An Introduction To WNBA Fantasy
By Justin Carter
Hey, y'all! This season, I'll be doing a weekly WNBA fantasy column here at Insidr, with a focus on what players should be in lineups each week, who to target as sleepers, how to best make use of each team's schedules to maximize your fantasy lineups -- basically, all the usual stuff you'd expect from a fantasy sports column.
The difference, though, is that some of the things I'll be writing about -- specifically season-long WNBA fantasy leagues -- didn't really exist until this season, so a lot of this is a new adventure for us. I've written about fantasy sports for the past few years, but writing about fantasy for a league where fantasy hasn't been a huge focus before is going to be tougher than I expected when I pitched the idea to my editors here.
The first difficult thing? Making sure people know all the different available options for WNBA fantasy. This week's column will serve as an introduction to the different places to play fantasy, the different kinds of fantasy basketball available, and the different places to find fantasy advice.
WNBA Daily Fantasy
Last year, WNBA Daily Fantasy (DFS) really took off. Both of the biggest DFS sites in the country, FanDuel and DraftKings, offer WNBA DFS.
If you've never done the whole daily fantasy thing, it basically works like this: You build a one-day lineup and try to get the highest score you can. Every player costs a different amount of money and you have to avoid going over your salary cap for the day, so to win you'll need to make the right picks from the higher-priced stars and also make the right call on what sleeper players will have strong games.
As for scoring, FanDuel's site explains their scoring settings. It's pretty straightforward and might be the better site for beginner DFS players to get started.
DraftKings is a little more complicated. There are bonus points for double-doubles and triple-doubles. Some of the scoring, like for rebounds, goes to two decimal points. Three-pointers are actually more valuable; in FanDuel, a three gets you three points. In Draftkings, it gets you 3.5. So, things are a little more complex, but that also means an experienced player has the chance to take advantage of that and win more.
WNBA Season-Long Fantasy
Last year, we had zero sites doing season-long WNBA fantasy leagues. This year, we've got two, and both offer something different.
First, there's AltFantasySports, a fairly new site that launched earlier this year to do AAF fantasy football leagues. I reached out to the site owner a couple of months ago to see if he'd be willing to add the WNBA to the site, and after a lot of programming, it's here! Because it's such a new site, there are bound to be some flaws, and the drafting process can be slow, as it doesn't allow for autodrafting if someone gets behind, but commissioners have the ability to draft for people.
The scoring on this site will resemble what a lot of you who've played season-long NBA fantasy are familiar with, which is 9-cat scoring. You'll be competing to win in the following categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, threes, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers. Matchups are head-to-head, so you'll want to beat your opponent in as many of the categories as you can.
Strategy-wise, a lot of fantasy basketball players will pick a category or two to ignore. Let's say you punt in winning three-pointers; you can then do your draft while ignoring that stat, which means you can better craft your team toward the scoring categories you do want to win in. While there's no WNBA fantasy punting guide, check out this introduction to punting in NBA leagues that RotoBaller put together last year.
The other site is Sports.ws. I discovered this site just recently when I was invited to a draft on there, and while I haven't had much time to explore it, it's got a good interface and makes drafting pretty easy, as you can set a pre-draft list up that lets you automatically select your highest-rated player.
Scoring is points-based, so instead of competing to win in categories, you're competing to score as many fantasy points as possible. For example, you might get one point for each point your players score, a point for each assist, etc., or you might be a league with more customized scoring where you get 2.5 points for a block or steal, lose points for missing free throws, etc. Whatever your scoring system is, the main point is to accumulate as many fantasy points as possible, so need to really engage with any punting strategies. Just build the best team possible.
Where To Find Advice
Here, of course! I'll be doing a weekly column here that breaks down the week ahead, looking at fantasy risers and fallers, how to take advantage of the schedule, and suggesting some players to use in DFS. I'm also open to any suggestions from any of our readers if they have things they want to see!
Other than us, Hashtag Basketball has some of the best tools out there, including a rankings tool where you can put in your league's scoring settings and get customized scoring projections.
Outside of these WNBA-centric sites, some fantasy-centric sites have started offering WNBA advice. RotoWire is a good place to keep up with everything happening around the league and what it means for fantasy players. Last year, Fantasy Alarm and DFS Army both had WNBA pieces as well. Some of these sites will provide daily pieces over DFS happenings, so they're good resources for up to the minute advice.
If you've never played fantasy basketball, use this year as a chance to get involved. Play DFS. Start a league with your friends. Help expand the game.