutes to be DFS relevant.

The most exciting aspect of this team will take place right at the beginning of the season. This is a high pace team, who will have to distribute many of Angel McCoughtry’s shots to other players. These other players, such as Tiffany Hayes, Brittney Sykes, and Jessica Breland, could be in for big usage boosts, which may not be priced in, and thus, should be taken advantage of. When McCoughtry does return, she likely will be on a minutes limit of some kind.

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