Fantasy Basketball

WNBA: ATL Dream’s Rhyne Howard among most productive fantasy players

How many rookies did you draft to your 2022 WNBA fantasy team?

If you’re lucky, you were able to grab Rhyne Howard. The Atlanta Dream wing has quickly proven herself worthy of No. 1 overall pick (in the actual WNBA Draft, that is — not a fantasy draft!) status, contributing in just about every area of the box score. Howard currently ranks sixth among all WNBA players in fantasy points per game (37, per, and seeing as how she’s the Dream’s future franchise cornerstone, she’ll continue to be put in positions to succeed throughout the seasons.

Granted, Howard was probably an easy call on fantasy draft day. There are more rookies to discuss as it pertains to fantasy basketball, and we’ve sprinkled a few in among the bigger names in this week’s installment of “Three Up, Three Down:”

Three Up

The 2022 season is still young, but Dearica Hamby is already looking like she’s headed for a career year.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Dearica Hamby (Las Vegas Aces)

Hamby has opened the 2022 season on an absolute tear, averaging 14.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, the latter of which leads the WNBA. The super-sub-turned-starter is playing an average of 33 minutes per game — by far a career-high — and is shooting 60 percent from the floor.

Outlook: Hamby has been one of the most productive per-minute players in the WNBA for years now, and it’s nice to see her flourish where she belongs: in the Aces’ starting lineup. Her minutes may take a slight hit once Kiah Stokes (overseas commitments) rejoins the team, but that shouldn’t stop her from thriving in Las Vegas’ new-look offense. Congratulations are in order if you drafted her to your fantasy team.

Rhyne Howard (Atlanta Dream)

Howard became the seventh rookie in WNBA history to score 30 or more points in one of their first four games when she dropped 33 on the Fever this past Sunday. 2022’s No. 1 overall pick has been incredible thus far, ranking fourth in the league in scoring (20.8 points per game) while averaging 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocked shots.

Outlook: The outlook, in Howard’s case, is about as bright as can be. She’s quickly become the Dream’s most prized possession and will continue to put up big numbers, even when Tiffany Hayes (overseas commitments) joins her in the team’s starting lineup; even when she’s not scoring, she’ll impact the game with her passing and defensive playmaking. Buckle up and enjoy the ride, because it’s going to be a fun one.

Queen Egbo (Indiana Fever)

Egbo continued her strong defensive play for the Fever, totaling 31 rebounds, seven steals and seven blocked shots in three games last week. The rookie center currently ranks ninth in the league in rebounds per game (8.2) and fourth in blocks per game (1.8).

Outlook: Egbo was perhaps the least-heralded of Indiana’s numerous 2022 first-round draft picks, but she’s quickly made a name for herself as an energetic, physical paint presence. She’s been the Fever’s best option at center until now, but with Alaina Coates (overseas commitments) now in the fold, we’ll see if her minutes dry up any. Regardless, she’ll continue to be a great source of rebounding and defensive stats.

Three Down

Los Angeles Sparks v Atlanta Dream

The Sparks made waves when they traded for Chennedy Carter this past offseason, but she has yet to truly get going in 2022.
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Chennedy Carter (Los Angeles Sparks)

Carter has struggled in her past two games, totaling just two points on 1-of-12 shooting while failing to record a single free throw attempt. Her playing time has also taken a hit, and she’s currently averaging a career-low 13.9 minutes per game off the Sparks’ bench.

Outlook: Sparks head coach Derek Fisher has preferred Jordin Canada to Carter as the team’s primary point guard thus far, and Carter’s play hasn’t done much to change his mind. Her usage rate (29.2 percent) remains very high, so she’s a worthy per-minute gamble, and while things might get complicated when Kristi Toliver returns from her NBA coaching commitments, that still won’t be for a while unless something changes.

Lexie Hull (Indiana Fever)

It took Hull four games to make the first shot of her WNBA career, and she’s now 1-of-12 from the field. She has eclipsed double-digit minutes just once and hasn’t contributed much in other areas, either, totaling three rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Outlook: The Fever have several rookies playing well for them right now, but Hull has been nearly invisible in her time on the court. The reemergence of Victoria Vivians (23 minutes per game) as well as fellow 2022 draft pick Emily Engstler’s positional versatility has left little opportunity for Hull, and even if her 3-point shot comes around, she probably won’t be playing enough to justify picking up in fantasy.

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)

Bird had one of the poorest shooting games of her career on Saturday against Phoenix, going just 1-for-11 from the field (0-of-8 on 3-pointers) and scoring two points in a Storm loss. The veteran point guard was also quiet in the assists department, registering three helpers and two turnovers in her 31 minutes of play.

Outlook: Bird has had two strong shooting games and two poor ones thus far in 2022, and for a player whose field goal percentage dropped month-by-month last season, tired legs are definitely a valid concern. The important thing, though, is that her workload has been steady; maybe that changes once Epiphanny Prince (health and safety protocols) returns to the team, but for now, Bird will continue to be one of fantasy’s top sources of 3-pointers and assists.

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