Run it back
The Washington Mystics made it all the way to the WNBA finals last season before getting swept by the Seattle Storm. All in all, it was a great result for a team whose most valuable player looked to be done for the season in game two of the semifinals.
Elena Delle Donne came back, however, and returns this year, along with almost all of Washington’s key pieces from last season, plus even more depth. This is a team that should be at the top of the league, spearheaded by Delle Donne. Washington has a bunch of interesting players for daily fantasy, so let’s hop into it!
Washington had a great 2018 regular season, ranking third in net rating. This tremendous net rating was mostly generated as a result of a great offense. Their 107 offensive rating was up with the Seattles and Connecticuts of the league, some very impressive company to be in.
The Mystics’ defense was fairly average, ranking sixth in defensive rating. In terms of pace, the Mystics play at one of the slowest tempos in the league, content to hold onto the ball until a great scoring opportunity presents itself. Though this clearly aids their offensive effort, it is not a good thing for fantasy sports. Opponents playing the Mystics, and the Mystics players themselves, have less opportunity in a given game to score fantasy points. 79 possessions per game puts Washington as the third slowest team in the league. As stated above, their defense is nothing to write home about, but they do not seem to have a weak spot to target. They give up a very slightly above average amount of twos, threes and free throws after adjusting for their slow pace.
More from WNBA Daily Fantasy
- WNBA Daily Fantasy preview – August 27, 2019
- WNBA Daily Fantasy preview – August 13, 2019
- WNBA Daily Fantasy preview – August 8, 2019
- WNBA Daily Fantasy preview – August 1, 2019
- WNBA Daily Fantasy preview – July 30, 2019
The Old and New
The Mystics ended last year starting Kristi Toliver, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, Delle Donne, and LaToya Sanders. This should be the starting lineup to begin the 2019 season. In this starting lineup, Delle Donne is the clear star for daily fantasy. She routinely comes in at one of the highest prices on a given day, an earned honor as she put up 1.2 fantasy points per minute last season. The second most productive member of the Mystics (for fantasy sports purposes) was LaToya Sanders. Despite missing all of the 2017 WNBA season and playing only 4 games in the 2016 WNBA season, she produced just over 1 fpm last year. But the return of Emma Meesseman changes how much time Sanders will get. Ariel Atkins, a rookie last year, produced at a very impressive 0.92 fpm, a rate which could improve as Atkins gets more and more experience in the league. Natasha Cloud and Kristi Toliver also had fairly impressive seasons from a fantasy perspective. Both put up around 0.8 fpm, and are great options when their prices get low enough. All in all, every single member of this starting lineup can be a viable DFS play.
But let’s talk about who might be in that lineup. Meesseman is back with the Mystics after not playing in the 2018 WNBA season. In the 2017 season, playing 28 minutes per game, Meesseman put up 1.05 fpm. She is a definite option depending on the amount of minutes she takes. It does seem improbable (but not impossible!) to play Delle Donne, Meeseman and Sanders in a lineup, so likely Sanders sees a minutes reduction as coach Mike Thibault tries to find minutes for Meesseman. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough should draw some minutes at backup guard, but she only produces at 0.7 fpm, and so should be looked depending on price and if she finds the rotation.
Washington had a first and third round selection in the 2019 WNBA draft. With these picks, they chose Kiara Leslie and Sam Fuehring, respectively. Leslie was first team all-ACC and an all-ACC defensive team member, making her an exciting wing prospect. Unfortunately, her she underwent knee surgery, and will be out three to four months. Even when she returns, she likely will be on a minutes restriction, and thus, not really daily fantasy viable. I expect Fuehring to take the year to learn the WNBA game, and not play significant minutes either. For more information on Leslie’s injury, here is Jenn Hatfield’s story on the injury.
All in all, this is a very exciting DFS team. A keen eye will have to be kept on the rotation, as there are different options for Thibault as he figures out how all of the pieces he has fit together. If Delle Donne moves to the 3 with Meesseman and Sanders in the frontcourt, either Cloud or Atkins should see a reduction in minutes. As well, with a bigger lineup, there will be three big rebounders all fighting each other for defensive (and to a lesser extent, offensive) rebounds. It is possible that this could limit the fantasy value these great players provide.
Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.